I know for some folks, 2011 can't get into the rear-view fast enough. I've certainly felt that way during parts of this past year. It's been a tough one for a lot of reasons.
I thought about writing some sort of retrospective on 2011 but after putting it off for over a week, I realized that's really not what I want to talk about tonight. Since most of you are probably out and about and you'll be reading this in 2012, I think this makes more sense. Let's talk about some hopes and predictions for this next year.
Some Vegas Predictions and Hopes for 2012
I'm not sure how much predictions from me are worth but they're fun to make so here are a few:
- Fontainbleau Imploded: This thing has been a terrible eyesore since it first began to climb above ground. Since it doesn't look like that will ever change, it's time to rid the skyline of this monstrosity. Blow it up, tear it down - whatever. Just get rid of it. I'm sure the neighbors won't mind. Oh, and pay the contractors who got stiffed and release Glenn Schaeffer from any litigation so we can interview him without him getting sued. That guy has to have quite a story.
- MGM Replaces The Harmon With Something Interesting: I think we all know that eventually, one way or another, even if Perini gets some cash, The Harmon is a goner. When the building is inevitably removed, what comes next? The biggest complaint against CityCenter is that access from The Strip sucks. Instead of expanding The Crystals with some additional warehouse-as-retail space, add to Aria: additional casino, lounge, bar and restaurant space that runs right up onto The Strip. Put a pool/club complex on the roof - something that makes the patrons at neighboring Marquee jealous. I might not ever want to go there but it's a potential cash factory. I can already see a new set of Murren PR photos taken from the roof.
- Cosmopolitan Shows Modest Gaming Improvement: The hiring of Strip Wunderkind Tom McCartney will make a positive impact on the struggling property but it won't be enough to reverse the negative trend in the casino. Despite best efforts, I would not be surprised if one year from now, either Mr. McCartney, CEO John Unwin or lender/owner Deustche Bank will be exiting Cosmo, in one form or another.
- Linq Will Underwhelm At First But Eventually Become a Hit: Caesars' new project won't open in 2012 (construction begins in earnest over the summer) but given it's status as the only major construction project on The Strip, it will be a topic of conversation. My guess on Linq is that it will open to mixed reviews but about two or three years from now will be considered an important part of both Caesars bottom line but also many Strip visitor's vacation plans. A few of the first round of restaurants will likely miss the mark but they'll of course be replaced and while calling it the Strip's 'first meeting place' is absurd, it will become a legitimate 'city center', of sorts, over time. The wheel won't reach the level notieriety of attractions like the Fountains of Bellagio but will likely occupy the same latitude as say NYNY's roller coaster - an activity that visitors may try once but not something that commands a lot of repeat business.
- Tropicana's Moment in the Sun is Over: The property engendered a lot of goodwill with it's refurbishment and for awhile there it looked like it was about to crest over into a legitimate player in the middle tier of Strip properties. Instead, an exodus of key personnel, the botched Nikki Beach experiment and some underperforming restaurants have stalled the property's momentum. The Trop may be able to command slightly higher room rates than it did previously but it will largely sit out the city's recovery until it is eventually imploded and rebuilt... and that may have been the plan all along.
The Web Site
After the mega-redesign in 2010, I've been happy with how things have been going over on the main site. The volume of user reviews is up a good bit, making it a better resource than ever. No major plans to mix things up there in 2012, though new features in the app may require additional Web components as add-ons.
Vegas Gang Podcast
Personally, one of my favorite things to do is interviews and I'm hoping we'll have some good ones in 2012. We've been talking about a few possible subjects already. In addition, expect more news analysis and plenty of new Sure Bets as we find our way with the show next year.
Two Way Hard Three
Last year one of my goals was to do more writing. I failed. That doesn't mean it's not an admirable goal.
Vegas Mate App
I don't like to pre-announce what I'm doing with the app but there are big plans for 2012. The next update for VM is coming in early January with some new features that make things even easier and more seamless. After that, the big 4.0 update will be exactly that - with a Retina iPad 3 expected, Vegas Mate will never look the same. That's all I've got on that topic for now.
Lastly, I wanted to say thanks for everything in 2011. It was a tough year for a lot of reasons and while I won't miss it, I appreciate all of the support from the readers, listeners, app users and commenters. In the moments when I inevitably question all of the time and money invested in these endeavors, the goodwill from you fine people is always heartening. Thank you and Happy New Year.
"Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion." - Mark Twain