Liz Benston had an interesting column on Macau in the 9/30 LV Sun:
Catching up to Las Vegas
Categories: Business of Gaming, Macau Casinos and Hotels, Open Topics, Venetian/LV Sands, Wynn Resorts
From Benston's article: "Revenue from baccarat, the game of choice for Asian high rollers, was up 22 percent on the Strip in July from a year ago. Baccarat revenue over the past year was $916 million, growing twice as fast as revenue from blackjack, which generated $1.5 billion. Revenue for pai gow, another game favored by Asian players, grew 37 percent, faster than that of any other card game measured by the state."
I'm shocked by these numbers. Yes, with Macau creating a mystique for Vegas and with good blackjack and video poker conditions a thing of the past, it's no surprise that smart players would gravitate to these low(er) house advantage, slower-paced games. But still, 22% increase in baccarat?! I had read a statistic only two years ago that fewer than one percent of people who wagered money in a casino even knew how baccarat worked. 37% percent on pai gow is equally impressive. The article, however, doesn't mention if that statistic includes the poker (easier) variant and/or the original tiles. When "pai gow" is uttered alone, it is usually in reference to the tiles variant. I can't imagine a 37% increase on a game that takes *weeks* to master.
MGM Mirage announced management appointments today. Bill McBeath moves from Bellagio to CityCenter Casino. He seems to be the favored one at the moment:
"Bill McBeath has been named President and Chief Operating Officer of the new 4,000-room resort and casino at CityCenter, scheduled to open in November 2009. McBeath will also oversee the Vdara Condo Hotel at CityCenter. McBeath has served as President of Bellagio since February 2005. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel Administration before joining the company in 1987. In 1998, he was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer of Treasure Island and was named President and Chief Operating Officer of The Mirage in 2000."
I have a bit of bad news on the Wynn restaurant scene. Tonight was the last night Tableau will be serving dinner to the public. They say they will still be open for breakfast and lunch, and Mark LoRusso will be opening a new place at Encore.
Felix Rappaport To The Rescue!
He is profiled in a rather long article in the October issue of "Las Vegas Life". Rappaport is surprisingly candid and talks about the future of Luxor and the new Criss Angel Cirque show. He obviously also likes Steve Wynn's quality focus. Here is an excerpt from LV Life's website, but if you can pick up the magazine, there's a lot more.
My LV panoramas taken with a relatively cheap point & shoot have been fairly popular, so here's a link to my latest taken from Wynn:
Palazzo pretty much dominates the view. They still have some work to do on the east side, but one of the tower cranes is being dismantled and I expect the facade will cover the last bare part of the elevator core pretty quickly. There's a lot of activity (and work left) on the pool level as well.
It's probably covered up by the tower crane, but there's a big "T" on the short side of Trump Tower, just in case you need a hint.
You can also just see the corner of Echelon, where excavation work is well underway. Some lucky guest in this room will soon have a nice view of the Frontier implosion, and many more will have a nice view of construction for the next 4 years or so.
Thoughts re: Palazzo/Luxor.
I'm not sure how long this has been around, but Palazzo has a web site up and running in much the same style as the Venetian's redesign of last year:
It's got some decent information, I guess, although I'm not a fan of the background pattern, that repeating circular pattern. I saw them and immediately thought they were the Green Lantern (as in from comic books) emblem. Heh.
Thanks for that link, Detroit. Rappaport seems to have the right intentions but I wonder if he's in over his head. If the guy's biggest credit is Coyote Ugly then I have to doubt his ability to turn things around. Sure, Luxor was getting stale, but the only addition I've been impressed with is Flight (which got some minor tweaks on my last visit out, the signage outside is now red lettering similar to LAX instead of white when it opened.) I have hopes that Liquidity will be a pretty centerpiece worth gawking at even if you aren't buying drinks. Otherwise, renovating the restaurant lineup and tearing out the arcade won't make a place a hit, as we saw at Treasure Island.
Why a guy from NY-NY, a place so wildly themed than even the most cynical visitor wants to go get a look at it, thinks the answer is to turn it into another hangout spot for the MTV set is beyond me. I still haven't seen anyone online remark "Oh thank god all the Egypt stuff is being torn out!"
Mike P, that is bad news about Tableau. Although I haven't observed business levels in 11 months, it struggled many nights from the beginning. The bartenders I knew from Aqua (Michael Mina) wouldn't say anything inappropriate, but I inferred they felt business was weak, partly because of Tableau's location. I wonder if the rumors of a year ago that the Tableau site would eventually become a poolside club will prove true after Encore opens.
Mike P, some great shots! That looked to be about as south of room as you can get at Wynn. Were you in one of the Parlor suites with two sides of windows? If so, what did you think of them?
Mike P, I agree with Mike E, great photos. I didn't realize the retail facade heading east on Sands was so far along. It looks good. TI is certainly in the shadow, literally, of Palazzo. What time of day did you take the photo?
Mike E - no, that was taken from a Salon Suite some ways away from the south end.
detroit - that was an early AM shot. By 9AM or so TI is in full sunlight. One morning, not this trip, I stumbled into the elevator with my morning coffee and was joined by some guy with his hooker headed up to his room. As they got off the hooker turned to him and said "wow, what a party animal." That's me alright. I actually wake up around sunrise.
The waiters we talked to at Tableau blamed the location. We ate dinner there regularly, and I never saw it more than about 2/3 full. The clientele seemed to skew a lot older than the typical Wynn guest as well.
I hope the chef's loyalty will be rewarded with a more prominent location at Encore.
Here's a little inside news form our friends at Monte Carlo: Diablo's Cantina was shutdown last night by the Health Department.
It will be nice to see the MGM-Mirage PR machine try to spin this. It will also be nice to see if they're going to continue leasing more and more restaurants to the Light Group. (In defense of the Light Group I've eaten at Stack and Fix and loved them both)
Wow Billy, that's crazy.
I really like FIX and STACK and eat there often. I wonder if this is just opening jitters or a real ongoing problem.
It could very well be opening issues. When Red Rock opened, the Salt Lick BBQ there received a bad grade for a dishwasher that wasn't cleaning properly.
I'll likely be heading into the Strip on Thursday to go scout out a few things and do some shopping, I'll check and see if I see anything happening there. For whatever reasons, we'll find out the details soon enough as the health inspector reports are (thankfully) covered in the R-J.
When I read Mike P's comment about Tableau last evening, I checked the Wynn website. Tableau was still listed as serving dinner.
Today, the site has been changed. Apparently, there will still be a "lounge menu", so I assume the bar will remain open as well:
"Breakfast (Weekdays): 8:00 am to 10:30 am
Lunch (Weekdays): 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Brunch (Saturday & Sunday): 8:00 am to 2:30 pm
Lounge menu: Nightly, 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm"
Those numbers seem about right. I agree that the pai gow numbers seem more for poker rather than tiles. You'd be surprised by how many Hispanic-Americans know how to play tiles in the Los Angeles area though. Also just because a game is slower-paced doesn't mean it has a low advantage for the house. You'd be amazed at what the casino's expectation for pai gow poker or tiles was.
WYNN made an appearance on Jim Cramer's lightning round on today's Mad Money. Jim talked up how much he liked Elaine & Steve and how he recommended the stock in the $80s and the $100s, but at $166 it was just too hot so he gave it a Don't Buy.
FYI, I just drove past the Diablo Cantina about 15 Minutes ago, looked busy and open to me, whatever the problem was, they quickly got it rectified.
I predict that Tableau will be getting the old drywall coverup before the end of the year. They were definitely not serving dinner yesterday evening, and the single bartender looked pretty lonely.
Mike P, I'm afraid you're probably right. The three main bartenders at Aqua/Michael Mina were really excited about going to Wynn. The one who's usually the night bartender at Tableau, Kirk, has some kids. Now, I can't remember the names of the other two, but one requested days at Tableau. He soon realized it wasn't the best decision because of lack of drinkers and tips during the day. I hope they were able to transfer from Tableau to other positions at Wynn. They're nice guys.
I remember talking with the main bartender at LeCirque at Bellagio when the Aqua people were going to Wynn. He said he was very comfortable with MGM Mirage's management, and he was right. He's been at LeCirque since 1998, and he's doing fine. It's amazing that restaurants like Picasso and LeCirque are still going strong after nine years, considering all the new dining competition in Vegas.
Le Cirque is still going strong because it's awesome. Restaurants that are that good can be truly timeless.
Wynn stock nose-dive after missing projections in Macau.
Grand Lux Cafe prep kitchen, The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 59 demerits Sept. 18. Violations included drains not working in main prep area, causing standing water on the floor. GRADE: Closed
JPOP Sushi Bar, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 39 demerits Sept. 18. Violations included chef wearing a finger cot without gloves while preparing fish. GRADE: C
O'Shea's entertainment bar, 3555 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 31 demerits Sept. 20. Violations included hand sink being used as dump sink. GRADE: C
Flamingo Las Vegas Island Bar, 3555 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 23 demerits Sept. 19. Violations included fruit flies in liquor bottles and throughout the bar. GRADE: C
O'Shea's front bar, 3555 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 20 demerits Sept. 20. Violations included bottles of liquor containing insects. GRADE: B
Mike_ch has mentioned on his strip walks that Island Lounge at Mandalay Bay was boarded up. I was on their website but it was not listed, they had something called eyecandy sound lounge & bar, I assume it has been replaced. Does anyone know if Mandalay is also being 'dethemed'? Coral Reef lounge has already been replaced.
Any one heard if the Spinx and obilisk are definately being removed from Luxor? I assume they will but dont know if it has been annunced?
Cheers for any info.
I haven't heard of that but it probably would be the place. I'll take a look for that. It's going to be several more days before I get out there (didn't go browse today after all) and I've got several things on my plate for the next one.
eyecandy is new:
It's now official, Marriott says it's planning a 3,500 room casino resort with 500,000 of meeting space across the street from the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Sad to report there's been a fourth construction related fatality at CityCenter:
Is MGM Mirage giving safety the back seat or are the other guys just really good at convering it all up?
It would be interesting to see photos Mike, if you have a chance.
They have renderings on their website and it looks larger than Island Lounge and VERY modern. It looks like it will really stick out in the Mandalay casino.
Took some photos there today, however you'll have to wait around a few days for the next column later this week. Before that, I intend to also get some shots of the progress at Encore but my path didn't take me anywhere near there today.
On a lighter note, I went to Circus Circus today. It was only the second time I've been there, and the first I spent much of my time shocked that it wasn't a complete rat's nest that I had been lead to believe. There's been enough renovation effort there that I feel comfortable declaring that it's actually less tacky than Excalibur now. I'd dare say the Riviera is a bigger waste of North Strip property. It's still a pretty wacky place, though.
Can�t believe I (or anyone else) caught this sooner. Michelin is due to publish its first Hotel and Restaurant Guide to Las Vegas next month (November 15th to be precise).
This really underlines Vegas deserved Status as a center of culinary excellence. The Michelin Stars are the one thing Chefs value above anything else, (Mobil, AAA and Zagats). It will be interesting to see which places get what.
Thanks, David F. Today's NY Times talks about this, too.
Yum! Venetian's room service was nearly shut down by the health department!
In-Suite Dining hot line & prep kitchen, The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 40 demerits Sept. 28. Violations included food handler using dirty wrapped ball of cheesecloth to sprinkle cinnamon on bread. GRADE: C
China Grill back prep, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 30 demerits Sept. 25. Violations included diced chicken, calamari and raw beef stored on prep counter at room temperature. GRADE: C
Cafe Lago main kitchen, Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 27 demerits Sept. 26. Violations included no soap available at either of two dishwashing machines or at two hand sinks. GRADE: C
Border Grill cantina, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 20 demerits Sept. 25. Violations included pigeon observed walking in dining area and rodent control devices stored on shelf with tortilla equipment and flour. GRADE: B
Was this mentioned before? The Monte Carlo is going to build another restaurant on the north east corner of their lot called "Fat Bobs" with patio dining along Las Vegas Blvd.
Thanks to Mike_ch, I'll bring my own food next time I come to Vegas.
Just thought I would throw this out there. I was watching Channel 8 news today, and they did a report about a man who was at the Wynn checking on a job application. While there he put $100 into a Wheel of Fortune slot machine, and hit the $1.9 million jackpot. Great story.
Mark, that's interesting news although I doubt it'll get off the planning phase. Already last weekend Diablo's experienced drive-by pellet gun fire directed at patrons.
The amount of shootings going up could put the kibosh on this whole patio idea before it gets off the ground.
On October 2, BillyinLasVegas reported that Diablo had been shut down. The RJ reports on it in today's Restaurant Report:
"Diablo's Cantina restaurant, Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 51 demerits Oct. 1. Violations included pinto beans, burrito sauce and roasts being improperly cooled. GRADE: Closed"
I'm sure MGM corrected the situation within 24 hours.
Detroit's faster than I am. I'd also like to point out that something at the Venetian was one point away from shutdown again:
"The Venetian banquet hot kitchen, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, received 40 demerits Oct. 3. Violations included improperly cooling whipping cream and orange juice in large containers of standing water and melted ice. GRADE: C"
I'm not faster than Mike_ch. I just have a three hour advantage being on Eastern Time. I always check the RJ with my morning coffee.
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