Mike Ch is back with another Strip Walk.
This time he hits both ends of the Strip with Luxor, Echelon, Encore, City Center and more.
Photos are here: http://www.ratevegas.com/photo/gallery/august2008
The eastern side of the strip sidewalk has been shut down out front between Stardust Rd and the Wynn parking garage. I cross over to get what shots I could before I was unable to go any further. They're beginning to apply paint around the strip-side entrance and the entrance along DI looks to be ready for the final touches. More work is going on along the base of of the tower's corner edges.
Though the club itself isn't open yet, a Rok Vegas store has already started up opposite from Coyote Ugly. For a purchase you can give the club free advertising by wearing it's logo on shirts, hats, and (urgh) thongs. In the casino, two new table structures are built with one old one still waiting to be replaced. Meanwhile, they completely got rid of the old cashier building and the phony exchange building on it's backside (old school fans will remember this was originally the desk for the "New York Slot Exchange" club before NYSE sued them into making changes.)
This place is still sitting on the fence, unable to decide if it wants to completely abandon the family market, and re market itself to budget-seekers and college-aged people. It's clear that someone in management had an idea that if the castle theme wasn't TOO strong, it's cheesiness would make it a good party pit for the frat crowd looking for a good time at a dirt cheap price.
There's a good reason not to kick out the kids, though, since anyone who has walked into Circus Circus recently has noticed the place is still pretty packed. On a Monday afternoon the acrobats not only had butts in seats in their grandstands, but gawkers lining up all over the upper level and it's stairwell to the casino below. Of course, it's also the last few weeks of summer so everyone is working to get that last chance at vacation, but it's clear the family concept isn't completely dead yet. Walking in on Monday, I saw 20-ish year old guys holding beers on the movator going in, with children trying to run backwards against the moving platform pushing between their legs. So, the crowd reflects the split personality.
In a move in favor of the poor man's Hard Rock concept, they're holding a free pool party in the afternoons. Think of it as free Rehab except with a less awesome pool and probably(?) less local appeal. Granted, there's a LOT of pools on the Strip that are better than the one at Excalibur, so if you were staying at Mandalay Bay you obviously have no business here, but someone staying a the dinky Super8 down Tropicana Ave might want to come take a dip.
On the other hand, the push away from quality begins with the shuttering of Sir Galahad's Prime Rib upstairs. This place served me the best prime rib meal I've had in the city, and was tied with the SkyCity restaurant in the Space Needle for my best prime rib dinner. It was also my favorite restaurant in this resort, having dined at every one but the Camelot Steakhouse nearby. No more. Perhaps having a prime rib place across from Camelot seemed a bit odd to some manager (though Michael Gaughan has built separate steak and prime rib restaurants at Orleans and South Point) but Camelot really costs too much IMHO. If you're going to spend the kind of money you will at Camelot, then you'll probably cross the Excalibur off your list of places to consider. The wrong meat factory got shut down here, if you ask me.
This isn't really a great place to relax right now, the amount of work going on in the old IMAX building creates a lot of noise, which bounces around the acoustics of the pyramid and into all the halls. They're really tearing up that old cinema building and the rarely-visited souvenir store next to Little Caesars is part of this, too. Something makes me think one of these exhibits will exit out through the food court. They've cleared out the old La Salsa space and the phony waterfall near the registration desk was ripped out.
I should mention that the Luxor Steakhouse has reopened as Tender, which is a very nice looking room, although it may have been a bit too inspired by CatHouse's "bordellos are awesome" idea. Lots of burgundy reds are everywhere mixing with natural wood, and light fixtures wear shades made of frilly black material. Up front is a pretty big bar and lounge, and it follows what seems to be a trend of being open to the casino.
In the middle of things, the area around the old PlayBar and the showroom are covered up. A peek into the curtains revealed that the PlayBar was gone, but the showroom entrance was bordered with a more solid material.
Cranes 'n' Things
There's new photos of F-bleau (and it's sales office located on the other side of the road), a heap of Echelon's current status in it's new "do nothing" phase, and some pictures of CityCenter and the new towers at Caesars as seen by road. The cranes have returned to Palazzo (did they ever really leave?) for the condo tower but aside from a lot of exposed steel there isn't any real shape of a building there yet.