Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Here's the latest installment in our 'Strip Walk' series in which our intrepid reporter, Mr. Ch, visited several major Strip casino resorts in the heavy heat of Summer.

The photos are located here:

Continue after the jump for all the juicy details.

The Palazzo

I don't know when it was added, but the old backlit sign at the bridge-level escalators has been replaced with a new sign and a red background. I think I prefer the old one aesthetically, but this one was probably drawn up to give them a space to advertise what's upstairs and encourage more people to go up than down.

As reader Phil commented, the Lambo store is gone now. I wondered what they did with the space that was Mainland restaurant and found it obscured by trees but behind them the funky decor and all the furniture and wares are bundled up and waiting for the next use.

I tried to get some better shots of First Food & Bar. Here's the open view of the kitchen and here's the view of Treasure Island through the dining room. I wanted a picture of the dining room itself, but with those huge windows I'd have to come by at night, and my schedule doesn't bring me to The Strip at night much anymore.

Sitting alone in a hallway behind Barney's, First has that kind of secluded feel that can just as bad as it is good. I noticed that they added a greeter/reservations desk at the mall end of the hallway, getting the attention of anyone walking between Palazzo and Venetian on that level. The hallway wall directly across from First has that temporary, expect something here in the future look.

The Mirage

"Hey," said The Mirage. "We have a candy store now."

"WUT" said Mike_Ch.

"Yeah, it's true," said Mirage. "It's called Sugar Factory and they sell high-end Signature Series Couture Lollipops."

Mike paused. After a moment of reflection, he repeated, "Wut."

"Well, you see," said Mirage, elaborating in a forthright way not typically known for, "one of the few remaining profitable ventures in this economy is selling high-priced, 'classy' variants of common throwaway items. At least, we think it is. So we're selling lollipops with bejeweled handles and specially designed candy tops for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Celebrities who have previously been paid to show up and stand around in nightclubs have been seen with them."

"Huh, that's interesting and kinda dumb at the same time," said Mike. "Where should one go for more information on expensive lollipops?"

"Take a look at our web site," said Mirage. "The graphic of a woman in grayscale emphasizing a bright pink candy sucker just an inch away from her lips is in no way meant to be a suggestion of phallic imagery."

And so Mike set off through the desert to find the fabled high-fashion lollipop store at Mirage. Not sure of where to go, he eventually found it between Rhumbar and the new Starbucks, across from BLT Burger. What he found was a fairly ordinary looking sweets store carved into another piece of the former Mirage logo store. He didn't see expensive lollipops, but he did see gummi bears and jelly beans and a cooler of sodas and the usual confectionary selection. If the store was marketing towards the Kardashian fanclub, he wouldn't have been able to tell with the kids running around.

Overall, Mike found nothing absurd nor anything particularly special about the candy store. Though personally if he wanted to buy candy at this juncture he'd take the extra steps to the World's Most Luxurious Walgreens right nearby.

He then hoofed it to Monte Carlo, passing out in the heat only once along the way. The end.

Monte Carlo

The shuttered restaurants are still shuttered. The ENTIRE Street of Dreams mall is completely sealed off. I haven't been by here in a long time so I don't know if there was still anything left back there other than the significantly crimped Brewpub, but that just seems like an unusually large chunk of the property to completely lock away. A piece of the construction zone was carved out to allow access to the food court restrooms, from what I could tell there the ceiling was gone and there was some exposed walls. Perhaps the whole area is getting a major re-do?

[They are re-doing both 'The Pub' and also the tram station in preparation for City Center. -ed]

New York New York

In the arcade area, in a space formerly occupied by I Don't Know What (in fact, I seem to remember a wall always existing in this space), a new Nathan's has opened, since the old Nathan's up here was removed for meeting space a year or two ago.

A few months ago NYNY introduced a new marketing promotion that was "edgy" and encouraged people to live it up in a low-rolling kind of way, perhaps acknowledging the current state of the economy. Regardless, I really can't help but think that this is not a very good advertising move. Maybe it's that more and more people in the casinos are in a dark period of their lives right now, or maybe it's the ample second floor balcony space looking over the casino in many different parts of this hotel, but something about reminding your customers that they're going to die anyway just doesn't seem smart.

Cranes 'n' Things

The new garage at Monte Carlo is open, though apparently only one floor is for customers, according to the actually quite pleasant bicycle guard who found me trying to angle for better shots on higher floors. Some shots from the garage are here, here, here, and here. You can also get a good look of where the fire damage was repaired.

The elevator is appointed a CityCenter elevator on the TV screen in the wall, even though it bridges to Monte Carlo. It does make me wonder to what extent the CityCenter identity will be advertised once the property is open, compared to the properties' individual logos and branding. Will my complimentary pen nabbed from the Aria coffee shop say Aria or CityCenter? Or Aria at CityCenter?

This Aria/CityCenter marquee that's underway is actually built from the posts of one of those big old Bellagio marquees with the clock and all the little details.

Rs Palace. This would be forgivable a an oddity I just happened to go by on the right day to photograph, but one week later the sign was still like this.


Society Café Encore
I gave glowing reviews to Society when I went there in the first 24 hours of operation, with the catch that the place just opened and everyone was trying to impress. I suggested it's possible the place will change in time. I was right.

Though according to reports a few celebrities here and there drop into the place (Ozzy seems to really love it,) this cafe just isn't as smooth as it was at opening. First of all, the same complaint about the menus applies here as it did at Stratta: The Wynn Resorts people do nada to separate lunch and dinner items on their online PDF menus, meaning you could come here for an item and find it's not being served. That was our situation, we arrived at dinner for a lunch item, so we had to make do with a backup plan.

Secondly, the much-ballyhooed bread that I had with my fish & chip lunch last winter was no longer served. It might be because the both of us ordered burgers, but they're $17 sirloin burgers and at the same price as the cod I had last time I really can't imagine it would cut into their profits too heavily to serve bread.

The room was pretty dead, with 15-20% of tables occupied, and yet service seemed to be the typical "are we being ignored?" thing that I'm used to in casino dining, which seemed odd since my server on day one was incredible.

The room plays a different soundtrack than the Wynn casino. This might sound like a good thing given my frequent complaining of the Wynn soundtrack, but the playlist seems to be of the "but not too hard rock" variety. This means to expect Queen and The Only KISS Song On The Radio (yes fans, I went there) and other rock tunes that are a bit heavy to sit and have a conversation over coffee with, but not so metal as to actively bother everyone. Strangely, a jazzy piece that I couldn't identify (at the time I called it Take Five but it wasn't that) played in between hair metal numbers.

The new bar seems to do an okay amount of business. The burger was alright, but it was a typical casino coffee shop burger. Compared to the fish & chips which seemed to excel past typical coffee shop quality in both presentation and taste, there was not any real attempt to do anything to impress there. Probably doesn't help that people who order a burger are doing so looking for comfort in familiarity, thus not daring them to be creative.

It's still a nice restaurant, but it could be nicer and my reservation is a guarded compared to my "stop reading and go" review from last year.

Society is inside Encore. Total price is not known as my dining companion chose to pay this time.


Read archived comments (9 so far)
August 3, 2009 8:58 PM Posted by DavidF

Thanks Mike for the write up.

Curious, at Monte Carlo, did you see any signs of the soon to open Hotel 32?

I know all there is for the Skylofts is a single small sign right by the MGM VIP check-in, wondering if they were being just as subtle at the MC.

August 3, 2009 9:28 PM Posted by mike_ch

There hasn't been any changes that I can see so far (I wandered through the lobby on this trip, but avoided diving into a guest elevator since I attracted enough attention wandering the employee floors of the garage), but keep in mind it's also a week away from officially opening.

August 4, 2009 3:35 PM Posted by parchedearth

First was initially billed as a 21hr food and bar. Unfortunately, they have already cut back with limited menus and although the bar is technically open they often don't have a bartender in the mornings.

I agree totally with the Sugar Factory observations. There is nothing special about the place. Also, I don't think Rhumbar is going to make it. Too much outdoor seating and the drink selection really is limited to just rum.

MC is a total mess right now. I'd really be pissed if I booked a vacation and discovered half the place was under construction.

Society's new bar is really pretty good. The bartender when I visited was great.

August 5, 2009 4:37 PM Posted by LeoNYC

Here is a complete tour my girlfriend did last time we hit Vegas with a few friends two weeks ago. I think you guys will enjoy the "not so professional" tour she gave around the Encore duplex apartment. Yes, I told her to remove the name Presidential Suite from the title. Sounds so old fashion...

August 6, 2009 8:14 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, I always enjoy your Strip walks.
After reading your comments about Monte Carlo, I went to its website and checked restaurants. It said Dragon Noodle Company and "d'vino" are coming soon. Is d'vino something new? I Googled it and see that there is a d'vino in Las Vegas, New Mexico. I'd be surprised if they're opening the Monte Carlo outpost.
Wasn't Dragon Noodle there before? Is it just being remodeled?
If the restaurants are near the tram terminus, it's a great location and could attract customers from Bellagio and Aria.
MGM Mirage may have big plans for Monte Carlo once CityCenter opens. However, one thing that surprised me in MGM's management announcement yesterday was that Monte Carlo would not be part of Jim Murren's domain. If MGM wanted to have one cohesive property from Monte Carlo to Bellagio, I would have expected Murren to oversee all those properties.
Finally, based on the photo on Monte Carlo's home page, they're going after a young, sex image.

August 6, 2009 5:03 PM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit: They've had Dragon Noodle Co and Market City Caffe right next to it walled off for most of the summer. I never ate at either but both places were kind of meh to look at. Given that the steakhouse and Andre's were both renovated recently, I guess they decided these were next.

Both locations are where they previously were, by the Strip entrance near Andre's and Diablo's. dVino is presumably what replaces Market City.

As the path to CityCenter has been cut off so far inside that they've walled up a whole area from the food court to the pool entrance and appear to be ripping out the area, it's hard to tell what's going on there except that it looks pretty intense with missing ceilings and exposed fibreglass. My guess is that the "generic European street of shops" motif is gone. According to Hunter's edit the brewpub is coming back but who knows what the details of that will be. MC's brewpub as well as it's pool (two of the best reasons to stay there in the first half of the decade) were cut back pretty hard upon by Aria creeping into their property. The pool is much smaller to make room for the Elvis theatre, and the brewpub wasn't making their own brews on site or something. I don't know all the details because I've never stayed at Monte Carlo and I'm not a drinker so I don't follow pubs and clubs to much detail.

I know you haven't been in town for a while, Detroit, so I'll say that personally find the floor at MC has been dropping from mid-tier property with Luxor and Paris to lower-mid tier property with NYNY pretty quickly. I feel that Andre's is the only thing setting it apart from Treasure Island at this moment, so it seems like a weird time to launch Hotel32 since I don't know if I'd want to pay $600 for a night at any room with that casino downstairs. However, the Aria link-up is really really close to their elevator lobby, so maybe their hotel numbers will be pretty good for that reason. Bellagio's access is all the way over by the Spa Tower so a good number of people staying there, in the original building, won't be as close to Aria as people at Monte Carlo might be.

August 6, 2009 8:31 PM Posted by detroit1051

Monte Carlo was the first casino opening I went to. It was 1995, and we were staying at the LV Hilton. I liked the casino, but I never stayed there. I was impressed with the original brew pub. It was very large and was truly a micro-brewery.

August 18, 2009 6:46 PM Posted by detroit1051

Monte Carlo may be the real winner when ARIA opens:

August 19, 2009 4:40 AM Posted by detroit1051

Monte Carlo's Hotel32 was officially introduced at a press event, and the LV Sun has a good video and slide show accompanying the story. It looks quite good to me.
There's also mention of the new brew pub, a sushi/wine bar and more retail to be followed by room renovations in the main hotel.