Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 28, 2010

The Admiral's Week In Review: 11/22-11/28

Posted by Hunter

It's Sunday so it sounds like a good time to do a quick weekly update. First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all those folks in the US and Canada. For me, Thanksgiving is always a refreshing chance to spend time with family without the commercial trappings of other holidays and this was no exception. In translation, that means I worked the entire weekend.

We had a a little bit of pre-trypto fireworks on Tuesday when Steve Friess and Mike Dobranski engaged in a little back and forth over how much they both like to eat great food (that was the topic, right?). I'll let you read the thread on VegasTripping, which does a pretty good job of explaining the ups and downs.

The most interesting part of that conversation is something that's a constant topic for me - the corrupting nature of free stuff from Las Vegas casinos. Once you get to a certain point and draw a certain number of tourist eyeballs, these doors start to open. This is a topic we discussed in the special Vegas Gang episode interview with Chuckmonster and is something that the Vegas Internet Mafia Executive Board discusses from time to time at the monthly meetings in our secret clubhouse atop The Harmon.

For my own part, I've taken free rooms and meals, though it's by far the exception, not the rule - I spend thousands of dollars a year on hotel rooms, food and other entertainment on The Strip. I've always done disclosures when writing about anything I got for free. That's a good baseline but in thinking about this more, I've decided to go further. From now on, anytime I get something for free from a Las Vegas casino, I'll let you guys know (either here or on Twitter), even if I don't plan to write about it. I think that should tie up that last potential loophole. I don't know what the specific policies are on other sites but perhaps they'll start to do something similar. I think it makes good sense and I certainly have nothing to hide and now you know what to expect without any question. Moving on...

In what is becoming a semi-regular thing, the Sun writes about something that many of us (including the Vegas Gang) have been discussing for ages (love ya Liz!) - that the pedestrian access to CityCenter sucks big time. Shocker! Next, we'll read that their big, fancy Elvis show isn't doing too well - egads!

Do you have $5,600 and and a burning desire to see Jay-Z whilst hanging with Las Vegas' finest? A limited number of complete, three-day packages are available for the New Years shindig at The Cosmopolitan. Yeah, that's a metric shit-ton of money but hey, it is New Years and the folks at the Cosmo have turned back the balance on your Citibank card to 2007 levels. If you can't cough up the dough, you could always low-roll it at Aria and then just watch on the big-screen marquee. Tell Jimbo we sent ya.

There's a pretty neat story in the New York Times about the super-hardcore swimmers they source for shows Le Reve and O. I feel asleep the first two times I saw Le Reve but it sure does sound like a lot of work. Oh, 'O" is good too.

Oh, and last but not least, this blog, the (brand new!) parent site, the podcast, my ridiculous Twitter account and Vegas Mate for iPhone were all nominated for Trippies. First off, a big thanks to everyone that wrote us in. When the polls open, we'll post all the details about voting. Everyone knows I'm a sore loser so let's not embarrass papa, ok?

I'm working on a post dreaming about the future of slot machines which should go up this week. I've also got about half of a story on Aria's suckage done but that topic is starting to feel pretty tired to me so it's hard to be enthusiastic about finishing it. We'll see. I spent the whole weekend working on The App so I'm pretty tired.

Have a great week,


Read archived comments (9 so far)
November 29, 2010 11:25 AM Posted by stevecovington

Stories of how much Aria sucks never get old :) Congrats on all the nominations.

November 29, 2010 12:18 PM Posted by detroit1051

I hope this will be a weekly feature. Regarding Aria, it's almost burn-out time. It and CC just plod along, not knowing how they can become memorable, if not great, properties. Liz Benston's piece was well done even if TWHT, VT and tweeters beat her to it months ago.
I've already commented on VT that I can't comprehend the appeal of Cosmopolitan's New Years Eve party at $5,600. That must confirm that I'm not one of the 59 Million Americans in the Curious Class.

Looking forward to your piece on slot machines. I like WMS' Moneyburst slots. The website describes the games as, "Money Burst is built for the hyper-volatile experience modern players want.."
I prefer a volatile game instead of one that pays small amounts more frequently, but is WMS correct that modern players want a hyper-volatile experience? And, what is a modern player?

November 29, 2010 12:43 PM Posted by mike_ch

I know this is uncool to say in this crowd, but I'm really liking Aria. The high end restaurants are not so exotic that they scare me away the likes of myself (though if you like that kind of thing, you still have Bellagio and Wynncore and Venelazzo). The sports book hands down my top place to watch hockey. And as someone who confessedly takes rides from others in and out of the Strip, that rear roundaout entrance by Vettro is a real low traffic way to get in and out and with a bit of futzing about on the other side of the freeway, takes you to Flamingo Rd just outside Rio.

November 29, 2010 2:12 PM Posted by Dave

Detroit--take a listen to this podcast if you want some perspective on what WMS considers modern slot players:
Basically, they want entertainment and higher volatility over time-on-device.

November 29, 2010 7:10 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Through the generations, it seems Mr. Kerkorian's latest "Largest Hotel-Casino In The World" have had problems at the beginning. The International had cash flow problems that cost him both it and the Flamingo. I think the first MGM Grand opened pretty well, until the fire, which was something like 5-7 years after it opened. The second MGM was extensively reworked in the first 3-4 years, wasn't it?
My point being that his properties have always overcome rough beginnings and wound up beng solid, profitable operations. I think CityCenter will wind up being the same. It may be 10 years ahead of the market, but it isn't something that's impossible on its face (such as Fountainebleau, which is a blight on the skyline, pure and simple). 30-40 years from now, after I'm dead, those buildings will still be there and making money, IMO. As will be WynnCore and Casino Royale (I think 2 things that can't be destroyed are diamonds and cockroaches). I prefer to focus on the long term with Aria and it's litter mates.

November 29, 2010 7:28 PM Posted by atdleft

Mike C-

"I know this is uncool to say in this crowd, but I'm really liking Aria."

It's OK. You're NOT alone. I also like Aria. The suites are quite nice. (I attended a party at an "Executive Hospitality Suite" earlier this month.) I still appreciate the great design of the place...

"The high end restaurants are not so exotic that they scare me away the likes of myself"

Despite some of the restaurants being dumbed down retreads from Bellagio. Still, Julian Serrano is a great exception to that rule and Sage has become a real breakout star of CityCenter.

Still, I wish they can work on improving pedestrian access to Aria. It's not too big of a problem for me, as I'm used to walking great distances, but many tourists aren't and many of them probably don't realize there's a CityCenter Tram, even WITH the signage posted at Monte Carlo and Bellagio.

November 30, 2010 12:34 PM Posted by detroit1051

Dave, thanks for the podcast link to the WMS presentation. It was an excellent hour. Rob Bone was very impressive. I'm with him, the volatile type, not one who wants to sit for hours for small wins or slow losing.

I noticed the podcast is a year old. He mentioned Star Trek as new and talked about Lord of the Rings the newest game. Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood made a big deal of putting in 8-10 Star Treks about a year ago. Once the novelty wore off, they were seldom played and the casino pulled most of them. Now, I think they're all gone. This year, the Seminoles installed about eight Lord of the Rings slots, and there is never an empty seat. A huge success. I've never seen a bigger brand than WMS' Wizard of Oz.. There are lots of iterations, and they have a large following of players.

Rob Bone must exemplify the creativity and enthusiasm at WMS. It seems a much more cutting-edge culture than at IGT.

Rob brought back memories with his "software anomalies" comment. I used to attend the Michigan Gaming Control Board meetings when I was in Detroit. I vividly remember the meeting where Brian Gamache, Orrin Edidin and others were forced to attend to say their mea culpas and get flogged by the MGCB. It was quite a sight. WMS has come a long way in the following nine years.

November 30, 2010 9:41 PM Posted by sbpewsaw

I too am concerned about pedestrian access to CityCenter. I recently had some guests from Asia go to Vegas and walked up and down the strip, but did not find any reason to make the trek up into Aria. They felt that the complex looked very intimidating and too "high society" for their tastes. Maybe they aren't the clientele that CityCenter is trying to cater to, but it does concern me that such a psychological barrier exists. An average joe paying $5.00 for a latte is equivalent to a wall street powerbroker spending $5 for that same latte in my book.

I agree with atdleft that MGM needs to rework pedestrian access into Aria. I don't think that their plan of adding shrubs and signage is going to help too much. Perhaps instead of investing 20 million into a new CityCenter marquee, they could spend that money on creating a real streets-cape that can be more welcoming for pedestrians walking along the strip (adding cafes, booths, etc).

December 1, 2010 9:16 AM Posted by atdleft


"Perhaps instead of investing 20 million into a new CityCenter marquee, they could spend that money on creating a real streets-cape that can be more welcoming for pedestrians walking along the strip (adding cafes, booths, etc)."

Actually, that's quite a good idea. I mean, it is supposed to be called "CityCenter" for a reason.

I know there were concerns about Aria being set so far back from LV Blvd, but so are Mirage, Bellagio, and Wynn (hmmm, what's the common thread of these 3?), and all are successful today. These 3 casinos catch consumers' attention right on The Strip, then provide attractive and easily accessible passage ways into the casino. I suspect I'm more bullish on Aria's future than many others here, but I really think easy access from The Strip may be one of the final pieces of the puzzle to make Aria work.