Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

August 31, 2011

Bellagio Room Re-Design: Not As Bad As You Thought

Posted by Hunter

I stayed in a new Bellagio room and I'm telling you all about it.

My photos are here:

The write-up is after the jump.

This past week, I stayed a single night a renovated room at Bellagio.

I love Bellagio. I was sucked in early by the original ad campaign and it's never lost it's allure for me. If there was a debate on Wynn Las Vegas vs. the B, I think there's a strong case to be made for the latter. It's a great hotel.

Yes, it's had it's ups and downs - there was a dark period somewhere around 2003-2005 where things seemed to have fallen off significantly. Fortunately, since the opening of the Spa Tower, some casino improvements and now the remodel, MGM seems to be putting some money into the joint.

There are a bunch of changes I'm not a fan of: the new(ish) Carta Privada looks like an alien ship landed on Roger's carpet ; some of the restaurant changes are suspect ; The Bank can sometimes flood the casino with random miscreants and whoever the fuck authorized Hyde Lounge should be shot. Beyond that, it still has a lot of that Wynn/Thomas/Radoff/Butler/Wynn charm.

In June, VegasTripping broke a story about what the long-rumored room remodel would look like... Or at least one of the designs. The update was widely criticized, including us bashing it on the Vegas Gang. It just didn't feel very Bellagio.

That's not to say that the older designs were perfect. The last set of adjustments had filled the rooms with an extremely large armoire that included a massive tube television. How very 90s.

I was as vicious as anyone when I saw those photos. Egads, they looked awful. Turns out, as the summer progressed, we got a look at some of the other designs. Not quite as offensive as the original foliage explosion but still questionable.

I had to try one.

I've stayed at Bellagio many times. My first trip was a few weeks after opening and I remember it well. The housekeeper was still in our room when we got there. She was one of the nicest and friendliest hotel employees I've ever met, sharing stories about a career working for Steve and how she'd been with the company since The Mirage. I still remember every detail about that conversation.

Since then, I've had trips staying in suites, standard rooms, the Spa Tower, etc... I've been all over the hotel including back of house tours, checking out the villa floor and the various VIP areas. As a whole, it's an extremely impressive facility and I've come to really appreciate it as a masterwork.

Turns out that if you want to try one of the new rooms, Bellagio will book you one for a $30 premium. There are still more floors un-done than done and they can get away with charging early adopters a little extra. I believe my stay for a Thursday night in August was $129.

Out of the elevator, my first impression was the two-tone-ish carpet. This is identical to the very first set of VT photos and it's one of my favorite parts of the re-do. It seems more stylistically ballsy than most of the other choices and also just true to itself: it's both fun and respectable at the same time. As for the other parts of the guest corridors, they feel somewhat cheap, like some of the newer casino fixtures downstairs. Just compare the corridors here to the re-done Wynn versions from a few months back. Night and day - the Wynn corridors manage to feel special where this Bellagio update is almost like a really nice Holiday Inn. I think I saw that light fixture at Home Depot.

Okay, we're at the room. Beep beep.

First impression - there's a lot more light in this room than the previous models. One of my main complaints about the older design was that it always felt so dark, to the point of being a little depressing. Way too heavy. Bellagio doesn't have the benefit of floor-to-ceiling windows, a trend that took hold right after it was completed. With lighter wallpaper, carpet and drapery, the room feels more alive. This is probably the biggest achievement of this updated design.

The insanely large armoire has been replaced by a slightly less insane entertainment center / closet. The Samsung TV is now an LCD, doing away with the ancient tube model that was previously using up all the space. The desk, desk chair and other room accessories are also new - my room featured a great view of the villas below and the pool beyond. A larger safe is now bedside, including plenty of room for my iPad and MacBook Air, amongst the other random crap I wanted to secure. No outlets in the safe as you'll find at Venetian/Palazzo though.

The bed is also new. I slept fairly well - about as good as can be expected in a hotel. The Wynn Dream Bed is still the gold standard in my opinion.

The bathroom is not significantly re-worked. You'll notice new wallpaper and a few other tweaks but generally, it's the same (very nice and spacious) bathroom it's always been.

In case you're not already aware, Bellagio has joined the resort fee bandwagon. The only part of those services I care about is the Wi-Fi... Well, unfortunately the Wi-Fi sucked. Low signal strength and when connected, it was super slow. Combine this with below-average in-room AT&T 3G signal and we have a recipe for unhappy Internet junkies. If every hotel on The Strip isn't working on having the best in-room Internet, they're missing an opportunity to impress their customers.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by my time in these updated rooms. Yes, the wallpaper and carpet are a bit 'souvlaki palace' but I still enjoyed it. That said, if you showed me this room photo out of context, I would have never guessed it was Bellagio. Despite having been very comfortable, I still think the design team missed out on what makes a room in this hotel what it is.

I guess they can try again in 2017 but in the meantime, I'll have no problem staying here.


Read archived comments (21 so far)
August 31, 2011 9:51 PM Posted by Sherry

How did the new rooms compare to Venetian/Palazzo and Wynncore?

Also, did the new Hermes store open in the lobby yet? If so, is the outside of the store look the same from when it was still the lobby shop? I always admired its elegant European look like Tesorini's.

Thanks Hunter, nice report!:)

September 1, 2011 6:58 AM Posted by detroit1051

Hunter's quote sums it up, "As a whole, it's an extremely impressive facility and I've come to really appreciate it as a masterwork."

Bellagio is Steve Wynn's greatest work, in my opinion. Wynn doesn't come close to the pure quality and elegance of Bellagio, everything from the lake and fountains to the porte cochere to the conservatory to the mosaics, marble and tile, etc. I don't like what MGM has done to the decor, but the property's "bones" are still intact. Hunter's photos are great, but the room still looks dark to me, and I don't like the wall coverings and furnishings. It's too bad MGM doesn't have someone like Roger Thomas to tie everything together. It'll never happen, but I'd love to see what Steve would do with Bellagio if he got it back now, 13 years later.

September 1, 2011 7:18 AM Posted by Hunter

The Hermes store was still covered up while I was there.

As for comparison, I don't think this re-do dramatically alters that landscape. The room was due for an update and it got it. It's still smaller than some competitors, though I'd take a Bellagio room over Venetian/Palazzo any day.

September 1, 2011 8:30 AM Posted by Phil

It does look better in the pictures, but it still doesn't shout Bellagio to me. The wallpaper has a touch of Vegas past to me, see link.

September 1, 2011 9:41 AM Posted by Ted

Thanks for a great tour. Since my Mrs is hooked on the Bellagio buffet, I guess I will need to try one of these rooms soon. Do you simply ask for one of the refurbed rooms at check in? What floor were you on?

September 1, 2011 10:32 AM Posted by Hunter

I was on 27.

When you book online, you actually see a special room type for one of the renovated floors. I assume you can also book them via a phone call, etc...

September 1, 2011 5:13 PM Posted by LeoNYC

Bellagio is, without and doubt, one of the most beautiful resorts is the world. The porte-cochere is the most beautiful I've ever seen. And the lobby is an art work.

September 1, 2011 6:46 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Let me be a contrarian here (if I can spell it right): I think this "When Steve Owned Bellagio" talk is becoming like "When The Mob Ran Vegas". It is looking through rose colored glasses and refusing to see the present and future. Wynn owned the Bellagio for about 20% of its life, IIRC. MGM hasn't destroyed it and it appears to be as iconic as ever. MGM has done a good job of changing with the times and maintaining the property. Certainly better than Harrah's has done with Caesars. I'm guessing Wynn has changed more things since it opened than MGM has changed Bellagio, especially on an annual percentage basis.
Here's the difference and how Steve Wynn got more savvy, IMO: I love the public spaces at Bellagio, but don't like going there because those spaces are overrun with riff-raff. My overriding memory of Bellagio is of young, hispanic families pushing strollers through the lobby and other public spaces at 1 AM on Saturday morning. As well as those same spaces being among the most crowded places in Las Vegas at any time of any day. Just miserably crowded. I feel like the people in the public spaces are beneath me and the casino floor, dining, shopping and hotel are too snotty for me. I never feel like I really belong or am worthy of staying there.
Let's compare that with Wynn/Encore: We have stayed at Encore 3 times. Our favorite in Las Vegas by far. It isn't overcrowded with riff-raff and I don't feel like I am unworthy. I avoid the nightclub crowd, so I choose not to be offended by their actions. The gambling, dining and shopping is at the top of what I would spend, so I choose to be OK with that. A near perfect experience.
My point is that Steve Wynn has learned since Bellagio how to more smoothly blend all classes of customers, make them feel welcome and take their money.

September 1, 2011 7:06 PM Posted by Hunter

I certainly don't want to overly credit a bygone era - you're right, people tend to forget the bad and embrace the good.

Regarding Encore though, have you stayed there recently? It's hard for me to imagine anyone saying they have learned to blend customers well there. The clubbers literally take the place over on Thu-Sun nights to the point where that's all that's in the casino at all.

September 2, 2011 6:59 AM Posted by Mike P.

I don't get the desire for Steve Wynn operating Bellagio either. Wynn has turned his Vegas properties into a collection of night/day clubs with a couple of inadequately soundproofed hotel towers attached, a restaurant lineup that becomes more mediocre with every fresh chef departure, and a casino that's had that special Harrah's magic applied.

I have no great love for MGM's senior management either and frankly think the company should have died in March 2009, but Bellagio is still the class of the strip (imo).

September 2, 2011 9:30 AM Posted by jinx

I loved the pictures and the review. I stated my distaste for the 'green' remodel, but thought the blue looked promising, I think your pictures showed it does indeed work.

I also love the discussion here on Bellagio:now. I'm a big fan, it seems once a year MGM holds out an olive branch to me and I wind up with a comped stay at Bellagio and I'm hard pressed to ever turn it down. Prior to these stays over the last 4 years, I had set foot in the place once or twice at best and that was for a quick walkthrough and a visit on Easter Sunday to the buffet and conservatory.

In other words, I have no experience with it during Wynn's ownership. (I just never managed to visit during that time, as it didn't fit my preferences or style).

From what I've read of people who miss the place, they miss the exclusivity of it, I can understand that, I've visited Wynn and Encore (pre beach club) and can see the appeal, but in my opinion one of the things that really works for Bellagio now is the fact that it's heritage is from Wynn and it's operation is from MGM. The integration of it works here, like no other place on the strip. If you are gambling or enjoying the bar they are available, if you want to hit a club, there is that available too and they aren't far from each other, but you don't feel like one encroaches on the other at all. The foot traffic through the property is high on weekend nights of course, but as one of the premier destinations on the strip, what are people expecting?

Visit on a Thursday or Sunday night to see a better environment, filled with people but not overwhelming. The thing people forget too is that when Wynn owned the Bellagio, visitation numbers for weekends wasn't close to what they are in pre-recession times, it's just going to seem busier, but the fact that it's not overwhelming for the property (for most) is a tribute to the design and post Wynn implementation.

September 2, 2011 10:01 AM Posted by Phil

I think the concern with Wynn is he is playing with fire. You don't have to be a marketing expert to know that through many years of building great environments he has gained credibility and trust of many on this blog. The problem is in the past few years many people feel the Vegas Wynn has lost his way and with it the credibility and trust are starting to crack. I and others on this blog have responded with their pocket book (tight slots). We're not stupid, we know things are changing for the worse. I hope Wynn reads this blog too, we know he's a VT reader. Wynn can put 5 star/5 diamond promos on his website all he wants, but all people are talking about on here and other sites is far from that (courting douchbags, loud club music heard in rooms, food offerings being time restricted and food quality being reduced, changing the "muzak"..etc.). That my friends is playing with fire. You lose your way and all that credibility and trust you've built up over decades goes down the toilet. Wynn in many respects will always keep a slight advantage in LV because the other resorts don't quite match his design, but with all the bad decisions as of late the luster is starting to wear off.

Wynn's website opens with the 5 Star/5 Diamond spiel, but it no different than a pizza joint spending millions of dollars on commericals saying they'll deliver your pizza in 15 minutes, but in reality it gets there in 20 minutes. Saying what you are don't mean a thing if you're not delivering it. The key moment I'm waiting for is when the economy gets jumping again, will Wynn revert to his old ways or will he stick with the Marilyn Winn philosophy.

September 2, 2011 6:59 PM Posted by mike_ch

While Wynn peoples look at this blog ("on your internet"), I doubt Steve reads it personally.

I take a 180 from Jeff, though. Everybody knows I don't feel the magic of the Wynn Resorts places. I understand their appeal, but I am outside of their circle, not defined as their target audience. Given that I'm basically a local cheapskate with a camera in hand looking for the places where the polish has worn off, I'm barely defined as someone they even want on their property.

The people actually working there are nice, the worst are simply robotic. But I don't need an $80 dinner, clubs are too loud, and I can get tight slots anywhere. They do have one big stand-up-and-take-notice landmark in the golf course, though.

I would dare say that Bellagio is a relic from an era gone by, that resorts simply aren't interested in the 'free entertainment as billboard' approach anymore, so it's impossible to fault Wynn for abandoning the roadside attraction aspect of his hotel lineage when so many other companies (Maloof, Station Casinos, etc) had done the same. But really, the idea seems to have endured with the art galleries at Aria and Cosmpolitan. They aren't giant outside spectaculars anymore, but the lifespans of those things are limited anyway: the Mirage volcano was looking pretty cheap until it given a tear-down and rebuild, and the Bellagio fountains are aged compared to the similar ones elsewhere.

This is why I always said that Aria is a better followup to Bellagio than Wynn was.

September 2, 2011 7:28 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Last time we stayed there was March 26-30. I know I sound shallow, but the clubbers are, for the most part, young and good looking. People I couldn't associate with when I was young, and we usually are in our room early enough that the drunken masses leaving don't affect us. Unlike the Rehab people Sunday evening.

September 3, 2011 6:50 AM Posted by detroit1051

I've belatedly realized I should no longer comment on Las Vegas, Bellagio or Wynn. My last visit was almost five years ago, in November, 2006. Vegas was still enjoying the boom, and everyone thought it would last forever. At that time, Palazzo, Encore and Trump Tower were still under construction, Cosmopolitan, Fontainebleau and Echelon were still gleams in companies' eye, and other than a big hole in the ground for CityCenter's foundation, nothing was just south of Jockey Club. That makes me know that I don't know or understand Las Vegas or the Strip after the economy soured and clubs started being the new phenomenon. I just can't relate to the Strip in 2011.

My image of Vegas begins long before Steve Wynn built The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio and Wynncore. The primary reason I hold on to memories of Steve Wynn's Bellagio is that Bellagio let me live in a fantasy world that was totally different than my middle class Detroit life. It was my version of Walt Disney World, a magic kingdom. Yes, I know that there is no such thing as a free lunch and that the comps I received weren't given because Bellagio loved me. Regardless, it was fun while it lasted.

Some of the components of Bellagio that appealed to me are obvious: the fountains, conservatory and unmatched marble, tile and mosaic work. Add to that the previously mentioned porte cochere and tree-lined entrance drive to the main entrance.

People watching is always fun in Vegas, and Bellagio has the best places. Breakfast at Cafe Bellagio, sitting near the stone railing overlooking the conservatory is a happy way to start the day. Watching the world go by from Petrossian while enjoying a drink or light snack is equally joyous Enjoying the fountains from Fontana's patio can't be beat (at least it couldn't while open). When Allegra was open, it was a delightful room for a drink and music. I won't bore everyone with my comments on the fine dining restaurants, but I liked them all.

Somehow, Steve pulled all the components together to create a seamless fantasy world of elegance, whether faux or not. Imo, many of the steps MGM has taken over the years are jarring to the senses. Look at the entrance to The Buffet after MGM replaced it and put in the huge block letter sign. It might look great elsewhere, but it doesn't fit Bellagio. I have the same reaction to the room renovations and carpet choices.
In fairness, I need to compliment MGM for Sensi. The show kitchens and decor are just terrific.

Anyway, I'm a relic who needs to either stop talking about Vegas, or I need to come back and see the changes for myself.

These photos are from my last trip in 2006.

September 3, 2011 10:34 AM Posted by Hunter

I vote for another trip!

September 3, 2011 10:51 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

detroit: I think 10-22-11 is the perfect weekend to go back to Las Vegas. ;-)

Mike: You might feel you are 180 degrees from my comment, but I think I am in 100% agreement with yours. I'm pretty sure I've told my wife your $80 dinner, loud clubs and tight slots sentence verbatim. I've never thought in terms of Aria as successor to Bellagio before, but you might have a point there. BTW, you are going to be at VIMP on the 22nd, aren't you?

If we are going to think about the Aria and Bellagion relationship, could we also think about how The Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas fits in as Bellagion partner and component of City Center? Since the Cosmo is fatally flawed as a stand alone by it's pathetically small casino revenue and lack of showrooms, the only salvation IMO is blending it into CC/Be. Maybe we could call it Belmopolitan Center. I still say it's just a matter of when and for how much. There is no other solution.

September 6, 2011 11:01 AM Posted by LaraP

Thanks for the info on these redesigned Bellagio rooms. I am in the process of planning our first trip to Vegas and I'm reading obsessively about the best Las Vegas casinos to try and decide on our favorite. So far, casino and hotel wise, I'm leaning toward the Bellagio, Venetian and Caesars. That being said, what about the Wynn? It ranks SO high on all these poll list things I'm seeing (ex: - should I add the Wynn to our list of possibles? I don't want to miss out - I suppose the more luxury casinos I can add to my "top" list, the better in terms of looking for deals...

Thanks for this blog. Bookmarked for sure!

September 6, 2011 11:27 AM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, Wynn Las Vegas (and Encore) are both top choices you should consider.

September 6, 2011 7:10 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I am not a Wynn Worshipper, but Wynn and Encore are the best, IMO. Everything else is fighting for second place!!!

September 12, 2011 7:15 AM Posted by Mike P.

I'm at Bellagio right now on one of the suite floors, and out of idle curiosity fired up a free wifi sniffer program on my laptop. It showed two access points or repeaters averaging about -40 db signal strength (which is very good), with at least a half dozen others within range. They're using Cisco equipment.

Internet seems fast too, although I have shitty dsl service at home so almost anything feels fast to me.

Yeah, Bellagio feels like home to me although we haven't been here in a while -- our Vegas time is way down this year for various reasons.