Mike Ch is back with another Strip Walk. Click through to enjoy.
As usual, there are some photos included but this time around you'll see the debut of our new photo gallery. Gone (hopefully) are the days of duplicated photos, strange bugs and error messages. It's still being tweaked so let us know if you find problems but generally I think it's a nice improvement.
The new gallery is here: RateVegas.com Photo Gallery
Lastly, if you read Mike's prose you will see he's soliciting photo and recon requests from you guys for his next trip. Please respond in the comments here.
New York New York
There was a request in the comments last time to go check this place out again. The good news is that the casino is not the empty cavern it was before. In the area around the old change building, there are tarps up in a circle. Here's a look inside
. The table games, and their new neon-trimmed overhangs, are placed around this construction site in positions that would look a bit like a clockface when looking down from the ceiling. I can only guess at this point, but I'd wager that they're installing one of those bars in the middle of the room, a concept that has usually performed well. This bar doesn't look large enough to hold live music, though.
I know I rag on this ice cream store
a lot, but it was one of the better themed stores in NYNY and now even the mural of the train and the city skyline in the background has been replaced with a plain white wall with some lettering on it. The logo sign above the door doesn't even light up, and rather than have the name changed on the mural outside they just covered it up
and left an obvious empty spot on the wall. This might be the choice of some franchise owner instead of the casino, but it still looks bad.
I very recently had dinner at Luxor. The food at Pyramid Cafe seems better than it used to be. Service appeared to truly be making an effort for the first time in many visits since 2005. They found money in the budget to buy new plates and glasses (thank the heavens for the latter, Luxor's cafe and buffet used to have drink glasses that were almost half the size of Excalibur's and Mandalay's) and the presentation of the food is quite modern. A sign outside shows a new Cafe logo which has that same minimalist look that Luxor's marketing gurus are going for, and the new square plates, cone-shaped fish and chip holders, and the little metal bucket containing the fries that came with my cheeseburger all point to a moderinzed cafe in our future. Of course, if it were up to me, I'd replace the worn out tables and the uncomfortable chairs but keep all the Egypt stuff on the walls around. Why won't these people listen to me? ;)
The area just outside the cafe that was notable for angled glass windows looking out to the casino from the former Sacred Sea Room (now part of Cathouse, or something else, I don't know) has been walled up. The old IMAX area is still walled off but much less noisy, and the IMAX Ridefilm is closed (forever?)
Also, they added some barriers to openings over the street on the bridge to the parking lot. Safety first. The barriers have a triangular-shaped pattern, which is what qualifies for pyramid ambience these days.
Once every year or so I have to point out an example of bad maintenance, and this time it's Bellagio's turn to display a big ugly.
I've mentioned before that one of the more thoughtful touches of Bellagio is it's bus shelter, which is unique with nicer benches and a nicer, thicker awning than the usual RTC bus stops. It's the kind of thoughtfulness in design that Bellagio displays better than anyone else on the road, especially since at the time of construction the Deuce didn't exist yet and, besides, most of the visitors the B is most interested in attracting would consider riding a public vehicle to be akin to slumming it. However, the awnings need maintenance and occasional replacement. They're aged, stained, and even torn up a bit
. This is the kind of thing Disney calls "bad show," and at least one competing Strip operator would call unacceptable. And it's all right there at the base of the marquee and the sidewalk entrance. If only to help clean up the area for CityCenter's arrival, fix this soon!
Speaking of maintenance, a couple months ago I wondered about the fate of the roadside marquee, but haven't been able to get a good look at it. As likely any local taking the freeway can tell you, it's still standing. The panels areas around the legs that they opened up to get the steel inside has been recovered with panels that look a bit off-tone with the originals, but it's probably one of those things that needs to bake in the sun a few years and then only those of us who know what to look for will see it.
In case you're curious, this is St Regis
as of about a week ago. Not pleasant to look at, but with a little work and some billboards it could be salvaged into a do-nothing space that doesn't blight the area.
Wynn Las Vegas
On this day, the hydraulics that moves the name on the jumbotron up and down was busted, leaving it sitting at the bottom
as video went up and down without it. Inside, there's now two connections to Encore. One is by the one by the theatres, and the other is the way down by the Country Club, just turn left before you walk past the Club's sign and menus, and left again just before the villa suites entrance. Both are heavily guarded from amateur photographers, so you'll just have to take my word when I say the new corridor is simple but nice. Though it's a simple meeting room corridor with some doors open, I felt kind of like I was looking at a combination of Tower Suites, and Bellagio all at once. Cream spaces are lit with modern lighting, including large white conical chandeliers that have green touches. Though a large corridor, something about the design made it seem a bit more of a smaller space than it actually was, perhaps because of some architectural touches that very much reminded me of what little is available online of Wynn Macao. If you like columns and small hub spaces making large rooms feel smaller and more intimate than they actually are, chances are you'll like exploring Encore. If you thought Wynn's brown walls and ceilings accompanied with red carpets and green furniture were a bit alien, then you'll probably like Encore (though looking through the new theatre area, it seems there's still plenty of red paint to go around.) This is all based just based on what very little I've seen so far, mind you. So if the place opens up and we all walk inside for the first time and it turns out to look like Circus Circus with even more acid, then I'm just as surprised as you'll be.
A reader asked about Tableau. I haven't been by myself, but Donnymac66 who comments both here and on VegasTripping has, and so I asked him on Twitter to look into the place. He says Tableau is still open, still a good place to eat, and apparently will still be a restaurant after LoRusso is gone. A new chef has already been chosen, and renovations will begin after Encore opens. Thanks, Donny!
As you may have noticed, this update is very light on pictures (around ten new photos in all, including some new CityCenter shots not linked in here) and more and more I'm talking about inactive construction sites and things people don't care as much about like hydraulic marquees that don't work and the efforts of renovating an ice cream store. The Strip just isn't changing as fast as it was when Trump and Palazzo were both going up, Stardust was imploding, walls were everywhere in Luxor and Mandalay, and the Aladdin was tearing itself apart and building anew. If I seem to not cover Harrah's as much in here, it's not because of any decision on my part, it's that their changes are often quiet and generating little press (La Burger, the closure of the Bally's buffet) or huge and being discussed everywhere (Donny & Marie.)
So basically, there's just less and less to talk about. So that's where you come in. At least two newsbits in this column were posted by reader request, and yours truly is spending three nights on the Strip in the next few weeks. This means I have plenty of time to get to whatever the heck it is you're interested in. So what do YOU want to see updated in here for a (hopefully!) much larger next instalment? I have a few ideas, but this much time on the boulevard is the kind of thing I only get every few years, so speak up!