Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Here we are with a special Thanksgiving-eve 'Strip Walk' segment. This time around, mike_ch checks out the Frontier, Encore, City Center, Luxor, The Mirage and more. Text after the jump...


Starting from Circus Circus and working southward this week.

Echelon: There's about four cranes and a hole in the ground. It's hard to get good photos of what the cranes are doing because a pile of dirt runs along the perimeter fence blocking the view. Over by the Frontier it's easier to get a view.

Frontier: Aw shucks, there's still more of this hotel left than I'm satisfied with. The whole strip-facing building is still there. When will we be allowed to forget that this place happened? When?

Palazzo: More awnings and details are going up at the north end, including Morel's Bistro near the escalators to Wynn and 40/40 Club over the ground level archways. A basic entrance arch has been built over the driveway and the marquee is more dense with steel and electrical equipment than the simple skeleton it's always been.

Mirage: The southern entrance is a pleasure to walk through now that the Tiger exhibit is gone. The store across from the wall still sells tiger stuff, so you can always remember your failed visit to the tiger exhibit when you met the black wall.

Bellagio: Look, up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, this looks like a job for SCAFFOLDING! Indeed, the roof dome of Bellagio has some tiny scaffolding up there as they, I assume, repair the damage to the little itty bitty minidome at the top of the center core. If some manager is reading this, congratulations on affirming that details really do matter to the powers that be. You could have (and for more than a year you did) let the roof stay as it was with few others than sharp-eyed nerds like yours truly pointing it out. Oh, and Christmas decorations are up in the mall. The large golden globes that were supposed to look like giant ornaments are replaced with big square giftboxes covered in little mirrored tiles. If Christmas Eve at Bellagio is as busy as last year (when some Korean pop superstar played at Caesars and the entire mid-strip was packed solid) then at least these decorations will be less painful to be crushed up against as you try to get in or out with the throngs. No holiday conservatory yet.

CityCenter: The old curtains and cyclone fencing was replaced in favor of a solid wooden wall in most places so getting CityCenter pictures is more difficult than it used to be, but it used to be extremely easy. Point is, if a picture looks unbalanced, as though the whole planet tilted over 25 degrees, it's because that picture was taken by sticking my camera into one of the leftover places where you can still get a good view from the sidewalk. It was a Sunday so there was almost nobody on-site, but all the work that was going on was happening in one of the low-rises over back by Vdara and Cosmo. A big piece of rail has been placed on some of the tram columns. Will we get to tram over CityCenter's ongoing contstruction? No. Not likely, meaning we'll be trudging past this site.

Monte Carlo: A blank wall has been put up over Blackstone's for it's magical transformation to HIDE. In the food court, a new Haagen-Dazs has replaced an older Haagen-Dazs. Mmmm.

MGM Grand: The building out back continues. A frame has been put up. There's no doubt that they're building more meeting space back there, otherwise the only other thing that fits the profile would be a miniature airplane hangar.

NYNY: Temporary curtains have been put up around "Times Square" about where the merchandise cart was. Rok Vegas is just a wall again, with no more entrance art sitting out there. The Pour24 bar is almost ready to open. The wall is gone, the curtains are left, and I took some shaky pictures because there was a guy taking stock of the booze inventory and I didn't want to bother him. It looks like a really basic bar. The counter is blue and white and lit up from inside and the modern metropolitan look still screws up the train station motif but oh well. You'll still have great views of the casino from the balcony to shoot pictures (or anything else) from, but now it's a social faux pas to enjoy the view without buying overpriced Jack Daniels. Now that's progress!

Luxor: A very flimsy curtain has gone up near the cashier cage and fluorescent light pours through revealing a grey concrete room behind, and it appears stripped empty. What could possibly be going on? Nearby, Company is fully visible but not yet open. That'll happen on the 30th. The room combines a bit of that rural western look with the kind of fancy bar and restaurant you're used to seeing at Stack and Fix. This actually looks like a nice place, and the menu was kind of high but not as unreasonable as something like Diablo's which still has pretty good business. A large portion of the casino surrounding the dining level is curtained off, and behind the curtain they're hurriedly making the entrance to Cathouse to open up at the same time. Buffet renovations are at a standstill downstairs. Hey Luxor guys, since Mandalay Bay and Bellagio have (possibly) listened to my complaints, how about serving bigger glasses for my soft drink at Pyramid Cafe and the More buffet? I have a soft spot for Luxor but I eat at Excalibur because the hosts aren't constantly running behind on refilling everyone's tiny, tiny glasses.

See you in December!


Read archived comments (13 so far)
November 21, 2007 10:38 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, great photos. If I owned a share of Jockey Club, how unhappy would I be about the building practically disappearing within Cosmo? The best rooms at Jockey now have to be the ones facing Bellagio's garage ramp.
Company American Bistro at Luxor looks inviting. I'll have the $36 Day Boat Scallops, please. I need to make a return trip to Luxor next time. Your report inspired me to check out Luxor's website. It's very well done. I had never heard of Fusia before, and the space looks good. The rooms all look more high-end than I remember them.
Palazzo looks more and more like it will be ready for its December soft opening, much to my surprise. I may have to rethink my opposition to Adelson's properties once it's open, and I see it up close.

November 22, 2007 9:17 AM Posted by mike_ch

Well, keep in mind what used to be on the CityCenter/Cosmo grounds before the ground was cleared. I'm thinking particularly of the tour helicopters that had a takeoff/landing site right there near the Boardwalk and the Country Western Bar/Seven Nightclub. If I was a tenant in Jockey Club, would the ground floor of the Cosmo tower really be that much worse? I mean, you could finally sleep peacefully without the noise of helicopters taking off all the time and you'd have a nicer neighbor. Views out the window would be obstructed but they weren't that great to begin with with the ticky-tacky tourist souvenir stores and the helicopter pad.

By the way, I went to town yesterday for some exercise. Big mistake, the Strip is crowded for the holiday. But, I went into Treasure Island and noticed that the Sweet Temptations store has been closed. Kind of sad, they had some nice looking huge chunks of chocolate. I honestly expected the Poker Room or the TI Kids to close first.

November 22, 2007 9:32 AM Posted by mike_ch

Forgot: Encore has reached the top floor. I'm pretty sure it has, anyway. Yesterday a large piece of steel was on top of the tower lining the edge of the building on the eastern half, and it stopped as it touched the middle elevator shaft, which rested on the shaft meant it arced upwards. I'm guessing the other, taller half of the "fin" should arrive in the next month.

Which begs the question, are we going to be looking at a completed tower sitting still for a full year before Encore opens? Palazzo has been rather hectic, with essentially a month between all the construction equipment coming off the tower and the doors being thrown open. We'll be in for a long time of staring at this thing, waiting for it to open while inside Roger Thomas and crew do what they usually do (whether that's said derisively or not is up to you.)

November 22, 2007 11:21 AM Posted by Andy S

Thanks for the update!

A couple of questions if you guys dont mind.

I'm a little worried about the work going on at Times Square, is the Bar at Times Square still there?

Do we know what they are doing with Blakstones at Monte Carlo? I also notice the lounge next to the steakhouse is no longer listed on their website.

Is there much Egyption stuff still left in Luxor?

Shame the Tigers at the Mirage have gone, any one else think the shop opposit will be replaced with a bar or something?

Cheers, Andy

November 22, 2007 11:33 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, speaking of TI, I got another email invitation for the opening of the high limit slot room, 12-21/12-23. 3 nights Suite, $1,000 FreePlay, $50,000 in FreePlay drawings over the weekend. There was a computer-generated video rendering of the completed room. It looks very large with lots of elbow room and a lounge, but it's the standard issue MGM Mirage contemporary. It will be great to get your in-person report on it during or after the holidays. I'm surprised Bellagio's high limit slot room still hasn't been renovated, at least to my knowledge.

November 22, 2007 2:41 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Thanks for the updates. I wonder why MGM waited until half way through the project, to spend the money for a real construction wall? Maybe they needed this last quarter to help pay for it! :) I can't wait to see the Frontier 100% as well, hopefully its a blank lot, when I'm there next in Feb.

We all know Wynn just takes more time to build hotels, but it always pays off, you just can't rush craftmanship. Here is a picture I took of Wynn, a full 9 months before it opend, and as you can see, it was already topped off, so I think yes, we will see Encore tower complete and ready, long before the place is set to open. I guess Wynn could pull a LVS, and just go ahead and open the tower in spring, then open the common area a year from now when its really ready! I am hoping to hear a opening date before long, I want to get my reservations in for the grand opening.

Taken July 2004

November 22, 2007 4:35 PM Posted by mike_ch

Andy, to answer your questions:

1) To the best of my knowledge the bar is still there. I'm not around much in the evenings, but it was between the bar and the bridge where there's usually some merch carts on wheels that there were very temporary looking curtains put up.

2) Blackstone's is being replaced with a new steakhouse called HIDE (yes, all-caps.) This was listed on their web site but is gone now. No word about the bar.

3) There's still plenty of Egyptian stuff left. The whole upper level is still untouched. The Pyramid Cafe was briefly shut down but aside from a new sign out front and the removal of Keno no changes were made. The buffet has changed it's name and the entrance is behind walls but so far the heavily themed "excavation" that is the dining room remains. The whole outdoors is still untouched, and the northern towers still have their massive hieroglyphs and stuff. Some of this stuff, like the base of the tower wings and the symbols and stuff on the walls of the inclinator shafts, I doubt they're going to change. I don't think the sphinx out front will disappear either. MGM-Mirage has shown considerable interest in improving the joint but I don't think they're so heavily invested into the property that they'll make massive substantial changes to the infrastructure just to pretend the 90s theme craze didn't happen. Then again, there's word they'll destroy the large IMAX setups upstairs, so who knows.

3) I don't think the store will be going anywhere. It was briefly a Lakers store and is now "Vintage Vegas." However, the sundries shop near the entrance is also walled up along with the tiger display, and they'll probably move that to the store across the way. The Mirage's "Impulse" shop that sells general goods is located out of the casino, off in the hotel and shopping portion near the Cafe. That's rather far off from the tables and the sports book and the LOVE theater, so I expect the store to be beefed up with less Beatles shirts and more candy bars and sodas.

If something else were to change in that area, honestly, I'd expect the California Pizza Kitchen to leave. I know it makes good business, but MGM loves their restaurant/bar revenue, the sports book and Poker room (and both are a draw for bar and over-the-counter revenue) is right nearby, and CPK has an additional location in the Fashion Show anyway.

November 22, 2007 6:48 PM Posted by Mike P.


I have a good view of Palazzo's pool deck and retail level from where I'm staying. The retail outlets on the top level of the podium have huge amounts of exterior and interior work left. There are stacks of sheetrock and the exterior sheathing material everyone uses here in Vegas all over, and a lot of the "buildings" have no windows. Looks like construction crews are concentrating on getting the pool area ready for December.

Brian, I sincerely hope you enjoy Encore's grand opening. We probably won't be there. In fact we'll be staying at Palazzo the next time my wife has a course to attend at Wynn.

November 23, 2007 12:56 PM Posted by Andy S

Thanks for your feed back Mike, much appeeciated!

HIDE steakhouse, what a great name! Guessing it will be modern, contermary, run by the light group with Paris Hilton's dog as a celebrity backer!

Hope you are right about Luxor keeping the Sphinx, I definately think some of its original themeing should be left. I went on the attaction for the first time last year and it was dead, I assumed MGM would clear out this area.

Hope the CPK stays, like to dine there with a good view of the casino!

Any one know where the Treasure Isalnd high limit slot room Detroit referred to is located? Hope they haven't removed part of the 'Carribean' casino.

I'll be over there for New Year so it will be interesting to see what has changed. Good value for those of us fron the UK at the moment!

Cheers, Andrew

November 24, 2007 11:57 AM Posted by Nathan Boone

I apologize if this is a stupid question, but those are trellises on the facade of Palazzo? There are some just south of the porte cochere and also on the north end facing Wynn. If these are indeed what I think they are, I think they'll look great with vines on them in a few months!

November 24, 2007 12:06 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hi Andrew. Weren't you in Las Vegas last New Year's Eve as well? The crowds must not scare you off. I'm curious, do you fly non-stop from the UK, or connect at Kennedy or some other gateway? I know Mike_ch wrote about the location of TI's new high limit room, but I can't find the post right now. Here's a map from TI's website, but it doesn't tell me where it is:

November 24, 2007 3:54 PM Posted by mike_ch

It's about right where the dot that says Table Games are. I've seen the wall regularly when walking from the buffet to the retail/tram walkway.

November 26, 2007 11:22 AM Posted by Andy S

You have a good memory Detroit, I was there last new year as well. The crowds were only bad for a couple of days, it was crazy at midnight when the strip was full of people!

Virgin Atlantic have a daily flight from London Gatwick, it takes about 10-11 hours. You get there about 2pm but Vegas is 8 hours behind.

Mike how much casino space is the new room taking up? Hope t sort of fits in and does not take up too much normal casino space.

Cheers, Andrew