Once again, another StripWalk from MikeCh, this time covering South Strip properties (and a trip to the Hard Rock).
Continue after the jump to read the details, photos are here:
This walk includes the south strip hotels and a walk up to Flamingo road, then a ride east to the Hard Rock.
Excalibur: The "party pit" gimmick is catching on, and spreading from Harrah's to MGM's properties. A former slot area between Dick's and the escalator to the upper level was curtained off, and was about 80% of the way done. It's probably open by the time you read this. The party pit continues the restaurants and logos and theming from Dick's restaurant out into the casino, so that means stuff like disco balls and snarky slogans painted on the walls and their cartoon character on the tables.
The old Galahad's Prime Rib was being used for a staff meeting, and the bar is stripped of everything but it's decor.
Luxor: There was some sort of staff training for the T&T taqueria going on, but they've switched from walls to curtains so I cautiously took a few pictures. The dining area is mostly open to the atrium, but the decor looks like a bit like an alternative fashions store clashed with an Apple Store. Orange, and gray metal structures hover over the tables, the wall behind the bar looks like someone mixed paint spraying machines with loud and vibrant colors,
New signage is popping up around the hotel. It's kind of basic looking, bulbs behind only a frosted horizontal pinstripe box with black lettering. Directory booths are being added around the casino. According to a hotel marketing rep on Twitter, these are supposed to be 3D, though I don't know if that means virtual walkthroughs or exactly what. One is near the Pyramid Cafe, one is right inside off the Excalibur walkway. Speaking of the space just inside the walkway, the ticket booth is gone, and left behind is a reservations phone on the wall. Make your own reservations, ya lazy bums!
A big blue sign has been hung from the ceiling above the buffet escalators. The casino level is now very, very blue.
The theater is open again. They've swapped the gift shop and ticket booth places. Formerly the gift shop was a small space up front and the ticket booth was a fairly large lobby area to the left of the doors. Now the ticket area is a small window near the hallway in and the old lobby area is a big gift shop. The hallway, and what I say of the theater lobby itself when the doors open, more or less have the same shape as they always did with new decor. In the case of the hallway going in, the window on the northern side that used to have Blue Man or Hairspray ads have been replaced with a mirror with trees that has a sort of 3D effect that makes it appear that CG bunnies poke out of the trees. On the southern side, mirrors. The Egyptian doodads were stripped away and the area has been given a gray paint job with red touches and carpeting.
New signs discard the "inclinator" moniker for the more typical elevator. This is a deliberate attempt to make the place easier to understand, according to the marketing rep mentioned before.
NYNY: The old change booth building was replaced with slots, and so the room feels really empty. There's basically nothing but a field of slot machines and some of the new table ceilings from the escalators down from the bridges, all the way over to the Times Square area. The Big Apple Bar has become a high limit lounge. It reminds me of the high limit area of Red Rock, but on a larger scale. Thing is, with the themed buildings throughout the casino being ripped out, and no more of the "central park" stuff like the fake trees and the fake lake and so on, the room really feels like a warehouse. With no buildings, little theming, and no more neon and animated signs hanging around the casino, I feel here like Hunter does at Palazzo: like I'm in an airplane hangar that became a casino.
Rok Vegas is in the old Cabaret Theater space. There's an obvious "loud music" theme with phony speakers behind the name and TV screens at the entrance of women stroking guitars while dancing around on CGI backgrounds.
Monte Carlo: This is a food review, not an update, so if you want more construction details scroll down.
Buffet: The creatively named "Buffet" at Monte Carlo is about $14 for lunch, the same price as Excalibur's Round Table Buffet and Luxor's MORE. With Excalibur, you get a poor layout and drinks you have to refill yourself. With Luxor, you get a dark basement dining room and tiny glasses. Fortunately, the Monte Carlo buffet has large glasses that are refilled for you, so it's an easy victory, right?
Not quite. Like all buffets built by prior Mandalay Resorts ownership, this buffet has a huge dining room and a small food service area. Luxor does this (actually, their food service area is kind of huge, but a lot of it is shut down most of the time.) and Excalibur basically does this by doubling the entrance trench with a buffet line, the result is always the same: dodging others and crowding. Furthermore, the steak is top round instead of prime rib like at Luxor. However, the top round was really good IMO. There also wasn't any turkey. Dessert was good and included creme brulee and tasty cheesecakes along with cupcakes and cookies, The Asian foods are there, as is a seafood section but that's not really my interest so I passed it over. I felt the Mexican station seemed to be missing. So the food is good, but limited, and the space is crowded. And for only $5 more you can get the really high end stuff by walking past CityCenter to Bellagio. So, while I'd say this is better than MGM Grand and Excalibur, it's about level with Luxor and as a solo person I'd just spend a few more bucks and get something really good elsewhere.
CityCenter: They had just reached the top floors of Aria not too long ago.
Hard Rock: I went over here to buy a ticket, and took a photo of the work in the parking lot near Paradise. There's also a hotel tower on the other side of the place that I'll try scope out in a few weeks when I come back for said ticketed event. I really haven't been over here before, so practically the whole thing is new to me and I can't point out what's changed. There's a new concert venue called Wasted Space and apparently The Joint has gotten or is getting a refurb, Curiously, I found a sign that said "Employee Lunchroom -->" pointing into the entrance to Body English.