Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

January 19, 2008

Palazzo First Thoughts

Posted by Hunter

We checked into a standard 'suite' at The Palazzo last night. I will be writing more when I get home, as well as publishing some photos, but here are some overall thoughts quickly, before I head out:

I really like the lobby and atrium areas - they look fantastic... but they may be the best parts of the property.

The room is nice, though I don't consider a single room a suite, even if it has a separated living space. The room is nicely appointed, though some of the fixtures look cheap.

Service has been great. A bellman walked us to our room, though I assume that's because it was slow. I am told on 80% of the rooms are open.

The casino is a disappointment. It's just a huge open room. Better than The Venetian but nowhere near as nice as WLV or Bellagio in this regard.

The pool area looks closed at the moment and only a few restaurants are open. I haven't spent much time in the shops yet.

This place is just what any close watcher of LVS would expect - it's The Venetian, slightly upgraded.

So, as I work on getting more data, what sort of things are you guys interested in?


Read archived comments (32 so far)
January 19, 2008 6:05 PM Posted by Mike E

Thanks Hunter!

While I doubt it would happen when the hotel is in full force, the bellhop walking you to your room is quite impressive.

I don't have many questions as I'm sure the photos you're taking will answer several. How's the high limit/baccarat room as compared to Wynn, MGM, or Mirage? I've heard good things thus far, but I trust your judgement a little more--with a casino boasting florescent skylights, my expectations aren't that high.

How about detailing in the elevator corridors or elevators themselves?

January 19, 2008 6:32 PM Posted by mike_ch

Wynn and Bellagio? You mean the casinos where the nightclubs along the walls blast out bass notes that rattle your teeth and lines for restaurants and clubs and (at Bellagio) the buffet stretch out into the casino and leave you with spectators watching you gamble?

Sorry. I'll give Wynn's casinos some points for the playability, but they've got some issues and Bellagio has the same issues while being more of a wasteful money pit to play at. I realize though that most people here play tables, and table players have a different kind of casino experience than those of us whose gambling strategy is pushing "Bet 2 Credits" until we win. ;)

January 19, 2008 6:45 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hunter, here are a few things I'm curious about:
* A friend said Palazzo's underground garage is as user-unfriendly as Venetian's garage. If you have a chance, how about taking the elevator down and give us your impression on how it looks.
* Is the high limit slot room as separated from the main casino as it looks on the floorplan? Is there a slot lounge with food, space to relax?
* Do the hotel corridors give an impression of high quality?
* Does Palazzo make Venetian look second rate in comparison?
* Is Grand Lux a clone of the one in Venetian, or is it different in decor?
* Is there a sales center for the condos which are being built?

Looking forward to your photos which will answer many questions. Thanks.

January 19, 2008 8:41 PM Posted by Hunter


I'm not talking about how loose/tight the slots are - I'm talking about the design of the actual casino area. Everyone I am here with on this trip have said basically the same thing - the casino looks like a warehouse.


More tomorrow!

January 19, 2008 9:03 PM Posted by Hunter

FYI, I am updating my status on Twitter as well:

January 19, 2008 9:42 PM Posted by Phouchg

I was in town for CES, and we parked at the new Palazzo garage for 2 days.

Until more people discover it, this is going to be my favorite mid-strip parking area. Very un-crowded and lots of parking right near the elevators. I suspect that may change at some point in the future, but for now the garage is rather dead. It is especially convenient if coming westbound on Sands before hitting the strip.

It is rather confusing to navigate, and the botts dots in the lanes have to be the biggest ones I have ever seen. Still, this is a great garage until more people discover it. But then again maybe many won't: 12 years later, the secret 5th level of New York-New York parking is still virtually empty most night.

January 19, 2008 11:10 PM Posted by Mike T

If you can Hunter, track down some of the knuckleheads who supposedly told Sheldon Adelson that the Palazzo is the most beautiful hotel in Las Vegas, as was reported in the RJ. I guess people are entitled to their opinions, even when they're wrong. How anyone can find an LVS property to be more aesthetically pleasing than either of Steve Wynn's last two creations is simply beyond me.

January 20, 2008 3:43 AM Posted by steve

Can you take a picture of where CUT Steakhouse is going to be?

January 20, 2008 5:32 AM Posted by detroit1051

CUT looks like it will be just inside Palazzo's end of Restaurant Row, the connecting corridor to Venetian. I hope Hunter takes photos of all the restaurant areas. CUT's location is on this map that was in the Review Journal:

January 20, 2008 6:05 AM Posted by MGK


As far as the garage is concerned, its a little better than the Venetian's garage, IMO. If I remember correctly, there was an escalor and a set of elevators that droped you off in the casino area, in addition to another bank of elevators that drops you off in the lobby area, which is better than the Venetian's maze-like layout. However, if you don't remember what level or area you parked on, it'll take you a while to find your car as each level alomost looks identical. Also, there are 2 differnt entrances/ exits on both LV Blvd and Sands Ave. All in all, I wouldn't exactly call it the best garage, but its somewhat of an improvement over the Venetian's garage.

January 20, 2008 6:29 AM Posted by Joey from Boston

Hunter is there any way you could get an update on when the Spa at Pallazzo will be open?

I'd very much appreciate it.

January 20, 2008 6:39 AM Posted by Joey from Boston

Oh, I forgot, Pallazzo room pics would be appreciated too!

January 20, 2008 8:53 AM Posted by detroit1051

This is amazing. Venetian and Palazzo have more than 25 restaurants combined, some of them world-class. Adelson's commitment to conventioneers helps these restaurants succeed (as long as expense accounts are still available). It's also an advantage for frequent casino guests who can get tired of the smaller number of dining choices at otherwise fine properties like Wynn and Bellagio. Venetian and Palazzo don't need a buffet when there are two Grand Lux Cafes and more than 20 other restaurants to choose from.

January 20, 2008 11:25 AM Posted by Mike P.

"The casino is a disappointment. It's just a huge open room."

How is that different from Wynn?

January 20, 2008 1:09 PM Posted by dstanley

Have the Shoppes at the Palazzo on the second level opened yet?

January 20, 2008 8:54 PM Posted by mike_ch

Warning, casino design nerd disagreement ahead ;)

Hunter: "I'm talking about the design of the actual casino area. Everyone I am here with on this trip have said basically the same thing - the casino looks like a warehouse."

Vibe is actually exactly what I'm talking about. Bellagio and Wynn both suffer from having restaurants and nightclub entrances spill out right into the casino. Playing at Wynn in the evening is not much fun when the noise from Lure/Blush is blasting out into the casino. I don't know who can have a good time playing by Bellagio's usually busy buffet line, especially that area where the buffet line spills out in front of an employee door where people try to cross the line en masse at shift change time.

I would say Wynn is slightly better than Bellagio on these accounts, as WLV doesn't have all it's restaurants empty out into the entrance of the casino, using both the hallway to the golf course (where the cafe, buffet is) and the hallway to the meeting facilities (where Okada and Alex are) as miniature restaurant rows. Still, I prefer the MGM Grand and Venetian/Palazzo method of placing most restaurants on a large restaurant row away from the casino. MGM's row is just a bit too far out in nowhere, and the Venetian's maze tunnel like casino is not enjoyable, but I think Palazzo has it pretty much right.

I think it was VegasTripping Chuck who told me on his site about how he likes Wynn for the amount of space between rows after row of slot machines, that there's enough room for people to navigate around in either direction, and the Palazzo casino also has a lot of that whereas the Venetian casino has almost none of it. The end result is a rather large room, though not quite as cavernous as Aladdin/PH.

I can't judge the restaurants, and I can't judge the rooms, but I can say that the casino seems comfortable. To me, at least. And I was never comfortable in the Venetian casino, from the lights, machines lined up everywhere in cramped spaces, styrofoam statues hanging around everywhere, etc.

January 21, 2008 12:16 AM Posted by Mike T

The Wynn is my favorite casino floor in town, by far. It looks a great deal smaller than it actually is, and I think that condensed feeling really ups the excitement level. It is aesthetically pleasing from all angles, and it is very comfortable.

January 21, 2008 5:35 AM Posted by detroit1051

Wynn struck the right balance with its casino. The layout, in quadrants, does make it appear more aesthetically pleasing as Mike T points out. I usually played in the southeast(?) quadrant near Red 8 and the high limit slot room. The proximity to the Tower Suites made for a shorter walk than in any other casino. I haven't been there since Blush opened, but Lure was so under-used there were no crowds, but now that Blush is successful, I can see how it would be annoying to slot/vp players. I never had a sense of being watched from Red 8, probably because it is raised a few steps above the casino floor.
When Wynn first opened, I thought Steve had made a big mistake with the high limit slot room: it was too chopped up and isolated. I soon realized he knew exactly what he was doing. Players get some privacy, and there are no distractions from the rest of the casino.
Venetian's casino always looked cheap with the slot machine cabinets and boxes they sit on of obviously inexpensive quality. The high limit room was stuck off at the rear of the area with no redeeming qualities. I'm sure they've made some improvements since I was there 14 months ago, but at that time, there were still some old $5 machines which took coins and weren't fitted for TITO.
At Bellagio, it is an unpleasant contradiction of moods to walk out of quiet, non-smoking restaurants such as LeCirque and Circo and be right in the middle of rows of slot machines.

January 21, 2008 9:53 AM Posted by Hunter

Ok, I'm home. Lots of thoughts, photos and responses to some of the above. I need to write it all up so I'm not sure if it will be posted later today or tomorrow. I'd like to give you as much info as possible.

Mike_ch - It appears that almost all of the restaurants at Palazzo will open up on to the casino, though they are not open yet.

January 21, 2008 11:19 AM Posted by mike_ch

No restaurant row, huh? =\ Go figure. I'll have to go through there again now that the shops or open. We basically bee-lined from the elevated walkway entrance to the Venetian connection. I'll have to go check it out again when I don't have others along.

January 21, 2008 12:43 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

My wife and I walked through Saturday night, it seems to me that all European themed resort/casinos are starting to blend together. They all have sky painted ceilings and closely related coloring and building materials and techniques.
Which makes me look at the details for difference between the Palazzo and, say, Paris. I wonder if Palazzo has the world's largest collection of artifical plants in the world, and if they are proud of it? The restrooms off the casino have one common entrance, the ladies continuing straight ahead on the left side of the entrance, and the mens turning 90 degrees to the right. There is no sign telling us which one is which at the divider, the ladies plaque is at the end of the hall 15 feet in front. I think many drunken (and sober) men will stagger into the ladies room by accident. The decorative boxes for the Kleenex dispensers are open on 2 sides to see the Kleenex boxes. Why bother to half cover them up? The soap dispensers are not electric. I thought every casino in the last 7 years had electric soap dispensers, especially at the high end.
The cursive "P" on the 18" X 24" signs standing in the casino aisles look surprising close to the Bellagio "B" on their signage, except the bottonm of the "B" is missing.
We were standing on the upper level straight across from the waterwall when I looked down to observe the 2 fountain pools between us and the waterwall. I noticed that the one with 3 fountains had the fountain spray splashing or drifting onto the ledge that surrounds the pool. I think that many people will sit on these wet parts of the ledge by accident, and the water chemicals will evetually discolor the stone.
I'm not even going to go into the 40' X 8' white spoltch on the east side of the tower outside.
My point is, I think there is a mid market attention to detail at a "Premium" property. I walked around and would mutter to myself "Steve Wynn wouldn't let this pass".

January 21, 2008 2:58 PM Posted by John

Jeff, as far as I have seen in my stays in Las Vegas, no other hotel, aside from the Venetian, has electric hand soap dispensers. In fact, I actually consider the electric dispensers to be somewhat cheap and ineffectual. I mean, they are nice, but after a while I get tired of trying to wave my hand in the correct way under the small dispenser in order to get a small amount of soap that I could otherwise get by simply pushing down on a small apparatus. However, that is just my opinion. In actuality, like I said, no resort, aside from Venetian, actually uses those things.

However, I will agree with you that the Palazzo does be some very striking, yet cheap, similarities to Bellagio. The "P" is fairly obvious, as well as the use of similar colors. However, all one has to do is look at bit closer and see that, not only are the similarities numerous, but they are also very poorly executed. For instance, both Palazzo and Bellagio have front entrance gates leading into their porte-cocheres. However, Steve executed Bellagio's gate in a much more elegant and realistic manner. Honestly, all one has to do is look and see that Bellagio has a very attractive and working, having the ability to physically close, gate; while Palazzo, on the other hand, has a painted-aluminum awning that is somehow going to act as a sort of trelise as the property ages. That is only one of the many, the use of a large piece of artwork in the center of the large lobby to attract the attention of guests, similarities that exist between these two properties, but are drastically different in their execution and quality.

January 21, 2008 4:40 PM Posted by mike_ch

Does the Wynn archway close? I don't believe it does.

Seems like there always a bit of a double standard. When WLV used an artificial lawn, Steve was lauded as some type of visionary who understands the issues facing Southern Nevada. When Palazzo uses artificial plants, Sheldon is attacked as being cheap.

I realize the guy has an image as Unca' Scrooge, he's not very likable and he seems content to follow the market instead of lead it. He also markets affordable luxury, which is considered cheap to the rather wealthy crowd this site attracts (let's face it, this site has plenty of stories about VIP lounges, high limit rooms, suites, villas, etc.)

I'm not trying to attack the people here, I'm just trying to point out the differences. Other hotels that charge about what Palazzo does uses fake plants, I pointed out Red Rock earlier. If you're a frequent customer of Wynn/Bellagio you'll look at Palazzo and sniff and say it looks cheap. If you can only afford the likes of Bally's and Treasure Island and NY-NY, stay at Bellagio once as a special occasion... Well, you'll look at what these places offer and feel that it's a reasonable upgrade.

Yes, I know Steve Wynn is all about the microscopic details and hand-crafted moldings and imported European marble and bathroom towels stolen from the crypts of the Egyptian kings (okay, maybe not THAT fancy), but you pay for all that attention to detail and all that hard work.

January 21, 2008 4:46 PM Posted by Hunter

I still have to finish my write up but a couple of things, all reflecting MY OPINION:

* In any other city, Palazzo would be one of, if not, the nicest place in town. On the Strip, the competition is ruthless.

* It's nicer than The Venetian. If you like the V, you'll totally dig it.

* It is compared to Bellagio and WLV because that is how LVS markets it. This is their own fault. You should see the in-room magazine: "Palazzo is the greatest hotel ever built in the history of man..." kind of stuff. If you're gonna boast, back it up.

Lastly for now:

It will make tons of money for Las Vegas Sands and complements their conventioneer strategy very well, even if I have no desire to stay there again.

January 21, 2008 6:19 PM Posted by John

Mike, Sheldon does not market affordable luxury to people. Come on, his resorts are usually much more expenove than even Wynn. Hell, I can get a Bellagio suite for about forty dollars more than a normal Bella suite at Palazzo. However, that's really not the point. The point is, like Hunter has said, they are marketing a product as the greatest thing on earth, but aren't backing it up with any real substance.

January 21, 2008 8:51 PM Posted by LeoNYC

Bellagio is a masterpiece. I think of it as The Plaza hotel building in NYC. Wynn did such a great job, using the most expensive materials and lots of art work that it is impossible to change it to better.

Palazzo is a beautiful hotel. A better version of the Venetian. But it is a real example that bigger doesn't always mean better.

Can't wait to see the rates that Mobil and AAA will give to "the greatest hotel ever built in the hostory of man".

January 21, 2008 10:11 PM Posted by mike_ch

Well, this is bordering on getting as ugly as tonight's debate on CNN, so I'll chime in my agreement with Leo and say Bellagio is still the prettiest building in town. I wrote a long-winded rant a year ago about all the little quaint details that could be looked over by many people, and how WLV lacks all that little minutiae despite costing something like twice as much.

John, I've found plenty of good rates for Venetian over the years. It bounces up and down with their convention traffic, but $200 weekends are not uncommon. VT Chuck took advantage of one last year, although he wound up in an old Venezia room which desperately needs a remodel.

Speaking from my family's history, we've stayed at Bellagio and Caesars (Palace Tower) each once for a special occasion years ago, and twice afforded Mandalay Bay because it was a dead zone attendance wise. Of course, we also never went on weekends. However, we normally stayed at pre-TI TI and Luxor, occasionally experimenting with something like Hilton or Monte Carlo but not liking them. We've stayed at Venetian something like three or four times because we'd been able to find good rates for it a lot more frequently.

Someone (Chuck?) described Venetian as a place to send your aunt and uncle on a two or three night trip to Vegas, since you'd get a lower price than you would Bellagio and your relatives would be fooled by all the marble and all the statues hanging around into thinking it's Bellagio's equal even though it's not. And that's probably the most accurate description of the place that I've heard.

January 21, 2008 11:42 PM Posted by Jeff

I just walked through the Palazzo shopping area for the first time tonight. It was positively creepy - some stores were open but there was almost NOBODY up there. The whole thing is laid out with criss-crossing hallways and is not very inviting. I honestly felt like I was walking through part of the property I wasn't supposed to be in. Quite a contrast to the bustling shops over at the Venetian. (And don't even get me started on that horrid neon-plaid-checked-whatever carpet strewn about the corridors.)

January 22, 2008 2:39 PM Posted by Mike P.

Regarding room rates, Vegas operators have all gotten pretty sophisticated at yield management. I just checked my email inbox for promotional offers and found a recent one from MGM Grand for a "special" non-refundable offer good now through the end of April with nightly rates that, according to their web site, range from $85 to $599. They don't say what kind of room that gets you, so I guess it's whatever they have which I gather are mostly pretty basic rooms.

The $599 rate is for March 11, with rates of 340 and 540 on the 10th and 12th, so if you were to book 3 days on that promotion arriving Monday the 10th you'd pay $1,479. Comparison shopping a little on property web sites here's what I came up with: Palazzo 259,449,449 total $1,157; Venetian 449 x 3, total $1347; Bellagio 799 x 3, total $2,397. Those are all for standard rooms at each property. Wynn is sold out on the 11th. So, Palazzo looks like the relative bargain if you have to be there for whatever is driving up rates the middle of that particular week.

January 23, 2008 7:08 AM Posted by detroit1051

I didn't know General Growth owned Fashion Show and Boulevard as well as Canal Shops/Palazzo.

"Executives of one of the country�s biggest mall developers put on a happy face at Friday�s press conference unveiling their latest high-end property: the Shoppes at the Palazzo."

January 23, 2008 2:18 PM Posted by mike_ch

Yep. They also own Meadows Mall, which I guess you could say is the west side of town's answer to Boulevard. Where us here in the west/northwest side of town go when we need to hit up Sears or what have you.

The real scary thing about GGP's theoretical collapsing isn't the malls, as they'll be bought up by SIMON and whoever else. It's what'll happen to their other major project here: Summerlin.

January 23, 2008 2:24 PM Posted by Hunter

Funny side comment... When I was in high school, one of my best friends was the daughter of the Chairman of Simon Property Group. Too bad I didn't get into the whole Vegas thing until later, he could have hooked me up.