Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

October 30, 2009

Vegas Gang #39 - October 30th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* Fontainebleau

Feel free to add your comments below...


Read archived comments (10 so far)
October 30, 2009 8:12 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Aria? I thought the main topic was.... Is Brian Fey awesome or what? Dammit.

October 31, 2009 6:55 AM Posted by Phil

Really enjoyed the show guys. You guys hit on all the big questions.

In some strange sense City Center is like comparing that sorta abstract art you see of in front of a metropolitan office building versus Italian renaissance art. What do you prefer: a mix of bent pipes slowly spinning in the wind in front of some glass office tower versus a sculpture created by Michelangelo. Both have their admirers, some think their art is real and the others is not. Some say their art has emotion where the others is cold and lifeless. I wonder if City Center in a way has created that debate, although its just a perception on my part due to it not being open just yet, I get the sense that this themeless modern wonder in a way lacks a personality or heart. That in a way is reinforced when the people who are paid to be the spokesman for it can't even describe it themselves, instead giving us these glowing terms like its "leed certified" and its an "urban concept". Well what exactly does that mean and why should a some guy in Pittsburgh make a trip out to Vegas to see it? I know one thing, if the slots are loose and word of mouth gets out, people won't give a crap what it looks like, but when have you ever had a strip resort with loose slots so then it comes back to reality.

If you are on the side of City Center being a hotel/casino version of lifeless modern art THE BIG KEY to City Center's sucess will rely wholly on its ability to attract and keep crowds in large quantities. A crowd can instantly can give a building a life force and we'll have to wait and see if that buzz sticks. A buzz that draws the full range, rich and middle class, big city guy and the small town guy. Its amazing what a crowd can do to a place. The times I walked through Encore when its been dead, suddenly I didn't care so much about the draperies or red chandaliers, the place didn't have a life and felt odd, like I knew about this wonderful secret place and wanted everyone to know about it, but nobody cared. A rotten economy can do that to place.

We're increasingly becoming a more sophisticated society in terms of being aware of whats new out there, whether it be our pool of fans here who read blogs and message boards on skyscraper construction or those who travel the world for business or pleasure who have seen Dubai, who have seen Macau, Shanghai......etc. To those, I'm not sure if City Center is anything more than a bit of the same we've seen in these emerging asian markets for the past decade. Nevertheless it is the first of that kind of project in our country and should that mean something in terms of increased visitors to Vegas, whether it will be the #'s they're projecting thats still to be determined.

One thing is for sure, I believe this gamble is as big and significant as the Flamingo in the 40's. It its a hit, all these design debates will be limited to us fanatics and the 99.9% of the other people won't care. If it flops, many of MGM's properties will have a for sale sign on them, just don't put the sign on the building like Luxor does.

One a side note, are they any feng shui experts out there? If so whats their opinion of the multi angled Crystals mall in front of the project, do the angles give the place bad vibes for drawing guests?

I'm really interested to see how once its open the activity visually from the outside sidewalk/street will either entice you to come in or make you stay away. Will the old lady see the hodge podge of buildings and traffic and visualize stress and walk right by it onto the Monte Carlo? Will the young crowd be enticed by the "buzz" of activity and run to it. My gut tells me both are valid possibilities. For the fanny pack crowd it may be the simple case of do the slots pay off or not. They could care less if Helmut Jahn designed this tower. I always thought when Maloof created Palms he abandoned his average Joe, senior citizen crowd that helped make him at the Fiesta. Palms seemed cold with its hard wood floors and other design elements combined with a youth based, MTV ad campaigns and yet as wild as Palms gets at night, in the morning and early afternoon I see seniors playing in a place that I never thought they would come to, why, because they feel they have a chance to win there. So I guess if the slots are hot and word gets around the design is irrelevant, but when has a strip resort every had loose slots.

I'm also curious on how the interior design will age based on your guy's comments. Reality and my perception will probably be 180 degrees opposite, but I always had this impression that City Center will be an angular, cold feeling kinda place, sort of an anti-feng shui hotel that will be shooting design angles at you at every turn. I always felt that curves age better over time than sharp angles. And I get the impression there will be a lot of those sharp angles at City Center. For some reason when I imagine the interior of City Center I think of that movie Logan's Run. Given all the big namesIts like having admiration for classic Ferrari from the 1960's vs. an angular agressiveness of Lamborghini from the 1980's, both are great, but the Ferrari's looks have held up better over time.

October 31, 2009 12:18 PM Posted by detroit1051

After listening to your excellent podcast, I realize I'm not alone in not knowing what to expect from Aria and CityCenter. A riddle wrapped up in an enigma.
The entire world is watching Las Vegas as exemplified by this story in Germany's newsmagazine, Der Spiegel. It's got a great, but sobering, title, "Bereaving Las Vegas".,1518,657616,00.html

October 31, 2009 7:44 PM Posted by John

I don't understand why anyone would care what Aria IS. If it's cool, then it'll be cool. Everyone blew there wads over Encore, but really it's just beautiful. It's not anything other than that. Sure, there are Asian design elements, but that's certainly not the end of it.

Phil, why do you feel like Aria will be too angular inside? From the outside, it looks pretty fluid.

October 31, 2009 9:04 PM Posted by Phil

I'm not sure where I saw the inside photo (drawing), but my angle comments I guess were more directed towards the Crystals mall, both inside and outside. I just remember seeing the inside kinda looking like the outside of the building. I would assume everything else (Aria, MO, Veer...etc.) to have a flow we're all familiar with.

November 1, 2009 10:58 AM Posted by Jason Robar

I find myself agreeing with John. When it comes to Encore, nobody was looking to define it. Everybody was happy with "Steve Wynn's follow up to Wynn." Why can't we accept Aria as "MGM's attempt to build a high-end casino?"

November 1, 2009 11:20 AM Posted by parchedearth

They need to sell CCenter as an iconic project. They should hire a well-known spokesperson to be the public face. Give George Clooney and some other well known celebrities free condos and a small percentage to move in and be there everyday. They also need a movie or TV show tie-in. Ocean's 11 is still paying dividends for Bellagio in the same way that MTV's Real World worked for Palms.

Does anyone know how much it would cost to demo FB ($200M). That is a pretty massive/tall building. You can't just blow it up. Alternatively, how much would it cost to partially finish and open it. I would think they can finish the exterior, open 10 floors, the casino, contract out the bars and restaurants for not much more.

November 1, 2009 1:35 PM Posted by detroit1051

Is this Aria video new, or did I just miss it before? Bobby Baldwin said, "Guests will have to experience Aria to understand it."

November 1, 2009 3:00 PM Posted by socalduck

Great discussion, I was particularly intrigued with the panelists' views on the marketing (or lack thereof) of Aria in advance of the December opening. Aside from some low-key player's club emails, they are really keeping the buzz down low. I think it was Chuck that commented MGM may be struggling at defining what, exactly, the product is they are trying to sell. Just like they struggle now when asked to explain the type of experience guests can expect, simply responding that you "will have to experience it to understand it." C'mon guys, you gotta do better than that, considering the future of the company may be riding on the outcome.

As for the grainy cell phone shots that have leaked out thus far, it is safe to say it will be unlike anything else in town. It actually reminds me of some of the new, planned urban developments in Incheon, South Korea, or Dubai. If done well, using high quality materials, ultra-modern design can be breathtaking. I certainly see where CC has that potential. I guess we will know for sure when it opens.

BTW, I could not agree more with the group's comments on Cosmo. It really is disappointing, and unfortunately most visitors will not realize it is not part of the CC complex.

November 3, 2009 1:41 PM Posted by GregoryZephyr

I believe it was Chuck that mentioned perhaps MGM has no money to put into marketing. I agree and also agree with the comment about timing. Or maybe they are simply waiting until after the New Year to make a bigger splash, get past the soft opening glitches that may crop up, and get more of the shops open.

They do seem to be following this sort "couture" form of marketing which is "who cares what the dress is made out of or how God-awful it looks, it is designed by Versace therefore you will like it" I'm not sure that works that well, though, for hotels. Or imagine a new cruiseship where the company says, "you have to get on board to know what it has to offer."