Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

April 25, 2012

Skate To Where the Puck Will Be

Posted by Hunter

This article on the future development of MGM's Cotai project is a great view into what's wrong with a lot of modern casino design. Grant Bowie runs the operations for the company there:

We are searching globally for what are the world's best practices and, more importantly, what are the world's biggest consumer trends in global tourism and leisure destinations.


... we don't want to make the decision of what it is going to look like yet, and specifically how we interact with the consumer, because in the 18 to 24 months that it takes us to get to that point in the design cycle, in high likelihood trends may have already changed.

Sure sounds like this will be a place built by focus groups.

Needless to say, I prefer the 'auteur-in-chief' approach that Wynn Design & Development uses for their projects. They may not always suit everyone's taste but at least they express someone's vision, not some conglomeration of 'trends in global tourism and leisure destinations'.


Read archived comments (2 so far)
April 25, 2012 12:53 PM Posted by mike_ch

I don't know, I kind of pull away the opposite feeling from that quote that you do. It suggests they have learned that dropping some tables, a Wolfgang Puck joint, and a Cirque show in any market doesn't cut it anymore.CityCenter seems like the ultimate expression that you can't just keep doing that and scale the materials budget appropriately and expect success.

If they're actually finding a replacement to the predictable formula of offerings, good for them. Hopefully they can bring it back and spare one(!) of their places here from the bore of that homogenized identity.

April 26, 2012 1:07 AM Posted by StudiodeKadent

Regarding "predictable formulae," certainly MGM's Vegas joints have a tendency to draw on similar providers (same group of celebrity chefs, Light Group nightclubs, possibly one of LG's interchangeable restaurants, Cirque show). It should be noted that this formula is being experimented with even in Vegas (Hyde Lounge is sbe, not LG, and Aria brought in Shawn McClain and Masa Takayama, who IIRC don't have other restaurants at other MGM properties).

But I've stayed at MGM Macau. MGM Macau is a totally different beast to any of MGM's Vegas joints (for one, when I was there they had no free alcohol on the main floor and they have extremely tight comps). There's no Cirque shows (there's one at the Venetian but its leaving soon, and Franco Dragone (ex-Cirque) has a show at City of Dreams), and they don't have a single celebrity chef restaurant.

The design of the place is quite impressive too. There's a lot of variety but it doesn't feel inconsistent.

However, design consistency does have a flaw. It can make areas of a casino feel too same-same and thus make navigation hard (I have this problem at Wynn Macau).

MGM Macau does have some Vegas influence though. The Grande Praca is a mix of The Mansion's courtyard as well as the Bellagio conservatory, with lots of Portuguese influence. The main lobby has a huge wall of Chihuly art and a Chihuly glass sculpture on the roof (much more restrained and less dense than the Bellagio one though, but yes, it is glass flowers). The main casino floor feels like a more upscale version of the MGM Grand. But these influences are all given Asian and Portuguese twists.

Short answer is that I think MGM Cotai will cater very much to local tastes and it will not be a carbon copy of anything from Vegas.

I should add that catering to local tastes in no way means the "Auteur In Chief" approach doesn't work. Wynn Macau is the most successful property in Macau, and Roger Thomas did plenty of research on the local tastes and tried to cater to them.