Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Ok, the nominations for's annual 'Trippies' awards closing very soon. If you feel so inclined, please head on over there and nominate this blog in their 'Best Blog' category.

Ok, up next, VegasTripping itself is up for a PixelAward, along with sites like (which in my opinion ain't such a great Web site). VegasTripping could use your help - it's a great site and deserves the votes:

Ok, that's it. I'm thinking about what's going to go into my next podcast... Good times.

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Read archived comments (14 so far)
October 6, 2006 12:23 AM Posted by mike_ch

Random slow news day local's opinions from my trip on Thursday.

Wynn: Encore construction carries on at a steady pace. I don't know if Encore is going to be my favorite place to visit or not, but I certainly appreciate it. Wynn's casino seems to be struggling to hold the large variety of slots they have in it right now to the point that more common games are difficult to find (come on, ONE Cleopatra machine each for pennies, nickels, and dollars?) so it certainly doesn't feel too early to start on the expansion.

On the other hand, the cracks are beginning to show. Certain materials are starting to show signs of use and abuse. I've actually seen some startling damage in places. Most obvious was that the door lock was busted on a bathroom visit, so I had to keep my foot pushed against the door for privacy.

Also, because of Encore the busses to the Convention Center monorail station no longer pick up in the back, but at the tour bus side driveway. That's okay, but all they did at the old station was shut off the escalator and put a rope in front of it. I had to ask someone in the Le Reve store where the new bus station was.

Treasure Island: Same ol' same ol'. Lots of new machines, though, so if you never played here recently because you always felt like you were in some sort of slot machine graveyard, consider giving it a second chance. Moving on.

Mirage: Walked through here quite thoroughly. I stayed here in December 2000 on my very first trip and despite it being my first trip, I could easily picture The Mirage's implosion in my mind. While I haven't seen the rooms since they renovated them in 2001, walking throughout the place now it seems greatly improved. I'm cautiously concerned about the idea for a Beatles lounge, but we'll see.

Caesars: Nothing new to report.

Bellagio: After Wynn opened, I considered it to be the new champion of all things expensive and hoity-toity, but now I'm thinking that still belongs to Bellagio. No doubt that it unapologetically dipped in quality while sailing along on it's name and image for a few years, but the place is coming back to form. Now the area from the Poker Room to Fix is under tarps and the new casino look can be seen near Petrossian. Those awnings have returned, now in blue and cream with gold touches. It's still a pattern fit for your Grandma's living room, and of courseMGM's lighting fixtures hide underneath (want one of those huge Wynn-era Bellagio chandeliers that look like they came out of Grandma's ATTIC? They're still on sale around town.)

CityCenter model. I'm sorry but that is utter rubbish! Maybe I need to look harder at the smaller buildings, but there's nothing exciting in the skyline to look forward to. And what's with putting a model in public view but making sure goons won't let anyone have a photo of it? TWO guys who enjoy power-tripping run around and act paranoid around people with cameras. Even the ones outside. CityCenter isn't even built yet and I'm not impressed with the management already. ;)

Another negative point was that I felt I was ignored by staff repeatedly, presumably because I failed to meet their standards of clientele. Now, I have no body art or crazy hairstyles of any kind, but I don't look like I'm loaded with cash and I couldn't get anyone to acknowledge that I even exist, even when standing in line behind other people asking questions. I tried to just get a simple map at the front, and got ignored by several employees. I finally gave up and reached over the desk, taking two maps and one of those "Welcome to Bellagio, here is your room key" booklets. Nobody batted an eye.

NYNY: I've got nothin'.

Excalibur: The former magic/juggling show stage is becoming a bar called Octane. Not as fancy as the Light Group establiishments elsewhere in MGMLand, but recent enough to make the rest of Excalibur look underdressed. No other real changes except some minor cosmetic ones like replaced signs featuring the new logo and slogan ("You Rule!") The sad thing is that someone got paid to make that.

Luxor: Former Keno desk is reopened as a minature registration or club desk of some kind. Pyramid Cafe reopened, no change except for the removal of the cashier island. The whole Isis level is closed again.

Mandalay Bay: A new restaurant called Strip Steak has opened, didn't walk up to it but I believe it's the old 3950 location. More importantly, MGM has ruined Mandalay's casual dining! Raffles Cafe used to be my favorite coffee shop on the strip. Several times I got a specific waiter who was so good at what he did, that he could memorize people's orders (no writing them down) even with special requests, and remembered what everyone was drinking without having to ask. Maybe he had the day off today, or maybe he was shuffled off to Bellagio because egads, his professionalism is the kind of thing you'd expect over there. However, even he couldn't save this visit if he was here.

Problem #1: We were seated for our 5:30PM dinner at a windowside table with a menu and a phamplet describing breakfast specials available from 6AM-Noon.

Problem #2: Another woman comes up and tells us that the hostess seated us in a closed area, so we need to move to a half-sized table in a new area.

Problem #3: Raffles is no longer an all-items-all-hours coffee shop, I guess. They now have seperate Lunch and Dinner hours with seperate menus. I knew this happened at The Cafe, but I figured it was to stay in line with the more upscale image at that expansion, and perhaps try to turn that location into a restaurant instead of a coffee shop. But here?

Problem #4: The new menu is seriously lacking. My favorite item from the old menu, the Monterey Chicken Sandwich, is gone. In fact, there's not even a cheeseburger here. Come on, not even a burger!? Didn't this location used to handle room service, too?

Problem #5: After much waiting at the new table, nobody asked us for our order.

We walked out, and pointed out most of these problems to the hostess as we did, to the tune of some apologies in a "yeah, whatever" tone.

We hustled all the way back to the Excalibur and got more or less what we wanted (oh, Mandalay chicken sandwich, I will miss you...) for less than what MBay charges even just for the deli-licious Red White & Blue.

Gambling-wise I came out ahead, so the day wasn't wasted in anger and rage, but if I'd be negligent to not bring up all the lacking service through MGM's properties. I've never been a big Harrah's fan, but I may spend my next trip strictly on the east side of the road.

October 6, 2006 7:19 AM Posted by detroit1051

What a great report!

That's an excellent idea to do the same kind of service evaluation trip on the east side of the Strip to compare Harrah's properties with MGM's. I wouldn't be surprised if Harrah's performed better. Their properties may not compare, but they've worked hard on customer service.

When I was at Bellagio last month, the day the CityCenter office opened, I was disappointed when they wouldn't let me take photos inside. They've gone overboard in also prohibiting photos from outside the glass. The second day, they wouldn't let me in. There was a rope across the entrance with a sign, "By Appointment Only."

Does the area under wraps near the Bellagio poker room include the sports book and the little deli, or are they only working on the casino floor? Thanks.

October 6, 2006 10:58 AM Posted by mike_ch

Thanks for the support.

I came in through the shopping hall and turned left, so I didn't see how large the construction was, but I'm guessing it's only the casino floor. There was a thin path snaking between the wall and Fix and it went clear to the poker room on the other end.

October 6, 2006 11:12 AM Posted by Hunter

Thanks a bunch for the report.

Wynn Las Vegas will quickly lose its stature if they don't get on top of the maintenance situation. Obviously its capital intensive to keep it up but even the perception of a slip means the crown goes to Bellagio.

I'm still looking for a chance to get out to Bellagio and it sounds like getting a photo of the CityCenter model will be a challenge - I love challenges! I'll hire a bikini model to distract the guards. :-)

October 6, 2006 12:42 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hunter, here's what we do. You fly us all out to Vegas, and we'll accompany you to the CityCenter sales office. We'll wear dark suits, sunglasses and earpieces and act as your bodyguards. They'll rightfully assume you're some rich potentate, and they'll be more than happy to let you in to take photos (and sell you a condo.)

October 6, 2006 1:03 PM Posted by Hunter

That sounds like a great idea!

I can't imagine that I wouldn't be able to get a picture one way or another.

October 6, 2006 10:27 PM Posted by Devon

I just got an email from a sales person for some condo company that sent some really good pics of CityCenter. I'm having trouble saving them to my computer, so if anybody wants I'll just forward the email to you. Just give me you're address.

October 6, 2006 10:35 PM Posted by Hunter

Hey, send 'em to and I will post them for everyone to see!

October 6, 2006 11:53 PM Posted by motoman

I like Detroit's idea....!

Re maintenance at Wynn, some of the photos I sent from July showed badly scuffed guest room doors -- black soled shoes vs. white paint, tho if from guests or staff (or both), I don't know.

At the time I didn't mean to disparage WLV (for me, it's still the standard bearer), and was only vaguely aware of maintenance issues due to Hunter's audiowalk (Podcast #1). I will say that during a Feb. visit there was jackhammering by the Buffet entrance every night, but by day you'd never know they had been there. So they do considerable work; but somehow a little thing like the doors left a bigger impression....

October 7, 2006 12:55 PM Posted by detroit1051

This reminds me of something at Bellagio. I stayed in the Spa Tower, and the suite floors have dark wood hallways, and the doors to the rooms are dark brown. Every day, I noticed dusty white fingerprints on some of the doors. By the third day, it finally dawned on me that the housekeepers wear latex gloves when cleaning. The powder on the gloves came off on the doors. I'm surprised a supervisor didn't notice and remind staff to make sure the doors are clean when they finish the room.

October 7, 2006 5:04 PM Posted by Hunter

Well, well. The infamous model:

They will be on the RateVegas photo page as well but I'm having a little technical problem with the import system so they aren't there yet...

October 8, 2006 5:35 AM Posted by detroit1051

I wonder why the casino hotel has that one stubby tower. If I've got my bearings, it's on the north end of the building and faces east. It looks out of place with the rest of the building. Will it be a separate hotel within a hotel?

October 9, 2006 3:18 PM Posted by Mike P.

detroit -

I'll ask about that hotel wing -- it's barely possible somebody in the sales office knows if it's a "hotel within a hotel" type concept.

Checked into Wynn a few days ago. On our floor the doors to the service areas and between the resort room and tower suites sections have huge amounts of scuff marks running from the floor up to about door handle level. Really a noticeable -- if minor -- maintenance lapse.

Mike P.

October 9, 2006 6:39 PM Posted by Mike P.

OK, there are actually two shorter wings, one on the east side and one on the west. The people working the sales office had no idea what kind of room products the hotel would be offering. Seems a safe guess there will be a smaller hotel within the hotel though.

Mike P.