Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Luxor's transformation, which has included the ripping out of the old club, 'Ra' as well as most of the restaurants, continues to bear fruit.

This time the latest is the opening of the new club, 'LAX' on Labor Day weekend.

Update: The Las Vegas Advisor is reporting that the de-themeing of Luxor is going ahead, with the Egypt theme going out the window.

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Read archived comments (42 so far)
July 11, 2007 4:51 PM Posted by Tom M

On my recent trip to Las Vegas I took the time to wander thru Luxor and noticed that the whole center part of the casino is walled off for construction. There were signs on the wall citing this as the location of the new nightclub. I thought it was a little strange location wise for a nightclub but who am I to question. I am not into the nightclub scene at all so this seems like a waste of valuable space to me.

July 11, 2007 5:00 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, that's incorrect.

The center area will be a new 'center bar' but the nightclub is going in where Ra was, on the South side near the cage.

July 11, 2007 7:23 PM Posted by Mike T

I hope the de-theming doesn't involve tearing down the Sphinx or the obelisk sign out front. I want to know what MGM Mirage plans to do with the second floor of the Luxor, where the arcade and IMAX theater are. There really is no excitement on that floor at all these days.

July 11, 2007 7:32 PM Posted by Tom M


You are right, after I looked at a floor map I can see where Ra was and it now makes sense to what I saw in person. Basically, the construction wall extends out from the old nightclub area and circles the center. The way I came in from the second level and my poor memory from my last visit, it looked like just the center area was blocked out.

July 12, 2007 4:48 AM Posted by KY

Even if they did tear out the Sphinx � how are they going to do take the Egypt out of something that's shaped like a pyramid? Thst seems to me like a lasting piece of Egyptian theming.

July 12, 2007 6:41 AM Posted by detroit1051

Ther RJ must read Hunter's posts to learn what's going on in Vegas. There's a story today on changes at Luxor:

July 12, 2007 8:21 AM Posted by Mike T

I just read that article, and they answered my question about the second floor as well.

July 12, 2007 9:08 AM Posted by mikeynla

For some reason, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Luxor. It's the first place I ever stayed in Vegas, and the first time I ever experienced a "suite" (the still fab, if dated, Jacuzzi suites in the pyramid), and I've never really had a bad experience there. However, I'm excited about the changes going on. While I don't think that EVERYTHING Egyptian inside needs to go, it's a great idea to de-theme the crappy restaurants Luxor had. And the center casino bar sounds like a great idea. Luxor did a great job with the newly remodeled "players rooms" in the towers, so I'm interested to see what they'll do in the remodeling of the pyramid rooms.

July 12, 2007 11:19 AM Posted by Dave

I think one of the most interesting things is that Felix Rappaport implied that taking the Luxor name off the casino was on the table. it looks like, as far as the Mandalay properties go, there are no sacred cows. What this means for Excalibur and Circus Circus, I don't know, but I'm guessing that changes are in the wind.

It's also funny that most of the comments on the RJ page are against the change. They should have checked out Hunter's May Luxor trip report.

I also don't know how you "de-theme" resorts like Paris and New York-New York, but I guess we'll find out.

July 12, 2007 1:05 PM Posted by Mike T

a don't know that de-theming NY-NY would be in the cards. Luxor is undergoing radical transformation because it had become old before its time, and tired. When my sister was visiting last month, Luxor and Excalibur were among the casinos she wanted to see. So, we parked at the Luxor, and I showed her Luxor, Excalibur and NY-NY. As has been said on here, Luxor and Excalibur are looking pretty tired. MGM Mirage has finally started to revamp Luxor, and hopefully Excalibur won't be far behind. Excalibur, like Luxor, has no energy at all. NY-NY, on the other hand, was packed and full of energy. Random shootings aside, I think NY-NY is just fine. Maybe MGM Mirage can find a better use for the space that currently houses that enormous arcade. I don't see how Excalibur can still be considered the highest and best use of the land it sits on though.

July 12, 2007 2:25 PM Posted by TS

Wow, Felix Rappaport really slammed the previous management of Luxor in the LVRJ article! I agree, the casino and rooms were tired but Las Vegas is a small town--is it really wise for him to make comments like "the place was being run like a dormitory, a not a really well-run dormitory"? Previous management could end up being his boss one day at another resort...

Anyway, I'm all for remodeling Luxor but the problem is the revamp sounds like it's totally uninspired. Every MGM Mirage property seems to be getting a nightclub by Pure, entertainment by Cirque du Soleil, etc. Another copy of a Los Angeles club...yawn. Many visitors to Las Vegas are from southern California--are they going to make the trip to Luxor for a nightclub that they could have visited at home? I'm curious to see how it all turns out.

July 12, 2007 2:28 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, that's what I was thinking - the guys that were running Luxor must read that and be less than thrilled. You know that almost all of them still live in Vegas.

July 12, 2007 2:33 PM Posted by Mike T

And one of those former mgrs. of Luxor's former parent company is a partner in a very prominent hotel being built on the north Strip. I am all for calling it like you see it, but perhaps a bit more tact may have been in order.

July 12, 2007 2:38 PM Posted by Hunter

I assume you mean Glenn Schaeffer and Fontainebleau, though I'm not sure how ruffled his feathers might be - Mandalay Bay was really his baby and Luxor represented a great compromise at the hands of Bill Bennett - Glenn always wanted to go bigger with Luxor but Bennett was super focused on it being lower end. When Bennett left, they went in with jackhammers to try to boost the place to a mid to high-mid roller joint.

July 12, 2007 7:11 PM Posted by motoman

Wow, a lot of comments for the "old" Luxor! I too had trouble with the de-Egypting, but you know, Memphis has a sports arena that externally is a ringer for Luxor. So I guess the shape of the building can be made irrelevant, for better or worse.

July 12, 2007 9:19 PM Posted by trewil

First off I must say that love the Luxor... It is the single reason that I moved to this town and really is where my love for hotels came from, but I'm happy to see it changing.

As far as the Luxor name goes I think its gone out the window already, I've been hearing rumors for months now that they already have it listed as THEpyramid at Mandalay in MGM's computer systems for months. I don't know if the rumors are true or not but I have heard it from several different people who work and varying MGM proprieties.

As far as the Sphinx and the Obelisks, there gone, they will be removed and replaced with an actual entryway that looks like something other then a pool deck. Maybe it won't have anything even resembling a lion on it (after all Asian gamers love lions so much, remember the old MGM).

If Aurora is any indication of the direction that they are going then look for things to be very trendy (I hope they have the same guy who did THEhotel and the Planet Hollywood take care of it, they truly are amazing).

Honestly The Luxor looks great from the outside, and is easily most recognizable building in town, but the interior needs a major redesign. After all you can't have the 2nd largest hotel in the world looking like a Disney ride; they need to dress it up.

P.S. Here�s my rant... If there going to brand it THEpyramid they better at least put the money in to make the exterior match that of the Mandalay, nothing irks me more then when towers don't at least make an attempt to match (See the Palms). Ok end rant.

July 12, 2007 10:06 PM Posted by Mike T

I have to say that I think renaming the Luxor would be a big mistake. That hotel is world famous, and messing with that is usually not a good idea. I really doubt that the exterior could be anything better than the jet black it is now. I mean really, that is cool, especially at night. I am all for remodeling the inside of the hotel, but IMO the outside, other than the pool, is just fine.

July 13, 2007 8:30 AM Posted by mike_ch

Hey, Felix! While you're talking trash (not all of I disagree with), why don't you go ahead and fix the tracking light system on the corners of the pyramid so they do more than just that same back and forth shimmy they've been stuck on for the last 1.5 years!

Seriously, I've considered calling Luxor and talking my way up the management ladder until I could get someone who could set it back. I loved the old effects, particularly the one that make it look like "sparks" were falling down the building off the light. I've also considered doing the same for Stratosphere and asking them to use their colors more often. Hmmm....

Anyway, the old OLD Luxor is the #1 thing I wanted to see in Vegas if I had a time machine (#2 would be Stupak's place pre-Strat.) I walked through the place with Hunter the other week and noticed lots of empty spaces, entirely ignored regions of the casino, two Starbucks so close to each other than you can see them both at the same time(!!!), and old swatches of the original red carpet still laying around.

Somebody needs to do something, but I don't think putting the jackhammers to the Sphinx is the right choice. Luxor's theme is downright subtle compared to Excalipoor.

July 13, 2007 8:32 AM Posted by mike_ch

Oops, that was the other MONTH, not week, we did that walk. Sorry about that, brain pooped out on me.

Also, I wanted to mention that the whole upstairs restaurant area looks like a mess now. They should put some covers back up.

July 13, 2007 10:55 AM Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage has more on their site:

July 13, 2007 12:43 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, you haven't lived if you haven't been to Stupak's Vegas World. That's what got me interested in coming to Las Vegas years ago, but I came to my senses when I got there and stayed at the Hilton.

July 13, 2007 1:53 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

If MGM/Mirage were really smart, + willing to spend the scratch, their best solution in redesigning, upgarding the interior atrium @ the Luxor would to retain John Portman's firm (the guy is still alive + continues practicing) to compeletly gut both the casino + second level crap, cut off about 4 or 5 floors of the "crown" (currently housing that stupid vertical light beam) + make it into a natural light atrium with ceiling projected colored lighting on each tier level, using overhanging natural planting, etc. much like Portman accomplished ions ago with the forward-thinking design of the Embarcadero Hyatt in San Francisco, which still looks contemporary. Veldon Simpson had a tremendous number of options available to him with such an incredible, albeit, enclosed atrium space, that is still considered the largest atrium in the world (even more voluminous than Burj Al Arab in Dubai). However, the Luxor atrium ultimately came off as a rather dull, poorly illuminated + boring space lacking individual visual excitement. Simpson's choice of using a low-level dark bronze reflective exterior glazing was also a major design faux pas. (Actually my father's design for the 1976 Xanadu Hotel + Casino would have been the world's largest enclosed atrium, even by today's standards had it been built. The in-house models + renderings of the Xanadu that Dave has posted on the UNLV Martin Stern, Jr. Special Collections site dedicated to that specific project are very early schematic design concepts, the final design was actually TWICE the length utilizing the additional adjacent property. That would have made the Xanadu more than two times the size of the enclosed interior atrium space of Luxor.

July 13, 2007 4:06 PM Posted by Dave

I've always found something funereal about the Luxor's interior--the pyramids were tombs, after all. I've spent a bit of time there in the past few years (one of my friends actually got married in the chapel) and I always end up feeling bummed out--too much thinking about all those dead pharaohs, I guess. Or maybe Ozymandias's headquarters in The Watchmen.

Anyway, CNN has now picked up the story of Luxor 3.0:
This is the most in-depth breakdown of the whole project that I've seen yet.

And if you want to read about the transformation from Luxor 1.0 to Luxor 2.0, check out Pete Early's SuperCasino.

If anyone wants to see the Xanadu stuff, it's here:
It was one of my earliest attempts at web design, so forgive the way the pages look.

July 13, 2007 7:39 PM Posted by Mike T

Leonard, in 11 years of living in Vegas you are the first person I have ever heard say something negative about the Luxor beam.

July 13, 2007 9:44 PM Posted by trewil

I have a feeling that the change in the lighting effects has something to do with the airport, kind of like how they don't turn the beam to full power anymore, distracting to pilots or whatever. After all don't forget that the effects on the Luxor were turned off for several years before MGM took over.

July 13, 2007 10:52 PM Posted by Doug

I haven't posted on this site for a long time, but the Luxor story has yet to answer the BIG question...What about gaming? If you look at the Luxor web site the high-limit room stops at $5,000. Yes, 5K seems high to most people, but it's not going to bring in many baccarat players - Does the Luxor even have a baccarat pit?

And what about the 8 deck blackjack and all the carnival games? Is this the 'chic' and 'hip' sort casino they're looking for?

All these changes will mean nothing if they don't change the 'gaming idenity' of the new Luxor.

July 13, 2007 11:25 PM Posted by Mike T

I don't think it really makes sense for MGM Mirage to have their casino game mix go after the whales at too many of their casinos. MGM Mirage has Bellagio and the MGM Grand for that demographic.

July 14, 2007 2:00 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Mike T: I am speaking strictly from an architectural design POV, not what impression the "average Joe" experiences when walking into the Luxor. I know of several guests of mine in the past that were so everwhelmed by the sheer size + scale of the atrium, they thought it was one of the greatest experiences of their lifetime (yeah, they are successful CPAs + attorneys, maybe that explains [their] ignorance). What an incredible interior atrium space Simpson had to work with, an endless choice of creative opportunities existed to make that enclosed atrium come to life by incorporating a natural sky light @ the crown portion during the day + offer stimulating interior lighing effects, overhanging natural planting, @ each level at night. The Luxor interior atrium experience, from a design perspective, gets an "F", plain + simple, it is DULL, boring + totally lifeless. That stupid high-powered "light beam/beacon" (which is even visible from space) serves NO function or purpose whatsoever, other than being a complete distraction + safety impairment to commercial pilots landing + taking off from nearby McCarren. That horribly conceived light beam reminds me of, back in the early nineties when some "Einstein" came up with the silly concept for those multiple "green colored" laser beams rotating in the night sky originating from the Las Vegas Hilton. How long did that brilliant idea last? I wonder why, since MGM Grand was built, Veldon Simpson hasn't designed another projcet since? My father was "consulting architect" on that project, and he quite brilliantly, had no E&O liability whasoever. As a result, he personally ending up making millions more than Simpson, simply by flying to Vegas from L.A. two or three times a week, without ANY staff. He actally told me that was the ONLY job in a half century career that he made real money on! Where is architect Veldon Simpson today, after his departure from that utterly ridiculous Voyager Observation Wheel project (which has been proposed for just about EVERY available buildable site in town), evidently the esteemed designer Steelman has apparently taken over Simpson's position as architect/designer. That project will NEVER see the light of day? No Mike T, I'm afraid that MGM/Mirage needs to lop off at least the top six or eight floors of the Luxor + design a natural light skylight with expressed beams that can actually be illuminated at night. To quote the words of the almightly Steve Wynn, that would become a truly "delicious experience".

July 14, 2007 6:37 PM Posted by mike_ch

Leonard, Simpson was working for the one of the biggest penny-pinchers in Las Vegas! Circus Circus was never interested in art, or making a statement, or being influential. They did not have the budget to inspire anybody in the way you're talking.

I don't know the details, for all I know maybe Simpson just drew a pyramid on a piece of paper and CC said "excellent, we'll take it!" ;) Point is, comparing it to something like Xanadu is pointless, because Xanadu had so much more money budgeted for it (in it's time) so your father had lots of creative license.

I do agree that John Portman (LA folks, think Westin Bonaventure) could work wonders in that space but if it continues to be dull and drab, you'll have to stop blaming Mr. Simpson and start blaming MGM-MIRAGE.

July 14, 2007 7:28 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

mike_ch: There is no question that Veldon Simpson was constrained with budgetary restrictions by Circus/Circus, however explain why he spent the ridiculous amount of funds on that stupid "Sphinx" among other useless Egyptian interior features, including that stupid beacon, as opposed to making the atrium a spectacular space. Any architect "worth their salt" would have made the appropriate decision from day one + used whatever limited funds available, within budget, to make Luxor an exciting property as far as the 'interior atrium' is concerned, overall theme concept aside.

July 17, 2007 11:39 PM Posted by mrcasino

they should just change everything in the hotel from the casino floor to rooms, to restaurants. Vegas is now all about where can i eat a 200 dollar steak, or where can i party all night long. Luxor is a nice place, but it can be better. What needs to be really fixed is excalibur, woww talk about a renewal.

July 22, 2007 12:53 PM Posted by detroit1051

Liz Benston writes about Luxor in the LV Sun:

"The black and bold Luxor opened in 1993 as an architectural tour de force - the tallest structure on the Strip, attracting camera-toting tourists as well as design intellectuals who would write books and teach college courses discussing the building's commercial and psychological appeal."

Over the next year, new Luxor will look decidedly more contemporary - or at least less Egyptian. Think video images projected on sheets of falling water, candle-lit lounges framed by (real) aspens and low-light chandeliers.

"This probably has the greatest potential to move the needle because if you deconstruct the Egyptian theme, it's really just a great piece of contemporary architecture as well as an enduring shape," said John Schadler, whose marketing firm will assist in the transformation. "Think of the pyramids in Egypt and how long they've been looked upon as great mysterious monuments."

"In research polls, customers associate pyramids with "mystery and intrigue," Schadler said. "They're maybe a bit dark, in a sexy way."

July 22, 2007 1:40 PM Posted by charlie

I favor the changes...hopefully they will implode the 2 Step Pyramid Towers with the Excalibur.

I do hope that the center bar (Liquidity) is two stories and ties the casino level and entertainment level, and you could see to the top from the casino. Natural light, as described by King, would be nice (but no house plants aka the hanging gardens of babylon...not a good vibe for a casino resort, although better than the current egyptian tomb. Rings of fiber optic (or similar) lights around each level all the way to the top might be kind of cool. MGM probably won't spend enough to make Luxor really, really cool.

Once complete, I will spend some time at (you've heard it hear first):

"Luxor - The Partymid"

July 25, 2007 11:54 PM Posted by Amy

Hi. You all seem to know a lot about the Luxor and I've been trying to figure out if I'm right about something...My 1st trip to Vegas was in 1995 and I could swear that the beam was green. Am I right? My mother-in-law says it's always been white, But I picture it green!

July 26, 2007 7:38 AM Posted by mike_ch

Flight was already uncovered, looked nice from a distance. Looking at the area, I think LAX's entrance will be in that large area just in front of the doors next to the lobby, in that little cave-like entrance just to the left of the main casino entrance.

I have a *LOT* of opinions, but unfortunately there's not really a space for all of them. I don't really have enough material for a column, but maybe someone will open an off-topic thread soon. ;)

July 27, 2007 1:32 PM Posted by Eric

Everyone here is wrong about looking forward to de-Egypting the Luxor.
The Luxor is the best themed property on the Strip and even makes the most sense..desert..hello?
I think it is an absolute shame that the idiot that owns the place is destroying it. That's right, I said destroying!
You watch, they will empty the inside of any Egyptian resemblense and then they will destroy the outside.
What we don't know is the real reason behind the so-called change. To me it smacks of predjudice and politics!! Sure, even though it is a modern place and a casino and all, it still honors in a sense, the ancient Egyptians to whom we owe many thanks for many of the things we have today. In a sense, I think it's symbolic that to destroy (read de-Egyptize) the Luxor is to spit on the honor of that ancient civilization.
The things the owner is doing and saying basically even putting down the Brits in his statement is of the highest shame.
I had a vacation all planned and paid for October this year (2007) and now have canceled it thanks to this. I'll never be able to visit Vegas again. I'm not interested in "Los Angeles themed" properties...what an incredibly stupid idea!! I'm also not interested in high-rise condos everywhere...who wants to see that?

July 27, 2007 5:27 PM Posted by mike_ch

I think it's a mighty strong comment to come in here and say "everyone is wrong." There's a variety of opinions here. I certainly don't like to see what's coming to the Luxor, but it was hardly perfect and had plenty of room for change.

In general, natives of other cultures are more offended by the construction of Las Vegas resorts that mimic and sensationalize their cultures more than the removal of such stereotyping. The real French were hardly impressed with Paris Las Vegas. Even the Canadians laugh at signs like "L'Hotel Elevators."

Egypt has a real history and slot machines and Carrot Top have no place in the story.

July 27, 2007 9:28 PM Posted by John

*sniff**sniff* Hmm, I smell a troll. No one, and I mean no one, cancels a trip because of news like this. That would be like me cancelling a trip to Wynn because he sold his company to Kerkorian again. It wouldn't happen.

These places can't stay the same forever. If they did, we'd still have the Dune, the Stardust, and, everyone's favorite, the El Rancho. Vegas is a city that changes and the Luxor "transformation" is another example of this. If things don't change, you don't earn more money. And this town isn't about making the same amount of money all the time.

August 16, 2007 2:18 PM Posted by Andy S

Another great decision by MGM Mirage, the folks who bought you ti.

They are really making Vegas a less interesting place to visit. I really don't understand what getting rid of the themeing gets them except a generic casino/hotel.

Although it needed work and a few new bars/resautants and the new night club are a good idea, I think getting rid of the Egypitan theme is a bad idea.

I will see the changes they bring in, but I doubt the Luxor will be on my list to visit in future.

MGM leave NYNY and Mandalay alone, please!!

August 16, 2007 4:22 PM Posted by mike_ch

Andy S, unfortunately Mandalay is sort of the model for MGM's changes throughout the past four years. When it opened it was not completely without a theme but had succeeded at being known both as a "luxury" hotel (I use quotes only because some people here would sneer at the idea) and a hotbed of Spring Break style action with the under-30 set.

MGM seems fit to leave Mandalay alone, mostly. Almost all the good qualities of the place have been emulated at MGM Grand, which used to be like Mandalay but bigger and with a stronger (and sometimes goofier, hello Oz) theme. Mandalay is getting old enough that the cracks in veneer are really starting to show but still new enough to not warrant serious redecoration like TI and Luxor, so for now it's just reaching that point where it's getting visibly old but nobody's willing to lift a finger to stop the aging process.

Well, that and I think the addition of THEhotel hurt them both in fiscal expectations and in sense of prestige. There's not many people who want that Tower Suites Lite kind of experience at the very far south end of the strip. Probably the only part of the tower that performs as well as the braintrust that thought it up hoped is MIX.

NY NY is changing, but it's at the arcade level so you probably won't notice.

November 9, 2007 7:59 AM Posted by Mark D

Went to the Las Vegas Weekly magazine 9th anniversary party at LAX Wednesday night. Dang that place is dark inside, and stylistically somewhat goth. The entrance is a very, very dark and claustrophobic uphill tunnel, sort of like spelunking. The decor is black on black with some red here and there and hardly any lights. Two curving staircases descend to the main floor with a central dance floor and a bar on each end. Plenty of big red sofas to hang out on. Up stairs is one bar and a bunch of private booths overlooking the dance floor, and we got to hang out in those because the party was a free for all, including the drinks. Excruciatingly loud DJ above the dance floor in the center of a really wide red curtain, I'm not sure if that's a stage up there behind that curtain. Very difficult to talk to anyone or even to order drinks because it was so loud. But the service was really good, lots of cocktail waitresses in red miniskirts and lots of bartenders, and lots of bouncers with flashlights making sure people don't trip in the dark.

May 11, 2008 1:36 AM Posted by 00

There are much better clubs in Las Vegas than LAX. The club layout is very simple, boring, and gets old quick. This place is full of narrow walkways and there's really no space for anything. Bouncers bounce you around the place since you can barely stop anywhere to take in the environment. I also tried the VIP service there and they were very unprofessional. I argued with a bouncer for half an hour about how I could go in to the VIP area with my group but only the women were allowed to drink. He then said he doesn't really have to let me in to begin with. After much long, drawn out drama he said to have fun and do whatever we want. Everything put together just easily killed the mood. Both of my visits there were terrible. If you want a good club to go to I highly recommend Tao. Don't even bother with LAX!