Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

September 3, 2012

Is the Strip Finished?

Posted by daveschwartz

Courtesy of Detroit1051, that's what this 40-year resident thinks. Here's his description of a recent trip to the heart of Nevada's economic engine (after the jump):

"A friend had an extra ticket to Tony Bennett at Caesars, the Colosseum, so I went last night. I parked at Cosmo, to walk the Strip a bit like the old days, what a shame. The Strip is filled with people dressed like cartoon characters, a guy standing on the Bellagio corner preaching Jesus, blocking foot traffic with 6 people handing out papers, the illegals still handing out t-bar and working lady numbers. It's WORSE than the CONEY ISLAND I grew up in, during the 50s and 60s. What a depressing way to start my night. The Strip hotels HAVE to put an end to this nonsense, its cheap feeling, low class, and embarrassing.

The Bellagio fountains now dance to Michael Jackson music, it's great, I loved it!

Tony Bennett's show opens with his daughter, who sings 4 songs, I'll be kind, she wouldn't make American Idol's top 10 in a weak year. He's 80ish, I'll show respect. Very little effort, I left early which I never do. I hope not too many people paid cash money. I would have LOVED to see video of his old day appearances on various shows, who he worked with over the years etc, what he sounded like years ago live, nothing, zero, just the singing which sounded like the same song over and over again.

COSMO, the crowd is so young everyone I saw could call me grandpa, but some very serious talent working the bars, not that I had any interest.

All my fears from years ago have come to pass, the college boy gamers spent billions building on the Strip that now needs low overhead grind joints, for young people and a low class crowd. If I was coming as a tourist I would stay downtown and it's going to get even better in 5 years as the zappos guys rebuild downtown. WICKED is in the SMITH CENTER in September, if you are coming to Vegas, check it out. You can still get tickets and walk to downtown and eat downtown as well. The Strip has lost its way, something has to be done!"


There's obviously a lot of stuff there. Let me break it down:

1. Strip safety/aesthetics/vibe
This is the area that is easiest to talk about objectively. There's clearly been a major shift on the Boulevard in the past two years. The County Commission's been discussing it for a while, but it doesn't seem like much has been done. I'm not sure what the benefit of having pornslappers 25 feet from each other will be, and that seems to be the crux of the county's response to the problem.

There are two responses to the Strip. One is to say that people come to Vegas for fun, and that fun includes guys in urine-stained Minnie Mouse costumes and all the other characters we've become fond of over the past two years. Three-card monte, drug dealers, and pornslappers are also part of the "anything goes" mix.

The second is to say that people who come to Vegas want a modicum of order and safety, and that they'd like to be able to walk from point A to point B without being hustled every few steps.

I tend to side with the second POV. After all, if people really wanted to go to an immoral sink of depravity for their business/leisure travel, they'd go parasailing with the Cali cartel or something. I think that by and large Vegas visitors don't want to push the boundaries of public safety, and they don't really want to feel uncomfortable; they want to have fun. That includes drinking, gambling, and relatively tame escapades.

2. Entertainment bang for the buck
This is a totally other issue, and one that the correspondent only alludes to. Most Strip shows are on the expensive side. I suppose most visitors rationalize this by saying it's a once-a-year expense, so it's OK to pay more. Otherwise, people who would never dream of paying $50 for a 2-hour movie wouldn't pay $100 and up for a 90-minute show.

They're willing to pay, but are they getting their money's worth? This is totally in the eye of the beholder. I can't recall ever getting as excited about a Strip show as a really riveting movie or book. I've had fun at some shows, and there are even a few I'd buy a ticket for, but I'm guessing I'm not really the target demo here. The last show I saw was, I think, VIVA ELVIS, which I sat through for the purpose of adding a dimension to my "Live After Death" Vegas Seven feature. As you can tell from the article, I didn't exactly love it.

I'm not sure how much of this is a generational/life stage thing. With two small kids at home, it's not easy to get out of the house before 8:30 or so, even if you have someone to watch them. That means we set the bar pretty high. Honestly, nearly all of the invitations I get to media nights, sneak previews, etc, don't even get a second look because it's such a hassle. (Imagine all those free hors d'oeuvres I've passed up!)

But there's something deeper to it. I've gotten pretty used to entertainment on demand. The thought of having to show up at a particular time for a show isn't feeling quaint yet, but it's definitely not as natural as it once was.

I went off on a bit of a tangent there, but I'd be interested in hearing what other people think. Is entertainment as much a part of your vacation travel as it used to be?

3. General Strip bang for the buck
Five years ago, I would have said the answer to this is simple. Casinos have to drop their room rates, lower their menu prices, and loosen their slot machines, and everything would be all right.

But the Recession proved that's not true. When casinos lowered room rates, guests didn't spend more on F&B and at the casino; instead, they carried in pizza or fast food to eat in their rooms. That's what killed the Sahara (well, one of the things that killed the Sahara), and it's what's killing the LVH right now. Casinos found that by raising their room rates, their gaming and F&B revenues actually rose. So don't look for room rates to come down in the future, or any casino but a totally desperate one make a value play. It's hard to say it, but cutting prices would destroy the Strip just the same as raising them too much would.

Like hotels everywhere, Strip resorts will lower prices when demand falls and raise them when it rises. Expecting otherwise is like hitting on twenty.

That being said, I think that the Recession saved the Strip from another wave of gentrification. You've now got clearly defined high-, mid-, and low-price tier properties. I'd feel a lot better if the lower-tier places would drop their F&B prices a bit, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. If you're catering to the mass market, there should be an option that lets people get lunch for $25/couple or dinner for $50/couple that isn't awful.

4. Downtown is the place to be
This was interesting, since Downtown is really in a transition and, proof to the thesis that dropping prices doesn't help the bottom line, has suffered far worse than the Strip during the Recession. What's interesting to me is that the author mentioned the Smith Center and the Downtown Project (the latter indirectly) as reasons for people to visit Downtown. I say it's interesting because the casino folks I talked to almost universally de-emphasized the Smith Center as a tourist attraction, instead saying that it would be something for locals. Most of them thought it would most directly impact casinos by being a recruiting tool. It'll be that, but it'll be a lot more, too.

As far as the Zappo's/Downtown Project goes...I've written something about that for Vegas Seven that you'll hopefully be reading soon. I expect to be writing a lot more about it over the next year.

So those are my thoughts on Detroit's friend's thoughts. What are yours?


Read archived comments (36 so far)
September 3, 2012 2:07 PM Posted by Dave

Vegas has dove (sunk?) to the bottom of my destination list. My last visit in July was the seventh post financial crash trip, and probably the last. The items above are all true, plus one more ingredient of failure: the properties are by and large warn out dirty toilets. The operators have lost their pride. In addition: the strip is crowded with impossible amounts of impolite visitors and desperate locals. The room prices may reflect a budget vacation, but once you factor in food entertainment transportation sans gambling, I'm better off jetting to California or Maui where the douchiness is less prevalent if not altogether avoidable. Vegas has no class, like the throngs of DJ nightclubbers it now caters to. Well, they can have it, I'm finished.

September 3, 2012 3:18 PM Posted by detroit1051

Yes, my friend has lived in Vegas for 40+ years, so he clearly will have a different perspective than Gen X-ers or Millenials, but he represents a large group of potential Vegas customers who still have disposable income. He may be a baby boomer, and I'm even prior to that, so we may be reminiscing with rose colored glasses about The Strip. However, porn slappers, costumed characters and other peddlers intimidate middle American tourists as well as tarnish the image of Strip resorts. We've all talked about this many times in the past few years, and you're right, the county doesn't seem prepared to offer a decisive solution.

I think Downtown is starting to have the appeal the Strip had 30 years ago, a fun place where you can walk. This is certainly a change from ten years ago. The Golden Nugget still remains THE place downtown, but it seems that the operators of Golden Gate, The D Las Vegas and others are adding to Downtown's enhanced image. Imo, Golden Gate and The D make better use of social media than the major Strip operators.

Smith Center has added another focal point for Downtown and has generated some very positive press from national media. It's exciting to see. Question: Do Vegas casinos cooperate with Smith Center and offer comped tickets to their rated players for concerts/shows?

September 3, 2012 4:23 PM Posted by toastcmu

Have to say that #1 is the comment that hits the nail on the head. I haven't been in 2 yrs, but am wondering how bad all the club/timeshare/randos on the strip will be. At least in 2010 it was mainly the pr0n people. I also stayed Downtown for the first time in 2010 and have to say when I have more than a weekend, I'd prefer downtown. It's easy to walk, has plenty of variety just like the strip (El Co and Mermaids up to Golden Nugget). The lower limits tend to help a flea gambler like me too.


September 3, 2012 5:24 PM Posted by Dr.Dave

@Detroit1051: Yes, they purchase blocks of tickets and if you are a big player and want to go, they will take care of you.

September 3, 2012 5:55 PM Posted by briguyx

Yes, old school Vegas fans all hail downtown. But you really have to be into gambling to keep busy down there. People like me from California that started vacationing on the Strip in college as an alternative to Palm Springs or San Diego getaways will still stay on the Strip for the pools and number of cool casinos and clubs.

As for entertainment, I may have hated "O" but most people really are amazed by the Cirque shows and you can brag you saw one when you get home!

September 3, 2012 6:33 PM Posted by harvey cohen

Thank you for your reply. Seems to me we can clean up the pornslappers easy. Have the cops visit the places that advertise via that platform and let the t-bar owners know the cops will be back daily until they stop polluting the strip with that garbage, t-bars don’t like cops in uniform as visitors. I’m a season ticket holder at the SMITH CENTER, WICKED is here for weeks so I thought locals and tourists might have an opportunity to see the show, many others are all sold out. For 40 years locals complained we had no culture in Vegas, now we have a venue we can be proud of, we should all promote it every chance we get. Tony H from Zappos is an American hero and what this years election is all about. He could have put his cash in muni’s and gone fishing instead he’s is going to help rebuild downtown, he’s helping to fund minority owned start ups, we should all support his efforts and hope the best for him and others who are participating in the downtown effort. I don’t know Tony but I’m a retired venture capital guy so I’m a huge fan. With respect to the strip, they invested huge sums into high end capacity which turned out to be a huge mistake. I doubt they will ever enjoy acceptable ROI, return on investment , on all that high end capacity. Even if the MGM crew didn’t make huge mistakes at City Center I doubt they could have made it work. btw, how do you guys like the new 2 mile entre onto 1-15 at trop going south with this new and , improved, design ? The trop exits going north into town are even worse ? How could MGM build that joint without an off ramp into CC directly off 1-15 , how did the county approve that plan and that footprint ? It’s all a mystery ?

September 3, 2012 6:39 PM Posted by harvey cohen

sorry, in the previous post i forgot to say i'm detroits friend. btw, the downtown joints have done nothing to promote to locals during the weeks of the SMITH shows as far as i know. It would be very cool to go back to my old roots days and eat at the 4 queens, aka, Hugos, always a great room, the El Cortez, the MINT steak house are these places still open and high quality ? Can i still get two 8 oz lobster tails and a complete dinner at the El Cortex for under 10 $$ ? lol, the good old days.

September 4, 2012 8:44 AM Posted by socalduck

Admittedly, I rarely walk the Strip, but I never found it particularly pleasant to begin with. Depending on where I stay, I do occassionally use the pedestrian overpasses, e.g. between the Wynn and Fashion Show and between Bellagio and Caesars, and I do feel more needs to be done to improve safety.

I am staying at Aria later this month, and I am looking forward to seeing how things have progressed (or not) since opening. It is sad to see how Wynn has lowered its standards over the last year, so hopefully Aria will be a good alternative for future trips. I fear the recent Prince Harry escapades will only increase the douchebag factor at Wynncore.

September 4, 2012 2:12 PM Posted by mike_ch

The sidewalk along Caesars frontage especially has been one of the two worst places for years (the CityCenter retail office between NYNY and Monte Carlo is the other.) Some of that stuff, like the You Are All Sinners guy outside of Bellagio, have been fixtures of the street for years. It's not the greatest thing, but this sort of activity is pushed out to the street as is, outside of enormous resorts that are the size of golf courses. Many of them offer connected indoor routes that allow people to move from casino to casino without having to even pass them.

And if they're moved from that sidewalk, chances are they'll just relocate somewhere else. Most obviously, downtown.

It seems to me that you walked a particularly ugly stretch of the road and then saw a show which wasn't very good, maybe Tony is up there with Wayne Newton in terms of needing to give it up already. It's unfortunate all the bad piled up like that, but there's still plenty of top drawer stuff on the Strip that can't easily tour from town to town.

September 4, 2012 2:43 PM Posted by hail2skins

Was in LV two weeks ago, stayed downtown at the Nugget for four nights, and did not go to, nor had any desire to, go to the Strip even once. Probably a lot of that was due to there being nothing new to see. But like others have said, where's the value there, from a gambling, dining, and entertainment perspective?

I'm sure I'll venture back to the Strip once the Linq is open. But what do folks see happening on LV Blvd in the next five years or so, especially if Romney is elected? Any chance we have some traction towards any new places built on the north Strip? Also, any possibility to build a decent, mid-size place (maybe 2000 rooms) for less than $1.5 billion?

September 4, 2012 6:38 PM Posted by harvey cohen

hail2skins how ya been old bud nice to see you in this forum , hclasvegas here. Two weeks ago we went to see Celine Dion killer show much better than I expected. We must have seen Tony Orlando 6 times over the years but his back up band is 5 star, young guys, well worth the time to see it over again. Bennett can add some young talent to his show , kick up the pace just a little and give his daughter an opportunity to practice her skills in a smaller room. We live in Sun City Anthem now, about 40 minutes to downtown Vegas, maybe I’ll book a room the day of one of the SMITH center shows. Staying downtown, eating dinner at HUGO'S, and having lunch at the Golden Gate deli, shrimp cocktails and a corned beef on rye would bring back great memories of the early 70s when the Golden gate kept me alive, with great cheap food during the hungry years !! btw, there is a marketing war going on in the local space if you want free buffets for very limited coin in. If you have any interest let me know, take care, hc.

September 5, 2012 12:53 PM Posted by Dave

I don't see anything new getting built, just because money isn't as cheap as it was in the boom years. If I was lending money, I'd want to see occupancy above 90% before investing in any new rooms. It's currently below 85%. For that to change, we'd need to see more people coming to Vegas (happening) who are spending more money (not happening, yet).

September 5, 2012 3:40 PM Posted by harvey cohen

several months ago mike gaughan told me he didnt think another new joint would be financed on the strip in his lifetime.

September 6, 2012 2:24 AM Posted by hail2skins

HCLV, glad to hear all is going good......always enjoyed your posts on the old financial boards! Hope you continue to add your insight here and other places Detroit1051 frequents.....I don't often post here but do read regularly. Thanks for the offer on the info on the local buffets.....may have to take you up on it. Continue to be well, my friend!

September 6, 2012 6:14 AM Posted by detroit1051

This is fun. Some of us met years ago on the old Yahoo MIR Board.

September 6, 2012 11:50 AM Posted by harvey cohen

hail2, any place that welcomes detroit, must be low class enough to welcome me too ! btw, it was a very tuff month in vegas in august, i'll be interested in hearing byds next conference call. don't you miss the good old days when the hot money college boys took, prim, mir, and azr from us at huge premiums and the news wasnt kept secret ? take care bud.

September 6, 2012 12:59 PM Posted by Paul Shanahan

MGM Resorts International ($13.2 billion dollars in long term debt) and Caesars Entertainment ($19.9 billion dollars in long term debt) probably will not building any new hotel-casinos the rest of the 10's but Caesars Entertainment is building Linq (the shopping/dining/drinking/ferris wheel project) which could turn out pretty cool.

The best available location to build a new hotel-casino on the Strip is where the Harley-Davidson Cafe is at the corner of Harmon and the Strip. The people who own that 18 acre parcel cannot get any financing and probably should sell the land but who knows what they will do.

September 7, 2012 7:46 PM Posted by howardpark

I'll be a contrarian. The pornslappers and the characters don't bother me but the basics of transportation on the Strip keeps me away some and may be one reason for the, still mostly unrealized, downtown renewal. To quote Yogi Berra adapted to the Strip, "it's so crowded nobody goes there anymore." It's just such a hassle to go from place to place whereas Downtown is a walk in the park. Las Vegas missed a huge opportunity with the bungled monorail. Also, the strip has been drained of life by it's two corporate titans, MGM and Caesers. The duolopy has really stifled innovation and the fun factor. They need a radical solution: break up Caesers in bankruptcy and close the Strip to private cars. Replace the Strip with light rail and rapid bus and let people move about again.

September 7, 2012 11:18 PM Posted by Phil

As a part time resident/local for 30 years and visitor for longer, I'm fully aware of living through the phases Vegas has gone through, each seems to last a decade or so and then Vegas reinvents itself. My primary concern however for this current phase is the very people that helped make Vegas classy, those that truly know how great Vegas was, like the Wynn's, the Baldwins and the Kerkorians are the same people that have turned their back on that to go towards this classless movement we've seen recently. They are the root cause, they know better and can stop it, but choose not to.

Vegas has always been fun, but it just seems like they're so in your face now with pushing the envelope. All the original poster has mentioned, has pissed me off for years, now its just at a state of embarassment for my town. I've been hyping up Vegas for years to my friends who have never visited before. Recently one friend finally took the plunge, and to avoid embarrassing myself over this "great town" I've been praising for so long, I had to carefully select destinations and routes to avoid the carnival of clowns.

Problem 2, I know Dr. Dave teaches a great class on Vegas history to his students/future casino employees, but the "young guns graduates" who seem to call all the shots in Vegas these days don't have a clue. Talk to any 21 year old on the Strip, to them, the current state of Vegas is great, this trend is what Vegas is all about. They don't appreciate the history, its all about living in the now. Whats baffling to me is the average age of the Vegas visitor is 49 years old, yet this doesn't mean anything to the marketing young guns. You look at ads plastered everywhere and would think that Vegas doesn't want this aged customer. It's almost like they take the middle aged for granted that they'll always come.

Problem 3 of the classless movement is the corporate mentality to push earning dollar at every square foot of the property. Hughes never dreamed it would be like this now. I'm sorry but Harrah's Carnival Court is classless, always was, always will be. What Phil Ruffin has done to Treasure Island is classless, what Ballys is going to do to the front with that "Bazaar" concept is classless. The stripper/dealer concept is classless. The selling out restauraunt space to franchise chains is classless. The list is endless.

Problem 4- the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority really is the loudest voice when it comes to promoting this town. The "What happens here......" slogan needs to be crushed and something that evokes class either in slogan and/or visuals needs to be the next big push. And please no more reality based Vegas shows that promote the gutter mentality customer to come to our town.

Haven't posted for awhile as recent news is more of the same, but the blood got boiling a bit on this topic.

September 8, 2012 11:09 AM Posted by harvey cohen

mornin phil, many complex business issues involved. Spoint, BYD , and STN would love to fill their rooms at 129 $$ a night, the demand isn’t there. So they have to deal with reality, put heads in beds at 39 $$ a night or leave the rooms empty which kills your employees income. Just wait until Obama wins and the FED and CALI raise taxes on those millionaires and billionaires with income above 250k living in LA, guess what that will do to Vegas ? My kid called today 4.25$$ for regular in LA. Its not the cost to drive to Vegas it’s the increase in your monthly nut when you have 2-3 cars in the family in CALI. Ruffin is a super sharp guy, he did what he had to do to survive, build amenities his guests will use, empty gourmet rooms are expensive. Its clean, it’s a grind joint, what else could he do in this economy ? I play VP in locals joints sometimes I face the check in counters so I see guests checking in. Made me think of those red neck jokes, I thought of Vegas jokes,

you may not be a high roller if you check into a 39 $$ a night room with 3 coolers filled with water, soda, and grilled cheese sandwiches,

you may not be a high roller if your 4 day gaming budget is 20 bucks, you break it into 4-5s when you get here, and bitch it lasted ONLY 4 hours a day ,

if you bring a pizza back to your room from PTs cut into 16 slices so its lasts two nights for 4 adults for dinner ,

I’m sure you guys can add to my list !! Have a grand day.

September 8, 2012 11:27 AM Posted by Paul Shanahan

There are so many reality TV shows (I think at least 300) on hundreds of cable channels that the producers of these shows want to go to Las Vegas now because of the "anything goes" philsophy of the town. Pawn Stars has done real well in the ratings and newspaper celebrity reporters (Norm and Robin) have to fill their columns with something and this is what you get.

Most casinos heavily promote the nightclubs to 21-30 years old and they make money off these kids so I guess this is there new business model. I live in Chicago and walk by Wrigley Field all the time and these same 21-30 years old are drinking, having fun, spending lots of money in the bars and could care less that the Chicago Cubs have one of the worst teams in baseball.

September 8, 2012 4:50 PM Posted by mike_ch

I'm not normally getting political in this space, but "taxes on those millionaires and billionaires with income above 250k", as proposed, put the levels back where they were when the town was stable.

One of the thing you'll notice about the 2000's is that nobody builds a Treasure Island, or a Luxor, or an MGM Grand, or a Stratosphere anymore. The entire slate of construction projects was aimed at people who didn't just have some money, but had a lot of money. Perhaps it was prophetic coincidence or deliberate, but by the time these projects came online economists have complained that disparity of income between the typical citizen and the wealthiest is reaching record levels because there's very little in-between.

The people partying until the puke in the lobby at our current crop of hotels aren't the same segment that were playing nickel slots at the Westward Ho ten years ago. They're the ones we were told had passed on Vegas through the 90s until Bellagio, and had passed on Vegas through the 00s until CityCenter, and on and on. There is a difference between class and sophistication. Encore might have some of the highest prices in town, but it's not the same kind of luxury as the Desert Inn.

Not that I think some giant redistributive plan is coming to solve the problems of people who are cursed with the burden of so much money that they need cheap vodka to be priced at $500 a bottle to maintain some sense of normalcy in their lives. But the Strip as it is reflects their tastes. Newly empowered spending elsewhere might change things.

September 8, 2012 7:51 PM Posted by Chris Hall

Great thread. I too have migrated downtown slowly over the past 3 years. I'm a mid 30's, single, 4 time a year, Vegas visitor. I have ZERO interest in night clubs, day clubs, cabanas, Vodka that costs more than $5/bottle, DJ's, Celebrity Hosts, 6/5 Blackjack, bad video poker odds, or standing in lines. I want a nice room to relax in, a fair gamble, friendly dealers/bartenders/cocktail waitresses, music that was actually performed by humans and has variance in the melody and beat, and the ability to walk where I want to, when I want to without having to talk to anyone in a furry costume. The last time I was in Wynncore was for work, I haven't been to MEGACENTER (Venetian and Palazzo) since I saw Blue Man Group there. While I have enjoyed the dining at Cosmo, and got lucky with a nearly flawless room experience, I have spent less than $50 total in their casino...and I was at the grand opening! I started spending more time downtown about 3 years ago...booked Golden Nugget for my December trip on a whim (first time staying there), and had one of the best trips of my life! It felt like all the parts of Vegas that I loved, with very little of what I hate. M Resort, Rio, El Cortez, Main Street Station, Golden Gate, and Golden Nugget have become my new Vegas homes...though...honestly, while I like an attractive girl as much as any single/straight guy, the "party pit" thing does nothing for me. I'd love to see Golden Gate embrace their history, and have dealers in tuxes, with a live lounge act, or at least Frank and Deano on the P.A. instead of Gaga and Gotye. I think there's room for one or two places to reinvent themselves as "classy" joints...for those of us who wince at the word "party". These days, when I do hang out on the strip, it's usually Mandarin Oriental Bar, casino at Bill's (until the clubbers arrive for Drai's), Aria (maybe the "classiest" casino on the strip?), Riviera (been going there for so long, still feels like Vegas to me), or Mandalay Bay (one of the last places that consistently has live music)...but my time on the strip has dropped down to maybe 25% of my trip...with the rest of it being spent downtown or off strip. I also like to rent a car and drive when I'm in Vegas, and I find staying on the strip to be infuriating when I want to go somewhere, but end up losing a precious vacation hour sitting in traffic. Other major factors that have driven me downtown are: service and maintenance of properties (Caesars...talking to you...). This was perfectly illustrated on my last trip back in August. I had one night at Bally's, and two nights at El Cortez. I arrived at Bally's at 10pm on a Thursday, had to wait in line for half an hour to check in, the girl at the counter clearly did NOT want to be there, and then got in the elevator to head to my had to have been 102 degrees in there (no A/C?). And when I got to my room, the A/C was not on in there either...It was 92 degrees in my room. I switched on the A/C, and even though I wanted to relax after 6 hours of flying, it was too hot to sit in there, so I had to go sit in the casino for a few hours while my room became habitable. When I finally did go back up to the room, I had blood stains on my sheets (45 minutes to get those changed), and 6 out of 10 light bulbs in my room did not work (the maid forgot the light bulbs, I told her not to worry about it). Compared to the next day, I arrived at El Cortez, had a room key within 90 seconds, every employee greated me with a smile, and was in my room 2 minutes after that...and it was flawlessly clean, a perfect 70 degrees, and everything worked as it should. THAT is why I have migrated to downtown. Is the strip dead? Obviously not...but...maybe it's dead to me? I suppose these things happen in waves...and in 5 years, when all the bottle rats, heel rats, pool rats, and DJ rats have maxed out their credit cards, they'll retreat to the sewer where they belong and be replaced by The Rat Pack.

September 9, 2012 4:55 AM Posted by harvey cohen

I'm not normally getting political in this space, but "taxes on those millionaires and billionaires with income above 250k", as proposed, put the levels back where they were when the town was stable.>>

how much was gas, when the town was stable ? How much equity did the average visitor have, when the town was stable ? How much were retired people earning on their savings ? The tax rates on divs and income on income above 250k are going much higher if the dems get their way in 2013, not just back to bush or clinton levels. Those taxed dollars will not be coming to Vegas. My kids in Cali are in that income space those new tax rates will cause all types of issues going forward, for Vegas. btw, 250k -350k in Cali , NY, etc aren't super rich couples. 400k and up might be a better place to start punishing the, rich. The BYD call is now as good as any call in the gaming space lets see what they say about q-3 business in Vegas.

September 9, 2012 6:09 AM Posted by Phil

Hi Harvey, I do agree whole heartedly that survival mode in combination of answering to your shareholders has led to this in part, but we have had ups and downs in the economy before, the 70's weren't so hot and I don't recall the casino owner/operators lowering their standards back then. Now its different for the reasons I opined in my earlier post. My concern is if we do in fact have a Japanese style lost decade, how much lower will Vegas take it in their current survival model. I believe there is a line of diminishing returns, a line that if crossed will cause backlash and I think Vegas currently is testing that line with everyone who isn't in their 20's. I guess people can argue that Vegas is drawing more people to town than ever, so whats the problem, but it’s the class of people they’re attracting to town that’s the problem. We'll see what happens.

September 10, 2012 4:17 AM Posted by harvey cohen


mornin Phil, not sure what you mean by, standards ? Vegas has added so much capacity over the years we can no longer be that selective with respect to who we promote too, we have rooms to fill. How can a gamer be certain how much money will be spent by a 39 $$ a night guest ? The marketing war in Vegas is killing everyone’s margins. As you know spoint, TI, Silverton, stn really don’t have to report to shareholders quarterly , only BYD has that pressure to answer to in the short term. BYD has tried to hold the line on marketing costs but when all your competitors are trying to take your rev, daily, BYD has to respond and margins suffer for all the joints. We saw WICKED Saturday , the best show in the series to date, wonderful show. The matinee ended at 4:50 pm so I was thinking of trying Hugo’s or Oscars but on a SAT at 530, I was afraid I might not get in so we went to my local favorite, Tuscany Gardens at the Tuscany hotel. You can’t go wrong there, great food and service, great value, try it bud, you’ll like it !! btw, we eat at spoint a lot because we play there, gaughan doesn’t lower the standards , the steakhouse, Italian, and Mexican had to raise their prices due to cost pressure but the quality hasn’t been diminished. I eat out twice a day, not a week, twice a day for 40 years so if a joint plays with quality, I’m one of the first to know, lol. take care.

September 10, 2012 5:38 PM Posted by mike_ch

What I'm trying to say is that the HENRY (high earner not rich yet) crowd are what resorts like Echelon and company were aimed at. And what fell to make room for this sort of thing? Frontier, Stardust, all low-end joints. If you want a different product on the Strip, you need a different audience.

I grew up in California and know people in the NYC area, although I know I have met people in the $250K+ zone, I have never had any in my social circles and know one can live on less. Certainly at that level of income one is comfortable enough to not let the summer spike in gas prices hold them back from Las Vegas like the Flamingo regular who makes 1/5th of that will. The guy with the yacht will consider the guy with two yachts to be "the rich", and that guy will consider the guy with a private jet to be "the rich", and on and on.

I'm talking frank here simply because one must recognize that the Strip itself, with it's VIP lines and comps and suite lobbies and so on, operates on the principles of what in political circles has been called class warfare. It practically celebrates/promotes it depending on how blatant (club passes) or secret (villa suites) the perk is. You usually don't have to be in the Kardashian family to enjoy Vegas, it just sometimes helped. But a lot of what you see today, is built with that audience in mind. It's why Crystals is filled with imported stores from Beverly Hills that are as good as empty, wasted space to 90% of the public.

September 11, 2012 6:46 PM Posted by Phil

Hi Harvey, I agree on South Point, Don Vitos is my normal go-to there. Have never stepped foot in Tuscany, but will give it a try based on your recommendation.
I guess my view when it comes to "lowering standards" is for the town to pull back on its everything goes mentality (like the city's slogan). I think most don't take it that seriously and it just means have fun, I of course don’t think that all youth are goofballs, but the slogan does draw crazies too. I don't know what the average age of clubber's is (or douchbags as its referred to on this board), but do know that visitors ages 21-29 account for 12 percent of the visitors (according to LVCVA stats). Outside of the age 60-64 range, every other age range is a more frequent visitor than their 12% and yet virtually all the ads you see on billboards, all the marketing signs you see in hotels are geared toward the 21-29 year old. The signs that I’m referencing are the ones of an overtly sexual nature. Another interesting tidbit is the metric for encountering rude or unfriendly people as a reason why a visitor is dissatisfied with Vegas has increased from 2% in 2008 to 10% in 2010. Is that do to the goofball factor I don't know. The other metric that caught my eye was in 2007 62% of visitors would definitely recommend Vegas to others, 5 years later in 2011 it dropped to 39 percent. Sure there are some good trends, but these aren't too promising.

September 11, 2012 7:59 PM Posted by Jeff Gold

Smaller, boutique style casinos should be the wave of the future. Take BILLS Casino for instance, somebody needs to buy that place and completely turn it into the place to be. Small, great location, small amount of rooms to sell out nightly. Mega resorts with 3,000 rooms are next to impossible to maintain. On the other hand, if 39 million visitors come to Vegas yearly, they must be doing something right. If you don't like Vegas, your not doing it right. I travel for a living... Mexico, no thanks can't bring a gun. Hawaii, don't surf and hate long plane rides. Disney, maybe with the kids....maybe. NYC, been there 17 times and still haven't seen 99% of it. Caribbean, third world countries/islands are fun until you have to eat or drink water. Atlantis, completely disappointed!!! Stinks/odor in the casino area, unclean, panhandlers in the hallways. LA, do you like traffic? Cuz I hate it..... I'll take seconds and thirds on Las Vegas please.

September 12, 2012 12:37 PM Posted by harvey cohen


phil, on friday the RJ has a 20 $$ off coupon if your bill is 40 $$ or higher. If you like salmon, seabass, etc even if you have to pay cash money, you can't beat it. Check their menu on line. At Don Vitos i get the veal, its hard to get great veal around town.

With respect to the young crowds they spend the big bucks on the booze and food without them wynn and lvs would be Motel 6 by now ! I don't mind them tho it does get noisy at say Palms and Hard Rock but that's the price you pay to view all that serious young talent ,FREE, lol. If you ever want to laugh your butt off visit the joints housing the Halloween Ball or the porn conventions, what a freak show, but too much cigar smoke, the price you pay ! take care, we are going to the new Caesars buffet tonight , we are taking 10 people, when you have a 7 stars card, you have lots of friends !

September 13, 2012 4:43 AM Posted by harvey cohen

my buddy was in the food industry , he can type and write a lot better than me so i asked him to write the review. There were 6 of us, we all use our points or HET food coupons to pay so we can't be bought,lol. My gfriend HATES buffets, even M, WYNN, and Bellagio , so if she loves a buffet its news. They had Italian meats sliced very thin and Italain cheese's, thats her thing since she is Italian. Jacks review,

Caesars Palace Las Vegas Grand Opening of Bacchanal
September, 2012

The true definition of Bacchanal is “A drunken or riotous celebration.” Bacchanal was named after Bacchus who was considered the Roman God of Wine and intoxication.

There is a new kid in town where you can now feel this mental state of intoxication in a celebration of culinary excellence and abundant refreshments. This place is Bucchanal Buffet at Caesars.

Caesars Palace did a complete make over of their buffet that has guests buzzing with excitement and awe.

Amazing as it is, way back when, the only universal buffet was at the Rio Casino. That was the introduction of the super buffet. Since that day almost all mega-resort casinos have introduced multiple stations with international appeal.

The Bacchanal at Caesars Palace is not just a buffet, it is a BUFFET extraordinary. While you are waiting for entrance you will look up to see that this may not be the normal atmosphere experience expected in the true tradition of Las Vegas. Who would ever think that chandeliers would be made up totally from water, wine and cocktail glasses. This in itself is a reason to come to Caesars Bucchanal Buffet and you haven’t even had any thing to eat yet.

We were greeted with a smile and a welcomed feeling that we were invited to a special friends house with us as the only guests. Management approached us on several occasions just to say hello. Servers were equally as at tentative. Most impressive was the attitude of the food preparation personnel. As you walked by each station you were greeted with a “hello, can I interest you in something” All this with a sincere smile.

After being seated I perused the buffet to see what was in store for me . At first I thought the buffet had ended when I approached the carving station. I returned to the table with a sampling of absolutely delicious burger sliders, sweet potato buds and fried chicken all served in a miniature basket with shoestring sweet potatoes.

My wife asked me if I saw the Lasagna individually prepared. I was confused. I walked the buffet and never found any Italian dishes. As per her directions I went back to find that this buffet virtually appeared to have no end. This buffet continued on to include a 15 wok oriental station.

Now for the food: Presentation, presentation, presentation. The best food in the world can be served to you. If it is not presented properly it may appear to be less appealing. This buffet is appealing, presentable and after indulging, the food is totally delicious. Like MaMa’s kitchen.

Walking through this buffet is a text book setting. When you approach the beginning of the buffet you will see a display of seafood just for you to look at. Above you, on shelves, at different stations are displays of pickled vegetables (three tiers high), bottles and glasses that are stacked in a display of elegance.

The beginning of the buffet (if there is such a thing) is a seafood station with shooters, split crabs, oysters, jumbo shrimp and mussels, to say the least. If you wanted the crab heated, it was done. If you wanted butter the attendant got it for you. I smiled when I asked the oyster shucker where the cutting machine was. His answer was “this is how a real man does it”

Moving on I came to a station with burger sliders, chicken fingers and fried chicken all individually served either in baskets or platters accompanied with sweet potatoes. Other items were at this station from beans to corn on the cob.

Rather that to take you on an individual station tour I will give the highlights of what to expect when you walk the forever line ending at the Asian.

There is a carving station with a tall pork loin. Turning the corner is the Italian with Lasagna, meatballs, pastas, breads and even pizza. Turning the corner again is Italian delicacies of cold cuts along with a Italian cheese board. Moving on is a well stocked salad bar. All this ending with a 15 wok stations at the Asian along with the trimming belonging to a Asian presentation. I do have to mention four wine barrels filled with apples, oranges and lemons

I am sure that you are wondering what was served for desert. This area was at least 80 foot squared with everything from crepes to candies. No need to describe when only your eyes can enjoy.

The price for all this is $31.99 with an option to purchase all you can drink for $15.99 extra.

The Bucchanal Buffet is a must see and a must eat event you have to include in your list of things to do while in Las Vegas. I give this buffet 5 stars for quality, presentation, atmosphere and employee attention.

Jack Cohen
President Mr. & Mrs. Catering Service (retired)

October 10, 2012 3:58 AM Posted by harvey cohen

I took 8 people all first timers except me and d. The first week dinner was 32 $$ a person, great value. Now lunch is 30 $$ dinner is 44 $$. The quality and experience was still great but I wanted to update the prices.

October 14, 2012 4:15 AM Posted by harvey cohen

Martorano’s is now our favorite Italian restaurant in Vegas, I had the veal picatta she had the special of the night, a pasta dish, plus locals are getting 25 % off which we didn’t know. Great food , great service, well done.

I have been going to Spinner concerts for over 30 years. To be fair the mikes were going in and out so they were having serious equipment issues but still, the worst concert experience of our life. The lead is an original its way past time to use a young blood as the front man. IF anyone paid I hope they were offered a refund and I hope the M re thinks who it books and the quality of the shows.

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October 31, 2012 5:21 PM Posted by JeffinOKC

The original posting here was about the most bothersome I've read on TWHT. I tried to comment about 3 times and always washed it out for fear of appearing too mean spirited.
I read the original post as being: An old guy who lives in Las Vegas and made a lot of money on financial deals that have helped make the Strip the high overhead place it is and now wants to complain about it.

Having recently been to VIMFP I want to add a chapter as: The Center Strip Is Finished!
We stayed at Caesars Palace in an Augustus Tower room. About the 28th floor IIRC. I think the floor numbers start at about 20, so it was really about the 8th floor. Had a fountain view, but at 8 floors it didn't really have much of a view of the fountainsand was partially blocked by the walkway from the Bellagio to LVB. Paid about $350 a night. It was a nice room, but was in no way outstanding or something that was any better than a kinda premium room in any big city in America. Not as nice as the room we had at Aria during our February trip and not as nice as any WynnCore room we've ever had. TV channel selection was average. Appeared valet was for VIP only, so we had to park in the garage on the other side of the property-a long trek. We got bumped from the room we originally booked (to many Diamond players showed up was the story we got) and the poor desk clerk had to really work the keyboard to put us in a smoking room. We don't smoke, but were thankful to get it by then.
Breakfast was always some kinda sweetroll from the food court ($2.50), bottled water was $3 and beer was $4 or $5 across the property. We never ate anywhere else on property and gambled slightly. We felt like every price we saw at Caesars was the highest we could possibly expect. THERE WAS ZERO EXPECTATION OF VALUE. To be clear, we never felt that we got gouged, just "maximized for the market conditions". Much the same was true throughout the "Center Strip" area (I would describe it as everything on LVB between WynnCore to the North and MGM Grand/NY-NY to the South) with only a few exceptions.
I have this mindset that some tourist areas in America are "Once in a Lifetime" places. Places like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Times Square, The Mall in Washington D.C., etc. These are areas where I expect to pay a lot of money for everything, but I will have a memorable experience that will justify the cost. My issue now is that I feel like the Center Strip is an area that is priced like those places but is not that kind of special experience.

My question is this: Who is out of touch, me or the Center Strip operators? We work hard at our little business here in Oklahoma City and are happiest if we can afford to escape 3 or 4 times a year to Las Vegas. I find it hard to justify the cost of the Center Strip and we are forced to stay more often North Strip, off Strip or downtown. We have already changed our habits to where we know not to gamble on the Center Strip, rather we use it for shows, some shopping and value props like Bill's or Casino Royale. I think we are more like the California, several time a year visitor, than the Once in a Lifetime visitor. But is the overall 39 million visitor a year market able to separate itself into different segments and price them accordingly? And if so, have the issues of crowding, price and overall enjoyment begun to create a negative experience that is not turning the Once in a Lifetime visitor into the return visitor?

October 31, 2012 5:48 PM Posted by detroit1051

Jeff, I'm confused. You were unhappy about my friend's original comments ("I read the original post as being: An old guy who lives in Las Vegas and made a lot of money on financial deals that have helped make the Strip the high overhead place it is and now wants to complain about it."), but you seem to echo many of his opinions about the Strip. I don't believe he did anything to make the Strip overpriced, but you and he agree that it is. Anyway, I enjoyed your comment. I agree with you on self-parking at CP. It's a long walk, almost like a maze.

October 31, 2012 7:43 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Detroit, his statements throughout the thread give rise to my concerns. Statements such as "All my fears from years ago have come to pass, the college boy gamers spent billions building on the Strip...", "I'm a retired venture capital guy", "don't you miss the good old days when the hot money college boys took, prim, mir, and azr from us at huge premiums..."