Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

It's a lazy Saturday afternoon and that seems like a good opportunity to comment on two stories I saw posted today online.

First off is a note from Howard Stutz in the RJ, indicating that the Maloof's ownership stake in The Palms has been reduced from 85% to 2%. George Maloof remains as property president but for all intents and purposes, the family has comparatively very little stake in the business.

In the past, I've heard Maloof referred to as a gaming operations genius (I might even have said something along these lines myself). How could anyone say that now? The guy was forced to sell off virtually all of his ownership to keep the lights on - if you read between the lines, it sounds like there weren't a lot of other options.

Making money in the go-go era of 2005 wasn't all that tough. It's the operators thriving now and through the crisis that deserve respect.

Personally, if I owned a property, I certainly wouldn't want to get Maloofed.


Second up is a VegasTripping post about the room renovation project at Bellagio, including some photos. These changes have been widely anticipated - as one of the top properties in town, Bellagio's room product should set a standard for Las Vegas luxury.

The series starts out with a hallway shot, showing off new wall coverings and carpet. I agree with Chuck that the carpet color tone change is pretty awesome - I totally dig it. From there though, things go a bit downhill as we get into the room itself.

In my opinion, the bed/sleeping area is a bit of a disaster and given the relatively dramatic change, I expect it to be the most controversial part of this re-design. The headboard/wall combo isn't particularly ugly in a vacuum, it just doesn't fit in with what I've come to expect from Bellagio.

The much hated armoire is gone (good riddance!), replaced by what seems to be a functional, if not beautiful substitute. If this was the worst part of the re-design, this crime scene would be pretty uneventful. Given that Bellagio's rooms are smaller than some of its newer competitors, the large armoire never made any sense from a usability perspective.

In general, I like the overall color scheme and as VT notes, the rooms were way overdue for a change. Still, this feels like all reaction and very little new ground being covered. How long until these updates feel old and dated?

Coming up with a room design that fits Bellagio's language and overall message but that also can delight the changing tastes of luxury customers is certainly a challenge but I'm not sure that was even attempted here. What I see is a buffet of recent design choices taken from Bellagio's top competitors. There have been many signs over the years that MGM-folk don't really get what Bellagio is all about - what makes it special. So far, this is looking like it might be another one.

I'm saying these things without having yet stayed in the new rooms. It's possible there are super-secret hidden features that aren't obvious from these photos. Who knows, maybe the bed gives out free blow jobs or something. Absent that, so far I'm leaning towards seeing this as another example of a company that's lost it's way... That said, I'll try 'em for sure.


Read archived comments (5 so far)
June 18, 2011 4:21 PM Posted by Romaman

I wonder what Steve Wynn twould think about these new rooms (if he could see them!).

June 18, 2011 4:46 PM Posted by parchedearth

Maloof's predicament is a direct result of construction debt from the fantasy tower and more importantly Palms Place. Essentially he is in the same boat as many americans underwater on their mortgages. I don't necessarily see this as a negative reflection of his operations skill. Let's hope TPG doesn't fold it into Caesars.

I think general consensus (based on the VT comments) is pretty much in agreement with your view on both the room design and overall handling of Bellagio by MGM. In another 3-5 years, Bellagio will be viewed like the Mirage of today. Sadly, Bellagio could stay on top if only MGM handled it properly. This is something the MGM shareholders should really get upset about (specifically the lost goodwill of a world renowned brand).

June 18, 2011 5:14 PM Posted by Hunter

Personally, I think that loading the company so far up with debt that it could only survive in optimal conditions was a poor operational decision, hence my comment above. He tripled down and lost.

These are the same reasons I've also been highly critical of Jim Murren at MGM.

June 19, 2011 6:41 PM Posted by Carl Pankowski

I love it. Maloofed should now be an industry standard term.
parchedearth : The Maloof debt in the Palms is directly tied into his stake with the Kings. The family has much going on with the Kings as well as trying to build a new arena. He needed to show equity.
I still believe it's management, and other managers should learn from his mistakes as far as operating a gaming property. One could only hope.....

June 23, 2011 8:31 PM Posted by Adam F

LOL at my armoire photo (I was like wow that luggage looks familiar!)...

I agree that the hallway looks great. The rooms definitely don't scream luxury. The window treatments are nice (sheers on the outside and all). The bed..... erm... that has to go. Overall I feel the room will go out of style very quickly. The new replacement for the armoire however must be different for the spa tower rooms (spa tower rooms have the closet so no need for the extra hanging space.