You know the drill - discuss whatever you desire. Welcome to February.
Is MGM Mirage gearing up to exit Atlantic City? Will they sell their Borgata share and if so, to whom?
Categories: MGM Resorts International, Open Topics, RateVegas.com
IMHO if MGM Mirage has to choose between Macau and New Jersey, they'll choose Macau hands down. As tough as it's been here in Vegas lately, Atlantic City has had an even rougher ride. I don't know if they'll ever really be the "East Coast Vegas rival" they always hoped they would become.
OK, and since this is an open thread...
Has anyone tried Sage yet? I'm wondering if I should try Shawn McClain's first foray into Vegas when I come back from my extended weekend with the family in OC. It's been getting rave reviews, and you know I don't like missing out on the next hot dining craze! :-p
The rumors are flying that Harrah's will be acquiring a large stake in Melco Crown Entertainment. It makes sense, I don't see any other way they can get into the market. And it looks poorly for Harrah's that the worlds largest casino company isn't part of the largest gaming community in the world.
Even though Borgata is the jewel of Atlantic City, I think MGM will get out as soon as it can. Delaware has joined Pennsylvania in approving table games, so there is less and less incentive for people to deal with the hassle of Atlantic City. Here's a story from the AC Press: http://tinyurl.com/yah8n5h
and one from the WSJ: http://tinyurl.com/yc4d478
I saw in a newsletter today that Stanley Ho is in grave condition and was moved to intensive care over the weekend.
I think MGM would just as soon get out of New Jersey altogether. The only reason they feel like they have to fight is that leaving now would look like an admission of guilt.
New Jersey has run off Steve Wynn, Barron Hilton, and now MGM. Who do they think they will wind up with in the future? These guys are pillars of the community is every other area of the World where they do business. I don't get it.
MGM Mirage presented to Bank of America Merrill Lynch Gaming Conference on 1/28/10.
Very upbeat, but obviously MGM makes these presentations to enhance its reputation. CityCenter will be the host venue for all MGM Chinese New Year events.
if you're interested in some of the numbers behind the AC/Macau dilemma, I've thrown some together, along with my thoughts, here:
So I'm guessing this means that the already scrapped plans for MGM Grand Atlantic City are permanently dead?
If they were ever even real beyond placating New Jersey officials...
Thanks for the numbers. This is just as I suspected. Macau is making more money for MGM Mirage, and Macau has FAR MORE growth potential. (Atlantic City pretty much has none.) Obviously this move by NJ gaming authorities isn't about business logic, since NJ has more to gain in keeping MGM Mirage in the state. More likely it's about politics... Did MGM Mirage give to the wrong candidates?
atd--I don't know the politics of the situation, but it's entirely possible that there's more going on than meets the eye. That being said, there is a history of regulatory one-upsmanship in the Garden State. What makes it ironic is that a recent state report rapped the over-regulation as one of the reason for the industry's decline, and this seems to be a prime example.
As far as MGM Grand AC goes, I can't imagine how that development goes forward barring serious regulatory changes. Even if Pansy Ho was found suitable tomorrow and all was forgiven, I'd wonder if they'd spend the next three years poking at Dubai World.
This is huge, huge news. If this happens, and now its a real possibility, it could single handedly save Las Vegas. I'm praying on this one, and I don't pray. :)
We need China to bring us into high speed rail? Strange.
I think this is a good idea. Real high speed rail needs a visible route in the U.S. I do, however, wish the backers would give honest cost and income predictions, so we would know up front about how much subsidy will be required to keep it operational and properly maintained and updated. I think the biggest failing of the monorail was not being honest that it will have to be subsidized. I like riding the monorail and hope it expands. I just can't figure out why Westerners don't want to pay for "common good" projects. Seems awfully short sighted.
Jeff: That's because of the whole "An Unregulated Free Market Will Provide It's Own Solutions" and "The Best Government Is No Government" movements which have always been pretty strong in Nevada's politics, but are bolstered in recent years by people moving here from other states who are in love with the setup of taxing outsiders (aka tourists) to pay for our little society, and don't want to change it now that they're here.
Las Vegas was one of the last cities to adopt mass transit as a government-based service sometime in 1992, prior to that, the city had a small for-profit bus system (you can see a bus from that system at the Downtown Terminal in this 1989 photo) and 2/3rds of it's bus fleet only ran the route that The Deuce does now because it was the only route that made a profit (which is probably true of The Deuce for the RTC now, but at least that money is somewhat invested in residential routes...)
Point being, the state doesn't really have money today, but even when it did if the Monorail went out and said "we're going to need some public investment to make it work" then there'd be an effort to kill it pretty quickly.
I'm kind of surprised that as an Okie out there in the middle of red-state country you aren't surrounded by that kind of thinking. There's a big mantra that rational self-interest will fix all problems just as soon as the numbers align to match the market's profit expectations, and if a problem can't be solved while simultaneously making a profit it should be ignored. Ironically, it is the rural states where these thoughts are popular that would be without roads or utilities if left to their own economy.
Brian & detroit-
Well, I guess this throws a wrench in what was supposed to be the "consensus" (meaning everyone but "Luv-Guv Gibbons" and the few pro-Maglev folks left) plan to let Sig Rogich build Desert Xpress to Victorville and have him and California work on extending it to the CA HSR network in Palmdale. I'm curious as to how they will respond. Will Harry Reid reconsider supporting Maglev? Will the feds reconsider ponying up the $$$$ for Maglev?
At the very least, this may be yet one more "last gasp" of life for Maglev.
You'd be surprised how socialist we are here in Oklahoma. I don't know if is the criminal heritage, forced intergration or the Southern Baptist co-operative giving thing,. The last 20 years in Oklahoma City we have given 1 cent of the sales tax to civic enhancement projects. I was against it at first, but became a convert after I saw the results. This is how we were able to have a paid for arena ready and waiting when the Hornets got washed out of New Orleans. The success of their 2 years here, along with the local deeeep pocketers, got us the Sonics a year later. If Las Vegas had a suitable replacement for Thomas and Mack it probably would have been Las Vegs instead of OKC in the NBA. Instead, I recall reading a quote from Terry Lanni a few years ago where he said he wouldn't support a publicly financed arena. "We pay for ours, let them pay for theirs".
This is contingent on the Federal Govt backing the loans (and paying for any cost overuns); which simply isn't going to happen. IMO, this is a last gasp to keep the project alive.
Well, I hope the high-speed rail goes through as the jobs alone would be a tremendous boost for the economy.
Interestingly, New Jersey has a bill in the legislature to allow the Atlantic City casinos to offer online gaming (poker, etc) to New Jersey residents. The state would tax these revenues at a higher rate of 20%. And although I've always thought online gaming would never go through on a federal level, New Jersey might have a chance at this because the state and the casinos need the money so bad. - This could change MGM's thinking about leaving AC.
You may be right. I don't want to get dinged for being "too political", so I'll just try to stick to straight (lol!) analysis and get back to gaming. President Obama is already freaking out over "overspending" and debt while Congressional Republicans are yelling and screaming for tax cuts and Congressional Democrats are demanding more money for jobs. Now that I'm thinking about it more, perhaps Sig Rogich and the DesertXpress crew don't have to worry too much about this new line of attack from Maglev.
Unless the Maglev folks have another trick up their sleeves to prove (once and for all) that they really are "shovel ready" with immediate plans to build and open their rail line ASAP, this may be their last hurrah.
OK, back to Vegas stuff.
It looks like Mr. ELV is changing his tune a little on Firefly. While it may not be the most authentic Spanish tapas bar, it's a good "intro course" for those who haven't yet learned to appreciate the joy of sangria and manchego. :-)
I haven't eaten at Sage yet but I did try one of their gimmicks "The Absinthe Experience" and it was very cool. But then again I'm easily distracted by booze and fire.
Oh, and high speed rail would be awesome!
Thanks! When I'm back, I'll just have to try it. It is absolutely on my "To Eat List"!
Oh, and btw, everyone...
PLEASE make sure to visit Daniel Boulud at Wynn at least one more time before it closes in April. I was just here with my dad last night, and the food was FABULOUS! My dad typically didn't even eat French food, but he was so wowed by our dinner tonight that this is his new favorite Las Vegas restaurant! :-D
We ate at Sage last week and really enjoyed it. I especially liked my appetizer of agnolotti with escargots and pork belly. Curtas panned that one by the way, and no doubt he's right. I'm just a tourist from flyover country after all.
We played it safe with entrees and had a bone in ribeye and a pretty reasonably priced (Australian?) wagyu filet. The ribeye was dry aged and pretty high quality. Not the best I've had on the strip but better than some flagship steak houses I could name.
Here we go again. Our Prez says a few words about Vegas again and Mayor Goodman fires back.
That isn't going to catch on except locally. And honestly, even locally, I'm impressed at the number of people I've seen who have responded by saying that he's actually giving good advice.
You have to have pretty low scruples to suggest that people should gamble their college savings, so of course here's Mayor Goodman...
"You have to have pretty low scruples to suggest that people should gamble their college savings, so of course here's Mayor Goodman..."
Heh. Good one!
But really, I do agree with you that this is WAY overblown. I've already had several Facebook fights over it today, and I had to blog about it as well.
While I do think President Obama was being more than a little insensitive in singling out Vegas (again) for a national epidemic of bad spending habits, I otherwise agree with the message he was trying to send out yesterday. And frankly, it doesn't help us that LVCVA has projected this "Sin City, what happens here stays here" public image of Las Vegas that doesn't exactly invite mental associations of Las Vegas and fiscal prudence.
Now I'm not necessarily saying we should never use the "Sin City" image... It's just that we should realize that we have to accept the good and the bad that come with using it.
And yes, I'm also proud to see that not everyone in my still-fairly-new hometown hasn't lost his or her mind in channeling "Mayor Oscar" in grandstanding and defending irresponsible financial behavior.
The Presidents comments about Vegas were overblown, this time. There are two things to think about after hearing his comments. One, why is the President of the United States telling people how to spend their money? Two, who is the President to advise anyone on tightening their belts after he just proposed a $3.8 Trillion budget with a $1.8 Trillion defict? Why would anyone listen to him, when he is not heeding his own advice?
Aria continues to s-l-o-w-l-y enhance its site. Fine Dining now give more detail. http://www.arialasvegas.com/dining/fine-dining.aspx
Be sure to catch some amazing renderings of Wynncore..
Detroit: No menus. Still.
Because President Obama inherited a MASSIVE deficit and a HUGE recession from the last Administration, and it will take some more time for the economy to recover and for the budget situation to stabilize. OK, enough politics for now...
It's nice to see Aria FINALLY provide more info on its restaurants, but I wonder why they're still holding back on at least providing sample menus so we can get a better idea of what's served. Do they not have a scanner and Adobe Reader to use?
Mike and Atdleft, I was giving Aria the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the restaurants are so new that they're still fine-tuning the menus. However, if Aria wants to capture high-end diners who patronize Bellagio, Encore and Wynn, they'd better get their act together soon. I enjoy perusing the menus at the other properties. MGM, it ain't rocket science building a complete and appealing website.
New topic: Getting asked to leave the casino. See today's Las Vegas Sun for story about a guy who got escorted out of Paris for counting cards at blackjack. What if he was a hotel guest; would they let him stay in his room, or let him get his luggage? What if this is at a casino with condo/timeshare units and he owns one; would he be banned from the whole property, forced to sell? An issue I always wondered about with condos/condotels in private casino developments.
Well, that's what sample menus are for. They can at least give us a better idea of what they serve (and how much they cost). The "signature dishes" listings at least shed a little light on what they serve, but diners like me want to know more and do more research before picking a place.
Now this is more like it...
OK, OK, it might be a little creepy for Jim Murren or Bobby Baldwin to do voice-overs describing the restaurants. Still, they should have more info on the chefs, more pics of the restaurants, and more menu PDFs to peruse.
OK, playing Satan's advocate, here. I don't see much advantage to putting menus online. I search the fast food places online while I am searching for the number of the new thriple cheeze-bacon-whizbang combo I just saw on TV, but otherwise I don't base any dining choice off a menu I read at home. I prefer the look at the menu out front of the joint and see if there is anything remotely appealing. I think so many "foodie" menus are so obscure ingredient specific that I have trouble figuring out what the item is.
And if I had a high end restaurant, I don't know if I would want my competition to know what I was changing every day with just the click of a mouse. Keep 'em guessing, I say.
Battle of the foodies!
Atdleft, I agree with you. Tha's why I admonished MGM at the end of my post.
Jeff, Should I infer you wouldn't care for this special appetizer Seminole Hard Rock's Council Oak Steakhouse offered the other night? :)
Thin shaved Beef Carpaccio, Whole Poached Maine Lobster, Crispy Foie Gras Torchon and Watercress dressed with Truffled Vinaigrette."
I would think that Jim Murrin would have wanted all the restaurants ready to go, with menus and all the fine tuning done. It’s what Wynn did with his resorts, as this is what it was like at the opening of his last few resorts. MGM should have their act together as they own most of the strip!
Before my stay at Aria, I had the concierge send me the hours and pdf menus for each of the restaurants. She was so complete and prompt in sending the info, that I think they had it prepared and just haven't gotten around to updating the website. I often dine with guests that have food allergies or are vegan, so menus are very helpful in determining whether everyone can find something they can eat.
The best dining pages/menu offerings are made by Sands. They provide separate dinner/lunch/etc PDF menus, many of the menus actually have prices, and there's no nasally overly chummy voiceover by a billionaire to get in the way.
Wynn's menus also have a real problem in that, last time I looked at them, they don't separate lunch and dinner, and so I've gone to both Society and Stratta expecting dishes that weren't being served when I walked in. I complained to their Twitter and she said she'd pass it on to the F&B team, but...
Between that and Graze's new local play (picking up where Wynn left off, I guess), I've been heading to Palazzo more often for my own personal non-Stripwalking trips lately.
Jeff: You might not care about menus, but you're not a local and I don't know if you have an iPhone or other device that can read the menus. I'll pick which resort or area I'll spend the evening at based on my restaurant choice, and so I'd like to know if the restaurant I'm interested in has anything I'll eat.
Tourists are probably a little more likely to just make dining decisions based on what they find to be edible and close to where they are.
But then again, tourists make reservations, too, and it`s nice to know if the place serves anything you'll eat before you commit to it, if you're as picky as I am.
"But then again, tourists make reservations, too, and it`s nice to know if the place serves anything you'll eat before you commit to it, if you're as picky as I am."
And so does this local. It was good to spot the vegetarian friendly items on Daniel Boulud's menu so I could rest assured about making my Monday reservations there. And again, even a sample menu would help in giving us a better idea of what a restaurant serves (if they don't want any "secrets" relased... though it would likely still be revealed on Urbanspoon anyway).
And since it's sometimes necessary to schedule reservations in advance for popular restaurants (especially during major holidays & event weekends), it's good to have this information on hand to make a good decision. (Since not even Mr. ELV has reviews up on every Strip eatery.)
Now regarding your quibbles with Stratta and Society at Wynncore, I think they have issues because Wynn's mostly used to dinner-only establishments (meaning all the other Wynncore eateries save for Pizza Place and Zoozacrackers) that they might have forgotten to include both lunch and dinner menus for these places. And doesn't Society have the same menu for lunch and dinner?
Anyway, I do enjoy Society for both breakfast and lunch. The french toast is simply divine! And to be fair to Mr. Mike C's new fave place (hehe), First Food & Bar is another great spot that's perfect for a great weekend brunch. Honestly, the restaurants are a major reason why the Venelazzo-Wynncore stretch of The Strip is my favorite part of town north of Henderson city limits. ;-)
atdleft: Nope! Last year, I went to Society for those fish & chips I had for lunch on their first public afternoon, to find they were a lunch item.
My first StripMunch at Stratta, I found lasagna was a dinner item. Again, the WLV clumps (past tense?) all these items together into one big menu and I didn't know what was and wasn't on the menu until I got there.
First isn't really a fave place, I never went back because the service was amateur night and foreign material seemed to be on every surface.
If I was in that area and needed a bite, I'd probably go to Grand Lux. Reasons why will be addressed in a StripWalk that could possibly appear next week.
"Nope! Last year, I went to Society for those fish & chips I had for lunch on their first public afternoon, to find they were a lunch item."
Jeez... Then Society should clarify what's for lunch and what's for dinner. Still, I do think it's a great place for a lovely breakfast or casual lunch. While I do like Cheesecake Factory, Grand Lux IMHO is just too "Cheesecake Factory" for this stretch of The Strip where there are so many fabulous restaurants.
I'm back in Orange County now, and I can get plenty of Cheesecake Factory here. (Same goes for my "Vegas home" in Henderson... The 'burbs are notorious for boring mega-chain "food factories".)
Now getting back to Venelazzo, one place I am interested in trying some time soon is Sushisamba. It's had mixed reviews since its opening, but I would like a chance to decide for myself here. I haven't had good sushi in a while, and it's always fun to try Japanese food with a Latin twist.
Another place I know I have to try is Bouchon. I've just heard too much good stuff to wait too much longer. I know Thomas Keller hardly ever visits (when was the last time he was in Vegas anyway?), but I'm a sucker for good French fare and I know Keller knows how to serve up classic French dishes with some nice California flare.
(Btw, I especially want to try it soon so I can taunt all my OC friends who are jealous that Thomas Keller hasn't opened a Bouchon here yet!) ;-)
atdleft: Okay, fine, I'll partially spoil my next StripWalk here:
Angus Ground Beef burger at Table10: $14
Angus Ground Beef burger at Grand Lux: $9
Burgers at Treasure Island coffee shop are now $13-$15 depending on if you want a big burger (marketed as "Biggest Burger On The Strip" even though it isn't) or a smaller sirloin burger, so either Grand Lux is behind the curve or Treasure Island is jumping ahead of it. Either way, I arrived hungry and was nearly on the other side of the Strip before I had something to eat.
My eventual dining choice? Monte Carlo food court. Because it was the weekend, and the Bellagio and Aria buffets both knocked their prices up for brunch. And I felt too underdressed for Silk Road.
I have thought about trying Sushisamba now and then but just can't seem to find any particular standout. For what it's worth, I've never taken to any kind of Asian cuisine at all but since first Japonais and now Wazuzu I've noticed one or two meat entrees at these kind of places that I think I can stomach.
My eventual conclusion was that I should skip Sushisamba and try Woo.
Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me about Woo!
This is another Venelazzo place that I really want to try. The bento box lunch special sounds interesting (and cheap!). I'm just wondering if they can prepare one with vegetarian dishes.
30 years ago these comments about Las Vegas food would have been about $.99 shrimp cocktail, cheese wiz nachos and a $1.99 steak that could be used as a catcher's mitt. - Time goes by and things change.
"30 years ago these comments about Las Vegas food would have been about $.99 shrimp cocktail, cheese wiz nachos and a $1.99 steak that could be used as a catcher's mitt. - Time goes by and things change."
Thank goodness! I still remember coming here as a wee one. And even in the early and mid-90s, it was still largely a cheap buffet and $5.99 steak & egg special kind of town.
Today, it's just so fun to explore all our dining options. Even out in my stretch of the 'burbs, there's hope with a few good authentic restaurants. :-)
atdleft--in Henderson, I've found Montesano's on Eastern has great Italian food and pizza--any finds you care to share?
Due to new and improved social media policy I can't tell you how I know this but, the menus at ARIA are changing on a daily basis right now.
Ingredients and prices are constantly being tweaked so don't expect real menus any time soon.
Paris Las Vegas (outside business operator) appeared at Clark County Zoning Board this week to expand, modify sw corner of property. Note staff analysis saying architecture doesn't fit existing baroque style, but it was approved. Note: This will include a bar, restaurant and Sugar Factory which already is in business at The Mirage.
I haven't tried it yet, but I guess I'll have to when I'm back in town. So far, Settebello at The District is simply the best pizza I've ever had. It's so simple, yet so delicious.
Marinelli's at The M is another of my fave Italian spots in Henderson. The gorgonzola gnocchi is so rich, so creamy, so flavorful, and so not to be missed!
For Mexican food, the new Lindo Michoacan at Carnegie and Horizon Ridge is great. The chiles rellenos were not too (spicy) hot, but were still quite flavorful and interesting.
And for Middle Eastern fare, nothing beats Crazy Pita at The District. IMHO they have the best falafel in the valley.
Heh. Where else would approval for a hotel extension depend upon a guarantee to make it look more like an imitation French Baroque building? :-p
Bellagio suite floor hallway before and after. Which looks better?
I prefer the original decor as shown in this photo I took of the 33rd floor in 2006.
Here's one of the 29th floor in 2006:
This is the 30th floor after MGM renovated the suite floors.
View of CityCenter from Bellagio. Photo taken March 2006.
I know I said this on Twitter, but I think it's worth repeating here: I think the "after" picture is the Spa Tower. I could be wrong, it's been a long time since I've been upstairs in Bellagio, but I notice that the marble floor is different. It's not just a lighting thing, there's kind of a two-tone scheme going on the marble in the old picture and just a single one in the new picture.
While I know that they occasionally change carpets and wallpaper, I can't imagine MGM (or even Wynn) throwing away perfectly good marble through long hallways of a 30-some odd floor hotel.
The corridors on the suite floors of Bellagio's original tower were redone with the same wall coverings, light fixtures and carpet as the Spa tower, but I think mike_ch is right. That recent picture looks like the Spa tower to me too. The corridor doesn't have a kink in it, so it has to be that or the west wing of the original tower.
None of the tile and millwork has been changed in the old tower, either in the public areas or rooms. Those were the two things that weren't seriously in need of replacement by the time they got around to remodeling the suite floors.
OK, it's time for the great debate. What are the best steakhouses in Vegas?
I know I have a quirkier perspective as a vegetarian, but here goes. Mon Ami Gabi has a great veggie sampler dish that I still have dreams about, and Sinatra does fantastic pastas. I'm just curious as to what all you carnivores have to say about your fave Vegas steak joints.
Without having looked at his list:
Here's Mr. ELV's list:
10. The Steakhouse at Circus Circus
9. N9NE (Palms)
8. SW Steakhouse (Wynn)
7. Nero's (Caesars Palace)
6. Prime (Bellagio)
5. Stripsteak (Mandalay Bay)
4. Delmonico (Venetian)
3. Craftsteak (MGM Grand)
2. Cut (Palazzo)
1. Carnevino (Palazzo)
Honorable Mention: Golden Steer
It seems you two agree on three of them. I do want to try Carnevino some time so my dad can enjoy all that aged beef while I do all the fun pasta dishes. And while I was leery of trying Botero at first, perhaps you know something some of these experts don't (save Fodor's, which included Botero in its 2010 Vegas guide) and I may have to give this place a fair shot... But probably after I try Switch, since I'm excited to see what Rene Lenger is doing to shake things up there. :-)
I've only eaten at CUT once but I was not impressed.
Prime is good but I think it's gone downhill over the years.
Really, Hunter? Well, you may be right. I know Wolfgang Puck places can be hit-or-miss. Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM is a dud IMHO, but Spago at Caesars has been a pleasant surprise (they're actually doing good stuff there) and I've heard good things about Postrio at Venetian (also on my "to eat list").
However, you're certainly right on the mark regarding Prime... And that's why I think Mr. ELV didn't put it any higher than #6 on his list. Jean-Georges Vongerichten really is a great chef, but IMHO he isn't paying enough attention to his Bellagio outpost. And so far reading the early reviews and tea leaves, I'm concerned about Jean-Georges Steakhouse at Aria.
Yeah, I was not impressed with JG @ Aria.
Mike_ch and Mike P, I think it's the west wing of the original tower. I stumbled across this guy's album, and it's room # 30056 which faces south toward the pools and Spa Tower. There's also a photo of the main elevator lobby where the Suite Elevators are to the left, and other floors to the right. In fact, I think I stayed in that very Bellagio Suite or directly below it. Here's his album:
Here's my album of the main tower from Nov '06
And, here's my Bellagio Suite in the Spa Tower in September, 2006.
I believe Mike P likes the new decor, but I'm more of a Steve Wynn type of guy.
My albums show the progress of CityCenter. It was barely started in 2006.
Detroit , OK West wing it is. I like Bellagio's remodeled suites. The corridors are a little dark.
Re steakhouses: I can go along with Curtas' top 3 but I'd put them in different order. CUT is my favorite by a fair margin. Their Angus/Wagyu hybrid is better than pure Japanese Wagyu IMO and they have some great appetizers and sides. The wife usually finds something to like on the dessert menu too.
I used to think of Craftsteak as just another overpriced steakhouse, but we ate there in December and they had really raised their game.
If you like a steak that's been dry aged for several months Carnevino is the place to go, but nothing else about it really stands out in my mind. An extreme dry aged steak is not for every taste by the way. Not everyone is going to love a piece of meat that tastes like blue cheese without actually having any blue cheese on it. Points off for overloud background music too.
Full disclosure: we've eaten at CUT at least 20 times and get treated really well, so I may be a little biased.
It's been so long, I can't rate the steakhouses. Down here, I'm content with Wagyu American Kobe Long Bone Cowboy Ribeye. I don't know if my arteries are also content.
"[...] I'm more of a Steve Wynn type of guy."
Hi-5! I can NEVER get enough Steve Wynn-Elaine Wynn-Roger Thomas-Todd Avery-Lenahan design. It's still interesting to go through The Golden Nugget and The Mirage to see the remaining Wynn touches and admire them. And of course, I NEVER get bored when I stroll through Wynncore and fall in love with the place all over again.
Dammit, I can't wait to book a "staycation" there already so I can stay at a proper place when I enjoy...
Yes, that's another place high on my "To Eat List". Craftsteak apparently has loads of veggies to choose from, and all my vegetarian friends have said it's delicious and that this is the steakhouse for herbivores to enjoy. I know this is another place I have to try for myself! :-)
I'm a little surprised to see Delmonico fourth on JC's list. Not that I've had a bad meal there, but I wasn't blown away with their steak dinner. Especially comparing it to Delmonico's in New Orleans. Paled heavily in comparison.
I've had many great meals at Delmonico - actually the reason we made a point of going to Delmonico's in NO (though that outpost isn't a straight up steakhouse, we enjoyed it too).
nice pic of 2 story sky villa on aria website. time for a mike_e report.
Ooooh, thanks for the head's up charlie. I was never all that impressed with any of Aria's suites. I did get to see one of the two-bedroom penthouses last December and while it does look much better in person than in pictures, it still left a lot to be desired. I'm really digging the Sky Villa shot, though. It's gaudy and kitsch in all the right ways.
Does anyone have photos of the old MGM Grand Penthouse Suites before they were converted to Skylofts?
The Aria Sky Villa photo reminded me of the MGM suite.
Last time I saw any mention of StripSteak by Curtas, he crapped on the place on his Twitter and something like "this place is a slow, jammed hell" or to that effect.
To me the best steak in town is nada. I simply couldn't call a thing best without taking price into consideration and the steakhouses here more or less forget about it. I spose Hank's at GVR probably does an above-average job balancing experience for the cost, though I'm just guessing this based on looking around the room but not eating there.
The only steakhouses I've actually eaten at here were the closed Prime Rib place at Excalibur and GP's at Primm Valley, soooo~ooo. *shrug*
Lost in all of this posting was Detroit's thing about Paris. Disappointed to hear that the outdoors will be changing. Hoping they don't pull a Diablo's on Paris, though if they do it'll be the corner by the drive-in roundabout, not by the tower.
This is the space occupied presently by Ah Sin, which I passed by and took some minor pictures of for next week's StripWalk.
By the way, along with the Mirage, Monte Carlo, and now expanded Paris location, Sugar Factory already has a prime spot in the Planet Hollywood next to Hawaiian Tropic Zone. I really wonder if there's a big enough market for flashy sucker handles (to be flaunted by customers who are usually flashy suckers themselves.)
The Paris one interests me because their Twitter marketer has suggested that we should expect more than the candy store we'll get at the other locations.
As far as Bellagio and "being a Steve Wynn guy," sure, but he lost me when he went north. I was just saying John H of VegasTripping that I wanted to see the look of the Encore Meeting Halls stretch out into the casino. He said it would have looked too much like Bellagio, but no problem to me! I'd take a Wynn-run suspiciously Bellagio-looking property over what we got at Encore and probably over the Bellagio itself (and what remains of it's identity.)
I want more baroque, Supreme Court like ornateness and less of these whimsical grottos. I've thought the best design they've come up with in the Wynncore era was Encore's garden that got ripped up for the Beach Club, but darn if it wasn't so Fantasyland-esque that I was expecting to see Cinderella reading to girls inside Switch. :)
A year or two ago we talked about masculine/feminine design and everyone here thought I had it mixed incorrectly when I said that Bellagio seems more masculine to me and Wynn more feminine. I think it's because Wynncore hits those Fantasyland buttons for me, and over the past twenty years or so Disney has reduced Fantasyland into being almost entirely for girls. It's all about Pixies and Princesses with the occasional Evil Queen.
Wynn is nice and all, and the people working there are 90% of the best in town (although food and bev I'd only say 75%, because I've had so many bad waiters with only one very memorable one.) But there's just something a little too storybook-ish about it.
Just for the record Esquire magazine named Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay the best steakhouse in the country...
Mike, I agree with you on Sugar Factory. Is there enough of a market for three locations in one city, let alone on the same street (The Strip)? I note the website says Paris will be the "Flagship" location.
Is this a bubble about to burst?
Help! Does anyone remember a site that showed dealer tips/tokes by casino?
i agree Mike about the design of Encore and Wynn. For me, it was the RED that brings all of the fantasyland feel to the buildings. They still give off the atmosphere of a high-end establishment and feel more high-end than Palazzo, but Bellagio's theme and colours hit the mark when it comes to somebody looking at it and saying "This place is 5 Stars." I think if the original rendering of Encore (the cream and black) colour scheme was used (along with the columns doubled up a la Wynn Macau) with everything else staying relatively the same, then Encore would have hit the mark as being the place where you know that the Rolls Royces are pulling up to and the guests wear tuxedos in the casino. For people who have never been to Vegas before, Bellagio still has that ego about her.
I believe if Encore would have captured that feeling but with the friendly service that they have, it could have taken over the title from Bellagio as the hotel known all around the world for its opulence (and of course a movie and a dancing fountain would have helped, too).
Even now when you tell people you're staying at Wynn or Encore, many people still go 'I haven't heard of those'. If you say you're staying at Bellagio, then they say 'Oooh, that really expensive place with the dancing fountains?'
I googled it, but couldn't find anything. Sorry! :-(
I'm just curious here... When did Esquire honor Stripsteak? It seems they've been coming around to like our food lately. Last year, they declared Society at Encore to be "Best New Restaurant".
I know, I know, Vegas is an expensive town. I'm still shocked to see how affordable most Orange County (!!!!) restaurants are by comparison. Take a look at the various Valentine's Day specials here...
And ask if there's anything on The Strip offering $25 a pop dinner specials INCLUDING wine.
Again, I think it's just that Las Vegas has become such a "top dining destination" that we were destined at some point to vanquish our "cheap eats" reputation as more and more diners started demanding more quality.
Btw, Hank's is also something I may want to try soon... It just may be a little harder for me because they're almost entirely focused on steaks and I'll probably just have to order a few veggie sides to get an idea of how good their food is. But OTOH, their martini menu does sound like fun! :-)
I didn't know Cantor Fitzgerald (Cantor Gaming) took over the M Resort's sportsbook. This WSJ story should be free:
Also, a friend told me M leased out its buffet. Is M in trouble?
I had mistakenly thought Hank's at GVR had been closed and reincarnated as something else. I ate there twice in '06, and it was excellent, far superior to most steakhouses. Much better than T-bones at Red Rock. Menus are pretty much the same at these places. It's the execution that counts. Hank's menu is almost identical in offerings and prices to Seminole Hard Rock's Council Oak here in South Florida.
atdleft - I think it was last year Esquire honored Stripsteak - Mandalay Bay has it on their website now. M. Mina has a huge reputation and I guess it was just a certain steak that was recognized.
I believe the Bellagio still has a chance to redeem itself. All MGM has to do is RENOVATE THE DAMN ROOMS!!
If all fails, that proves that MGM can't manage to maintain a 5 star resort like the Bellagio because their too busy with City Center and how to make more cha-ching!
Wynn is probably the only one who can bring the B to the top again. But, that would require MGM to sell the Bellagio and that is very unlikely to happen.
Next time you're in town, we can both go to Hank's to try it out. I'm (pleasantly) surprised to see it won a AAA 4 Diamond Award. It's not that often that AAA or Forbes or Michelin honors anything this far off The Strip, so I guess I'll have to try it out and see if "the experts" are correct on this one. :-)
And btw judging from the article and what I've heard on the Henderson gossip grapevine, I don't think The M is in trouble. It just sounds like they made a deal with Cantor Fitzgerald to experiment with the sports book and see if a Wall Street firm can run it well. After all, a number of sports books (like all of Terrible's) are contracted out for other firms to run.
Oh, and another btw... I haven't heard anything about The M leasing out its buffet.
Is this what your friend meant? This is the new live cooking show they're doing at Studio B. Their plan was always to do some sort of live show at the buffet's kitchen. When Bravo was taping the last season of "Top Chef" at The M, they used Studio B's "show kitchen" (where they're now doing Chef Tina Martini's live show).
atdleft: About the prices, that's not really it. It's that most of their cusotmers are sitting upstairs, many find it heavily inconvenient to even leave their hotels, let alone casino row, whereas I'll ride out from the burbs and walk through nine resorts in one StripWalk pass. Many of them are here to unload money they've saved up and the casinos (at least the ownerships if not the individual hotels themselves) want as much of it as possible.
You're from Orange, so you're probably aware how much food at Disney costs, and how most of it's regulars eat out of the park to get better value for money. Except Vegas is a bit more like Orlando in that respect, where they take advantage of the parks being basically in the middle of nowhere. Captive audience.
It's not about this place being culinary paradise, because most of the top chefs here ARE from somewhere else. M Mina, for instance, has a couple places in San Francisco. They cost a lot less than his MGM Mirage outposts.
It's the tourist attitude. First time I came to Vegas, I found it a bit of a walk to get across the front of Caesars and get to Bellagio from my room at Mirage. Nowadays, I'll walk from Mirage to Excalibur on an average day.
So basically, they charge what they do because the majority of customers are fairly loaded and don't have a lot of alternatives. Even just going downtown can get you good food for less than some of the Strip's not-as-good food.
Well sure, there's some truth to what you say. The tourists are more or less a captive audience and the casinos know they'd rather go somewhere convenient for an exciting meal than hitch a cab and ride all the way to where we locals have our boring run-o'-the-mill dinners at Chili's and Cheesecake Factory.
But that's also it, The Strip is still where most of the culinary action is at. While there has been progress in the 'burbs with some creative restaurants (like Settebello in Green Valley, Marche Bacchus in Summerlin, & Lotus of Siam on the East Side), we're not yet at the point where people are flocking off Strip for great food.
Hopefully one day, we'll see more Rosemary's and Todd's and Nora's and Namastes pop up and make Las Vegas a more well-rounded culinary destination. But for now, the tourists mostly have good reason to stay on The Strip and nearby to eat at Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy and Aureole and Nobu and all the other exciting places that have made Vegas such an exciting place to eat.
Hunter, I've had a couple dinners at Delmonico's too and I like the place, truth is I haven't been to many of the other high end steakhouses, so I was a bit surprised to find it so high, as it just didn't blow me away.
Detroit, the tips site is http://www.thedealersnews.com/
Either Strip land prices are on the rebound or someone specifically likes the prospects for the area across from CityCenter. $11.6 Million/acre.
Depression? Lake Las Vegas Ritz Carlton closing.
The story about Ritz-Carlton is very sad. However, I'm sure the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental people are ready with open arms.
More bad news. Ritz Carlton yesterday, FAO Schwarz today. Is it just that high end toy stores don't work on the Strip, or is this an omen for Crystals and high end retail in general?
The Ritz is a bummer for sure and some how FAO Schwarz bums me out too.
Lake Las Vegas as whole was a great idea just too expensive or maybe just too big.
The FAO location lost a lot of it's pizazz about a decade ago, anyway. When I first came to town, it had a Monopoly Cafe and Star Wars Cantina (that already weren't open very often) and the horse was largely animated.
Sometime in, oh, 2003 or so, they cut all of that out. Never was the same, only went back once or twice and was always disappointed.
I also miss the Caesars Disney Store (themed out the wazoo, and a lot of potentially unwise Disney/Vegas crossover merch that you wouldn't find nowadays), and the Virgin Megastore. The latter wasn't the best priced option but it was just fun to have video games and DVDs that you can say you bought at Caesars Palace.
I can't imagine an 81.5% occupancy rate in Vegas. The days of 90%+ are over for a long time. and, look at the decline in conventions:
Las Vegas visitor, convention numbers down from 2009
By HOWARD STUTZ
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Visitor numbers in Las Vegas fell 3 percent in 2009 to 36.3 million tourists, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced this morning.
A year ago, Las Vegas attracted almost 37.5 million visitors.
Convention attendance was down 23.9 percent for the year.
Las Vegas achieved an annual occupancy of 81.5 percent.
Reactions to the visitation numbers are varying. Steve F thinks it might be close to Panic Button time, especially for MGM; while Dave S is much more relaxed.
My take? New Years was weaker than before, and the Christmas week may not have pulled in as many Koreans, Indians, and other foreigners who the resorts attract that week from countries who do not observe Christian or Jewish tradition. I couldn't even do an anecdotal body count because I wasn't in town nearly the whole month.
CityCenter is not going to kill the company, but it's never going to be what Jim Murren wanted it to be. It's not going to be this high-class universe of sophisticated deep-pocketed people. It's going to be winding up with a reputation as a bit of a giant dormitory that is also a good value.
Over the long term, it'll be a pretty good warhorse for the company in terms of drawing people from the Wynn/Sands/Ruffin territory, especially if things pick up again and Steve starts ripping up the golf course. But, there's probably going to be a recalibration of expectations and some replacement of executives, including Murren if he cannot stomach to re-establish the place as something other than what he had hoped for.
Every critic points to the Crystals first because that place is the most obvious example of CityCenter not knowing it's own market.
This is something Wynn is going to have to figure out too. There is always a market for a Top Place, but perhaps not enough wealthy customers to support twice as many rooms as they currently have, which is what the Golf Course Plan had called for. I still think they should invest in renovating the Wynn Las Vegas rooms to blow away the amenities at Encore, and put Encore on a long burn that may in time look a little bit dated, eventually establishing it as a less expensive way to stay at Wynn.
This would not only be a wise move in light of the fact that nothing north of Desert Inn Road looks to be completed anytime soon and that whole north strip area might turn into a bloodbath, but also would also allow them to protect their flagship brand which is Wynn, not Encore.
FAO went bankrupt a couple years ago and closed all but a couple stores, so the Vegas store was already on borrowed time. This happened before the economy tanked. I would guess they were just waiting out the lease at the Forum.
While gambling in Florida would further hurt AC, it shouldn't impact Vegas. Macau will have a much bigger impact on the future of Vegas. You need a critical mass of closely located casinos, convention space, 24hr bars, and adult entertainment to draw from Vegas and nobody is going to spend billions on construction in FL right now.
parchedearth: FAO's corporate troubles were eventually sorta solved with being absorbed by Toys R Us. Since then, TRU has been playing it like the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, which has mostly died out but remains in places which are very tourist heavy like Forum Shoppes and the shopping districts at Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.
I don't know about downscaling Encore. It's made its niche as a super-nice high end resort. And since the rooms there are bigger than Wynn's, IMHO they're better off staying the special "boutique hotel" within Wynncore Land. Otherwise, I agree with you that Steve Wynn is better off keeping the golf course for now. It will be a while before there's high demand for any more hotel rooms or high-rise condos on or near The Strip. IMHO he isn't suffering as badly now as MGM Mirage and Las Vegas Sands because he didn't overextend himself this time like they did last decade (and he did in the 1990s with Mirage Resorts).
And btw, speaking about MGM Mirage (again), they'll be OK if City Center can overcome the now lowered expectations. It seems obvious now that it won't single-handedly wash away all of MGM Mirage's troubles. As long as it turns out some kind of profit this year, they'll be OK. But yes, they have to rethink some things there. Vdara doesn't seem to be taking off as a "condotel", Crystals is still half-empty, and some of the restaurants (like Bar Masa!) are too oversized to survive as is.
Crystals is not not NOT half-empty. What building are you people walking through? Seriously.
Also, Caesars just confirmed that Celine is coming back for a 3 year residency.
It's not really half empty, but the vast stretches of empty space make it cosmetically seem that way. That all the stores are basically walking dead who are going to get crushed by the economy doesn't help either.
It's like building an auto mall full of Rolls Royce and Bentley dealerships. Yeah, people buy those kinds of cars sometimes. Doesn't really mean you ought to pile them all up into one space in one town.
So, it seems that way, but actually isn't.
Knowing the manager of the Louis Vuitton store at Crystals I can say that with some degree of certainty that many of the stores are doing quite well. For now, yes, but quite well out of the box.
I can't remember Vuitton, but I know that Hermes shut down their Via Bellagio location and I suspect more stores might try and do that to boost sales at Crystals.
And yet, still I have a feeling that once the real bargain rents at Crystals have worn off, stores are going to be flocking back to Via Bellagio again. There's a pretty good reason for traffic to travel through there, whereas there's pretty much no particular reason for traffic to go through Crystals unless they want to be in there.
Not a bad idea in itself, but again, without something for sub-millionaires the idea seems flat and a bit arrogant.
Crystals will gain momentum now that two more restaurants have opened, Mastro's and Puck's Brasserie. ELV calls Mastro's the new power lunch place in Vegas. No question Vegas is hurting, and I believe only half of the retail place has been leased.
Crystals has a good location and with the right mix of stores could get a lot of strip foot traffic. Mastro's is probably the new Capital Grille (Fashion Mall). Social House (from TI) is also supposed to open in Crystals (this Fall?). I am looking forward to checking out the English Pub (hope it is authentic and not just a play on Todd's name)
Just got a new offer for Aria at a weekend rate of $139 (another $10 drop) w/ $50 resort credit. I think the last Bellagio mailing they had upped the rate to $179/night (from $149). I realize it is difficult to make direct comparisons because of the different types of offers, but I would expect Aria's rates have just about settled.
So how many of the stores are now open? When I'm back home, I'll have to go over and see the new arrivals.
Well yes, the new restaurants should help. Mastro's is a major "power lunch hotspot" here in Southern California. In addition, the one (in Orange County) near South Coast Plaza and the Performing Arts Center is also a popular place to a pre-theater dinner. I can see Mastro's doing well at Crystals.
Brasserie Puck should also help, especially since it will be affordable enough to be more accessible to more people. Mike C does have a good point here. While Crystals doesn't have to go totally downscale (that wouldn't make any sense for them), they can at least do what The Forum Shops and The Palazzo Shoppes do in having a few inexpensive and mid-level stores and attractions so that most tourists don't feel too intimidated to go in and look.
"Brasserie Puck"? Isn't it supposed to be called The Pods?
Mike, Puck is opening two separate restaurants. The Pod is more a coffee place.
STN files bankruptcy on GVR. Since Greenspun owns half, what happens now?
More bad news for AC, Pier Shops at Caesars:
Wow, Hunter's Open Topic Discussion for February already has more than 100 comments, and the month isn't half over.
Well, stick a fork in Station. If their GVR subsidiary is now bankrupt, then the company can't survive. Period.
So now I'm wondering if Boyd will be able to take all of Station's casinos, or if the bankruptcy court will break up the company and sell off the individual casinos to several bidders.
The entity that declared bankruptcy is the company setup to manage GVR, not the main GVR holding company. Could be some complex legal wrangling in this case.
Yes, you're right that just the Station side of GVR declared bankruptcy. Supposedly, the Greenspun side is OK.
Still, the overall picture for Station isn't looking good right now. At this point, almost all of their casino holdings are bankrupt. The only reason why GVR and Aliante themselves are not is because of Greenspun.
Now I'm wondering if Greenspun can handle taking full control of GVR and Aliante when Station goes 6 feet under. Would Boyd or someone else still be willing to do a 50/50 deal with them?
I wouldn't read too much into this yet. I think the Station brain trust are some of the shrewdest operators around. I don't like 'em, and I hope Boyd gets all of it, but I think they do a very good job of advancing their interests. I think the next year or so will be bare-knuckled brawling and I plan to hide and watch.
I dunno. I just have a hard time seeing Station survive this. GVR was supposed to be one of their successful casinos, one of their casinos weathering the storm. If they can't even get their act together with GVR, then I think it will be nearly impossible for the board and the bankruptcy court to ignore Boyd's offer for that much longer.
And for that matter, this may be the signal that other local casino operators have been waiting for. If NV regulators actually grow a spine and stop Boyd from becoming a locals' casino monopoly, then I can see Michael Gaughan, the Maloofs, and perhaps Cannery coming in to gobble up individual casinos that will help their (respective) future bottom lines.
The LV Sun wrote about second hand smoke in casinos. Are there any definitive studies which rank Vegas casinos from best to worst in smoke?
How does Aria's much touted air ventilation system rate in removing smoke?
Here's the Sun story:
After being shown nearly everything Aria has to offer with regard to rooms today, I can say that it doesn't appeal to me whatsoever.
By the way.
LVS' Call transcript is worth reading, although I wish Seeking Alpha would use a better system to translate.
Comping rooms becomes "thumping rooms", and Bal Harbour, Florida becomes "Bell Harbor."
adtleft: "Spago at Caesars has been a pleasant surprise (they're actually doing good stuff there)"
How long a time frame are you referring to? As you may know they did inherit one of the original Spago's chefs a couple years ago when Eric Klein left SW (and had another gig somewhere in between) then landed here to head things up for his former mentor.
And BTW: Vongerichten, Klein, what is it with Alsatian chefs at Wynn's (past & present) steakhouses? Not trying to be unPC, just wondering if there's something distinctive in their approach? I mean, Meat + Fire = Steak .... nicht wahr? (I had thought Lenger was Alsatian as well with a first name like Rene. But he's Austrian, and cooks with a French twist.)
Sorry for the late post but, 117 comments?! Sheeze.... ;-)
I am considering a stay at the Imperial Palace and have heard that this place has very slow elevators. Tell me which floor I would be better off staying on and if I can expect to hear alot of street noise if facing the strip.
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