The Las Vegas Hilton has a new name...and a not very creative one. I'm going to have some fun with this one. More after the jump.
The headline, that the Las Vegas Hilton is changing its name to LVH--The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino--is a positive head-scratcher, and without any context makes no sense. Before explaining what I think the motivation for the name change is, and what it means, I'll have some fun with the name.
If there wasn't already a casino named the ACH (the former Atlantic City Hilton), I'd say that this might be the worst casino name ever. And, as with the ACH, it's a shame because it's such a storied property. When Kirk Kerkorian built the International in 1969, it was the world's biggest hotel. When Hilton took over two years later, they were part of the advance guard of corporate gaming. Along with Caesars Palace, the Las Vegas Hilton was among the first Strip casinos to really embrace baccarat and international junkets.
Into the late 1990s, the Hilton was in the upper tier of Las Vegas casinos, attracting significant high-end play. The Sky Villas, three roof-top ultra-luxe suites that opened in 1995 and featured butler service, were on the cutting edge of high-roller accommodations.
And, of course, this is where Elvis became a Vegas icon and Starlight Express...didn't. But you get the point: there's a lot of history at the Hilton.
So it's distressing to learn that things have gotten so bad, they can't afford either the "ilton" or a real name change.
In case you haven't read this elsewhere, Hilton Hotels hasn't owned the Las Vegas Hilton for years. They've been licensing use of the Hilton name and access to the Hilton HHonors program since they sold the property. The current licensing agreement is coming due and, as in Atlantic City, Hilton Hotels has apparently decided not to renew it.
On the face of it, "LVH--the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino" is an awful name from every angle. It's completely generic. Imagine getting into a taxi and asking the drive to take you to "the Las Vegas hotel." It'd be as bad as the people who (when I was working security), would ask me for directions to the casino floor...while standing on the casino floor.
I'm also sure it's impossible to find something called "the Las Vegas Hotel" via Google or any other search engine. This is why names like Vdara, even though they make no semantic sense, make a lot of marketing sense.
And it's just a completely unmemorable name, anyway. Who's going to get excited about staying at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino?
While I'm sad for the hotel and for any uncertainty its employees have, in the long-standing Internet tradition of having fun with the misfortunes of others, here are a few unserious ideas for names that would have been better than LVH, The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
1. That Prince symbol, or something like it. Completely unpronouncable, so everyone would have to say, "The Casino Formerly Known as the Las Vegas Hilton."
2. [Insert Clever Name Here] Hotel and Casino. Remember that pre-opening Cosmopolitan billboard that just said [Insert clever ad copy here]? Take that idea, and put it on the marquee. And the websites. And in booking engines. Comedy ensues.
3. [_______] Hotel and Casino. Kind of like Seinfeld, it's a name about nothing. To correctly pronounce it aloud, you just pause, hold your mouth open slightly, and don't make a sound. It's the sound of one slot reel spinning. Very zen.
4. The Paradise Grand. Hey, if they can get away with renaming the Lady Luck the "Downtown Grand," maybe MGM Grand wouldn't mind someone else using the Grand name. Some history there, too, since they were both built by Kirk Kerkorian.
5. The Las Vegas Hylton, or some other way of slightly changing the spelling.
Now that I've tried my best to make you laugh, I'll get serious for a moment.
As I said once today (and you may see this in print soon*), there's no way that this isn't a placeholder name. Clearly they're waiting for the other shoe to drop. Once the ownership picture is resolved one way or the other, there are a few things that could happen:
1. Colony Capital keeps it, decides not to throw good money after bad, sells it for pennies on the dollar or closes it.
2.Colony keeps it, decides to invest in it, and then comes up with a real name, or a licensing agreement with another hotel franchise.
3. Goldman gets it and either renames it themselves or, as in option 2, reaches a licensing agreement.
4. A third party appears, buys the property, and does anything from re-engaging with Hilton to a Planet Hollywood-style makeover.
Of all the options, I'd say that 1 and 3 are the most likely, but I'm sure we haven't seen the most interesting chapter of this saga yet. Stay tuned.