Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

He's back!!!

Many thanks to Mike Ch for another installment of our 'Strip Walk' feature. This time we have shots of Encore, Echelon, Fontainebleau, City Center, the Mirage Volcano, Bellagio, Palazzo and more. It's great stuff.

The photos are available here:

Mike's info follows after the jump. Enjoy!

Fontainebleau: This project has been growing quite a bit in the past several months, but I've given it little attention because it's placement/design makes it hard to tell what I'm looking at. A hotel tower footprint, a parking garage skeleton, and at least one other structure seem to be going up simultaneously. A glass curtain appeared on the bottom floor of the hotel tower recently, so hopefully in the next six months we'll have a solid idea of what this is going to look like in the skyline. For now, it continues to look like a mess of steel with a strip of glass along the Riviera side.

Echelon: Hey, you can see the progress now! Pillars stick up over the fences and you can see a general shape in the ground from the Wynn garage, so in a year or so we should have a better idea of what this should really look like.

Encore Suites at Wynn Las Vegas: The day I went out and took photos for this column, they began putting letters on the tower and stopped early as high winds kicked up. They should be at least halfway done by now. Exterior walls for the parking garage side of the casino level building went up a couple weeks ago, and the strip-facing side is becoming more elaborate. There's a big of a slanting roofline as you can tell from the garage, though it's not dramatic enough to be very noticeable from the street.

Wynn Las Vegas: A lot of fences around the front yard were taken away to move some cherry pickers into position around both sides of SteveVision. I can only guess the jumbotron is getting it's maintenance for the year. Inside, the Wynn Classic tournament ate up a bunch of slot machine floor space near the sports book.

Palazzo: A sign proudly announces that it's all open now. The Jersey Boys theatre area is still mostly walled and curtained. What little is visible doesn't inspire much confident, with columns that appear to be covered in a disco-ball like reflective material in an otherwise blank room. Obviously it's way too early to tell what the final product is going to look like, and the area seems to only be open at all for employee access. In the meantime, I'd like to say that the visual look and style of Palazzo's Grand Lux Café is very appealing, and I was never comfortable in the Venetian's. There's a sort of espresso/pastry bar next to the restaurant.

The Mirage: Volcano has been torn apart, lake out front has been drained, and the one over the walkway has been drained too. The walkway has been removed so guests are directed around the sidewalk to that entrance. Inside, the Burger place is still highly walled, so don't count on seeing it soon.

Caesars Palace: There's an Apple Store scheduled to go into the Forum Shoppes, so I went in to look at the walled up locations and guess where it will be. It will allegedly be in the back by the Atlantis showpiece, and the only space that seemed large enough is outside that showroom, next to the GAP.

Bellagio: Yellowtail shouldn't take long to build. I hope it doesn't take long, anyway, as the construction wall is pretty tacky by Bellagio standards. Similar to the kind of walls up around Luxor a year ago, a plain wall with a giant advertisement for the new place on it, right between the entrances to Le Cirque, Prime, and Picasso.

Planet Hollywood: Construction of the Westwood tower in back is really taking off. Glass curtain going up and everything. I'll try and get a picture the next time I go past on the monorail.

CityCenter: It's kind of unfortunate that I don't have too many easy ways of getting rear shots, because that's where a lot of the action is right now. Up front, guys in a pit continue to move dirt around. It might just be me, but it seems like the other towers have stalled a bit while Veer gets underway. Peoplemover track snakes out from Bellagio and behind the Harmon.

Monte Carlo: Peeked through the doorway of Brand Steakhouse. It's basically still a construction zone in there, so maybe another month? Out back, you're asked to stand out in the path of taxis in the areas where they're still afraid of material coming off the roof. They've been patching it up quicker than I expected, though.

NYNY: Good grief. The old high limit area is basically gone and the phony facades in the wall are being torn up. The old Big Apple Bar space is GONE, completely. They brought down some sides of the big walls that hid this place from view when I was last here, so from the upper level you could snap pretty clear pictures of the empty space back there. Either way, they're mostly done tearing stuff down and the space looked like an empty cavern, probably not unlike what the whole casino looked like during construction once upon a time.


Read archived comments (12 so far)
March 16, 2008 5:58 AM Posted by detroit1051

Palazzo's fountains look very attractive in the two photos. Is the ivy on the wall around the two tiled, arched fountains real or fake?
Regardless, from a distance, it all looks good.
I've forgotten. Is Yellowtail replacing Shintaro, and will it be a restaurant or club/restaurant? I'll miss the jellyfish which were visible from the entrance to Shintaro.

March 16, 2008 8:37 AM Posted by Andy S

Thanks for the update Mike!

Couple of quick questions if you dont mind:
The Mirage - the walkway that you said had been removed, is it the one that you had to walk past the Tigers to get to the casino? If so has it been totally removed?

Have you seen what they are doing with Tangerine at Treasure Island? has details about NYNY and apparantly the 'central park' theme will be dropped and a new central bar will be put in.

Cheers, Andrew

March 16, 2008 12:36 PM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit: There's photo duplicates for some reason. Don't know why. *shrug* Anyway, the ivy seemed too far away to touch without taking a bath and having to explain myself to someone. I guess I'll give it a better look next time.

Yellowtail will be as close to a clubby restaurant without having a club. The bar will remain and it promotes itself as casual, which I know at Bellagio is still pretty fancy. The new chef, Akira Back, was on Iron Chef against Bobby Flay recently (I saw a sign once about a viewing party) though I know nothing about how often he'll be in the kitchen.

Andy S: The walkway that had been removed is the moving rampway outside up to the tiger exhibit. Presently you're directed along the sidewalk up to the same entrance where you pass by the still-empty exhibit space. The moving rampways themselves appear to be gone (very large barriers have been put around the whole area) and the water is gone but the concrete frame for the ramps is still there. They could just be replacing/repairing the ramps at the same time the water is gone?

I've only seen Tangerine from the outside for the past month or so. I noticed the lettering is gone but that's it.

March 16, 2008 12:43 PM Posted by mike_ch

PS: Detroit: I'm putting money on Yellowtail having no real club atmosphere despite the Light Group management. Reasons for this are simple: Resort management has so far taken great care in making sure none of their clubby ventures touch the lake. I think the last thing we want is pulsating music and partiers coming from one of the balconies in the "villa."

After what The Powers That Be did to the pirate show, I can only guess Bobby Baldwin is protective of the golden goose's calling card.

March 16, 2008 1:31 PM Posted by detroit1051

I need to read Bellagio's press releases on a regular basis. Yellowtail certainly sounds appealing, and it will be open for lunch.
Expand the press release dated 2/21/08. For some reason, I can't link it without the entire Press Release section printing.
Rockwell Group, Yellowtail's designer, has done some pretty spectacular restaurants:

March 16, 2008 1:41 PM Posted by detroit1051

PS: Bellagio's 3/10/08 press release on Master Sommeliers shows MGM doesn't intend for the property to slip in quality. Will CityCenter Resort and Bellagio be equal jewels in the crown?

March 16, 2008 2:34 PM Posted by GregoryZephyr

A few brief comments based on my visit a couple weeks ago: the walkway leading to Mirage entrance appeared to me like it is just being upgraded, not completely removed. They seem to be carefully removing the walkway parts but leaving the roof and landscaping in tact so I don't think they are doing any major demolition. Not sure if they will replace with a new moving walkway or just a regular sidewalk. Also, the volcano area is really in for a major redo. They ripped out all the fake rock. It is literally down to the concrete core.

I liked Palazzo. The casino was spacious, bright, and open. It won't appeal to old-schoolers but my impression was if you are there attending a convention, the casino feels a bit like an exposition floor with wide straight aisles and a sense of airiness.

I also walked through Planet Hollywood. I was impressed that they managed to turn the casino into what feels like a giant ultra lounge. It's nothing like Bellagio or Wynn but it has a unique look without going too far. And, it is a far cry better than the cartoonish Aladdin design.

March 16, 2008 7:15 PM Posted by Mike P.

Palazzo's ivy and topiary: fake. Flowers and other small plants: mostly real. Just my judgment from a distance in some cases.

March 17, 2008 6:59 AM Posted by Joe

Please, please, please guys don't start typing that you can't believe that Palazzo would put fake ivy in. The last time I was at Wynn, I do remember seeing some drunk guy laying on fake grass. People in glass houses....
And as far as the moving walkway at the Mirage, I worked there for 3 years (many years ago) and that walkway was always shutting down for no reason. Hopefully an upgrade. Wasn't there rumblings a long time ago that the BIG sign was being moved because Ceasars was blocking it?

March 17, 2008 2:59 PM Posted by Vegas Hotels

It's great to have you back and with photos. I couldn't tell there was a slant in the roof of the Wynn Encore from your pictures. There is a lot of construction in that area but everyone in Vegas is on a deadline and have to finish the entire projects as soon as possible. That's how Vegas construction works. Well it's great having you back and thanks for the photos.

March 18, 2008 4:42 PM Posted by bonk!

[quote] GregoryZephyr: I liked Palazzo. The casino was spacious, bright, and open. It won't appeal to old-schoolers but my impression was if you are there attending a convention, the casino feels a bit like an exposition floor with wide straight aisles and a sense of airiness. [/quote]

I agree, GZ. And yet Mandalay Bay's casino is relentlessly ridiculed with a very similar design... I've never understood that.


March 20, 2008 9:25 AM Posted by detroit1051

Echelon has a great webcam. Blue skies and lots of cranes.