Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

MikeCh is back with another installment of Strip Walk, our column that features ongoing Las Vegas Strip construction projects.

This time he hones in on The Mirage, City Center, New York New York and Monte Carlo.

Photos are here:

Continue after the jump for more...

This instalment of the Stripwalk is heavy on the usual pictures of buildings going up, but light on interior details. Why? There's little going on inside the casinos right now.

The Mirage

Mirage has still sealed off the old tiger exhibit and it's front-end is now more torn up and walled up than ever. Something I think is interesting is that the the concrete frame for the walkways used to be U-shaped so that the mechanics for the movator seems to be filled in. I guess the movator is being replaced with a simple walkway?

Caesars Palace

Caesars construction for the new tower is now quite visible from the road. Looking at the Bellagio lake from the road, it sticks up over the domes and such of the villa facade.

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo opened their BRAND steakhouse last weekend. It was getting finishing touches on my last visit and so I did plenty of peeking behind the curtain, but didn't take any pictures because there was a dozen or more people milling around. Basically, it's the complete opposite of Blackstone's. Decor is the usual dark with dimmed lighting and modern lines that we've seen before at these Pure/Light/Nine/Whoever managed joints. However, there's a lot of mirrors being used, it's totally open to the casino whereas Blackstone's was closed off, and something about it just doesn't seem right to me. Maybe it's because of the logo artwork of a bull's snout is on the main wall sitting above everyone's heads. Classy. For what was one of the most highly rated steakhouses online (seriously, go look at the old reviews in it's RateVegas profile) this really seems like a step backwards. And I'm wondering who really wants their steakhouse to be an open-air side attraction from the casino, letting all the machine noise and smoke drift in. Steakhouses were nicely closed off for a reason.


Bellagio was making a summer conservatory with plenty of trains. Though it shares a lot of pieces with the old giant train-set summer display from 2005, it has a lot more flowers. People may remember the 2005 display as the one where recreations of famous buildings were all over the place, and giant canyon walls were erected, and trains were going all over the place, and there just wasn't much room for flowers. Think of that, but toned down. Moving racks were being rolled out with boxes of trains stacked up, as worker bees took trains out of their boxes and started lining them up on the tracks. I talked to a worker bee and asked if the trains were all new (they looked it,) and he said that 30% of the trains came from the 2005 display. The rest of them took too much of a beating being run endlessly day and night for the season the last time.

Yellowtail doesn't open until August now, so don't expect much news on that.


Cosmopolitan is starting to actually look like something. The residential buildings now curve around the Jockey Club and appear to have balconies. Either the project is smaller than I thought or I'm dreaming, but I thought there were supposed to be two large hotel towers rising out of this? There are two "sides" of the building, but their height is pretty unspectacular compared to CityCenter next door.

Cranes 'n' Things: Speaking of CityCenter, there's a ton of pictures of that including the topped off Vdara, the window panels going up on Veer and Harmon, and how the third Panorama Towers building across the freeway seems to toss aside the design of the first two buildings to go with something that looks very much like a CityCenter building. The result from the road is that it stands between Vdara and the resort itself when viewed from the Strip and where Harmon will eventually be., and since you can't see the freeway between them it creates an illusion that CityCenter has much more depth than it really does.

The WestGate/Planet Hollywood condos, meanwhile, appear somewhat detached from the property by road. It's kind of bunched over by Krave, probably so it can be easily reached by Harmon when that's redirected someday.

Didn't go north of Mirage this time, so those projects will have to wait. As the heat arrives, that space between Sahara and Desert Inn becomes more and more brutal.


Read archived comments (8 so far)
June 1, 2008 3:08 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, thanks for the report and photos. In one of the pics, it looks like Bellagio is doing cosmetic repair on the EIF, or were they washing windows?
Your photos of Cosmopolitan helped me understand some of the comments made on Vegas Gang #9 about this shoehorn property. Jockey Club certainly looks out of place with all the new construction. Friends of mine bought a foreclosure at Jockey Club, sight unseen, for less than $2,000. Of course, they have to pay about $800 for their week in a 2 bedroom/2 bath. I don't understand the appeal of timeshares, but they don't gamble and they wanted an apartment with kitchen where the family can all meet. They just spent a week there and said it was very well maintained, and regardless of Cosmo's financial problems, Jockey Club got a substantial amount of cash upfront from Cosmo when the deal was first struck.
I wonder how much the volcano and entrance renovations at The Mirage are costing. It's got to be substantial.
Brand does not appeal to me. The description on Light Group's site leaves me cold, but it's another venue that is looking for a different demographic than I:
That's an interesting photo of Caesars Palace taken from the other side of I-15.

June 1, 2008 11:43 PM Posted by mike_ch

I'm pretty sure they were just washing windows. I took the picture because I had to get inside and figured I'd inspect what they were up to when I got home. :)

Mirage exterior work probably hasn't been too expensive. They're not using a lot of water right now, for one thing. They're also basically just stripping it down and rebuilding it, since I imagine a lot of the steel parts of the structure were rusting long ago. It's face is the same method as Disney's submarine lagoon or mountains: wire mesh sprayed with concrete.

Speaking of Disney, the volcano has been really barricaded up now, and got a lot of banners around that have some stupid message like "Come feel our new eruption this winter." It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where the network executive kept adding the phrase "with sexy results!" to every pitch he was given. Makes me long for the days of themed signage like the parks do it. I think Treasure Island's pirate show actually used to have a weather sign that said something like "Thar be a storm comin'! We set sail again tomorrow" or something to that effect.

Kind of funny how these places now break every rule of good thematic atmosphere in order to get away from that whole philosophy. A corny themed sign might make someone groan but still feel it's being done in good fun, whereas current Vegas signage is filled with innuendoes and double entendres that aren't really as cute as marketing seems to think they are.

June 2, 2008 11:11 AM Posted by Mike P.

Cosmopolitan is nowhere near topped out, at least if they are sticking to the original construction plan. According to the web site the towers are supposed to be 52 floors and "approximately" 600 ft. Looks like they're up to about the 18th floor on the east tower.

June 2, 2008 11:40 AM Posted by David McKee

We ate at Brand last week and opted for one of the casino-side tables, which made for some interesting people-watching opportunities. The noise spillover wasn't too bad -- except when the Muzak system seemed to be stuck in a 27-chorus tape loop of Scorpions' "Come on, Feel the Noise." The cowhide-pattern ceiling of Brand seemed a bit down-market, though.

June 2, 2008 12:01 PM Posted by detroit1051

David, are the casino-side tables at Brand more bar/lounge type tables, or are they real dining tables? How was the food, and is it as expensive as Prime, SW or other high-end steakhouses? Is Brand another step by MGM to move Monte Carlo more upmarket?

June 2, 2008 12:30 PM Posted by Andy S

Thanks for the report and photos Mike!

Re the Mirage walkway, they have removed the 'themed' decoration off the side of the roof, could you see what they have replaced this with? It looked like gold paint from the pictures.

Also it looks like they have sanded down the stone pillars, I wonder if they are going to do something stupid like paint them.

Cheers, Andy

June 3, 2008 10:04 AM Posted by David McKee

Detroit, to answer your questions in order: They're full-on dining tables; the food was superb; I've not eaten at Prime or SW, although if it's true (as claims) that the average entree at SW goes for $75, Brand is a *lot* more affordable; as for repositioning Monte Carlo upward -- your guess is better than mine. (It's difficult to judge the affluence of the clientele when everybody except the employees is wearing T-shirts and shorts.)

June 8, 2008 5:18 PM Posted by motoman

This may be a little off topic, but it seems a key anchor tenant has secured a prime stripfront location at CityCenter's retail mall. The article has several renderings and construction photos which may already be familiar to readers here. But a couple photos look like they were taken from the air, however -- not a vantage point covered in the StripWalks! ;-)