Palazzo is the finest hotel ever built in Las Vegas - Las Vegas Sands In-Room Magazine
"Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." - Red Faced Guy
I was in Las Vegas at the end of December on a trip that was supposed to coincide with the soft opening of The Palazzo, the first major property to open on the Strip since Wynn Las Vegas in 2005. Of course, we know how that turned out - Las Vegas Sands postponed the soft-open for a few days and by the time guests were walking through, I was back at home.
When another excuse for a trip popped up, this time coinciding with the 'real' opening of The Palazzo, the credit card was primed and ready. I reserved a standard 'suite' for two nights at a rate of about $300/night. I've been a critic of The Venetian in the past but I really wanted to go into this past weekend without pre-judging the property... at least that was my goal.
Keep reading after the jump for my thoughts on The Palazzo, some comparisons to other properties, and some specific notes on the photos.
Photo gallery: http://www.ratevegas.com/photo/gallery/palazzo
First off, despite being open, this property is far from finished. The pool and spa aren't done, only a couple of restaurants are open, the show isn't open and according to the front desk, only 2/3rds of the rooms are available. I would guess it's actually less than that - the place was pretty dead at all hours, especially hotel related services.
Our check-in was quick and efficient. The bellman outside took our bags, passed them to another bellman who then waited for me to finish and walked us upstairs to our 'suite'. This level of service is impressive but I doubt this is standard or would be available when the hotel is actually busy enough to keep these guys occupied. Still, it was great - he was polite and friendly. He told me that he used to work at The Venetian and that they had only had access to the new building for about '2 weeks' at that point.
The access to the elevator bays is right across the casino from the main entrance - very easy to find. There was a guard there checking keys 24 hours a day (I've noticed that at WLV, early morning there is often no one there). The elevator lobby looked sorta cheap, similar to The Venetian and not as nice as those at Bellagio or Wynn Las Vegas.
We were on the 17th floor (they use room numbers in the format of 17-737 - one thing I like about WLV is the four digit room numbers, such as 6017, not 60017). I thought the guest room hallways were fairly nicely done. The carpets and colors were subdued and of course everything is new. There is glass with etchings near the doors to the rooms.
Our 'suite' was at the VERY end of the hall and I remember thinking that it was a bit of a long walk. This turned out to be sorta funny because in the in-room mag, they boast of short walking distances (I don't think the people who did the magazine have ever seen the hotel or its plans because it was bragging about things where often the opposite was true).
We walked in and my immediate impression of the room was that it is a nicer version of what you see at The Venetian. Everyone is familar with the basic setup - sleeping area up top and then a step-down to a living area with a couch, desk and table.
Of course, everything was brand new and I personally like the stylings here. Some of the individual pieces of furniture looked a bit cheap (and included the appropriate 'Made in China' stickers) but overall this is very nice standard hotel room and is quite spacious. It was very clean, though it was missing robes (the hangars with the 'if you steal these we will charge you' note was there - they later brought robes when I called down).
A couple of random things about the room that I noticed:
* The pens are really cheap looking.
* There was a lack of electrical outlets - between the two of us we had two laptops, two cell phones, and two cameras - the entire room has only TWO open outlets. I had to unplug stuff to get things charging.
* The in-room safe is a drawer vs a wall mount. It is quite large, easily fit both computers and my camera plus it has outlets so you can charge your computer while it is in the safe. This is brilliant and I haven't seen it elsewhere.
* A DVD player is included standard, as is a fax machine/printer.
The bathroom is also nice, similar to The Venetian's standard fare. Two sinks, tub, separate shower and water closet. Also a make up station to make sure everyone has their space. My wife was impressed that when the maid cleaned the room, they organized all of her make up on the counter.
Ok, so that's the room. Check out the photos to see what I'm talking about.
What about the rest of the hotel? In short, I think it's good and bad.
The lobby/check-in area, as well as the atrium connecting the hotel to The Venetian, both are open, grand affairs that I personally really liked. These are open areas with flowing water and greenery (mostly fake though, too bad).
So far so good! Now, how is the casino?
Disappointing. The casino is the definition of a slot barn - you can see all the way across the floor from virtually any point, which is an attribute I personally find very distracting.
Around the edges of the casino are walled off construction areas that will be the bulk of the restaurants, opening directly on to the casino floor in most cases. The high limit slot area looks like something out of Green Valley Ranch or some other Station joint, not a top Strip property. The slot salon is pretty small, very open (no privacy) and I did not see any food area like those you see in other high end rooms. It was also empty every time I walked by. The high limit table / baccarat area is larger but also very basic looking. I tried to get some photos here but I encountered very aggressive security guards who seemed to be on to me and my little property review walk. Frankly, I was surprised at the high limit areas. I assume there is private gaming somewhere on property that I will probably never see but these spaces were very, very basic looking.
There are several bars in the casino, similar to The Venetian, plus the 'Salute Lounge' that features zebra-colored furnishings and live music, tucked off in the corner.
I walked the casino floor with several friends on Saturday night - the negative opinion was fairly universal. No one liked the open, barn look. Take from this what you will.
One potential big plus is easy access to the self-parking area - escalators drop you right in the casino, a benefit of the underground parking.
As I had said earlier, most of the restaurants are not open yet. The Grand Lux Cafe is basically a replica of the one at The Venetian and I'm sure some guests will be confused when meeting friends. I did not eat at Morels, which is open, but a friend did and said his food was not prepared properly and was sent back.
On the shopping front, some of the stores in the mall expansion are open, including Barney's. It's nice to have the latter with a Las Vegas outpost and it is quite large and well stocked. Several of the other fine dining outlets are upstairs in the mall, which I personally think is a bit tacky. Nothing in the Palazzo shops will surprise anyone, though some of the boutiques have not yet been in Las Vegas. It's more, fairly high end shopping.
Overall, I guess The Palazzo was exactly what I guessed it would be. In some ways it is a nicer Venetian and I think fans of that property will love it. I realize that many guests don't care but I was constantly bothered by the feeling of cheapness - plastic this and fake that. There's also construction dust and grime everywhere. Check out this, over the main Strip entrance:
In another city, The Palazzo would be a king but on the Strip, depending on the room prices, it is hard to recommend it over Wynn Las Vegas or Bellagio. Unless you really like to stay in new hotels, I probably would avoid it until the Spring when the pool areas, restaurants and Canyon Ranch Spa Club are open - the property is VERY unfinished.
For others that have stayed there, I'm hoping you will leave your take in the comments.