Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

All Articles for Category: Casino Design

Happy Memorial Day to all y'all out there. I've got a little bit of hot info for those of you taking the day off to relax.

Steve Wynn, Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts and recent Cotai land grantee went on the record with Macau Business magazine to talk in detail about the project and also a little bit about Las Vegas. Some tidbits:

- The property will cost about $3.5 billion to build.
- Construction starts in June.
- The land is setup for a single hotel - future expansion will be limited to smaller additions.
- The project includes a 300 meter (almost 1000 feet) long lake. It will be bigger than Bellagio's lake and feature more advanced water fountains that cost about $90 million to build.
- The hotel is in an 'X' shape with maximum 45 meter distances to guest rooms.
- Like Encore Macau, it's all petite suites and larger.
- It will include villas with outdoor pools like we've seen in Las Vegas.
- 2,000 rooms.
- Around 40 retail shops.
- No 'Alex' - he's sold on the idea that people like 'fun' dining and don't want to sit for ages and have Michelin Star food.
- The property will open at once. "We don't do phases"

When it comes to Las Vegas:

- He talks about Climax as if it's still happening in Vegas, though he does not say where. This is a pretty recent interview that seems to have been given after we had heard that the Climax club planned for the Alex space was scuttled due to soundproofing problems.
- Apparently a new show is being developed for Las Vegas that could also work at the Cotai property. New show? Interesting. Displacing Le Reve? Something permanent for the Encore Theater? Miss Spectacular re-born?

Anyway, lots of info here and while some of it was already public, nice to have a single source.

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'.

December 21, 2011

Steelman's Passion for the Strip, Atlantic City

Posted by daveschwartz

Yesterday I did the second in a two-part series of interviews with Sarno Award-winning casino architect Paul Steelman. After the jump, I'll talk about what I found most enlightening in the conversation.

September 29, 2011

Vegas Gang #67 - September 29th, 2011

Posted by Hunter

Episode #67 is up!

Listen here:

This time on the show:

- An Interview with Roger Thomas, Executive Vice President of Design, Wynn Design & Development.

DON'T MISS: Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic

** Sure Bets **

- South Florida Casino Expansion
- Tassels, Fringe, Trim and Imperial Orange
- Super B Burrito @ Eastern & Pebble
- BrainToniq

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.

It appears that Jerry Beale, hired to replace the then-retiring interior designer Roger Thomas, has left Wynn D&D and returned to his previous gig at Wilson Associates in Los Angeles.

Thomas famously decided to un-retire after the economy went sideways, leaving him running the interior design side of Wynn's creative shop - the gig that Beale thought he was being hired for.

Roger Thomas, in a specially narrated video from Steve Friess, insists that there's no bad blood (check the podcast feed) - and for all I know that's correct - but clearly, this didn't play out the way it was originally intended. Apparently, his contract ended a few months back and he decided to go back to LA. Roger is quoted in that interview as saying they remain close friends.

At Wynn, Beale is credited with leading the development of the Spa at Encore Macau as well as contributing heavily to the Encore Beach Club in Las Vegas. Wilson Associates also has done work in gaming, including the Mansion at MGM Grand and villas at Caesars Palace.

If you haven't already, listen to the latest edition of The Strip Podcast - Thomas' interview is full of interesting new info about Cotai and more.

July 19, 2011

Vegas Gang #63 - July 19th, 2011

Posted by Hunter

Episode #63 is up!

Listen here:

This time on the show:

* Our Guest is M Resort President Anthony Marnell III

We have a frank discussion on operating in Las Vegas in this climate, nightlife customers vs. casino customers and more. It's a great talk - you'll enjoy it.

** Sure Bets **

* Alternative Vegas Media
* M Resort
* Spotify
* Nevada Week In Review

It's a lazy Saturday afternoon and that seems like a good opportunity to comment on two stories I saw posted today online.

First off is a note from Howard Stutz in the RJ, indicating that the Maloof's ownership stake in The Palms has been reduced from 85% to 2%. George Maloof remains as property president but for all intents and purposes, the family has comparatively very little stake in the business.

In the past, I've heard Maloof referred to as a gaming operations genius (I might even have said something along these lines myself). How could anyone say that now? The guy was forced to sell off virtually all of his ownership to keep the lights on - if you read between the lines, it sounds like there weren't a lot of other options.

Making money in the go-go era of 2005 wasn't all that tough. It's the operators thriving now and through the crisis that deserve respect.

Personally, if I owned a property, I certainly wouldn't want to get Maloofed.


Second up is a VegasTripping post about the room renovation project at Bellagio, including some photos. These changes have been widely anticipated - as one of the top properties in town, Bellagio's room product should set a standard for Las Vegas luxury.

The series starts out with a hallway shot, showing off new wall coverings and carpet. I agree with Chuck that the carpet color tone change is pretty awesome - I totally dig it. From there though, things go a bit downhill as we get into the room itself.

In my opinion, the bed/sleeping area is a bit of a disaster and given the relatively dramatic change, I expect it to be the most controversial part of this re-design. The headboard/wall combo isn't particularly ugly in a vacuum, it just doesn't fit in with what I've come to expect from Bellagio.

The much hated armoire is gone (good riddance!), replaced by what seems to be a functional, if not beautiful substitute. If this was the worst part of the re-design, this crime scene would be pretty uneventful. Given that Bellagio's rooms are smaller than some of its newer competitors, the large armoire never made any sense from a usability perspective.

In general, I like the overall color scheme and as VT notes, the rooms were way overdue for a change. Still, this feels like all reaction and very little new ground being covered. How long until these updates feel old and dated?

Coming up with a room design that fits Bellagio's language and overall message but that also can delight the changing tastes of luxury customers is certainly a challenge but I'm not sure that was even attempted here. What I see is a buffet of recent design choices taken from Bellagio's top competitors. There have been many signs over the years that MGM-folk don't really get what Bellagio is all about - what makes it special. So far, this is looking like it might be another one.

I'm saying these things without having yet stayed in the new rooms. It's possible there are super-secret hidden features that aren't obvious from these photos. Who knows, maybe the bed gives out free blow jobs or something. Absent that, so far I'm leaning towards seeing this as another example of a company that's lost it's way... That said, I'll try 'em for sure.

June 6, 2011

SIMPSON ON VEGAS #023: Examining CityCenter

Posted by Hunter

CityCenter has now been open for about 18 months.

This time around, Jeff looks at how things are going for MGM with their gigantic project.

May 13, 2011

Venetian to Modify Strip Frontage

Posted by Hunter

According to a Clark County filing, Las Vegas Sands has applied for permits to modify part of their Las Vegas Strip frontage, specifically the area beneath the replicate clock tower at the southwest end of the property.

The changes are set to include re-working the landscaping and other decorative materials but the biggest modification seems to be relocating that Denny's/Sephora/clock tower entrance to the north side, allowing them to partially enclose some of that space and create about 2,800 square feet of new retail.

The complete filing is here.

Thanks to Detroit1051 for pointing this out.

March 7, 2011

Caesars Announces Delicious New Seafood Tower

Posted by Hunter


This morning, Caesars Entertainment, Inc., in their infinite wisdom, announced a partnership with the folks at Nobu... Yes, that Nobu - the ones that have a restaurant at the Hard Rock, founded by admittedly legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

The Centurion Tower will be re-done and re-branded as the Nobu Hotel. A lounge and of course a restaurant will also be added. The transition will take a year and the hotel will have it's own check-in area.

While 180 rooms and separate check-in may sound like Tower Suites or Skylofts, don't get your hopes up. The Centurion Tower was built in 1970 - most of the rooms are far smaller than what you'd find at Wynncore, Aria or Cosmopolitan. David Rockwell is doing the interiors so I guess we know what the room's desk chair will look like.

More in the Sun and RJ:

This time on the show:

Mr. DeRuyter Butler, Executive Vice President of Architecture @ Wynn Design & Development is our special guest.

We discuss Cotai, Fontainebleau, his role at Wynn D&D as well as CityCenter and challenges of working in China. Plus, we find out that Sheldon has been giving us all the middle finger since 1999.

This is a 'don't miss' interview.

If you love casino design, construction and all the thinking behind it, check it out.

Check out the show:

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

January 16, 2011

Pocket Park: CityCenter Crown Jewel, Ripped to Shreds

Posted by Hunter

Big thanks to mofobes of This Ain't Iowa for posting a photo tonight of a disemboweled Pocket Park at Aria.

Huh? Jimbo's favorite part of the whole complex, all ripped to bits?

Perhaps just a little 13 month renovation? That is the normal schedule to renovate a resort feature, after all - we all know that.

Update: A few more photos:

Finally, after a few weeks of percolation (oh, and Cosmo madness + a major app update) here is my write-up of a stay in a new Parlor Suite at Wynn Las Vegas. I came in to share the details with y'all and to generate material for the next Vegas Mate content update.

Photos: (Note: some of these are a little hazy due to a camera malfunction - sorry).

All the details are after the jump.

So, here's my 4,200 word set of notes on my stay last week at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

I hope you enjoy it - please leave your comments below.

If you want to see photos from my stay, a complete gallery is located here.

Keep reading after the jump.

December 15, 2010

Will Cosmo Common Spaces Take Off?

Posted by Hunter

On Cosmo's second and third levels, between restaurants and retail stores, the hotel has installed a bunch of furniture in walkways that would probably look pretty awful with it.

The idea is to create a sort of hotel lobby feel, but spread over the different levels instead of just in the check-in area... and not just chairs and couches - there are pool tables, foosball and a ton of other funky furniture.

It actually looks pretty cool but we'll see if it turns out to be problematic at all - there was a long period where Bellagio removed all of the furniture from their lobby due to people just hanging / snoozing there all day.

Here's an example.

The idea is that people can not only hang out and do work, meet friends, grab a quick few minutes of rest but also that they can get some take out food from the restaurants, many of which are setup to make that pretty easy.

December 15, 2010

Technology Is On Stage at Cosmo

Posted by Hunter

One of the things I've noticed as I've been touring Cosmo are the interesting uses of technology in the new resort.

As CEO John Unwin would say, as a new company, they are free of legacy tech. The result is interesting uses of the latest and greatest. A few examples:

* LED/LCD displays are everywhere, not just for ESPN but for tons of art from Chicago firm Digital Kitchen.

* The casino floor way-finding machines are not only touch based but also include a slot, video poker and table game finder based on several criteria including denomination and game type.

* Each check-in desk has an embedded iPad, tuned to a special 'guest services' app. Right now this appears to only be the Cosmo Web site but I expect this to expand over time. I was tempted to install the Aria app for kicks but I restrained myself.

* The in-room TV allows you not only to view info about the resort but also the acts appearing in venues like Marquee and Book and Stage, as well as the ability to show a personalized itinerary of your activities on property. This is a few steps beyond anything we've seen in-room elsewhere in Las Vegas.

* Much of the digital art is generative, meaning it deviates from its baseline using stimuli from the environment - for instance, the digital pillars in the lobby will animate more bubbles as you walk by, based on sensors in the base.

That's just a taste but for a nerd like me, I love this stuff. I've gotten a hint of some of the backend software they're using and I hope to bring you some detailed information on that soon.

December 15, 2010

Welcome to The Fabulous Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

I'm on the ground this week for the Cosmo opening and today was my second chance to tour the property, this time in a more extended fashion than last week. It was great to be able to spend a little more time and really check things out.

I'm still excited. The rooms really are drop dead gorgeous and the terrace views from the upper floors are insane. They make you gasp when you step out for the first time.

I've posted a bunch of photos as well as a video. Enjoy.

I also got a chance to join a David Rockwell interview with Blackjacker1979. Rockwell had a hand in a large amount of the property design. That should be posted soon - it's only about ten minutes but was quite interesting. Thanks to Eric for letting barge in.

Hotel check-in is tomorrow afternoon starting at 1pm, followed by a chance to try some nibbles from the various restaurants. The curtain goes up for the public at 8pm - I'll be at the craps tables.

Can't wait!

Thirty days to go.

Thanks to a trusty source, here we have a few shots of some Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas casino interiors, one of the ingress/egress areas (perhaps right inside valet, up to the restaurant level?) and then three videos of the West Valet, showing some of the really cool work the multimedia team is doing.

I've bemoaned the lack of technology being used in modern casino-resorts - well, here we are at least seeing something more inspired than using LCD panels for restaurant menus. Perhaps just a taste?

It's sort of James Bond meets the Bat Cave. If you want to know who Cosmo's ideal customer is, it's Bruce Wayne, no doubt.

I dig the look and I'm excited to see more.

My buddy Mr. Friess has a few more, including what to me looks like the centerpiece chandelier I've heard so much about:

November 3, 2010

Vegas Podcast-a-palooza 3 Photos

Posted by Hunter

Just a quick post to indicate that I've posted a few photos from this past weekend. Some are of the event setup and some are just around town, including Aria's new high limit slots, Lakeside Grill at Wynn and other randomness.

August 19, 2010

Casino Design Photo of the Week: Tropicana Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

This week we've got the Trop. This is a shot of the partially renovated casino - it's actually pretty remarkable - the place is much brighter and nicer looking in the parts that have been re-done. If you haven't visited the Trop lately, I'd recommend checking it out.

July 8, 2010

Casino Design Photo of the Week: M Resort

Posted by Hunter

Admittedly, when I first saw the M Resort was I bit underwhelmed and I'm still not sure I like it as much as some others do. Still, I think the building is striking from some angles, such as this one.

July 1, 2010

Max Jacobson Interviews Roger Thomas

Posted by Hunter

I'm always game for a new Roger Thomas interview and when this one popped into my RSS reader, it didn't disappoint. Happy to see a bit of new ground covered - Thomas profile and interview pieces are often much of the same over and over.

Local food expert Max Jacobson sits down with Thomas to discuss his origin, background and influences.

Part one of a two part series.

June 16, 2010

Casino Design Photo of the Week: Caesars Palace

Posted by Hunter

Caesars Palace - a Las Vegas classic and perhaps the best known gaming brand in the world.

Inside, constant expansion has made the place a confusing labyrinth but from the outside, it's a lot of fun to look at.

May 31, 2010

Encore 2.0: Beach Club and Surrender

Posted by Hunter

Think back to 2005 in Las Vegas.

This is when the main building blocks that are now Encore were being fleshed out. At that time, 10,000 hotel rooms were planned for the New Frontier and Stardust sites. This would make the planned Strip porte-cochere a very important part of arrivals at Encore.

Or so everyone thought...

Quick link to my complete set of 120 photos:

Also, my buddy Steve was long on the tour too and his take is here.

The rest of my write-up follows after the jump...

May 31, 2010

Vegas Gang #47 - May 27th, 2010

Posted by Hunter

First off, a note - very excited to announce that Jeff Simpson will be writing a bi-weekly column for Two Way Hard Three. I'm very excited to have him on board!

* Encore Beach Club Opens
* MGM Mirage vs. Perini
* Atlantic City Numbers Down
* Tropicana Reborn?

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

May 28, 2010

UPDATED: Encore Beach Club is (Almost) Here

Posted by Hunter

Tomorrow marks the opening of the new Encore Beach Club and photos have started to leak out. The other day, we had some nice nighttime shots posted over at VT.

Today, we have a few shots from the recent 'play days' going on as they put the place through its paces. Thanks to Dave for submitting these shots.

I'll be on-site for a tour of the new facility tomorrow and will report back.

Update: Just finished my tour. The link to the photos is below, though I haven't had time to organize them yet.

What did I think? The place is gorgeous. Top notch, well built - just what you'd expect from Wynn. I need more time to process my thoughts but I have to say any concern I had is pretty much washed away. Yes, I still think Surrender's design is a little over the top but the pool complex more than makes up for it.

The four main bungalows have to be the nicest of their type on The Strip - complete with fully decked out bathrooms w/ showers. The balconies over the street are a trip. No Wi-Fi unfortunately, a somewhat strange omission.

At full capacity, the place can hold about 2800 people. That's big. That said, the indoor portion that is Surrender is fairly small, about Blush size.

At night, there's a light-show built into the walls - we didn't get to see it but they were very enthusiastic about it.

The gaming includes a craps table, which is a nice touch. Limits will vary of course.

The newly expanded Switch not only has a magnificent glass wall but now includes a full patio for dining.

Some of my photos:

I did count more than a few Ed Hardy shirts in the line, which was pretty long.

We visited Beau Rivage in 2006, right after it re-opened post Katrina. I really enjoyed the property - very much a mini-Bellagio. If you get a chance sometime, I'd recommend checking it out for sure.

This is part of the lobby which is under a large glass canopy.

May 22, 2010

Welcome To Your New Hotel Room

Posted by Hunter

There's an interesting story in the Sun about some of the new 'green' room designs showing up at the Hospitality Design Expo.

Of course, a big part of CityCenter's marketing is their LEED status - an important achievement, no doubt. I'm all for reducing energy consumption and I'm glad builders are taking this into account in their designs but when I make my buying decisions, it's little to no part of it.

How about you?

Thanks to @detroit1051 for sending the link.

May 20, 2010

Casino Design Photo of the Week: Treasure Island

Posted by Hunter

This is a photo of Treasure Island's lagoon, taken before they repainted the high-rise exterior and removed the original sign. This is a great example of a themed hotel done right.

The exterior has been substantially modified since then.

May 5, 2010

Casino Design Photo of the Week: Flamingo

Posted by Hunter

This time I'm back with a shot of one of the neon signs at The Flamingo.

Neon, when used well, is one of the things I love the most about Las Vegas. It's just so cool.

April 28, 2010

Casino Design Photo of the Week: Bellagio

Posted by Hunter

Sorry no photo last week - I was off galavanting.

This time I'm back with an exterior shot at Bellagio. When I took this photo I was reminded, yet again, just how great all the exterior detail is at the resort. Great stuff.

April 20, 2010

Wynn Cotai to Break Ground Next Year

Posted by Hunter

The WSJ is reporting that Wynn Resorts will break ground on a new Cotai property in Macau next year and open in 2013.

The 52 acre property will include a single hotel with about 450 gaming tables.

Wynn Resorts is opening Encore Macau this week.

Well, here are 88 photos of the Encore Beach Club construction site, taken last night and today, both from the ground and my 58th floor room.


April 15, 2010

Strip Walk - April 2010

Posted by Hunter

Mike is back with Strip Walk and this time, he's heading into Palazzo, Luxor, CityCenter, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace and more.

Food reviews for Solaro (Palazzo) and Grotto (Golden Nugget).

Complete photo gallery is here:

April 14, 2010

Casino Design Photo of the Week: Palazzo

Posted by Hunter

Week two - another photo. This is of the atrium area between Palazzo and The Venetian. I think this area, while somewhat reminiscent of some Bellagio design features, is the most successful bit of the newer Las Vegas Sands property.

Thanks to mike_ch for the photo, part of one of his recent Strip Walk adventures.

April 7, 2010

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas To Open in December

Posted by Hunter

Long rumored but finally official - the Cosmopolitan project, wedged between Bellagio and CityCenter, will open (mostly) in the middle of December.

As the article below says, this is gonna be the last opening for awhile.

March 29, 2010

CityCenter, Perini Begin to Slug It Out In Court

Posted by Hunter

The development of CityCenter was notable for all sorts of reasons - a massive, expensive new development on The Strip is always a big story.

By now, everyone knows about the problems, most notably what happened with the stunted Harmon Hotel tower. Well, it seems that since the project is now up and running, it's time for the lawsuits to start flying.

As the Sun says - it could get ugly.

March 22, 2010

Strip Walk - March 2010

Posted by Hunter

Mike's adventures continue: Encore Las Vegas, Bellagio, Aria, The Crystals and a stop at Valentino Grill @ The Venetian.

Click through to read the complete text. Photo gallery is here:

Last month, several renderings (since removed) of the exterior of the Switch Beach Club at Encore were revealed. They didn't offer much in the way of a surprise - escalators, sweeping stairs and arches, all in the Wynn D&D aesthetic, matching their recent work.

Today, the sleuths at turned up a few more renderings - this time sketches of potential interiors. My first impression: hmmmmmm.

Roger Thomas, my vote for one of the best interior designers on the planet (and the best casino designer ever), talked a bit about his intentions on a recent episode of The Strip Podcast. These renderings match that conversation pretty well, lending them additional validity.

These leaks have tempered my excitement about the project's design. Granted, a pool day club is not my personal idea of a good time but I was expecting more. Something special - to match Encore's spa, restaurants, casino and guest rooms, all of which are A+.

I was hoping that whatever came next would at least make me forget losing the beautiful tree-lined, flower ringed atrium that Encore opened with.

Is it possible these aren't final? Yes, it is. The source is solid though - this guy has worked with Wynn D&D and it's predecessor Atlandia Design for years. Perhaps the structure, as built, will be a stunner. I plan to be there opening day to see for myself (Mike E is letting me borrow his Speedo).

Will this project end up being a bit of a dud, at least in terms of the 'evoca-tecture' that Thomas is known for? I hope not... but now I'm a bit worried.

Thomas' work is about creating moments - I hope this is a good one.

February 14, 2010

Strip Walk - February 2010

Posted by Hunter

Mike is back with another Strip Walk. This time we venture through TI, Bellagio, PH Towers, Palazzo, Aria, NYNY and more, including a mini-review of the Dal Toro restaurant at Palazzo.


January 14, 2010

Strip Walk - January 2010 - CityCenter Mega Edition

Posted by Hunter

Our own mike_ch is back with a 'mega' Strip Walk, including his first time at CityCenter.

As regular readers know, Mike is never short of opinions - you'll get his full take on the new MGM Mirage development as well as a boatload of photos.

This is a good one - you don't want to miss it. Enjoy.

Complete gallery:

January 13, 2010

Encore Beach Club Renderings? Get 'Em While You Can...

Posted by Hunter

Reader @mac78130 caught these, potential renderings of the Encore Beach Club project in Las Vegas.

We don't know if these are real or not but they do match the project as proposed, with a walk-way across the existing parking garage entrance. If they are indeed real, I assume the Wynn overlords will have these taken down soon so see 'em while you can.

December 31, 2009

Vegas Gang #42 - December 31st, 2009

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* CityCenter Opens
* 2009 Recap/2010 Look Forward
* Gary Jacobs and MGM Mirage

Have a Happy New Year. We love you.

December 19, 2009

Mandarin Oriental - December 2009

Posted by Hunter

For my last night, I stayed at Mandarin Oriental... and am I glad that I did. This place is amazing.

Here are some photos:

I'll be writing and posting all throughout the next week with my thoughts - for now, I'll leave it at these!

December 18, 2009

UPDATED (AGAIN): ARIA Opening Is In Full Swing

Posted by Hunter

The coverage is rolling -

Also, I just uploaded 190 photos from inside ARIA to Flickr:

Got to sample some of the restaurant cuisine - so far great stuff. Lots of details to come but the staff here seem happy and excited - fun!

Update: Photos of two rooms at Vdara (I was moved to a suite due to 'issues').

Update 2: More photos of ARIA and opening night festivities:

December 12, 2009

Vegas Gang #41 - December 11th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* Dr. Dave Tours CityCenter
* Hunter Stays at Vdara
* Jeff Explains How Harrah's Can Buy P-Ho
* Fontainebleau Drama Continues

December 11, 2009 - Just Like Being There!

Posted by Hunter

I'm very excited to see ARIA open next week - after all these years and billions of dollars, it's like Christmas is coming early. Despite your opinions on the complex (and I expect them to vary a good bit), it's a ton of fun to see a new place turn on the lights.

Now, not everyone can be there in person - if you want to follow the action live, we've once again partnered with to build a special site just for you: On the site, you can easily see a special feed of our tweets, photos and videos.

For those that ARE going to be there, we need your help! Our new site accepts photo submissions sent to After being moderated, the photos end up on the site for all to see (there are instructions available if you want to see how it works). The person who takes the best photo, as judged by myself and Chuckmonster, will win a brand new iPod Touch and a copy of Vegas Mate.

It's gonna be a lot of fun and I can't wait to see the amazing photos you'll all submit.

December 11, 2009

Good Day, Sunshine

Posted by Hunter

A LVRJ article on the new trend (?) of sunlight being let into casinos:

Of course, Encore made a significant play for this and I think very successfully - parts of the casino are indeed flooded with light.

The author mentions CityCenter as an extension of this. My first impression walking through ARIA was certainly not that I needed sunblock. The casino is directly up against the porte-cochere glass doors in several places and light certainly spills in at the edges... maybe it's because the color scheme is mostly earth tones but it 'felt' dark to me.

There are certainly wonderful spots at ARIA, such as the main registration desk, the Harmon entrance and the entire promenade level, that are very well lit.

I hope this is indeed a trend that continues... Personally, I'd love to see a joint where the entire casino floor ceiling to be a skylight. Could be an amazing design feature, no?

December 9, 2009

Vdara Mini-Review: December 2009

Posted by Hunter

This past weekend, I spent one night at Vdara, the CityCenter condo-hotel the opened December 2nd. Can you really form opinions after one night? I accept that some will say no. I'll be back at Vdara soon but I wanted to share the good and bad of my first experience.

I do have sympathy for small glitches surrounding a brand new hotel - these things happen everywhere and I don't read too much into them unless they continue on subsequent trips.

December 8, 2009

More Time Inside CityCenter's ARIA

Posted by Hunter

I got a second chance to check out part of CityCenter's ARIA last week - I figured this would be a good time to share some of those thoughts.

The 4,004 room resort is the centerpiece of the project, including the only gaming space in the complex.

Continue after the jump for some additional thoughts...

December 7, 2009

UPDATED: No Push For Locals as ARIA Customers?

Posted by Hunter

This one was too odd not to post. Steve Friess has a blog post with a quote from MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren where he says he doesn't really care if locals visit ARIA, implying it's the least important part of the complex (to him?).

This seems like an odd thing to say, the simplest reason being that ARIA has a killer spa, pool day-club and a bunch of high-end restaurants, let alone 150,000 square foot casino. It'll be interesting if he backtracks from this at all - almost sounds like it didn't come out right.

Update: It gets even better!

December 1, 2009

CityCenter: First Component, Vdara Opens

Posted by Hunter

Tomorrow morning, the first component of CityCenter, the Vdara condo-hotel, will open for paying customers. There's a party tonight that I'll unfortunately be missing - a charity shindig for the Sebastian Copeland Foundation.

Some info on Vdara and the Silk Road restaurant:

Thursday will see the opening of The Crystals retail mall and then Friday, Mandarin Oriental - this is a big week for the project.

One important aspect is traffic flow and the Sun has a story, with diagrams, of how it all works:

November 29, 2009

UPDATED: Jim Murren: The Man and His City(Center)

Posted by Hunter

A story in today's Sun delves into Jim Murren's thinking regarding the design of CityCenter. It's an interesting look at the process and gives more insight into the man, someone that hasn't had a well-defined public persona beyond the quarterly conference calls.

Murren talks about CityCenter inspiring people to create art - that would be incredible were it to occur. Perhaps a modern-day Renoir will be so-moved by slot machines - I'm a little skeptical.

The author, Liz Benston, makes reference to people that have described CityCenter as "a themed version of New York as envisioned by a Manhattan transplant". That's one of the points I raised in my write-up of the site tour. Sounds like Murren would match it more closely with master-planning done in places like Abu Dhabi - perhaps that is more apt but I think the basic premise still holds.

There are some nice photos with the piece, including the Crystals/ARIA pocket park, one of my fave places in the complex (and it sounds like one of Murren's too).

Vdara opens on Tuesday. Hard to believe that we're finally at the finish line!

Update: A related update - the LA Times has some interior photos, though mostly specific textures and related design elements including some stuff I saw and some I haven't yet seen.,0,853232.photogallery,0,37081.photogallery

November 25, 2009

ARIA Fountain Test ; Crystals Walkway Opens

Posted by Hunter

Some interesting CityCenter related photos and videos today.

First a tourist video of a test of ARIA's porte-cochere fountain:

Also, the overhead walkway and sidewalk in front of Crystals is now open:


November 20, 2009

Vegas Gang #40 - November 20, 2009

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* Hunter Tours CityCenter
* Fontainebleau
* Global Gaming Expo 2009

I believe we'll have someone from MGM Mirage Design Group on a future episode, not too far away. Feel free to submit questions here.

Perennial bridesmaid Penn National Gaming made a formal bid for the shut-down Fontainebleau project on the Las Vegas Strip today - the bid: $50 million. Bidding ends January 15th, 2010.

The project has incurred over $1.5 billion in construction costs and is estimated to require perhaps a similar amount to complete to original specification.

If Penn pulls this off, they'll have their first Las Vegas Strip presence - something they've toyed with for some time... If this does happen, Jeff Soffer is going to enter the gaming disaster hall of fame, right next to new-Aladdin developer Jack Sommer... Sommer? Soffer? Odd name similarity there... Anyway...

Update: Since this was written, Penn National has been outbid by a group lead by investor Carl Icahn:

November 6, 2009

Encore Beach Club Underway?

Posted by Hunter

The Encore Beach Club, which we broke all the way back in August, is finally starting to take shape.

This photo was posted to today (used with permission - thanks blackjacker1979).

Yikes. It appears they've yanked out much of the plush-ness that was the Encore atrium. Here's what it looked like before Paul Bunyan came through:

You can see that even the stuff around the edges of the high limit room is gone. It's slightly out of frame but I assume this tree, an ancient Aloe, is gone too - though I assume moved and not killed as it was over 100 years old. The company has a good track record for preserving these things, some of which are worth tens of thousands of dollars.

I can't imagine that Paige Dixon, Wynn Resorts' chief horticulturalist, enjoys ripping out something that worked as well as this did - it was a small space but one of my favorites in the Wynncore complex.

It seems odd to start indoors on this project - most of the work will be outside. This area is open to the casino, the upscale Switch (though reportedly underperforming) restaurant and the High Limit Slot room. Perhaps this landscaping will be replaced in-kind before exterior work even begins?

Another shot:

November 1, 2009

Open Topic Discussion - November 1, 2009

Posted by detroit1051

In Boyd Gaming's Call, they said that Echelon would remain dormant for three to five years, but they wouldn't take down the construction already started: "We anticipate using or incorporating the structure that's already in place into the new project."
I don't know the cost of clearing the land compared to maintaining the construction hulk, but this is obviously detrimental to The Strip. Further, when the market recovers, it doesn't seem likely that Boyd would follow its original vision for the development.
Boyd should be a good citizen and remove the skeletons. We may see how much influence Steve Wynn has on the subject: "When told that Boyd wasn't going to do anything with Echelon until the next presidential election, Wynn became somewhat incredulous. He wants to see Echelon's unfinished steel structure disappear as much as he wants to see the Obama administration vacate the White House."

Echelon Could Use Some "Tarp" Assistance

October 21, 2009

Vegas Gang #38 - October 21st, 2009

Posted by Hunter

Live from Vegas Podcast-a-palooza 2 @ The Palms.

We discuss CityCenter with our guest MGM Mirage Sr. VP of Public Relations Gordon Absher.

Feel free to add your comments below...

October 20, 2009

PH Towers Tour Photos

Posted by Hunter

On Monday, we got a tour of PH Towers, the condo-hotel-fractional-ownership building set to open in December on the Planet Hollywood property.

My photos are here: PH Towers Gallery

Along the ride for the tour was Steve Friess, who wrote it up also, as well as big-time Vegas Twitter maven VegasBill.

Thanks to @phVegas for organizing the event for Vegas Podcast-a-palooza attendees. As for that event, I'll have a post about it and the audio of the shows up as soon as humanly possible.

We wake up to a story about MGM taking $1.1 billion in charges against CityCenter.

No big surprise, this is required by the accountants and no one could argue that the value of these assets hasn't fallen... though 31% is a big number. Kerkorian is even looking to potentially reduce his stake.

In other more interesting news, I was able to take a gander at a few shots of Aria's interiors (see Chuck's take here). I won't be publishing these photos but like VT, I'm happy to give my impressions.

Continue after the jump...

Update: Not to pimp this too much but this offer for Aria came across from MGM Mirage - $160 for some nights. 26584&m=0

Also, I'm happy to answer questions about the stuff I've seen, if you have any.

Chuck's spent some more time analyzing the materials and has some more thoughts.

October 13, 2009

Inside The Unfinished Fontainebleau

Posted by Hunter

Really cool video that David posted on Stiffs and Georges showing the interior of the FBleau project as it stands.

Does it look 70% complete? I know the last 30% would be basically all the finishes but it seems far off that mark to my untrained eye.

Video embedded after the jump.

October 11, 2009

Fontainebleau Worth Finishing?

Posted by Hunter

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Alexandra Berzon, in her new gig as a WSJ reporter, has a story up on discussing the Fontainebleau project on the North Las Vegas Strip.

The story examines one of the most looming issues for FBleau - there are potential bidders but the place will need $1.2 to $2.0 billion in work before it can welcome any guests - the numbers just don't pencil out.

That location, without all of the other projects that are now delayed or shelved, combined with the collapse of the condo market, means that the project is worth a mere fraction of what it would have been.

Prospective buyer Penn National Gaming may be ready to submit a bid - and it may be as low as $300 million.

We'll see how this all shakes out. (Subscription Required)

I can't really imagine a scenario in which the project is imploded for a re-do - even at close to zero, it seems it would be cheaper to buy this and finish it... right?

September 26, 2009

Vegas Gang #37 - September 24th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

New episode is up:

We discuss:

* Planet Hollywood + Harrah's?
* Fontainebleau + Penn Nat'l?
* Stanley Ho's SJM
* Niche Marketing @ Monte Carlo
* Gaming Figures
* Aria

Do you have questions for MGM Mirage's Alan Feldman? He'll be our guest at Vegas Podcast-a-palooza in October. Leave your question in a comment and we'll consider them for the show.

Mike's back with another Strip Walk and this time it's all MGM, all the time.

Here's the complete photo gallery:

Read on for more...

September 14, 2009

City Center Wins Some Green

Posted by Hunter

City Center isn't even open and it's already winning some green. By that terrible pun, I am referring to their LEED certification for Aria and Vdara, two components of the project.

This is a great thing - not only does the company get a tax abatement for up to ten years, it gets them a bunch of extra press and builds some additional excitement... plus, helping the environment isn't a bad thing either.

August 18, 2009

Encore Las Vegas: 'Switch Beach Club' Coming Q2-2010

Posted by Hunter

As we've previously reported, Encore Las Vegas is looking at replacing the Las Vegas Strip porte-cochere with a new pool complex, tentatively named the 'Switch Beach Club'.

This rendering was presented tonight to the Clark County Planning Commission:

The complex should be open for next year's Summer season.

Some recent photos of this area: Exterior 1, Exterior 2, Exterior 3, Construction Exterior.

Thanks to @mtc for the higher-res image.

Wynn Resorts has an appointment to see Clark County about a big potential change to Encore.

It seems that they feel the Las Vegas Strip porte-cochere is a bit of a waste of space - they want to replace it with a pool and nightclub complex, right up next to Las Vegas Blvd.

Here's the filing with the county: PDF Filing w/ Clark County

Sounds like they would create a new entrance to this addition from Las Vegas Blvd. as well as create a pedestrian bridge for people walking in front of the parking garage entrance.

What will happen to the Encore atrium, Switch and high limit areas? Will they have to be modified to accommodate this?

We're working on getting more info from Wynn PR and also other channels.

Thanks to Detroit for giving me the heads up on this filing.

Update: We hear that the project is scheduled for Q2 2010.

August 10, 2009

Exploring ARIA's Public Areas and Casino Floor

Posted by Hunter

One of the benefits of running a site like this is that from time to time, certain information comes my way before it hits the general public.

Most recently, this would include floor-plans of ARIA's public spaces and casino area. The hugely anticipated City Center anchor hotel, opening in mid-December, looks pretty great to my eyes.

In addition to being such a major milestone, ARIA is important because it is meant to be the crown of the MGM Mirage empire. The current occupant of that top slot, Bellagio, was designed and built by now-competitor Steve Wynn. MGM Mirage hasn't 'authored' a major Las Vegas resort for many years, its empire having been assembled through acquisition instead of development.

If you want some details about what is inside of ARIA, continue after the jump.

Here's the latest installment in our 'Strip Walk' series in which our intrepid reporter, Mr. Ch, visited several major Strip casino resorts in the heavy heat of Summer.

The photos are located here:

Continue after the jump for all the juicy details.

July 27, 2009

Wynn's Roger Thomas Honored - Video Interview

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to Mike E over at for catching this one - a multi-part video interview set with design genius Roger Thomas, Executive VP of Design at Wynn Design and Development as he was honored this past February in Las Vegas.

Thomas was responsible for many major Wynn designs at properties including Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Las Vegas, Wynn Macau, Bellagio, Treasure Island, Beau Rivage, The Mirage, Golden Nugget and more.

Roger Thomas - Chapter 1
Roger Thomas - Chapter 2
Roger Thomas - Chapter 3
Roger Thomas - Chapter 4
Roger Thomas - Chapter 5
Roger Thomas - Chapter 6

MacauTripping got a great tip to some renderings done for Wynn Design and Development by Mike Hong and Associates. Along with renderings for Encore in Macau (SW Steakhouse?), there's also concept work for unbuilt resorts in Singapore and Monaco.

Enjoy them while you can - they may be pulled down at some point.

July 11, 2009

Encore and THEhotel, July 5-8

Posted by Mike E

Here's a play by play of my recent return from an Encore Salon Suite. Enjoy!

Yes, Strip Walk is back - July 2009 edition. This time, Mike added a little food critique as well.

The photos are here:


Fascinating article today in the Sun about the fast-paced world of design and construction on the Las Vegas Strip.

Cost overruns and safety issues at projects like Fontainebleau and City Center have highlighted the massively iterative nature of the design process, sometimes at the cost of millions.

June 20, 2009

Vegas Gang #33 - June 18th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

Happy to be back after a little bit of a break. Lots to talk about, as always.

We discuss:

* MGM Mirage Expands to Egypt
* Tropicana Atlantic City Sells to Ichan
* Fontainebleau Files Chapter 11
* City of Dreams Opens on Cotai

Also, check out and Vegas Mate 2.

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

June 12, 2009

Strip Walk - June 2009

Posted by Hunter

Mike is back with a Strip Walk for June 2009 including Encore, Palazzo, Treasure Island, City Center and more.

As always, the photo gallery is here:

Click through to read more.

June 4, 2009

Tropicana 3.0?

Posted by Hunter

As has been reported in many corners, plans for changes at the Trop in Las Vegas are moving forward.

This RJ story has the details:

Even if they pump a $100 million into this place, it will still be the Trop. Don't get me wrong, it could go a long way to clean up the casino floor - new carpets, some paint, etc... but let's not pretend that all of a sudden people are going to mistake it for a five-diamond joint.

Trop 3.0 could do just fine targeting the mid-market.

May 29, 2009

Schaeffer Out at Fontainebleau Resorts

Posted by Hunter

Former Mandalay Resort Group executive Glenn Schaeffer is out as the top dog at Fontainebleau Resorts. This is another *major* blow for the company that is already struggling with financing problems related to its Strip resort.

May 21, 2009

Vegas Gang #32 - May 21st, 2009

Posted by Hunter

Happy to be back after a little bit of a break. Lots to talk about, as always.

We discuss:

* MGM Mirage Pulls a Rabbit Out of its Hat
* Fontainebleau May Not Be Totally Screwed (we'll see)
* UNLV Center for Gaming Research Trends
* MGM Mirage Selling Properties

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

May 12, 2009

Roger Thomas Profiled in The Advocate

Posted by Hunter

Las Vegas based free-lancer Steve Friess has written an excellent piece on Wynn Design and Development Executive Vice President Roger Thomas, who we learned last week will be staying on with Wynn D&D.

If there's one person responsible for the colors, textures and look inside Wynn's creations, it's Thomas.

At the annual Wynn Resorts Shareholder's Meeting today, Steve Wynn announced that interior design guru Roger Thomas has decided in fact not to retire.

Originally the plan was for Thomas to end his long career with Wynn and for new hire Jerry Beale to take over that part of the department. Well, it seems Thomas wasn't as suited to retirement as he thought and he's decided to stay.

Beale and Thomas will be working together at Wynn D&D.

May 3, 2009

Fontainebleau Interiors and Animation

Posted by Hunter

CSM at has posted some still images of Fontainebleau Las Vegas interiors that were captured from a video rendering. Chuck's post and stills are here:

The original video is here:

Chuck mentions in his post that it amps up his interest in the property a good margin. While I think some of it looks interesting, that overhead casino shot reminds me of a nicer version of Planet Hollywood. Of course, I may change my mind when I see it in person.

Still, very interesting. Hopefully this place is completed sooner rather than later.

April 7, 2009

Inside Wynn Design and Development

Posted by Hunter

Steve Friess has a very interesting photo post over at Vegas Happens Here:

I'd highly encourage checking it out for any Wynn and/or design freaks.

March 11, 2009

Construction Issues at Cosmo?

Posted by Hunter

Another week, another report of building problems left undiscovered by officials. Instead of City Center, now we have the neighboring Cosmopolitan, the property that can't seem to find a permanent owner having been taken over by its financiers after the developer defaulted last year.

The RJ reports:

With all of this talk about buildings not being properly checked during construction, I can't help but to recall these issues with Harrah's a few years back:

March 7, 2009

Deutsche Plans Cosmo Overhaul ; Deal With Hilton?

Posted by Hunter

Stories in the Sun and RJ today have word that Cosmo owner Deutsche Bank have decided to re-design the interiors of some floors, resulting in work stoppage.

Also, there's word that the bank may have signed a deal with Hilton to operate the hotel and/or casino portions - Deutsche does not have a Nevada gaming license and a recent deal with MGM Mirage seems to have fallen apart.

February 17, 2009

Strip Walk - February 2009

Posted by Hunter

Mike's back with another Strip Walk column. He's got some photo links in his post but if you want to see the entire gallery, click here:

Continue after the jump to get your Vegas fix.

February 10, 2009

Macau Updates: Wynn Cotai and More...

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to Drambuie Man, y'all get to see some updated photos of what's going on in Macau, specifically Cotai.

Chuck is going to be posting these over at, starting with the Wynn Cotai site.

More to come over the next few days...

Updated: Chuck posted a few more of the photo sets:
City of Dreams
Encore at Wynn Macau

February 4, 2009

Encore Las Vegas - January 2009

Posted by Hunter

After spending a few more nights at Encore in the middle of January, I'm sharing some more of my thoughts after the jump.

Along with this, I am still working on editing some additional audio that was taken during various media tours - a substantial job given the varying quality of the source material.

Continue on for a little bit more about Encore.

As some already know, I spent some time last week at Encore Las Vegas for what Wynn Resorts called 'Media Week'. Over the course of 5 days of events, various forms of media were invited to come stay at the hotel and participate in all sorts of events from back-of-house tours to eating in the restaurants.

After the jump for more, including a link to the audio extra...

January 16, 2009

Vegas Gang #25 - January 16th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

Vegas Gang #25 is online.

This week on the show:

* Harrah's Suspends Caesars Palace Tower
* Rumors Swirling Around The Mirage Sale
* Encore Media Week

Leave any comments below.

Uhhhh... huh?

It seems an Israeli company wants to build what would be the world's largest hotel in Las Vegas, just next to the Hard Rock on Harmon.

The hotel would have 6,745 rooms and include a casino.

December 31, 2008

Strip Walk - December 2008

Posted by Hunter

Mike is back with the final Strip Walk of 2008.

Yes, there's some more Encore stuff in here but most of the column is dedicated to the rest of The Strip - do not fear, Encore haters!

Enjoy. Main text and photo links after the jump.

December 27, 2008

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas - The Designers

Posted by Hunter

Thousands of pieces - furniture, hand-woven carpets, wall coverings, chandeliers and everything else that makes up a Las Vegas resort - were all custom-picked and either built or acquired for Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, the latest creation from a team that's been working with Steve Wynn for almost three decades.

Keep reading after the jump for more.

December 26, 2008

Encore's Grand Opening Review

Posted by Mike E

Here's my full review of Encore including four restaurants, the spa, and other notes from my December trip. Enjoy!

December 24, 2008

Encore Coverage from Around the Web

Posted by Hunter

Many of my colleagues have also been writing about Encore and the opening festivities.

Here are some links not to miss:

I'm sure there's more good stuff - feel free to add to the comments.

If you didn't catch them last night, I posted more photos on Flickr - these will also be moving to a gallery on shortly.

December 22, 2008

Encore Suites at Wynn Las Vegas - First Impressions

Posted by Hunter

This will be somewhat brief - I will write a full review of this first stay probably later in the week - but I wanted to share a few first impressions, brought to you from Encore's 61st floor.

I was lucky enough to be given a guided tour this morning by Roger Thomas, VP of Design for Wynn Design and Development. He is responsible for most of the interiors of the resort, along with previous creations like Wynn Las Vegas, Bellagio and Treasure Island. He refers to himself as an 'author' when talking about the design process. Given how much thought goes into his 'prose', I think that's appropriate.

The tour was great - I took a lot of notes that I will transcribe later.

In a word I would describe Encore as breathtaking. It's much smaller - very intimate. It is a fantastic complement to Wynn Las Vegas. The casino, as many anticipated, is very similar to Wynn Macau with smaller chambered areas. Personally, I think this design is a huge win, though it might not work with a larger space. It's more appropriate for a smaller casino floor as they have here.

There are walk up bars on all sides of the property - Thomas told me this was in direct response to customers wanting more bars on the WLV side. One of the bars on the east end of the casino is a huge glass wall overlooking the pool, flooding the gaming areas with natural light.

For restaurants, we saw Sinatra (retro, 60s Palm Springs kinda vibe, but not in an old sorta way). Later in the afternoon, I watched them install the 1953 Best Supporting Actor Award in its display. It's gorgeous.

Had a quick lunch at Society Cafe Encore and it was really fantastic. Simple dishes but my chicken sandwich was perfectly done.

The Esplanade includes several high end boutiques, including a new home store featuring Roger Thomas' furniture. The Wynn and Company Jewelers on this side are displaying the 'Wynn Diamond', a 231 caret stone that is breathtaking to behold.

While not being much of a nightclub guy personally, we walked through XS and I was impressed. I think it's got a chance at being the top spot in town - the interplay between the pool and the club is amazing and sure to be a huge hit, likely to be copied elsewhere.

The Tower Suites lobby is tucked away from the casino floor, as it is at Wynn Las Vegas, while the main Resort check-in is open to the main walkway on the North side. Tower Suites is less of a preferred option at Encore, though the rooms we did see on that side were huge and amazing. The 2 and 3 bedroom, two level sky villas sounded impressive, though we did not get to tour one (yet).

They're being pretty tough about photos so far. I'm hoping that will ease up at 8pm when the place officially opens.

There's a ton of interesting design detail in this place - as much or more than Wynn Las Vegas.

More to come. Please follow us at and feel free to ask questions to us there via Twitter or if you can't do that, leave a comment.

Also, room photos:

December 21, 2008

LVRJ Posts First Encore Interior Photos

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to readers for pointing this out.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has posted a few PR shots of Encore's interior. They include a couple of shots of the atrium and the spa. Others have rightly pointed out there's a lot of design cross over between Encore and the 'Villa Atrium' at Wynn Las Vegas.

December 18, 2008

Encore Weekend: Meetup Info and Coverage Reminder

Posted by Hunter

Friends... Encore's opening is upon us. In case you missed the announcement, we'll be covering all manner of opening details at as we partner with to bring you great coverage.

You can follow our Twitter and Flickr streams there directly. If you want to get involved, you can tweet to @ratevegas or @vegastripping to ask questions, leave comments, etc...

Also, several other readers who mentioned they'd be in town talked about perhaps getting together for a drink at some point... Several ideas were thrown around but if it works for others, I'd suggest 6:30pm on the 22nd at Parasol Up (Wynn Las Vegas). This would allow a little time for conversation before the public unveiling of Encore at 8pm. Everyone is welcome.

December 9, 2008

The Mirage Volcano Reborn

Posted by Hunter

I was able to catch the media event for the rebirth of the volcano at The Mirage last night.

Photos from the event are here. A video is embedded after the jump.

I loved the new setup. It's so much more fun than the old version. Not only is there more fire and better music but the entire structure just looks much cooler - the rock is more natural looking and 'veins' of lava even show up when it's blasting.

The 'FireShooters' that WET Design built for this project are custom - part of the high cost is due to investing in new technology to make it one of a kind.

After being a sorta 'bleh' attraction for some time, I think this is now near the top of the list of recommended things to check out on your next trip.

For those interested, there are also a bunch of Encore and WLV photos in the gallery as well.

We've been alluding to our upcoming coverage for the opening of Wynn's Encore for some time and now we're spilling the details.

I'm proud to announce that we're teaming up with my esteemed colleague, Mr. Chuck S. Monster of to bring you coverage that will be the next best thing to being there.

We will both be 'twittering' (or is it 'tweeting'?) via Twitter, posting copious amounts of photos on Flickr and recording our observations for what I'm certain will be multiple blog postings. You can post your questions to our Twitter streams and we will do our best to answer them right from the casino floor.

To make it easier on your inner-Vegas-addict to keep up with everything, we're compiling it all in one place:

That's your one stop shop for all things Encore. The page updates itself so when the gates open, you can sit back and let the sweet nectar flow. See Chuck's note on browser compatibility here. His recommendations are seconded from this corner as well.

There's been some talk about doing a special 'Vegas Gang' episode and while the logistics of how possible that will be are not yet clear, rest assured that we will be getting everyone's opinion on Encore out to you as soon as humanly possible.

December 3, 2008

Strip Walk - November 2008

Posted by Hunter

Mike_ch is back with his latest Strip Walk. This one is more in 'trip report' style as he was slummin' it down on The Strip for a few nights at The Grand.

It's a long one so grab a cup of coffee and sit back.

November 26, 2008

The Mirage Volcano Reborn - December 8th

Posted by Hunter

The Mirage volcano will be officially reborn on December 8th but they've been testing the new setup for the past few days.

If you want to see a video of what we're in for, click below:

I'll be in Las Vegas on the 8th to see it for myself and report back.

November 26, 2008

Global Gaming Expo 2008: Alive and Kicking

Posted by Hunter

Matthew Farley, author of "Good Food, Good Whiskey, and a Good Gamble: Outdated Nostaligia or Still Effective Today?" was kind enough to write up and share his thoughts after attending G2E in Las Vegas.

This dovetails nicely with yesterday's Vegas Gang coverage of the event.

Thanks to Matthew for sharing his insights - I'm sure you'll all enjoy this.

Click through for more...

November 20, 2008

Strip Walk - November 2008

Posted by Hunter

Mike Ch is back with another Strip Walk. Click through to enjoy.

As usual, there are some photos included but this time around you'll see the debut of our new photo gallery. Gone (hopefully) are the days of duplicated photos, strange bugs and error messages. It's still being tweaked so let us know if you find problems but generally I think it's a nice improvement.

The new gallery is here: Photo Gallery

Lastly, if you read Mike's prose you will see he's soliciting photo and recon requests from you guys for his next trip. Please respond in the comments here.

October 31, 2008

UPDATE: Wynn Resorts Third Quarter Call

Posted by Hunter

Just got off the Q3 2008 call for Wynn Resorts. Final quarterly numbers are here:

Wynn Resorts Q3 Results

On the call, the company discussed it's cash position (strong), it's future outlook and plans.

Encore is scheduled to open December 22nd, though it's still not 100% clear the first date that the public will be able to book a room. We should get that information in the coming weeks.

When asked about development on Cotai, Steve Wynn stated that they were waiting to see evidence that the current supply in Macau had been absorbed properly and at that time they'd proceed on that front. With The Venetian and Four Seasons on Cotai, the market does seem to be struggling somewhat to support the new properties, with the visa restrictions contributing to that.

It sounds like Wynn Resorts is in no hurry there - they plan to build what they describe as the world's most amazing resort and one would assume anything that fits that description will stand the test of time.

On the topic of purchasing perhaps distressed gaming assets, that pretty much was shot down - Wynn likes to build, not buy.

Overall, quite a bit of confidence from the principals.

Updated: As of this morning, Encore is accepting reservations from opening night (December 22nd). Yours truly will be there that first night, reporting all the details... We'll have photos, blog updates and live twittering.

October 28, 2008

Encore Party Set For Wynn's Birthday?

Posted by Hunter

After finally getting temporary certificates of occupancy for part of the structures at Encore, planning for the opening is starting to firm up.

We're hearing that Wynn Resorts staff can now start to use the hotel tower and new convention rooms with more to come as other areas are completed.

The other tidbit that's starting to leak out is that instead of a grand opening for Encore like the sort we're used to, the Company may opt instead to have a gala birthday celebration for Steve Wynn (his birthday is January 27th) to celebrate the opening of the hotel.

Yesterday Wynn Resorts put out a press release that once again mentioned that the hotel was taking reservations from January 12th onward. It's still not clear if we'll see any customers occupy the hotel before then.

The hotel has been taking reservations for weeks already but it's funny to see a bunch of news organizations parrot the press release and announce that the spigot has been opened.

October 25, 2008

Strip Walk October 2008

Posted by Hunter

Mike Ch is back with another Strip Walk. This one covers Encore, Treasure Island, City Center, The Mirage, Palazzo and more.

Photos are here:

Thanks Mike! Enjoy!

October 20, 2008

Atlantic City Update from Dave Schwartz

Posted by Hunter

Fellow Vegas Gang member Dave Schwartz has posted a photo essay bringing us up to date on what's going on in Atlantic City over on

October 11, 2008

VegasTripping Covers City Center

Posted by Hunter

My good friend and fellow Vegas Gang-banger Chuck Monster from VegasTripping has been doing a bang up job covering what MGM Mirage has in store for us at City Center.

If you haven't seen these already, be sure to check out the following links:


City Center Tram:

ARIA Pool:

VDara Pool Deck:

October 2, 2008

Circus Circus Clown Coming Down?

Posted by Hunter

Here's an item posted on LVA that talks about the possibility of the iconic Circus Circus Las Vegas marquee coming down to make room for some rides.

I get the fear just thinking about that thing.

September 30, 2008

Check Out Large Group of City Center Renderings

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to donnymac for pointing this out - a site with a bunch of renderings that I haven't seen, at least not all of them:

Once again, another StripWalk from MikeCh, this time covering South Strip properties (and a trip to the Hard Rock).

Continue after the jump to read the details, photos are here:

September 26, 2008

Macau Trip Report - September 2008

Posted by Hunter

George (Drambuieman) is back with another great report on Macau. Some info on CotaiJet, Ponte 16 and more.

Click through to read and be sure to check out the photos:

September 21, 2008

Vegas Gang #17 - September 18th, 2008

Posted by Hunter

Vegas Gang #17 is online here:

This time around we cover:

* Economic Update
* Kansas Update
* Strip Clubs in Strip Resorts?
* Mega-Resort Designs of the Future?
* ARIA Update

Feel free to leave your comments below.

September 18, 2008

ARIA Restaurants Announced

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage has started to leak the info on the restaurants that will be built inside ARIA, the main resort at City Center.

Two takes on the line-up, which is heavy on big names and maybe a couple of great restaurants:

September 15, 2008

UPDATED: City Center Room Photo - Tech at Aria

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Josh for pointing this out.

The LA Times has an article about tech at City Center's main hotel, Aria. The article includes a room mockup photo:

The full article:

Update: This MGM Mirage press release has more info on all the tech going into the room. Some of it sounds pretty cool, though I hope the Internet speed is a bit higher than 128kb that they indicate in the release.

September 10, 2008

The Mirage Details Re-Launch of Volcano

Posted by Hunter

The Mirage Volcano, a fixture on the Las Vegas Strip for almost 20 years, is being re-launched.

MGM Mirage teamed with WET Design (Fountains of Bellagio) to re-create the iconic front-feature.

WET brought in Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Indian tabla sensation Zakir Hussain to create the audio for the new volcano.

More info here:

Scheduled to be unveiled later this year, we have a bunch of photos of the construction progress here:

Mike Ch is back yet again - this time with a boots on the ground report from Planet Hollywood.

Our man on the scene braved the Palace of Earl to bring back some first hand intel.

As always, photos are here:

Also, he linked up some photos in his post as well. Enjoy after the jump.

As an aside, I'm well aware of how bad the photo gallery sucks. I've not had the time to do much about it but I actually think that might change in the near future. Stay tuned.

Mike Ch is back with another Strip Walk.

This time he hits both ends of the Strip with Luxor, Echelon, Encore, City Center and more.

Photos are here:

Mike Ch is back again with his Strip Walk column. This time around, he shows us what's going on at The Mirage, Bellagio, City Center, Caesars and more.

Personally, I think that new entrance at The Mirage looks terrible - that sign is totally out of place.


Here's a KLAS interview with Steve Wynn covering the Encore hiring, his take on City Center, Encore itself and more...,%20Jobs

Thanks to Chuck at VT for pointing this out.

July 18, 2008

Nazarian Has Big Plans for The Sahara

Posted by Hunter

Today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has a great article on Sam Nazarian, new owner of The Sahara.

He wants to provide a superior experience, even for guests priced out of the market by the swing to luxury offerings - he plans rooms at about $200 a night. That doesn't mean implosion - he wants to work with the canvas he has, while adding to it and improving it.

It's a great read, check it out.

July 12, 2008

Will Winslow's Guide to Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

Dave Schwartz, fellow Gang member and Die is Cast blogger has released the latest 'Winslow's Guide'.

If you love Las Vegas, you'll love this guide.

Mike's returning with a new Strip Walk. This time we see Fontainebleau, Encore, Echelon, City Center, Luxor and more.

Keep reading after the jump and check out his photos:

June 25, 2008

VegasTripping Posts Encore Photo Update

Posted by Hunter

My good friend and fellow 'Gang Member', ("yeah, I'm in a gang") Chuck has posted a bunch of new Encore construction photos:


June 15, 2008

The Mirage, June 8-11.

Posted by Mike E

I took my parents for a three-night getaway at The Mirage as a combined Mother's and Father's Day gift. This trip was ultra-mellow by my standards but just as memorable as any other. Rather than the usual play-by-play, I've broken the report down in sections. Feel free to skip around to parts that interest you.

(More after the jump)

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting on a workers strike at City Center, MGM Mirage's large development on the Las Vegas Strip.

Due to a rash of construction deaths, the workers are demanding increased safety provisions be made before work will start again.

Update: It's possible that work will re-start again soon - it appears Perini and the trades had a positive meeting.

May 19, 2008

Details on "ARIA" - City Center's Anchor Hotel

Posted by Hunter

As speculated, the name 'ARIA' is official.

MGM Mirage's press release had a bit more info than I've seen published elsewhere. I don't usually just publish these things but I think this is of interest so continue reading after the jump.

May 16, 2008

LV Sun: City Center Will Open in Stages

Posted by Hunter

Despite the original plan to open everything in November of 2009, it seems MGM Mirage is now planning to open the complex in stages, starting August 2009 with the first condo tower and going through December 15, 2009 when the main hotel opens.

NOTE: They refer to the main hotel as 'Aria'. It's my understanding this name was scrapped. Also, unrelated - new Vegas Gang going up tonight.

Update: People on the Internets seem to think this name is correct. We'll see I guess. I don't really like the name, FWIW.

May 14, 2008

Luxor : Lost In Transition -

Posted by Hunter

My good friend Chuck at is just back from Las Vegas and wrote up a little report about the transition at Luxor:

Yes, we're back (and better than ever?).

Anyway, the episode is posted here:

Comment away!

Mike_ch is back with the latest Strip Walk. This time we have a look at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, New York New York and Luxor.

Notes after the jump, photos here:

It may have been a whole year in the works, but it felt like only yesterday that I had booked my flight as I was sitting impatiently at the airport. This was to be my last hoorah with Vegas until Encore's opening in December. Who knows if I'll hold true to that promise, but I planned this trip to the fullest knowing all too well that these rare opportunities don't come around very often.

(More after the jump...)

March 23, 2008

Open Topic Discussion - March 23rd, 2008

Posted by Hunter

Another open topic for discussion.

One thing of note - I got some photos from Mike_Ch which I published:

Thanks Mike!

March 23, 2008

Related Joins Bidding on Cosmopolitan

Posted by Hunter

According to the WSJ (sorry, registration required), the Related Companies, no stranger to distressed Vegas developments, is looking at the Cosmopolitan project.

Thanks to Brian for the tip! Happy Easter!

Steve Friess picked up on the news from Wachovia that Elad is putting the Plaza Las Vegas project on hold due to the challenging credit market:

Very interesting, especially coupled with the Cosmopolitan news. Friess apparently just did an interview with Steve Wynn where the casino mogul predicted this.

Update: Elad, the developer, is denying the report so at this point this is in question.

Thanks Hail2Skins!

We talk the concept of 'free' and casinos, lots of fresh details on Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, Majestic's Vegas numbers, and more. This is a don't miss for Wynn fans.

The participants include:

Jeff Simpson - and

David McKee -

Dave Schwartz -

Chuck Monster -

Direct Download:

February 26, 2008

Encore Suites at Wynn Las Vegas - Coming December 2008

Posted by Hunter

Wynn Resorts have settled on December 2008 as the unveiling for Encore Suites, the sister resort going up next to Wynn Las Vegas.

Few new details besides the opening timeframe are in the press release, though it does allude to many of the features we've already covered here in the past.

Some new photos posted this afternoon:

The Encore shots give a really good look at the final layouts for the big parts of the project. You can see all the skylights in the low-rise for the new spa, plus I assume that lattice roof area will be filled with glass as well. Overall, looking good - can't wait to see more.

Thanks to Brian and Mark for sharing their photos.

Regarding the podcast, I have GarageBand open now - hopefully I'll get this finished shortly.

January 30, 2008

Monte Carlo Fire and EIFS

Posted by Hunter

Last week, most TV sets were tuned in to see the facade of a Las Vegas hotel, the Monte Carlo, engulfed in flames. I'm no expert in fire safety but I know what was going through my head, watching in real time: this fire is moving FAST and whatever is on the top of that building looks to be fueling it.

In the hours and days that followed, one term was repeated over and over: EIFS.

Instead of demonizing an easy target, I'm glad that I've had the chance to speak with several folks fluent in EIFS details, including some industry representatives. Keep reading after the jump and I'll share a couple of things I've learned.

January 23, 2008

Palazzo Las Vegas - Opening Weekend Thoughts

Posted by Hunter

Palazzo is the finest hotel ever built in Las Vegas - Las Vegas Sands In-Room Magazine

"Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." - Red Faced Guy

I was in Las Vegas at the end of December on a trip that was supposed to coincide with the soft opening of The Palazzo, the first major property to open on the Strip since Wynn Las Vegas in 2005. Of course, we know how that turned out - Las Vegas Sands postponed the soft-open for a few days and by the time guests were walking through, I was back at home.

When another excuse for a trip popped up, this time coinciding with the 'real' opening of The Palazzo, the credit card was primed and ready. I reserved a standard 'suite' for two nights at a rate of about $300/night. I've been a critic of The Venetian in the past but I really wanted to go into this past weekend without pre-judging the property... at least that was my goal.

Keep reading after the jump for my thoughts on The Palazzo, some comparisons to other properties, and some specific notes on the photos.

Photo gallery:

January 19, 2008

Palazzo First Thoughts

Posted by Hunter

We checked into a standard 'suite' at The Palazzo last night. I will be writing more when I get home, as well as publishing some photos, but here are some overall thoughts quickly, before I head out:

I really like the lobby and atrium areas - they look fantastic... but they may be the best parts of the property.

The room is nice, though I don't consider a single room a suite, even if it has a separated living space. The room is nicely appointed, though some of the fixtures look cheap.

Service has been great. A bellman walked us to our room, though I assume that's because it was slow. I am told on 80% of the rooms are open.

The casino is a disappointment. It's just a huge open room. Better than The Venetian but nowhere near as nice as WLV or Bellagio in this regard.

The pool area looks closed at the moment and only a few restaurants are open. I haven't spent much time in the shops yet.

This place is just what any close watcher of LVS would expect - it's The Venetian, slightly upgraded.

So, as I work on getting more data, what sort of things are you guys interested in?

January 13, 2008

Trip Report January 2008: Bellagio Suites and Palazzo

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Aaron_B for sharing this trip report from CES 2008. I know several readers will be interested to hear about and see photos of the renovated suites at Bellagio.

The photos are here:


We're back with another piece from guest author Matthew Farley. He was nice enough to write a piece previously on video table games.

This time the topic is old school service offerings and their place in today's Las Vegas, specifically as it relates to Binion's. An interesting piece and I thank him for sharing this with us. What do you guys think? Let's get a discussion going in the comments.

As for any other guest authors out there, feel free to contact me: editor AT ratevegas DOT com. We can give you some great exposure and writing is a lot of fun!

December 30, 2007

THEhotel, December 26-29, 2007

Posted by Mike E

After a six-month hiatus, I headed back to town spending three nights at my old, favorite haunt before Wynn opened: THEhotel. My thoughts on the property, some gambling highlights, and general observations follow after the jump.

December 21, 2007

Mirage Room Remodel to Start in February 2008

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Andy who spotted this on The Mirage's official Web site. It seems the rooms are getting a full on make over starting in February and based on the pictures, they are totally tossing the current room decor.

Wow, that's drastic. Now, I totally think the rooms need to be redone but honestly, I think this design goes a bit too far for my tastes. I love the amenities they are adding - that's great... and, I think generally the vibe is okay but this is like cranked too far. It's as if they had one or two many committees weigh in on this, each tweaking the design a bit to the point that there's no longer any cohesion.


December 20, 2007

Wynn Macau Expansion Opens December 24th

Posted by Hunter

This was in the news yesterday and I just assumed most people saw it so I didn't post it but maybe I was wrong... Anyway, Wynn Macau is set to open it's casino expansion on Monday, December 24th. This includes more tables, slots, and their new dramatic entry feature (I hope we hear more about this soon). Following in January are more retails shops including Hugo Boss and Ferrari.

December 19, 2007

Golden Nugget Completes Its Renovations

Posted by Hunter

According to a press release from the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, they have completed their long running set of renovations that include a second floor nightclub for Downtown.

The 'Gold Diggers' nightclub opens at 4pm and offers views of the Fremont Street Experience. Along with the club, they have opened a new restaurant called Red Sushi and also some meeting space called 'The Grand'.

Overall, it is nice to see continued investment into the Downtown property.

Mike_ch is back with another Stripwalk. This time he visits Encore, City Center, TI, Palazzo, Luxor and more. Check it out after the jump plus don't forget to check out the new photos:


December 6, 2007

Crown Las Vegas Moves Forward; Two Towers

Posted by Hunter

Another piece of news from the recent press, the Wet N' Wild Crown Las Vegas project is moving past the Planning Commission after slashing their height, which may mean that they will end up with two towers.

November 28, 2007

Welcome to MEGACENTER, May I Take Your Coat?

Posted by Hunter

Well, it appears at the geniuses at Las Vegas Sands have decided that they needed a name for the combined complex of The Venetian, Palazzo and the Sands Expo Center. That name? MEGACENTER (yes, all caps). Dumb name. I wonder if they considered other gems such as THEMegacenter or maybe even CITYMEGACENTER.

Also, as has been reported elsewhere, Palazzo's opening moved from 12/20 to 12/28, no doubt cause they realized it was impossible to make 12/20 work. There's a good chance I'll be in town for this opening so I'll keep y'all posted. I don't think I'm brave enough to reserve a room.

Here we are with a special Thanksgiving-eve 'Strip Walk' segment. This time around, mike_ch checks out the Frontier, Encore, City Center, Luxor, The Mirage and more. Text after the jump...


November 14, 2007

November 2007 LV Strip Construction Photos Posted

Posted by Hunter

I've posted my Las Vegas Strip construction photos: Most Recent Las Vegas Photos

All sorts of great stuff including Encore's high and low rise buildings, WLV's villa atrium, Palazzo, the white tiger pit at The Mirage, City Center, P-Ho, Bellagio, and more.

The link above should show them all but you can also visit the November 2007 tag. Also, based on some feedback I plan to add new searching and sorting capabilities to the photo database soon.

November 13, 2007

New Frontier Implosion

Posted by Hunter

Okay, that was amazingly cool. If you've never felt the raw power of a building fall, make sure you put the Tropicana Island Tower implosion on your Jan/Feb calendar.

I took a ton of photos. They are here:

That's probably it for now - I'm super tired and it's been a long day. Lastly though, another big thank you to Steve Friess who hooked me up with the pimp media access. Thanks Steve!!!

November 7, 2007

Wynn Macau Photo Walk Through

Posted by Hunter

Chuck at has posted a photo walkthrough of Wynn Macau with shots from his recent trip. A must see for Wynn fans.

November 5, 2007

The Mirage Replaces White Tigers With Burgers

Posted by Hunter

I got a press release this morning from MGM Mirage regarding a new restaurant going in at The Mirage. BLT Burger will be replacing the Habitat at the resorts' Southern-most Strip entrance.

This is another nail in the coffin of Siegfried and Roy's tenure at The Mirage. As for the restaurant, the press release states:

"BLT Burger's diverse menu will offer quality ingredients including beef (sirloin, short rib, chuck and brisket cut), American and Japanese Kobe, lamb and Ahi tuna burgers along with soft, no-frills buns. Onion rings and a variety of French fry options, including waffle-cut, sweet potato and chili cheese, will complement the meal. An array of milkshakes in classic and spiked varieties will be available along with a selection of ice cream floats. Nostalgic glass-bottled sodas, innovative cocktails, as well as a focused selection of wine and beer will quench every guest's thirst."

October 28, 2007

Open Topic Discussion - Oct. 28, 2007

Posted by Hunter

Here's a new open topic thread for y'all. A couple of notes on this sunny Sunday:

Regarding the piece on VT&T regarding the Encore casino and a 'poker island', based on the plans I have seen and the people I have talked to, this is off the mark. Now, the plans I originally saw for the low rise stuff have substantially changed since then, as we have already discussed... My understanding is that there is no poker room planned for Encore, plus the walkway changes he talks about obliterate the retail that's planned along the WLV-Encore corridor and generally just sound like they waste space. I am very skeptical.

Second, thanks to reader MikeP for sending in a photo inside Palazzo's retail area, plus the new aquarium at The Mirage:

October 25, 2007

The Mirage Lobby Aquarium Is Re-Born

Posted by Hunter

According to a release I got today, the aquarium that is behind the desk at The Mirage, which has been shrouded in black for months, has been revealed.

It's a whole new affair with more animals, new artifical reef and a new filtration system.

Supposedly the aquarium features 1,000 marine life forms in 20,000 gallons of water.

October 21, 2007

The RJ Goes to Macau

Posted by Hunter

Looks like the RJ has a front page piece on Macau gaming, specifically US based operators there. It's an interesting piece and it comes with a fairly cheesy map and some photos. Worth checking out - even some photos of the analysts that get quoted in every gaming article in the paper.

October 20, 2007

Palazzo Construction Detailed

Posted by Hunter

An interesting article in the LVBP goes over the Palazzo project - I didn't realize it was the largest steel project in North America - and it explains doing the framing that way vs. the more typical cement pours you see all over town.

Not so sure about that comment about LVS' 'typical attention to detail' though.

Thanks to Mike for another installment of 'Strip Walk', or semi-regular feature that focuses on Las Vegas Strip construction progress.

Lots of great new info here and of course, we've got photos:

October 10, 2007

Inside The MGM MIRAGE Brain Trust: Jim Murren

Posted by Hunter

In Business Las Vegas did a fascinating interview with MGM Mirage President and COO Jim Murren last week. It is a highly recommended read that gives great perspective into the thinking that has driven recent deals with Kerzner, Dubai World and others.

It's clear that Terry Lanni and Jim Murren 'get it' when it comes to the biz side of the gaming industry - they are re-defining the standard practices that have been common knowledge in the industry. Business as usual? Not anymore.

From partnering with interesting companies to big ambitious projects like City Center in Las Vegas, they are bringing techniques that have worked well in the general hospitality industry to gaming and it seems to be paying off in spades.

Personally, I'd love to do an interview with Murren but MGM MIRAGE sometimes looks down on Internet media, even those of us with larger numbers than some print publications. I'm hoping one of these days these companies will wake up to that. They're not as bad as some companies but they could do better in this department.

Some quick notes on what's in the paper's today...

The RJ has an article on Aliante Station which is being built in North Las Vegas by the soon-to-be-private Station Casinos, Inc. North Las Vegas is a bit of a future growth market for them but this is set to be another nicely put together project, even if it is very 'Station-esque'.

Inside Gaming has an interesting note on 'Macau' vs 'Macao', which the eagle eyed will have noticed are both used by US operators in Macau (Wynn Resorts likes 'Macau', Las Vegas Sands uses 'Macao' - sounds like the LVS folks are clinging to the past).

I'm still looking for some sort of concrete occupancy numbers for The Venetian Macau - anyone seen anything published other than 'things are going well'? If so, post links in the comments.

Lastly, has been following up on the trip blog with great posts daily. Its quickly becoming my fave stop for Macau info and getting me excited for a trip myself. I did go out and grab and there's no way I could get all the info I need without heading over there myself. We'll see I guess.

September 27, 2007

Strip Walk: September 2007

Posted by Hunter

Well, you know the drill at this point. Another episode featuring MGM Grand, Wynn Las Vegas, City Center and more.

Photos are here: RateVegas Photos

This time we get a bonus video: Diablo's Cantina

Well, that was a great conversation... We had an in-depth talk with Chuck from who just recently has gotten back from Macau.

We went over everything from specific hotel talk on topics like Wynn Macau, Venetian Macau, Galaxy Starworld, MGM Grand Macau, Casino Lisboa and more. We also talked about the business - folks like Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, SJM, Melco and others.

Cotai, gaming industry topics, casino design and more. It was a great discussion and I'm hoping we can do another segment soon.

Fresh back from Macau, where he chronicled his trip, Charles from will be a guest for a special Q&A version of the podcast.

We'll be doing this on TalkShoe but here's how this will work - you guys submit some questions here on the site, I'll ask them in the first 30 minutes or so. The second half of the show will be open for general discussion. We'll see how that goes.

So... TONIGHT at 6pm PT

Update: Ok, the Talkshoe link is here:

If you're planning on joining us, I strongly recommend you go to the Web site ahead of time to sign up for an account and download the software. Strictly speaking, the software isn't required (only a telephone is really required) but having it gives you extra features.

If you really can't download the software, you can call in using this number: 724-444-7444 with the TalkCast ID of 44621. Without the software you might not be able to ask any questions as we won't be able to identify you in the system.

September 20, 2007

Quickies: Wynn on The Strip, Leach on Nightclubs

Posted by Hunter

A couple of quick hits today:

Steve Wynn is the guest on this week's, The Strip Podcast. He talks about Macau, nightclubs, and more. According to Wynn, Tryst is the top netting nightclub in town and Tao is fiddling with their numbers a bit. The interview is interesting and features a fun example of Wynn's office at work. Steve's thesis on why spending is up is sort of interesting.

Second up, thanks to Detroit, this link to an article from Robin Leach - will the nightclub boom continue.

September 16, 2007

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #17 - September 15th, 2007

Posted by Hunter

Our second time using and it was a lot of fun. Regular readers like Detroit1051, Mike E, Brian Fey, mike_ch and BarbaryKevin were all in on the action.

We covered a broad range of issues, from Cotai, Harrah's, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Palazzo, Encore, IGT and a lot more.

During the show we talked about Chuck's Macau diary. That link is here:

September 16, 2007

Call-In Podcast: This SUNDAY 7pm PT

Posted by Hunter

Okay, our next live podcast will be on this coming Sunday, the 16th at 7pm PT / 10pm ET.

We will be doing the show live with audience participation encouraged. We did this last time and it was fun... Using a system call TalkShoe, listeners can call in and be on the 'air', just like a radio talk show.

All the details to get on will be posted here on Sunday before the show.

It's gonna be fun - there's always lots going on in Las Vegas. I'll talk about my recent one day trip and I have a special report from a friend who experienced 'VMA Weekend' first hand.

Show Completed: We had a great time with a lively discussion on a bunch of topics. The show will be posted soon. Stay tuned for the next one, probably on another Sunday evening.

September 13, 2007

StripWalk: September 2007

Posted by Hunter

Here's the latest Strip Walk, this time hitting Wynn Las Vegas, Trump Las Vegas, New Frontier, Palazzo, Treasure Island, New York New York, Excalibur, Luxor and more...

As always, the photos are here:

Commentary after the jump... Take it away Mike!

September 7, 2007

VegasTripping Goes to Macau And Trippies 2007!

Posted by Hunter

My good friend Chuck at is heading to Macau next week. Despite being very jealous, I'm happy to send you guys over to his site to get the regular updates he'll be posting - I know that I'm looking forward to some very thorough reporting from the field, HST style.

If you want to follow the mayhem as it unfolds, here's the best link for the action:

Second up, their annual 'Best Of' list, the Trippies, are now open for nominations. Feel free to nominate us - the parent Web site,, this blog and even our podcast, which we're bringing back into a more regular schedule with live call-in shows (next Sunday the 16th!).

September 2, 2007

Strip Walk: August 2007

Posted by Hunter

We're back with another Strip Walk! This was written almost a week ago and this time around you'll get Mike's comments but a few of my own sprinkled in - I was in Vegas for one night last week and took some of my own photos as well.

As always, the photos are here:

Commentary after the jump...

August 27, 2007

UPDATED: Venetian Macau Opens - Reader Review

Posted by Hunter

I'm just back from a little vacation and I'm beat but this is something I need to report - Las Vegas Sands have opened their second property in Macau, The Venetian Macau - the first hotel to open on the Cotai Strip.

Some links:

Update: Read the comments for a review from reader Chris B.

August 21, 2007

MGM Mirage Shuffles Upper Management

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage made a few changes in the executive suite which they announced today.

First off, the extremely capable Jim Murren has been promoted to President and COO of the company (from President, CFO, and Treasurer). Murren came from Wall Street and is probably the most responsible for MGM Mirage being a model for other gaming companies to follow, especially when talking about reporting. Murren will also oversee all properties except for those that are part of the 'City Center Campus'.

Bobby Baldwin has been moved into a new position - Chief Design and Construction Officer. He'll oversee all new construction and capital improvements in the US. He also will oversee the 'City Center Campus', which includes City Center, Monte Carlo and Bellagio.

Lastly, Dan D'Arrigo has been promoted to EVP and CFO.

All of these positions report to Terri Lanni, the company's Chairman and CEO. Additionally, John Redmond, who had been running the properties formerly in the MGM family, including MGM Grand and NYNY has resigned as planned.

The press release is here:

Unrelated, Harrah's has scheduled an announcement for tomorrow regarding entertainment changes at their resorts in Las Vegas.

August 20, 2007

New Frontier To Be Imploded November 13th

Posted by Hunter

According to our friend Steve Friess of The Strip Podcast, the New Frontier is set to be imploded on November 13th, probably at some ungodly hour of the morning.

It's not public yet (well, I guess it is now) but it sounds like he checked his sources, showing off yet again that he is a real reporter. Come on, Steve - bloggers don't need to FACT CHECK. Heh.

Anyway, discuss below...

August 16, 2007

Strip Walk: August 2007

Posted by Hunter

Welcome to a new semi-regular feature, 'Strip Walk'. These photo updates from the Las Vegas Strip (and other parts of the Valley) have previously been presented by our man in the field, mike_ch. Well, now he's an official part of the crew and we're aiming to get these two you about every other work, time and schedule permitting.

His notes follow after the jump and the photos for this and future walks are here:


August 15, 2007

Book Review: 'Gay Vegas' by Steve Friess

Posted by Hunter

Steve Friess is an award winning Las Vegas-based journalist that regularly writes for the New York Times, USA Today and other national publications... You probably know him as the co-host of one of my favorite podcasts, The Strip. Steve's a great guy and Vegas is lucky to have him.

His new Las Vegas guidebook, 'Gay Vegas' covers Sin City with an emphasis on gay and lesbian travelers, though the tips in here are applicable to anyone visiting Southern Nevada.

Keep reading after the jump for my take on the book and if you want to pick up a copy, this Amazon link is a way to say thanks to us as well:

"Gay Vegas: A Guide To The Other Side of Sin City" (Steve Friess)

August 13, 2007

Wynn Talks Cotai, Encore and More in Interview

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to for pointing us to this interesting interview with Steve Wynn.

He talks about their upcoming Cotai property - he wants to make it the best in the world it seems... Also, some talk on Encore (the casino will look like Macau's, which is pretty much what we all expected) and Las Vegas Sands.

Great interview:

Update: I thought I had a photo of the Wynn Macau casino in my gallery but I looked and couldn't find one. I know I've seen it though - I remember really liking it with the columns and drapes - much more low-key than WLV. Anyone have a link?

A second construction accident in about a week at Fontainebleau, though this time no one was killed, unlike last week. It appears a major collapse in the parking garage area that is under construction has taken place.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

As noted in the RJ and the LVS thread, Palazzo is scheduled to open December 20th, 2007. We'll see if that's a soft opening or what - I have my doubts.

Also, according to the Movable Buffet, Tangerine at Treasure Island will be closing and will be replaced with a new nightlife venue by the end of the year. Tangerine is managed by the Pure Management Group.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

July 27, 2007

The SkyLOFTS Party: July 22-24, 2007

Posted by Mike E

Shortly after my solo trip last March, my friend Jeff and I started talking about what we could do to celebrate his graduation. We decided to go to Vegas (no surprise there) around his birthday to kill two birds with one stone...

(Continue reading after the jump)

July 24, 2007

Elvis Themed Resort for Center Strip?

Posted by Hunter

This land is way too valuable for its current use so this was bound to happen... But an Elvis theme? Puke.

We'll see how much this project changes before it actually hits the drawing board, let alone the concrete machine.

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July 19, 2007

Caesars Palace Adds New Tower: Octavius

Posted by Hunter

We've reported on this in the past so it's not new news, but Harrah's is unveiling the plans for the new tower coming in at Caesars Palace - the Octavius Tower.

The LV Sun has more info:

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July 12, 2007

50 Things You Didn't Know About Las Vegas Clubs

Posted by Hunter

Thanks for Steve and Miles from The Strip Podcast for bringing this to my attention.

Great article from Las Vegas Weekly on '50 Things You Don't Know About Las Vegas Nightclubs'. Some of these I did know and others I did not but either way a great read.

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July 9, 2007 Macau Cotai Strip Update

Posted by Hunter

Welcome to the first in a new series. Thanks to our friends at, we will have some regular news and updates from Las Vegas Sands' replica of the Las Vegas Strip in China.

Continue after the jump for the posting with all the latest Cotai Strip news.

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So, there's another story here on the site that was posted recently about Fontana closing... Well, we've learned that the closing is NOT for good, just for the balance of the year. It will be used for private gaming as other parts of the casino are remodeled... Look for Fontana to return in December 2007.

When it DOES re-open, there will no longer be food served due to the genius of the NV Clean Air Act.

I was just going to update the other story but a few other sites picked up on this and I wanted to make sure they got the updated info as well.

So - that's the story and I'm 100% confident in the sourcing on this one.

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June 20, 2007

Bellagio Closes Fontana Lounge

Posted by Hunter

I have confirmed reports that Bellagio is closing its Fontana Lounge, a small live music/dancing venue overlooking the lake that's been there since the hotel opened in 1998.

Casinos change amenities all the time but this closing is notable because it offered lounge music and a low-key dance environment for slightly older customers, important as most all nightlife is focused on younger patrons and loud, club music.

MGM Mirage hasn't finalized plans for the space, though previously there have been poker tournaments held there and clearly it could be a prime restaurant spot.

Does anyone know of any good alternatives?

Update: See this story for more:

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June 19, 2007

Boyd Breaks Ground on Echelon Place

Posted by Hunter

Boyd Gaming broke ground on Echelon Place, the complex that will sit where the Stardust did for 50 years.

David's got some good coverage and it's also been all over the 'Net today.

You guys excited about Echelon? After seeing Borgata in AC, I can say that Boyd has it in 'em. Could be great.

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Thanks to Dave Schwartz for allowing us to publish his recent Atlantic City trip report.

The report is after the jump and the photos that go with it are here:

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June 11, 2007

Roger Thomas Among Architectural Digest's 100

Posted by Mike E

Roger Thomas, Executive Vice President of Design for Wynn Design and Development, is among Architectural Digest's 100--a list of some of the world's most influential designers.

AD delves deep into his fascinating life and personal residence:

Also, an exclusive feature on Wynn's six Apartment (Atrium) Villas:

Be sure to view the slideshows for both articles (and what should be the fourth slide in the latter article here).

It's refreshing to read articles such as these that focus first and foremost on interior design and the specific companies Wynn D&D commissions for their custom furnishings.

The Mansion has definitely been dethroned for this level of accommodation. We can only wait and see what Palazzo, CityCenter, and Encore have in store.

June 7, 2007

June 2007 Las Vegas Strip Development Update

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to mike_ch who is back with another Las Vegas Strip development/construction update.

The photos are here:

Keep reading after the jump!

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I was in town in May for a few days and I got another peak at the plans for Encore, the addition to Wynn Las Vegas currently being constructed just North of the existing tower.

I've written about this in the past but I wanted to see how things had progressed since the last set of plans. Well, not much has changed since the last round, honestly. Since at this point we've already been privy to the high-rise setup - multi-story suites, a new 'tower suites', the service configuration, the most interesting thing is probably the specifics of the casino and garden area. Unfortunately, this is an area still in flux and provided in least detail.

A couple of notes:

* The 'standard' Encore rooms have a similar configuration to those at Wynn Las Vegas, though they are larger.
* The sub-basement level includes another employee dining area, room service kitchen and other back of house facilities. Fortunately they won't have to run room service from the main WLV room service kitchens which would have had potential for cold food and bad service.
* There is additional valet parking under the new garden/casino space.
* There is a lot of cooking capacity, suggesting maybe ~6 new full size dining outlets and a handful of other smaller facilities (i.e. 6 restaurants and maybe 3-4 places like Sugar and Ice or the coffee shop).

I've also got some new documents to review, such as utilities layouts for the new building and if they shed any new light, I'll update this post.

I posted some photos previously but here they are again: My main camera was busted so I had to use the point and shoot. Hopefully next time I can send some photos from my new iPhone (yes, I'll be in line 6/29 - I love Apple more than I love WLV!)

Update: I have been contacted since this ran by multiple sources that indicate the 'garden' plan, as previously reported, is basically out, with the majority of that space being used for gaming and some dining. There is still some floral areas but more along the lines of what we have at WLV now, nothing grand in scope. This is of course, always developing but I've now got this from two sources, people that have proven credible in the past... We'll see!

Also, on the self-parking, we're hearing that a large portion of the new garage will be new self-park.

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May 31, 2007

Atlantic City Photo Update

Posted by Hunter

We really don't do a lot of Atlantic City coverage - I've only been there one time myself... Not a place that I would want to visit on a regular basis but I had an interesting day there and a great meal at one of Borgata's gourmet rooms.

Borgata itself was impressive - standing in their casino you would be hard pressed to forget you were on the Jersey shore. It feels like a Mandalay Bay-ish type of place.

Anyway, thanks to reader Tom M., for a slew of photo updates:

Some interesting new projects like an expansion at Borgata, plus of course MGM Mirage's possible entry into the market - AC is hopping!

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May 30, 2007

Las Vegas Construction Update - May 2007

Posted by Hunter

Here's some more info on upcoming Las Vegas construction, based off of filings with the county.

THEPlace - The condo development to sit between Mandalay Bay and Luxor is still on track, despite there not being a peep from them since the initial announcement. Some details on the project stats, which will include a rather large 256 square foot water features.

Hard Rock Condos - Nothing really here - just a request for an extension for the new owner to figure out what they want to do.

Cogent? - Anyone know what this is?

New York New York Nightclub - This is finally coming together, with an indoor/outdoor setup.

Fontainebleau - Work continues as they are asking for a batch plant.

Casino Royale - They want to expand the casino in the back with all sorts of new space.

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May 21, 2007

Luxor May 2007 - I'd Rather Stay in a Tent

Posted by Hunter

I'm at Luxor for a convention for a few days - it's been awhile since I've stayed here and I've never been that impressed. Stlll, this place has fallen off even more than how I last remember it. My room smells bad, a bed that looks like it came from a military barracks and not even an in-room safe. Wow - the parking lot is probably more hospitable.

MGM Mirage has a TON of work to do if they want to make this place into any sort of a worthwhile endeavor. Honestly, I'm blown away with how bad this room is. Wow.

May 16, 2007

New Frontier Sold ; Plaza Going In

Posted by Hunter

Sorry guys, I'm sick and haven't gotten this posted until now.

Here's the low-down:

Frontier has sold and it is likely a Plaza hotel is going in its place.

Okay, all sorts of updates for today.

First off, some new construction photos from Brian Fey - Encore, Palazzo, etc.. - these are really coming together! - Thanks Brian!!

One photo that got special mention is this Encore shot:

People have been asking what this is.... Well, the plans I saw put the garden area right in that space - this looks to me like an advanced watering system. My guess is that these gardens are special - some kind of 'hook' or feature built into this attraction to make this more interesting than plants in the (fake) ground.

[Ed: Looks like this was even more basic than what we thought. Since we posted this I've been asking around and it sounds like this is based off the data network for the slot machines in the casino portion. Apparently the added casino space has encroached on the garden area and that explains the location... So - more casino, less garden = no story.]

[Ed (again): Looks like VT&T confirms this.]

MGM Grand wants to build another convention center adjacent to their existing facility.

Trump Las Vegas wants to change their floor numbering. This one is funny since it shows how these numbers are totally manipulated for marketing purposes.

Fun with parking at the Cosmo site.

Las Vegas Sands wants to add a pedestrian bridge to the back side of the Sands Expo Center.

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Well, construction is on going at the Fontainebleau site, even though they have yet to really announce anything.

site plan shows some of the features of the new casino, including a zen garden - no doubt Schaeffer's contribution as he is into that stuff pretty heavily.

This project will be one to watch, no doubt.

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May 5, 2007

Macau Casino Update: April 2007

Posted by Hunter

A big thank you to Drambuie Man for sending in a new report and photos from Macau.

I asked for some more photos of Wynn Macau and the Venetian and we got some good coverage. I can't wait to get out there and see this stuff myself.

The report is after the jump...

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May 5, 2007

Tropicana Brand

Posted by detroit1051

David McKee has his edge back. He discusses Columbia Sussex's adoption of the Tropicana brand for its casino properties. There is a link to's rendering of the proposed Tropicana expansion on the Strip. It's dated April, but I must have missed it.
"Columbia Sussex Does Something Right"

May 4, 2007

Reader Report: Bellagio April 2007

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Aaron_B for providing this write up and photos from his recent trip to Bellagio.

His report follows after the jump and the photos, available at the link below, show off some of the recent construction work. You'll also see some comments on the new car rental facility at LAS.

Thanks Aaron!!

Quick note on the balustrade damage: I remember seeing some of that way back in May 1999, just after opening. I looked out my window and was surprised that it was already cracked.

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April 30, 2007

New Macau Photos Available - Construction Updates!

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to Brian and everyone else that submitted this to me.

Just a quick post to direct people to some new photos posted at SkyScraper City that cover all the recent construction activity in Macau. Great to see these projects moving along, especially the hotel at the Sands - Sheldy quietly hedging his Cotai bet.

Also, Drambuie Man is back in Macau and will be sharing more photos when he returns - thanks again!

The New York Times has an interesting article that covers the upcoming growth spurt in Las Vegas. A lot of general info for a mass audience but I did think the quote from Wynn indicating that this was the 'most over the top' expansion so far was interesting.

Is this a bigger game changer than milestones like the International, MGM Grand #1, The Mirage, and then Bellagio?

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April 20, 2007

MGM Mirage's Project City Center Steaming Ahead

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage put out a press release today updating folks on City Center's progress.

I've heard a lot of chatter from insiders about the project and from all accounts it is coming along quite nicely - MGM Mirage executives are very pleased with their progress. Of course, recent photos show the main hotel is really taking shape.

There's also news on some budget changes to the project - nothing significant and entirely expected for a development in this stage and of this scope. MGM Mirage is also putting pressure on sub-contractors to reduce some project costs and budgets and without that, the price would have gone up more than they are indicating here.

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Here comes mike_ch's Las Vegas construction update April 2007. This one covers Paris, Planet Hollywood/Aladdin, Bellagio, City Center, NYNY, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay and Luxor.

Thanks again to him for providing this stuff.

Photos are located here:

There are also some new videos, located here:

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April 16, 2007

Venetian Macau Interior Construction Shots

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to Brian Fey who pointed out this link that includes some interior shots of Venetian Macau, opening in just a few short months.

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Well, after years of transition, the failed 'new' Aladdin will be gone for good this week as OpBiz representatives welcome a converted Planet Hollywood to the world's most famous resort corridor. have taken to calling the place 'Planet Ho!' or 'P-Ho!', both of which I find quite appropriate, given the very high 'lameness quotient' of the property.

Will the place pull it off this time around? I can at least say that the changes they have made have improved their chances that things will be different this time around. The Strip frontage access has been improved and the huge video screens could be kind of interesting, depending on how they are used.

For years the Aladdin was a cheap room - a Center Strip room with below market prices as it struggled to keep its head above water. The rates are rising and that means that the casino and other amenities are going to have to carry the weight of those increased rates.

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A short set of quick updates.

The Silverton, Ed Roski's joint on the I-15 on the way into town, is plotting a massive (by Silverton standards) expansion with new, high-end hotel rooms along with shopping, casino and entertainment space. They hope to compete with Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch.

Next up is the Imperial Palace. A non-union shop for years, the Culinary is considering trying to organize there as it seems Harrah's may keep the place open longer than everyone expected:

Lastly, a story on an association of small, independent casino owners. I just thought this story was kinda interesting.

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From the agenda of Clark County planners, we have some insight into future projects. Here goes:

City Center - Not much, just a slight increase in the height of the towers from 543 feet to 580 feet. The FAA signed off and MGM is stating that they need the space for stuff like elevators and if residents want to put stuff on the roof (I assume satellite dishes, etc...). Also, the retail component is being increased from 650,000 square feet to 666,870 square feet. One interesting note is that Bellagio's holding company, Bellagio LLC, is the applicant - surely they have new holding companies for City Center - I would assume at least one per development for legal and financial reasons.

Wynn Las Vegas - Again, nothing major. They want to build a walkway from their Sands Ave. parking to the back of house area of the hotel, just for employees. The walkway does intersect with the monorail and the request states they will install a 'protective roof plate' to prevent falling debris hitting anyone. Ha.

Fontainebleau - Some details on the project, which is in review. The tower will be 735 feet high with 2,880 hotel rooms and 1,020 condos with kitchens. The tower sites on a low-rise podium with heights that vary from 81 feet (LVB side) to 175 feet on the convention center side on the back. Other than that, the details are few. They do have a batch plant on site at this time.

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A few quick sound-bites:

A Gaming Today story on the upgrades at the Golden Nugget details the recent changes. I've seen some of this stuff and it is pretty nice. They did a good job down there.

MGM Mirage's sale of their Primm, NV assets to Herbst Gaming is complete.

Lastly, it looks like the NBA All Star Weekend was a bust from a gaming perspective. Thankfully, baccarat action from Chinese New Year saved the day.

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April 10, 2007

Cosmopolitan Rises Above Ground

Posted by Hunter

After what seemed like an endless amount of excavation, the Cosmopolitan has risen above ground!

The resort/condo/casino is going up between Bellagio and City Center on the Las Vegas Strip.

A piece in the RJ:

Also, I had these renderings sent to me a few months ago but was forbidden from sharing... Well, now they are on a public site so here goes: (thanks Mike).

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April 7, 2007

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #15 - April 6, 2007

Posted by Hunter

We're back after a few weeks off and this time I'm joined in the studio by two friends, Carter and Kevin.

Discussion includes Harrah's buyout, Macau updates, CityCenter and more, plus some oh so witty banter and a call from Mike E.


Here's the link to all the most recent photos:

A reminder - feel free to call in and leave us a message about anything Las Vegas or Web site related. The call in number is: 702-508-4232.

Direct RSS:

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April 4, 2007

City Center: Visiting the Sales Pavilion

Posted by Hunter

We all know the base genetics of MGM Mirage's City Center development - a mixed use project across 76 acres on a prime piece of Las Vegas Strip real estate. Multiple hotels, gaming, restaurants, retail and condos all coming together in an effort to master plan an miniature city.

The construction cranes are crawling over the property and the 4,000 room hotel/casino that will anchor site is up beyond the 11th floor. A live Web cam of the construction is on the official Web site. Also, MGM MIRAGE provided me with some photos and renderings of the project. Some may be familiar and others new.

I was able to tour the sales pavilion that has been a key tool in allowing MGM Mirage to almost completely sell out one of their condo developments (The Residences at Mandarin Oriental). Along with the tour some questions were answered about some of the other components of the project.

Keep reading after the jump for some more thoughts on what I saw.

online casino games

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April 3, 2007

Milam's Las Vegas Tower on Life Support?

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to 'Redneck' for sending this info in. The 1,888 foot 'Las Vegas Tower' project, proposed for construction on the former 'Wet N' Wild' site near the Sahara may be dead. The developer, Christopher Milam, missed a $40 million payment to the landowner, Archon Corp., this past weekend.

For a developer working on a $4.8 billion project to miss a $40 million payment isn't a good sign for the project. For the property owner not to boot them and find someone else isn't a good sign for the demand for that land (at least at the prices they want). The $40 million payment has had it's due date extended to May 31, 2007 - this is the third time the date has been moved and each time LVTI pays about $250,000 for the option so they actually are putting some cash in but things still look shaky at best.

Anyone have any more info on this? I know the debate has raged on the particulars of the building but that's moot if no cash is devoted to continue development.

The section from the 8-K filed with the SEC appears after the jump...

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Some quick updates this afternoon...

First off, Mandalay Bay announced upgrades to their pool complex. They spent $30 million to expand the area with the cornerstone of the upgrade being an outdoor-yet-climate-controlled, three story casino featuring glass walls. The casino will feature blackjack, craps and roulette. Beach attire is encouraged - no dressing up required.

To top it off, the third story will include 'Villa Soleil', a set of top of the line villa-like beach cabanas designed for up to 16 guests and 500 square feet. These will cost as much as a whopping $2,000 per day! Mandalay also claims to have doubled the number of available chairs at the pool.

Regarding Monte Carlo, we already knew they were building Diablo’s Cantina to offer dining on the Strip. What's interesting about the official announcement is that MGM MIRAGE alludes to future upgrades coming to Monte Carlo. Looks like that they are going to be spending some money there, at least in the short term. According to the press release, the restaurant is described as follows:

"The first floor will incorporate the main dining area with a hip bar and lounge. Guests will be able to enter from a Strip-front entrance that will feature a walk-up frozen/specialty drink bar, or through the casino. The second floor will include an open-air center bar area and stage for live music, rotating entertainment acts and weekend DJs. The patio will be a perfect setting for carefree fun in the sun or under the desert moon."

In other news, Fontainebleau applied with the county to increase the number of condos on the site from about 950 to just over 1,000. The space will come from a reduced number of hotel rooms - 2,880. The total number of units between the two types will be about 3,900.

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Thanks to Drambuie_Man, we have a major set of new Macau photos that highlight the construction of the MGM Grand Macau, Venetian Macau and others. He was also kind enough to write up his report, which you will find after the jump.

The photos are located here:

Huge thanks go out to Drambuie_Man for taking and sharing these photos with us. He attached some notes to the photos which I have distilled and included here after the jump. I highly suggest that you give these a read along with the photos to get a better sense of context.

Here goes...

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Downtown isn't the magnet for development dollars that the Las Vegas Strip is, though that said, Landry's have been pouring money into the Golden Nugget.

Well, the Four Queens is getting upgrades as well - beyond just the nightclub we previously discussed.

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I recently spent a weekend in Las Vegas. My stated purpose was a friend's wedding but I managed to get in a few other activities for the benefit of you fine people.

Here you will read about Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, Palazzo, The Mirage, Spamalot, Luxor and more.

Also, I uploaded a couple hundred new photos:

Some more info after the jump...

March 19, 2007

New Frontier Sold for $1.5 BILLION?

Posted by Hunter

Has the New Frontier been sold? According to a tip submitted in one of our comments by regular poster LStern, it seems as if this may be the case.

According to this article, the purchase price could have been as high as $1.5 billion - $40 million an acre!

This hopefully means the end of the Montreaux project that was slated for the site - it was a horrific take on Bellagio's design with all sorts of bizarre design choices.

Anyway, we'll update you as we learn more.

Update: Whoops. Forgot to post the link (thanks Tim).

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March 14, 2007

mike_ch Construction Update: March 2007

Posted by Hunter

Another construction update from mike_ch. This one covers Paris, Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon, The Venetian, Encore, Palazzo, Stardust (RIP), Frontier, Bellagio, Planet Aladdin, and Luxor.

Thanks again to him for providing this stuff.

Photos are located here:

Also, we've got new VIDEOS! You can watch them here (goes from most recent to older):

I'll be in Vegas this weekend to see Spamalot, take some photos, tour the CityCenter sales pavilion and attend wedding (not in that order).

March 8, 2007

Las Vegas Sands Upgrades The Venetian Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

Well, we knew this was coming but finally a press release... Las Vegas Sands is spending $100 million to upgrade the rooms in The Venetian to the standard they are setting with their new Palazzo resort being constructed next door.

The upgraded rooms will retain the existing sunken living configuration but include automatic drapes and other amenities.

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Drambuie_Man is heading to Macau and has offered to take questions in advance for those of us that haven't been or can't get to the other side of the world on a regular basis. I'm lucky to have several folks in the area that have been very generous with their time and this is another example of that.

His comments are after the jump and feel free to litter the comments with requests. Also, if you are in Macau or nearby and want to hang out, email me at and I'll make mutual contact.

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According to filings with Clark County zoning, Boyd Gaming has updated their master plan for Echelon Place to include 1,000 more rooms than previously approved. In addition, the 1,000 condo/hotel rooms in the original plan have been jettisoned.

The plan now includes 5,280 rooms with some featuring kitchens. The site is still split into multiple towers, housing the various hotel components they have planned.

For development geeks, the filing is here:

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February 27, 2007

Mike_ch's February Las Vegas Strip Construction Update

Posted by Hunter

Thanks again to Mike_ch who is kind enough to share his updates and thoughts on what's going on down on the Las Vegas Strip.

This one covers the Stardust, Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, The Venetian, Palazzo, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Planet Aladdin, and more.

Photos are located here:

Keep reading after the jump for the report.

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February 21, 2007

Wynn Las Vegas Restyles 'Le Reve' Theater

Posted by Hunter

'Le Reve' is the Franco Dragone show that opened Wynn Las Vegas. It stumbled a bit out of the gate but seems to have found its footing as tickets are now selling at a normal pace.

Wynn Resorts purchased the remaining 'Le Reve' assets from Dragone last year with the intent of making some changes. Today they announced the theater itself is being remade a bit.

In a press release on their Web site, Wynn Resorts detail some of the changes, including warmer colors.

The show will be dark in March while these changes are implemented.

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February 21, 2007

Boyd Gaming Posts Larger Than Expected Profit

Posted by Hunter

Boyd Gaming posted some nice results yesterday:

Boyd is building Echelon Place in Las Vegas on the site of the Stardust, which is set to come down in mid-March. Their joint venture in Atlantic City with MGM MIRAGE, Borgata, has many folks believing that Echelon is a project to watch and their Las Vegas opening will be a bigger splash than some have predicted.

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February 13, 2007

Wynn Las Vegas to Add Additional 'Atrium' Villas

Posted by Hunter

Wynn Las Vegas will add four new villas to the South side of the hotel, near the existing atrium villas on the pool side of the building.

Two of the villas have four bedrooms and the other two have three. All have media rooms, massage areas, spas and outdoor space with gardens and pools. They will be very similar to the existing atrium villas.

Adding these villas will require some of the landscaping in the South Tower area to be removed and reconfigured. Plans show another entrance from the street level as well.

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MGM Mirage added a few press releases over the past couple of days detailing some upcoming plans.

First off is a new community in Jean, NV - just outside of Las Vegas. Currently they operate the Gold Strike and Nevada Landing. The latter will close and operations will be consolidated into the Gold Strike as a new casino hotel is developed, along with residential, retail and other mixed uses. What makes Jean interesting is the possibility of a new airport there at Ivanpah, serving Las Vegas's freight needs in the near term and international travel over the next ten years or so. With a monorail extension, this area could start to really hum.

Second on MGM Mirage's plate is brief announcement that their Macau partnership with Pansy Ho will build a resort on Cotai in that region. They don't specify the parcel other than to refer to it as a 'prime identified site'.

The other story of the day I thought was interesting is coming out of the Harrah's LBO. It's been revealed that part of the financing will come from Harrah's own assets. I find this fascinating and I am considering taking Wynn Resorts private by borrowing against their properties - can I do that? :-)

More on the Harrah's setup from the always excellent Business Press.

Lastly, a quick mention that high end condos aren't selling quite as fast as some thought.

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Here's the latest podcast and it's a good one. This episode features an interview with Tim and Michelle from Five Hundy By Midnight as well as spots on Las Vegas Sands and the new Tropicana.

A reminder - feel free to call in and leave us a message about anything Las Vegas or Web site related. The call in number is: 702-508-4232.

Direct RSS:

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The Palazzo is rising between Wynn Las Vegas and The Venetian and despite being a $1.5 billion project, it's not been getting a lot of press.

Well, the VegasEye has some new info on Palazzo in today's edition.

They report that TV chef Mario Batali is set to open TWO eateries in the new complex and it will feature a dress-down nightclub/lounge called 'Rocket'.

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January 30, 2007

Kerzner and/or Harrah's Working on UK Casinos?

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to David for this tip...

An interesting article on mega-casinos in the UK, this one in Manchester:

Also, this from the LV Business Press:

I know David has some insight into UK gaming law - hopefully he'll share in the comments.

Update: The LV Biz Press link may not be accurate/up to date.

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Today's newspapers have some interesting stories.

First off is the Sun with an article on Bobby Baldwin and the CityCenter plan. Some of the water and special features are alluded to here. A very interesting article. From this piece I can't help but think that pretty soon there will be way too many interesting resorts to really see Las Vegas in a single weekend anymore... if you can even do that still today.

Second is an article on implosion prep for the Stardust:

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January 20, 2007

Wynn Resorts Mulls Las Vegas Golf Course Plans

Posted by Hunter

We've discussed this in other threads but I thought it would be worthwhile to extract it out and focus the attention on 'The Vegas'.

The LV Biz Press has a blog entry on Wynn Resorts' activity in combining the parcels that make up the golf course into a set of properly zoned properties.

Is the golf course going to be re-developed sooner rather than later?

Update: In a recent interview on the Strip Podcast, Steve Wynn explains that this move was partially done due to the golf course being released from the mortgage collateral for the hotel.

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January 19, 2007

Project CityCenter Sales Pavilion

Posted by Hunter

** I was originally scheduled to do a tour of the City Center Sales Pavilion this weekend. Unfortunately something has come up and I will be in California instead. Anyway, here's some info I got on PCC from MGM MIRAGE and I will re-schedule my tour. **

MGM MIRAGE opened the Project CityCenter Sales Pavilion in early January to showcase the various features of their $7 billion project. The center features models of several of the condo units, incorporating state-of-the-art technology to give prospective buyers an immersive experience.

The Pavilion is open daily, 10am - 7pm. Appointments are preferred but according to MGM MIRAGE staffers serious prospects can often be squeezed in. More info, direct from MGM MIRAGE, on the various units follows.

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January 16, 2007

Hotel and Casino Observations from Macau: January 2007

Posted by Hunter

Thanks again to Chris, our friend in Hong Kong, who checks in frequently with new info on progress in Macau. Keep reading after the jump to get the latest on everyone's favorite S.A.R.

Updates on the Sands, Galaxy, Cotai, the condo market and more.

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January 13, 2007

Luxor To Change Name? 'The Pyramid'?

Posted by Hunter

Saw this one on Robin Leach's 'blog' on Vegas celebrity gossip topics and it's interesting.

The idea is that Luxor's name would change to 'The Pyramid' about halfway through the year when they open their new nightlife operations.

Robin's take on the Luxor name is here.

I know MGM MIRAGE is eager to re-make Luxor in the public's eye as it is seen as having languished under previous management. Still, this would be a big move. I'd be more inclined to see a marketing campaign around 'Luxor: The Pyramid' rather than dropping the former moniker altogether.

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Howdy folks! As a quick aside, I meant to do a podcast tonight but it didn't happen - sorry!! I'm shooting for the weekend and from then on, probably every 7-10 days. Thank you for being patient. There's clearly a lot to about.

I am planning on being in Las Vegas at the end the month, just for a weekend, to tour and document the progress at CityCenter's preview center - thanks to MGM MIRAGE for any access. From what I'm told, the preview center is amazing - I look forward to sharing with everyone... Expect photos to follow.

Regarding Wynn Macau, their 'Diamond Suites' project, located on the property edge near the future MGM Grand (with its neat/original curtain wall design), is a new hotel tower with the aim to up their room inventory as the company also looks into possibilities on Cotai Originally, Wynn Macau had something akin to a phase '1b', which was supposed to expand the casino floor, add a showroom and a new 'front feature', all to open in early 2007. This front feature is some kind of special effects room that Wynn says will 'blow us all away'.

Given that the public spaces are now going to be more aligned with the 'Diamond Suites' areas, they have been delayed until later this year. The 'Diamond Suites' tower is still 18 to 25 months out, though no specific dates have been announced. Some of the new tables and slots will open for the celebration of Chinese New Year, which is also coming to Las Vegas in a few weeks.

Ok, and last, MGM MIRAGE has new renderings of both CityCenter and MGM Grand Macau in their latest financial presentation. Very interesting shots that really show how the new buildings will interact with each and specifically "NOT" interact with neighbors.

MGM Mirage Financial Presentation 1/2007

I realize this was long winded - sorry. I hope everyone is doing well. Photos will follow in this space.

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The second phase of the hotel tower project at Red Rock Resort has recently been completed. The new expansion brings the total room count at Red Rock to over 800.

Originally opening in April 2006 with just over 400 rooms, this second phase is a welcome addition to the first $1 billion resort to be opened off the Strip in Las Vegas.

In addition, Fortune Magazine named owner Station Casinos as one of the '100 Best Companies to Work For' in their annual survey.

For those that haven't seen Red Rock, it is a pretty amazing property that seems to fit well with its surrounding area.

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Thanks to my friend Chris in Hong Kong, we have a few new shots of development progress for several Macau projects.


Wynn Macau / MGM Grand Macau
Venetian Macau
Grand Lisboa

Thanks Chris! Looks like some of these projects are really coming together and by this time next year, all of the above should be operating (and hopefully I will have reported my personal experience in at least a few of them!)

Happy New Year to all. Another great year of growth on this blog and I hope that 2007 will be even bigger.

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December 26, 2006

Tropicana Las Vegas Plans Disclosed

Posted by Hunter

We've now got some more detail on what new owner Columbia Sussex plans to do with the Tropicana site in Las Vegas.

The two larger towers and the showroom will remain, though be re-worked. They will join several new towers that contain a boatload of new hotel rooms It's certainly going to be a large complex.

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December 19, 2006

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #11 - December 19th, 2006

Posted by Hunter

I'm finally back with another podcast! This time around I'm talking about my recent trip to Bellagio (which includes meeting up with several readers/listeners and author Dave Schwartz) as well as the big news of the day - Harrah's going private! On top of that I catch up with a few news stories from the last two weeks. Enjoy!!

Here is the link to the photos mentioned in the podcast:

A reminder - feel free to call in and leave us a message about anything Las Vegas or Web site related. The call in number is: 702-508-4232.

Direct RSS:

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Some quick hits on upcoming development projects in Las Vegas from the Sun.

* Some discussion on Caesars Palace and the Roman Forum / new tower development.

* The Harrah's Center Strip project is still under wraps, likely delayed due to the potential private equity take-over of the company. This potentially includes the re-development of Bally's, Imperial Palace, Harrah's Las Vegas and the Flamingo, with varying degrees of severity.

* Echelon Place is moving along.

* Station has plans for Durango Station some day.

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December 3, 2006

Wynn Resorts Plans to Re-Work Lure Ultra Lounge

Posted by Hunter

It's a slow news today on this Sunday but one interesting tidbit about Lure, the ultra-lounge at Wynn Las Vegas.

Lure has never been a great performer, despite the room being very pretty with a cool outdoor area. Sounds like it will get a facelift and a new name, along with a new marketing campaign early next year:

Thanks to John for submitting this.

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November 30, 2006

Video Round Up: Hilton Sky Villas / MGM Grand Mansion

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to David at Die Is Cast for the link to this video of the Hilton Sky Villas:

They were once the nicest digs in town and they still ain't too shabby.

And, thanks to Mike E., here's the link to some video of the Mansion at MGM Grand, arguably the current 'nicest' spot on the Strip:

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Well, no big surprise here... It seems the outdoor 'Roman Forum' area at Caesars Palace is a terrible use of space given it is never used for anything significant.

Harrah's will build more casino, retail and back of house space in that part of the property and then also build a new hotel tower in the southwest corner of the property.

The new tower will be 29 stories and have over 1,000 rooms.

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November 26, 2006

Roll The Bones by David Schwartz - Book Review

Posted by Hunter

Roll The Bones is a new book by Dr. David Schwartz, the director of the Center for Gambling Studies at UNLV. His blog, is a great source for gambling information and news along with the ever-popular casino carpet gallery.

Dave has written several gambling related books in the past, including Suburban Xanadu, a study of the casino resort's evolution (this book features an in-depth look at Martin Stern, Jr., who's work we have mentioned several times in the past here on this site) and Cutting The Wire, a look at the Wire Act and Internet gambling.

You can buy this book here (and it supports this site in a small way): Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Keep reading after the jump...

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This podcast includes some audio clips from my recent trip to Las Vegas. I talk about construction on Encore, CityCenter, Palazzo, Aladdin and more. Also, some special guests including Tim and Michelle from Five Hundy By Midnight and loyal contributor Mike E. We listen to a few messages from listeners (thanks for the theme song!) and even find some time to talk Vegas news.

Here is the link to the photos mentioned in the podcast:

A reminder - feel free to call in and leave us a message about anything Las Vegas or Web site related. The call in number is: 702-508-4232.

Direct RSS:

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November 22, 2006

Bellagio, November 19-21

Posted by Mike E

I had a nice two-night trip with the parents recently. Rather than give a full play-by-play as I usually do, I just thought I�d throw out some thoughts, highlights, and even some not-so-pleasant times.

I was over at Bellagio this trip. After eight stays at Wynn and having not stayed at Bellagio in six years, I was definitely due to give Wynn�s closest competitor another shot. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I�ll be making natural comparisons to Wynn LV here and there. In short, Bellagio impressed me in ways I had forgotten, but Wynn will remain my home.

(more after the jump)

I spent some time in Las Vegas this weekend (actually, a little more time than I had planned) and I wanted to report on my trip.

First off, I have posted construction photos of Encore, City Center, Bellagio renovations, Aladdin/Planet Hollywood, The Mirage (Japonais and Revolution), The Palazzo, and the pit that will become the Cosmopolitan.

I got to meet with a few readers/listeners, fellow podcasters and friends. I had a short chat with Elaine Wynn who is a real class act.

The photos are posted at this link, plus they are also in their respective categories:

More after the jump...

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November 13, 2006

Mike's Construction (Mini) Update

Posted by Hunter

Another update from Mike on the construction situation. No photos this time but still some good info on Mandalay, Luxor, Excalibur, MGM Grand, Wynn and Stardust.

Keep reading after the jump for the details.

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This time around we spend most of the podcast talking about Las Vegas nightclubs, specifically which ones are popular right now, what it takes to get in, all about 'bottle service' and other useful info for those folks that are interested in the clubs but maybe haven't yet taken the plunge.

I was lucky enough to get Mike E. on the show to fill in the holes in my knowledge - while I have visited a few of these places, they really aren't 100% my thing. Mike did great and I wanted to thank him again for helping out.

Ok, I hope you guys enjoy the podcast, this one is another long one at just about one hour.

A reminder - feel free to call in and leave us a message about anything Las Vegas or Web site related. The call in number is: 702-508-4232.

Direct RSS:

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November 9, 2006

Tower Suites at Wynn Las Vegas Achieves Mobil 5-Star

Posted by Hunter

This was mentioned in the comments but this is a big deal so I'm doing a full story.

There are no other Mobil 5-Star hotels in Las Vegas and only two restaurants (Alex and Robuchon).

Since this is sure to be controversial with our readers, let the arguing begin! It should be noted that there were several 4-star ratings, including Bellagio, the remainder of Wynn Las Vegas, the Four Seasons, The Venetian, and the Ritz Carlton at Lake Las Vegas.

The R-J Chimes In:

The Sun's Take:

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Wynn Resorts Ltd. reported their third quarter 2006 results today. This was an important quarter for the company as it included the first, albeit small, amount of operations from their second property, Wynn Macau. Also, a large one-time gain from the sale of a Macau sub-concession to PBL put a nice bit of cash into their pockets.

Net revenues for the quarter were $318.1 million. This is up 26.5% from the same quarter in the prior year. Net income for the quarter was $715.7 million but most of that is the one-time event related to the sub-concession.

The net loss has been reduced from $2.2 million last quarter to $1.3 million this quarter. EBITDA was $79.6 million, up 8.7%. I don't have the analysts jive in front of me but I think this is pretty close to what they were predicting.

Wynn Macau, operating for 25 days this quarter, generated net revenues of $45 million and EBITDA of $2.3 million, 81% of which came from table game play. ADR at Wynn Macau was 75.9% and non casino revenues were $4.9 million.

The conference call at 3pm will be on the Web site and we'll be talking in the chat room, which is located here.

For a breakdown of Wynn's results:

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In this latest edition of the podcast, we cover a lot of ground, literally!

First up, here's a warning - this podcast is AN HOUR long. Sorry it is so long but there's a lot in here and I looked at cutting something but I decided that I simply didn't want to and thus here we are.

The notes are after the jump. As always, recent photos are here:

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My friend Matt had called me about two weeks ago asking what my plans were on Halloween night. Matt�s one of the coolest people I know. He works at Wynn and we naturally hit it off because I loved picking his brain about the hotel business, the nitty-gritty of the hotels he�s worked in, etc. Good stuff.

As it has always been throughout my teenage years and into adult-hood, I was expecting a mighty fun Halloween filled with studying, sleep, and downright depression thinking I was the only one at home without an invitation to a party. Well, maybe the invitation Matt gave me was make-up for those years and years of crappy Halloweens. His plans: costume party in NTS Limo�s �Goliath� (the largest limo in Vegas) that would later spill into a two-bedroom, 3200 square foot Skyloft. Booze, girls, the works...

(more after the jump)

Thanks to mike_ch for another set of construction updates from the field!

This time around we get info on Encore, Aladdin/Planet Hollywood, Palazzo, Bellagio, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Treasure Island and the last day of the Stardust!

Thanks again to Mike for providing this stuff.

The photos are up in their respective categories but to see all recent photos:

Regarding his question below about The Mirage, they have partnered with the Los Angeles Lakers to be their official Las Vegas hotel. Oh, and by the way Mike, that picture of Bellagio's front desk office - I've always thought that was a great space. Nice shot.

Okay, Mike's update is after the jump.

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This Wall Street Journal article (presented via Yahoo! - I hope that means you can read it w/o a subscription!) talks about how construction costs in the Valley have been rising and how that impacts costs for the big gaming operators, both those with projects going and those with stuff on the drawing board.

Wall Street Journal via Yahoo! (free!)

If that doesn't work, here's the original WSJ link (subscription required):

Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

October 31, 2006

Las Vegas Developer 'Eighth Wonder' Talks Singapore

Posted by Hunter

A Las Vegas based casino developer has unveiled plans for the second site that the government of Singapore has up for bids (the first site went to Las Vegas Sands).

Based on a WSJ report, the plan sounds absolutely massive, both in terms of the number of buildings in the project and the number of partners they have signed on. Everyone from Vera Wang to Pelé to the grandson of Jacques Cousteau and a former Universal Studios cofounder are involved (and that's just part of the list - it almost sounds like a joke).

Supposedly the bid for the project valued at US$3.5 billion and will include 10 hotels with 2,100 rooms, a 7,500 seat theater that is inside the carter of a fake volcano, and 35 rides in an amusement park. Guess what they will call his amazing hodge-podge of random items? Well of course there is only one logical name: Harry's Island.

Anyway, this proposal seems more like a kitchen sink development plan than a well thought out master plan.

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October 27, 2006

Las Vegas Construction Update: 10/27/2006

Posted by Hunter

You guys have probably seen Mike's construction updates in the past. Well, we're turning them into a front page story as they are available... Thanks to Mike from all of us for providing this info and taking time out of his day to do this.

The body is after the jump but he's covering the following:

Wynn Las Vegas and Encore

Photos are linked and are posted to the galleries. The most recent RV photos can always be found here:

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October 25, 2006

Wynn and Trump to Team Up in Atlantic City (Updated)

Posted by Hunter

Is Steve Wynn coming back to Atlantic City and is he working with former arch-rival Donald Trump to make it happen?

This has been reported a few places today (including via our listener line - thanks Brian)!

The rumor is that Steve Wynn and Donald Trump are considering some kind of deal to bring Wynn back to AC on the site of Trump Plaza. That could mean a joint venture, Wynn Resorts purchasing the land outright, or nothing at all.

Nothing concrete on this topic but let's open it up for discussion. Thoughts?

Updated: This is gaining more ground:

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October 22, 2006

BOOK: Roll The Bones: The History of Gambling

Posted by Hunter

I got my review copy of Dave Schwartz's new book, "Roll The Bones" today and I've started to read it. Dave is a friend of mine and I feel lucky to call him that. He's the number one gambling historian and author of several books. He works at UNLV as the Director of the Center for Gaming Research. His Web site is located here, which we are now proudly hosting for him:

A full review will follow when I'm done but so far, it's great. Anyone that's seriously interested in gambling should buy this book right now.

The link below is from and not only do you get the book for a great price, but we get a small cut of the proceeds, so you are supporting the site and getting what so far seems like a great book.

Ok, here goes: Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling


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The latest edition of The Strip Podcast features bits of an interview with Steve Wynn mostly related to Macau and the opening of his first venture there last month. If you haven't listened, it's an interesting companion bit to the Sheldon Adelson piece from a few weeks back.

From the interview and others like it, we know that Steve Wynn believes that while development on the so-called 'Cotai Strip' will at some point down the road bear fruit, he thinks that time is 5-7 years off when the area is more built out. Wynn Resorts purchased land on the Cotai Strip and plans to develop up to three hotels there. Wynn's been clear that he thinks Cotai will be great, just not in the next couple of years.

Adelson's position is a bit different. He's currently constructing the first Cotai property, the Venetian Macau. When it opens in 2007, it will at first sit all by itself out there, though it is designed to be a fully integrated resort and will offer a wide array of facilities, much as the Venetian in Las Vegas does today.

I'm not asking if Cotai is a good idea or not - everyone agrees that Cotai is likely the long-term future of Macau. What I'm asking is if this is the right time or if Cotai will have a slow start until more of the planned hotels are on-line...

Will Adelson have to wait until 2010 or 2012 to reap the benefits and is Las Vegas Sands making a mistake to not massively expand the Sands hotel component along with these other projects?

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October 17, 2006

Flamingo Las Vegas Room Renovations Underway

Posted by Hunter

The Flamingo in Las Vegas, now part of the Harrah's empire, has started renovating its rooms with a new color scheme aiming to be hip and modern.

Don Marrandino, formerly of the Hard Rock (and a brief stint at a pre-opened Wynn Las Vegas), is running the joint these days and he's certainly trying to infuse his style and understanding of hipper market into the Flamingo.

We had the advance info on this upgrade a few months ago but now we have photos of the rooms that are already done. The project is set to take about a year and so far is off to a slow start with only about sixty rooms converted.


Here's the LV Sun article talking about the project:

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October 10, 2006

LA Times on Macau and a New Rendering of City Center

Posted by Hunter

First up, I tracked down this image that is a rendering of CityCenter - looks more recent than most:

City Center Rendering - Oct. 2006

On an unrelated topic, the LA Times ran a story on Macau that is interesting, though not a lot of new ground:,0,319698,full.story?coll=la-home-travel

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Yes, that's two podcasts in a week... I have posted the fourth RateVegas podcast and this episode has an international bent.

I discuss the basics of Macau along with the info about Wynn Macau opening in early September. I also talk about Harrah's pulling out of competition for the second casino site in Singapore as well as our potential nomination for a "Trippie" award.

On top of all of that, we now have a listener line where you guys can call in to get a message read on the air. The number is: 702-508-4232. Go ahead and call us anytime, from the field in Las Vegas or otherwise.

To listen to the podcast, we have a few options:

Direct RSS:

Click on after the jump to listen to the podcast right here on the Web site.

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October 6, 2006

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #3 Posted

Posted by Hunter

I posted a new podcast that I recorded last night.

In this episode I talk more about Harrah's and the Barbary Coast, dig into Sheldon Adelson, and look back at the changes at The Mirage.

You can get the podcast a few ways:

If you use iTunes:

If you don't, the direct feed link is:

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October 6, 2006

Harrah's Scraps Singapore Plan

Posted by Hunter

Looks like we have our first casualty of the pending Harrah's buyout offer - the company has decided not to compete for the second casino to be built in Singapore (the first went to Las Vegas Sands).

Harrah's Won't Compete for Singapore

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September 24, 2006

Rumble Gets Louder on Harrah's Las Vegas Strip Plans

Posted by Hunter

An official announcement may be getting closer as the news reports start to be coming on a more regular basis. From what we read, the project's scope has expanded and thus we probably won't hear the details this month as expected.

The gist is the same - Harrah's is going to use the property they have on the Strip, combined with some acquisitions, to create a loosely integrated resort complex that retains the individual brands but still sits under a cohesive umbrella. How lose will the integration be? We don't know yet but that will be an interesting component.

What do you guys think? CityCenter is obviously a massive development but this could be bigger? The project would certainly be disruptive and likely undertaken in stages to mitigate the risk to Harrah's cash flow.

More details:
Las Vegas Sun - Jeff Simpson
LVRJ - Inside Gaming

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September 19, 2006

Harrah's Plans on Blowing Up Half of Las Vegas?

Posted by Hunter

ChuckMonster at is running a story about Harrah's plans for its Strip properties.

According to this story, Bally's, the IP and Harrah's all get imploded while the Flamingo gets a major overhaul.

Anyway, it's an interesting read, even if based on at least some speculation. You never know - it could happen!

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September 18, 2006

Bellagio, CityCenter, Japonais

Posted by detroit1051

I attended a casino function at Bellagio last week. A few notes I made appear after the break.

September 6, 2006

Wynn Macau: Photos and a Little Geography

Posted by Hunter

Thanks go out to Chris in Hong Kong for sending his photos of the Wynn Macau opening and shedding a little light on the layout of the place, as no property map is currently available.

First off, some additional interior photos:

More today from the Las Vegas media:

LV Sun -
Review Journal -

Keep reading after the jump.

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A few quick items:

Harrah's is set to remodel the rooms at the Flamingo, casting any demolition rumors into severe question:

After losing the Tropicana assets, Pinnacle will buy the Sands in Atlantic City:

Boyd has announced the Stardust will close November 1st:

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September 2, 2006

Reader Report: Bellagio and Wynn

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader John Hall for contributing another piece, this time the focus on Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas. I can't say how much I appreciate contributions from you guys, the loyal readers. If you want to send something in, send it to:

Ok, what do we have here? Well, as regular readers know, we have spent an awful lot of time looking at Steve Wynn properties, and Wynn Las Vegas over all of them. Well, before there was WLV there was Bellagio and it is still a literal cash factory on the Strip. After touring the back of house facilities, I have a renewed appreciation for the property - it's really a work of art in its own way.

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Thanks to one of my readers who, for now, will remain anonymous, I was able to take a tour of the back of house areas at Bellagio.

This includes service kitchens for the restaurants, lake pump equipment, soda and liquor distribution, uniform cleaning and control, security, IT and much, much more.

I even saw the room where they put the bad people before Metro grabs 'em!

All that plus the VIP elevators and villa areas (sadly not the villas themselves) and other guest areas.

I left with am impression that Bellagio is a one of a kind masterpiece. If you want to read this very long entry, continue on after the jump.

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August 16, 2006

New Photos: Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, Palazzo, Trump

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Motoman, we have some new Vegas photos from I believe July 2006. Enjoy:

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Joel Bergman has worked on quite a few prominent Las Vegas casinos including The Mirage, Treasure Island, Paris and parts of Caesars among others.

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This article, submitted by motoman (thanks!), details the concrete and foundation procedures for constructing Wynn Las Vegas (then called Le Reve) and THEHotel at Mandalay Bay. It makes for an interesting comparison of techniques for sure.

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A press release this morning indicates that famous casino operator Jack Binion is going to run Wynn's International division. Interesting stuff:

Also, an RJ article about Wynn Macau, opening in 40 days:

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Ok, I have some shots from last weekend at Wynn Las Vegas.

A few shots of the construction progress at Encore as well as Wynn's new B Bar.

You can also see that Keno is closed... 'Shoe In' in the Esplanade was also closed and being remodeled.

Thanks to a reader I was able to tour Bellagio's back of house areas and I am working on an article based on that incredibly amazing experience. As of now, said reader will go anonymous - don't want to get anyone in trouble!

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June 26, 2006

Project CityCenter Starts Cooking

Posted by Hunter

If you've been following the Vegas news over the past day or so, you will have noticed some new details on MGM MIRAGE's 'Project CityCenter' development, to be located between Monte Carlo and Bellagio.

We got the skinny from MGM MIRAGE and will summarize what we know after the jump.

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June 22, 2006

Plans for Westward Ho Site

Posted by Hunter

Looks like another crazy idea for a small slice of land has popped up, this one on the site of the Westward Ho.

We really need some kind of probability scoring system for these projects. This one would be rated 'Low to Very Low'.

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June 21, 2006

Red Rock Observations

Posted by detroit1051

Observations from two days at the new Red Rock Resort on Charleston at the 215.
Details and photos follow the jump.

June 17, 2006

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas Revealed

Posted by Hunter

"As I walked past the Aqua Theater, home of 'Le Rêve', I could smell flowers. As I passed into the hotel known as 'Encore', I was greeted by warming sheets of natural light, streaming into the vast gardens from the many skylights above. I had thought that Wynn Las Vegas was the pinnacle of comfortable, elegant resort design but once again, the bar has been raised."

We have a full feature on Encore details after the jump... (Warning: Spoilers - if you want to be surprised, stop reading now.)

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So, I'm in Vegas checking out what is new and different and instead of just writing a simple note I decided to record audio as I walked through the properties... So, I guess this is the first Two Way Hard Three 'podcast'. I don't plan on podcasting on any kind of regular basis, this is a convenience thing. It's not short at over 30 minutes.

Anyway, if you don't like to hear people complaining about stuff, this isn't the podcast for you. I listened back and a lot of it is negative - I like talking about how people are screwing up... You have been warned.

NOTE: I recorded this late, late Friday night. I just listened to it again (and edited a bit). It's a little crazy sounding at times, very stream of consciousness. I also sound a little tipsy (never!). Hopefully I won't scare anyone off... Enjoy. I am off to a top secret meeting. Will report back when I have something to report.

Our podcasts are available via the podcast RSS feed:

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June 13, 2006

Weekend Research Trip: Encore, Mirage and More

Posted by Hunter

This Thursday - Saturday will be on a research trip at Wynn Las Vegas (yes, life is tough), working on a detailed story on Encore's development, 'bare' at The Mirage and more. New for this time around - I'll be recording audio as well as writing details. We'll see how that goes. I might go to see 'LOVE', still not sure. Any requests for information, leave them in the comments.

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Man, this one sure has success written all over it... And I swear I'm not being sarcastic.

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I discovered this excellent and informative KNPR interview with Wynn Design and Development Executive Vice President Roger Thomas. This interior design guru is responsible for all interiors at Treasure Island, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas. Listening to this interview it is clear that nothing there happened by accident. Fascinating interview.

For those that don't listen regularly, KNPR's State of Nevada is a great insight into all things Las Vegas.

Update: I had no idea that Roger Thomas is the son of E. Parry Thomas, the famous Las Vegas banker.

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May 29, 2006

Harrah's Loveman Hints at Strip Plans

Posted by Hunter

Some interesting hints at what is coming for the center Strip from Harrah's. The company's CEO, Gary Loveman, sat down with the LV Sun's Jeff Simpson (great writer, BTW) to share some of what is coming from the company.

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May 26, 2006

Las Vegas Sands Wins Singapore Bid

Posted by Hunter

I didn't realize they were ready to make a decision on this already... Looks like LV Sands won the right to build the first casino in Singapore, a huge coup for the company. Shares are up sharply on the news.

They have pledged $3.6 billion for the project in the Marina Bay district of the city.

Yahoo Finance

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May 24, 2006

Fountains of Bellagio @ Wynn Macau

Posted by Hunter

Based on this picture, it looks like Steve Wynn may be bringing his 'Fountains of Bellagio' concept to Macau.


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May 22, 2006

Mapping Wynn's Encore

Posted by Hunter

We could also call this entry 'Why Hunter Isn't an Artist for a Living'.

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, the 1,700+ room hotel that will sit next to WLV has broken ground. As is the standard with Wynn projects, it is somewhat shrouded in secrecy.

Other than Wynn's brief remarks about some kind of retractable roof coupled with county filings, we have little to go on.

I created a very basic site sketch with my guess as to how the buildings will be arranged on the property. Please excuse my limited Photoshop skills - I am not a graphic artist (and it shows). To see my rendering, click after the jump.

We know the tower will be similar to Wynn Las Vegas. I'm guessing it will look like the tower at Wynn Macau, with the 'swoosh' going the opposite way. From the sky, this layout position the towers in a vague 'S' layout and when viewed straight on, the two swooshes, combined with negative space, create something that could be called a 'W'.

Based on the county filing, the low-rise building will be up to ten stories, far higher than Wynn Las Vegas. It sounds like they are trying to use the available acreage by building much more dense this time around.

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May 20, 2006

Tropicana Bidding War Finally Over

Posted by Hunter

Columbia Sussex has won the 6 week bidding war that erupted over Aztar Corp., owners of the Tropicana properties in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, amongst other properties.

The WSJ has the story (subscription required):

From the article:

"The casino affiliate of closely held Columbia Sussex Corp. emerged victorious in a two-month bidding war by agreeing to acquire casino operator Aztar Corp. for $1.94 billion, a deal that underscores the scarcity of available development opportunities on the Las Vegas Strip.

Columbia Entertainment will pay Aztar $54 a share and assume roughly $676 million in Aztar's debt, giving it control of Aztar's Tropicana flagships in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., as well as other gambling properties. Columbia Entertainment has also deposited $313 million in a bank account, which it will use to pay Aztar should the deal fall apart if Columbia Entertainment fails to meet certain criteria, including obtaining a casino license in New Jersey."

The other serious bidder, Pinnacle Entertainment, dropped out of the race as the price reached levels that made less and less sense financially. It has been rumored that Pinnacle is looking at the site of the Sahara on the North Strip as another option for a new resort in Las Vegas.

More Details from Various Papers:

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May 17, 2006

A Rare Look at Elaine Wynn

Posted by Hunter

Elaine Wynn, wife of casino developer Steve Wynn, doesn't get the kind of media coverage that her husband does (and I doubt that keeps her up at night). As the article states, the most common phrases I hear when Mrs. Wynn is discussed are 'elegant' and 'graceful'. While she might not be the public face of Wynn Resorts, she is a director and her presence is felt in every aspect of Wynn Las Vegas.

New York Times on Elaine Wynn:

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May 3, 2006

Some Time at the Red Rock Resort

Posted by Hunter

I spent some time at Las Vegas' newest casino, Red Rock, this past Monday. Red Rock is owned by Station Casinos, Inc., who also operate Green Valley Ranch, Sunset Station and other properties in Las Vegas.

Click on through to read some observations and thoughts on the property and a link to my photos.

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Wynn Resorts reported earnings today for their third full quarter of operations.

Net revenues for the quarter were $277.2 million and adjusted net income was $1.1 million. If you include pre-opening expenses and adjustments for 'Avenue Q', that swings to an $11 million loss.


Looks like Cirque is going to do a show on Cotai for Las Vegas Sands:

I'm sure that doesn't thrill MGM MIRAGE.

In other news, an interesting article on the W Las Vegas project going up on Harmon:

Lastly, Pinnacle, the original Aztar/Tropicana suitor, announced some great earnings:

Wynn earnings coming today... We'll see how they did this last quarter...

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Yes, I am in Las Vegas. This post is a bit stream of consciousness, just random things I noticed so far:

* Wynn Las Vegas have changed the advertising graphics for Le Reve to include actual performance shots. I assume this is to drive home the CDS connection.

* Corsa Cucina, the Wynn restaurant that had to be remodeled right after opening, is now doing brisk business.

* The Sands/LVB entrance for the Wynn Esplanade is being re-done with an outer door and new glass. It is mid-construction but fully open.

* At The Mirage, Ava is gone, Onda is being renovated and Love will include lots of red (if you go behind the curtain as I did, expect to be yelled at).

* The new poker room at The Venetian is really big, not bad looking and totally empty. Maybe 20% full.

* Bellagio is cruising along, seemingly indifferent and impenetrable to competition.The Prada store still has no mens clothes (the staff dutifully described a belt as 'mens clothes' but I disagree). The new employee parking garage is HUGE... Literally almost dwarfing the large signs that straddle Frank Sinatra Drive.

* Planet Aladdin - If anyone was wondering, Desert Passage is being redone. The whole facade is under scaffold.

* Planet Aladdin Interior - Man. So much work to do. These guys can't pull it off. If they aren't dropping the 40ft ceiling, they got nothing. The place feels empty and it always will. By the way, the signs look like they were designed by prisoners.

* Caesars - the 'E' is out on the new Augustus Tower. To me this is the kind of thing that should last a day at most. It is the FREAKING SIGN ON THE STRIP AND THE LIGHT IS BURNED OUT. Fire somebody.

* Paris - The signs of Harrah's taking over are everywhere and since it was a mediocre place to begin with... BTW, I have never been 'hard sold' on a suite upgrade before. I didn't even want one. The check in clerk had a whole sheet with prices AND justifications, FAQ style. Harrah's central. Wow.

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April 28, 2006

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas Breaks Ground

Posted by Hunter

Yup, they did it today, April 28th, the anniversary of WLV's opening, Elaine's birthday and the Desert Inn's opening.

I should have some pictures soon but basically it was the board of directors moving some dirt with shovels...

Encore's logo looks like it is written in script, like 'Wynn', probably his handwriting, with a nice little 'at Wynn Las Vegas' underneath. Very 'Treasure Island at The Mirage' (but the opposite in terms of relation) if you ask me.

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April 27, 2006

Cosomopolitan Site Plan

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to one of my loyal readers, I got a chance to look at the detailed site plan for the Cosmopolitan, a condo/resort/casino project going up next to Bellagio.

Personally, this is one of the only condo projects that is really interesting to me (with the exception of CityCenter). They have a limited amount of land to work with but they are using it well, building up instead of out. There is a strong retail and dining component on the Las Vegas Blvd. side and the casino will use most of the rest of the ground floor space.

Overall I continue to be interested and impressed with what these guys are doing with this property.

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April 27, 2006

Long Delayed MGM Grand Tower Project to Start?

Posted by Hunter

Next month MGM MIRAGE will ask the Clark County Planning Commission to extend a plan to add another hotel tower at MGM Grand. The original application was submitted in 1998 and would include a 49 story hotel/casino with 1,700 guestrooms, connecting to the convention center.

The project had previously been delayed due to a shift in 'corporate priorities' (read: merge with Mirage Resorts and Mandalay, build City Center, etc...). Will this ever get off the ground?

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April 23, 2006 Photo Gallery Macau Photos Updated

Posted by Hunter

Thanks again to Chris from Hong Kong for providing updated photos of construction in Macau for our gallery.

The link is here:

You'll see Wynn Macau, basically completed, along with the MGM Grand and Galaxy Starworld. Enjoy.

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April 19, 2006

Station Opens Red Rock in Summerlin

Posted by Hunter

Well, the big day is here. The newest casino in Las Vegas opened this morning at 12:01am after a VIP performance from Grammy winner Sting.

Coverage in the LVRJ:

Personally, I'm looking forward to visiting and photographing in about 10 days. Of course, you'll hear all about it.

This is a historic moment for Station Casinos, which is a company that often flies under radar but is exceptionally well run. I expect to be impressed with Red Rock, much more than I was with Green Valley Ranch. The pictures of the pool deck look great and I really like how they've integrated the desert theme into the landscape architecture (LifeScapes, the folks that did Wynn, Bellagio, The Mirage and the Strip median are responsible for that). This place looks like it belongs in its environment.

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April 17, 2006

Aztar/Tropicana Bidding Continues

Posted by Hunter

Looks like four times is the charm for Aztar... Columbia Sussex has thrown a bid in for the company that owns the Tropicana on the Las Vegas Strip.

Update: Today's WSJ states that Pinnacle is close to making a deal:

"Aztar Corp. is close to striking an agreement to be acquired by Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. for about $1.5 billion, or $43 a share, in cash, according to people familiar with the situation."
(subscription required - but worth it, IMHO)

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All kinds of interesting stuff today...

Of course the big news is Red Rock Station, opening in just a few days.

Articles in the Review Journal:

and the LA Times:,1,679332.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Personally I am looking forward to checking it out for myself and taking some photos in about a week and a half.

Beyond that, a little news on Wynn's Encore and the Golf Course stuff:

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April 12, 2006

$2 Billion Montreux To Replace New Frontier

Posted by Hunter

[Thanks to for directing us to this article.]

Looks like some more information is coming out about what Phil Ruffin has planned for the New Frontier lot, across the street from Wynn Las Vegas.

The design isn't finalized but it does seem that Ruffin is sticking with the observation wheel that we've heard about several times in the past.

LV Sun: Montreux to Replace New Frontier

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April 5, 2006

Desert Passage 'De-Theming' To Begin

Posted by Hunter

Looks like the folks that bought Desert Passage at the (soon to be former) Aladdin / Planet Hollywood are starting to talk about the changes they are planning.

An interesting article in Gaming Today discusses the changes:

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Reading Wynn Las Vegas' most recent SEC filing, a couple of items stood out.

Most of the stuff was very run of the mill but it did note that as of today, the company's lenders have approved the budget, plans and specs for Encore, which was the last issue, even if just a technical one. Groundbreaking is expected April 28th, the one year anniversary of the opening of Wynn Las Vegas.

Also, the golf course development is briefly discussed. Nothing revolutionary, the same old info regarding multiple lakefront hotels on that land. The one interesting detail was the disclosure that they don't expect any construction to begin there until 2009.

For those that like to read this stuff, here goes:

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For years and years, many travelers equated cheap rooms, shrimp cocktails and showgirls with Las Vegas. Hotel rooms under $100 per night were available all up and down the Strip - not just from the Northern cluster of older hotels. As recently as 1999 it wasn't uncommon to be able to book at room at Bellagio for $140/night on weekends.

No longer.

These days, rates for standard rooms have increased and former mid-level properties have been renovated and re-branded in an attempt to convert them to the higher end. Forget about Strip rates under $100 on weekends and don't be freaked out if your sub-par room at the Luxor costs $249.

What happened? Is this bad for the city? Is Las Vegas still a deal? More after the jump.

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March 19, 2006

Interview with Wynn Macau GM in Business Week

Posted by Hunter

Interesting interview and remarks from Grant Bowie, Wynn's GM in Macau:

A few weeks back we announced a new interview series here on the site and our first subject we asked was DeRuyter Butler, head of architecture for Wynn Design and Development. Mr. Butler was gracious enough to accept and we began gathering questions.

The interview questions came from the readers. We then whittled them down to what we felt was a good mix of questions covering multiple topics and sent them off.

The answers to the various questions that got passed on are after the jump. Questions are in bold and his responses follow. An apology if your question didn't make the cut, there were quite a few great questions and we had to limit the number to keep this reasonable.

I think Mr. Butler's detailed answers will thrill anyone interested in Wynn Las Vegas, Bellagio and resort design in general. We're lucky to start our interview series with such an interesting subject.

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March 6, 2006

Red Rock Previews Begin

Posted by Hunter

Both the Las Vegas Sun and the Review Journal have articles that preview the new Red Rock Station Casino, opening next month.

Personally, I'm interested in checking this place out when it opens.

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February 23, 2006

Wynn Resorts: Loss Narrows

Posted by Hunter

Blogging live from a Wynn Las Vegas parlor suite, here's the links to Wynn's earnings, released today:

Yes, they are still posting losses but looking at the recurring vs. non-recurring items, things look pretty good for Wynn Las Vegas.

I listened to the conference call while sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off. Steve talked mostly about Macau. They said they will have three sites on Cotai that they will operate. He sounded really excited about China.

Wynn Macau opens September 5th - he made the call today.

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February 22, 2006

Some New Macau Photos

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Karl who has sent some new Macau photos.

I posted them on my photo site:


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February 19, 2006

Podcaster Interviews Wynn: 'Q' Closing, 'Wynn Parkway'?

Posted by Hunter

So, I go away for the weekend and don't take my computer along and guess what happens? Podcaster Steve Friess interviews Steve Wynn and their conversation ranges from the closing of 'Avenue Q' to the ultimate development of the Wynn Golf Course.

If you're interested, the best thing to do is to listen to the entire podcast. Still, some brief highlights:

  • Wynn estimates he will save between $75 and $85MM by using the 'Q' theater for 'Spamalot'. Also, the convention space that will be built for Encore will be able to connect directly to WLV's convention space, something impossible if the Grail Theater would have been built as planned.
  • 'Avenue Q' was making money but not enough money to keep it in that spot. They looked for other, smaller spots but couldn't find something the right size.
  • Eventually the golf course will go and be split into several parcels. Up to two hotels and a giant lake will be built on parcels between the existing Fairway Villas and what is the half-way point through the course.
  • A 135ft tree lined 'Wynn Parkway' will eventually run through the parcel, connecting all of these various resorts.

The podcast is located here:

Also, for more on Encore, the RJ had an article recently:

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February 15, 2006

G2E Institute Scheduled for May

Posted by detroit1051

A Detroit News column discusses G2E's new "G2E Institute" which will hold its first conference May 9-11 at the new Red Rock Station. Casino design, Racino, Technology and Tribal will all be the focus at this workshop style conference.

To read more:
Global Gaming Expo Creates G2E Institute

First off, the Sahara. In a LV Sun article, the guys running the joint made it clear that they aren't going anywhere right away. While the place could be bought, they want to sell the hotel and two adjoining parcels in one deal that would reach up to $700MM and so far no one is biting.

We've discussed the Golden Nugget's changes as they've been announced. Here's a good article in the Business Press discussing a few more of the details of their plans - they also drop the little gem that they've looked at potentially buying the Horseshoe. Interesting.

And finally, as you may have seen here, we launched a new site in our family, I'm happy to say that the first 24 hours has been a big success so far - traffic ramped up much more quickly than any site we've ever done before. If you haven't checked it out already, take a look now.

Remember to get your Butler interview questions in by Wednesday!

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February 3, 2006

Rolling Stone Hotel? Snore.

Posted by Hunter

This story's been making the rounds for the last couple of days - a hotel with a Rolling Stone theme... What is that theme exactly? Suck? Rolling Stone hasn't had much cultural significance for a long time, maybe since the Dr. Thompson days.

Anyway, my gut is that this project ain't gonna happen.

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February 1, 2006

Tropicana Plans Being Disclosed in Private?

Posted by Hunter

According to the Las Vegas Business Press, Aztar has been talking quietly with potential financiers about the fate of the Tropicana in Las Vegas and what might rise from its ashes.

BTW: These guys look like they might have stolen another one of my design ideas, a water feature on the roof or coming down off the roof... First that stupid NBC show, now a real casino... This stuff has been in my sketchbook for years. I digress.

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February 1, 2006

Hooters Set to Open Right Off The Strip This Week

Posted by Hunter

The Hooters Hotel and Casino, formerly the San Remo, will open this Thursday across from the MGM Grand on Tropicana Avenue.

Gaming Today as a nice write up of the details:

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I spent the weekend in Las Vegas at The Mirage. This was my first time as a guest there since Wynn Las Vegas opened this past April. I am happy to report that despite the fact that I'll probably stay at Wynn whenever I can, The Mirage will fill in when Steveland is full or overpriced. The stated purpose of this trip was for a friend's birthday but fortunately for me, I had some time to catch up on all of the changes since my last trip six weeks ago.

My main focus was to see how The Mirage looked and felt after having a facelift. I also made it over to WLV to see Corsa after its re-design.

The photos from this trip are detailed here in this entry. To read the rest of this post, click the link and keep reading.

January 23, 2006

Photos: Macau, Wynn Changes, The Mirage and More!

Posted by Hunter

Howdy folks, back from Las Vegas with a photo update. I'll follow this with a written opinion piece as soon as I can.

Before we get to Vegas though, let's look at Macau. Our man on the scene Chris has written in with some fresh photos of Wynn Macau, The Venetian, Galaxy Starworld, Grand Emperor and more. Thanks again to Chris for keeping us westerners up to date.

The Macau photos are located here, the new ones are on that second page and the third as well. Enjoy.

On the Vegas side of things, the pictures include the updated Corsa Cucina at Wynn Las Vegas, Kokomo's, STACK and Fin at The Mirage, and some great shots from MIX at the top of THEHotel. Some of the shots, especially of STACK, didn't come out very well. I included them because unfortunately that was the best I have and I know you guys wanted to see what it looks like.

Generally, some really exciting changes at The Mirage and even Wynn. I'll save the bulk of this for my other post but we did eat at STACK and loved it, plus we spent an evening at Tryst, Wynn's re-born nightclub, formerly known as La Bete. The changes at The Mirage have dramatically altered the customer profile, even in this short amount of time. Anyway, more on that when I write my report. For now, enjoy the photos:

Update (Monday Eve.): I've been working on my other article but I found that I'm writing more than I thought so it's going a bit slow. Looking like it will be published tomorrow morning instead of tonight. Enjoy the pictures in the meantime.

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January 23, 2006

Photos: Macau, Wynn Changes, The Mirage and More!

Posted by Hunter

Howdy folks, back from Las Vegas with a photo update. I'll follow this with a written opinion piece as soon as I can.

Before we get to Vegas though, let's look at Macau. Our man on the scene Chris has written in with some fresh photos of Wynn Macau, The Venetian, Galaxy Starworld, Grand Emperor and more. Thanks again to Chris for keeping us westerners up to date.

The Macau photos are located here, the new ones are on that second page and the third as well. Enjoy.

On the Vegas side of things, the pictures include the updated Corsa Cucina at Wynn Las Vegas, Kokomo's, STACK and Fin at The Mirage, and some great shots from MIX at the top of THEHotel. Some of the shots, especially of STACK, didn't come out very well. I included them because unfortunately that was the best I have and I know you guys wanted to see what it looks like.

Generally, some really exciting changes at The Mirage and even Wynn. I'll save the bulk of this for my other post but we did eat at STACK and loved it, plus we spent an evening at Tryst, Wynn's re-born nightclub, formerly known as La Bete. The changes at The Mirage have dramatically altered the customer profile, even in this short amount of time. Anyway, more on that when I write my report. For now, enjoy the photos:

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Sorry I missed these over the weekend, I was doing research in Las Vegas.

The Clark County Planning Commission shared some details of upcoming projects for the New Frontier site and Wynn's Encore project.

Here's the Las Vegas Sun article discussion both: Las Vegas Sun.

If you want to read the commission's materials, they are located here:

New Frontier Plans
Encore at Wynn Las Vegas Plans

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January 17, 2006

Another One Bites The Dust: Riviera To Fall?

Posted by Hunter

The LV Sun is reporting that some stock deals could lead to the redevelopment of the Riviera property on the Las Vegas Strip.

Riviera To Fall?

Thanks to for pointing out the story that we missed.

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January 12, 2006

Marnell Hired By Aztar - Trop Plans Coming Soon?

Posted by Hunter

According to the LV Sun, Tony Marnell's company has been hired by Aztar to look at possibilities for the Tropicana site. Marnell Corrao built Treasure Island, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas (though it will not be working on Encore), and designed and built the Rio.

Marnell Working on Tropicana Plans

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A quick hit on a couple of stories from the past few days:

Castaways History

Boardwalk Closes

Cosmopolitan Gets Financing

One of my favorite Vegas sites,, has a great interview posted with Nick of the Las Vegas Casino Deathwatch.

It's a great read - I encourage you to check it out and also to bookmark/RSS subscribe/whatever to VegasTripping - you'll love their stuff!

VegasTripping Interview on Vegas in 2006

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January 4, 2006

Boyd Unveils Stardust Site Plan: Echelon Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

Finally, the word on the Stardust site.

There's a lot of info, so you probably want to read the details for yourselves:

Press Release

And, the new Web site for the resort:

Echelon Las Vegas

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December 11, 2005

Updated Macau Photos Posted

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to Chris from Hong Kong, we have updated the Macau photos on our photo site. Those shots are located here:

Thanks again to Chris for these great shots.

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Looks like the gallery is going to be history after all - everyone needs a Rolex!

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December 11, 2005

More Details on The Tropicana's Rebirth

Posted by Hunter

This Las Vegas Sun article has some interesting new info on what may happen at the Trop, including a rendering of the new building.

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December 9, 2005

Planet Hollywood Finally Rolling?

Posted by Hunter

This article details the progress the Aladdin folks have had converting to the 'Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino'. It's taking longer than expected, but things are rolling now...

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December 7, 2005

Wynn Details Macau Concession Plans

Posted by Hunter

In a move that will surely please investors, Wynn has discussed plans to possibly offer sub-concessions or joint ventures in Macau:

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November 24, 2005

Wynn Las Vegas Fairway Villa Trip Report

Posted by Hunter

Howdy! Thanks to fellow Vegas fanatic Mike E, we have a trip report direct from a Wynn Las Vegas Fairway Villa. I was lucky enough to see this villa for myself this week and thus his trip report will be interwoven with my own comments, as we've done in the past.

Photos of the villa are located here:

From here on, it is Mike talking unless you see the [Hunter] notation. More after the jump!

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November 23, 2005

Mirage Update

Posted by Hunter

I was on property at The Mirage on Monday, taking a look at construction progress around the building.

Until construction is more complete, I can't recommend staying at The Mirage.

Wow, I can't believe I said that. I love The Mirage but right now it is a construction site. While many casinos embark on remodel projects, they are doing about 8 at the same time at The Mirage and it is disrupting the guest experience. Fortunately, I don't think this will last much longer, but if you're looking for the next few weeks leading up to NYE, I would maybe think twice (unless you get a great rate).

FIN, the new chinese restaurant, opens today and I got a peek inside. The room looks great and I'm sure will be a nice addition.

The Baccarat Bar, a long standing hangout in the middle of the casino is simply GONE. Without a trace. This really bums me out. Not only does it open up sight lines in the casino and make the place look like a warehouse, this was a great place to get a drink and relax. What a shame. Now, it is full of slots. In my opinion, it looks bad. Apparently a new bar/lounge will be stuck where the high limit slots used to be, now that they are located where the baccarat pit was.

The Jet nightclub is coming together, with the sundries store near the North entrance gone and moved to where the Shadow Creek golf store used to be. There's also a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf there.

I have some pictures but they aren't totally ready to be posted. I'll update this thread when I have them up.

Also, look for a trip report from member Mike, direct from a Wynn Fairway Villa. I was lucky enough to get a tour - what a great room!

UPDATE: Photos are here. A full explanation/article on the villa will be coming soon.

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November 17, 2005

Golden Nugget Sale Details; MGM MIRAGE Bits

Posted by Hunter

A couple of different stories here.

First off, some more detail on the Landry's deal to buy the Nugget. We find out that Poster and Breitling made off like bandits:

Second, some tidbits from MGM MIRAGE:

  • The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art now features advisory services if you are interested in buying art and need some expert help. Contact the gallery for an appointment.
  • MIX (THEHotel) was awarded the Mobil 4-star award.
  • Bellagio was again awarded AAA's five diamond award.
  • The bridge linking TI and the Fashion Show Mall is now open.

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November 14, 2005

Caesars Augustus Tower in Pictures

Posted by Hunter

It has been open since August but we haven't done a feature on the latest addition to Caesars Palace.

Thanks to some room shots from Harrah's Entertainment, we were able to round up enough shots to make it worthwhile.

Keep Reading After the Jump...

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November 8, 2005

The Bellagio We Never Knew

Posted by Hunter

About a year ago I was contacted by the Jerde Partnership, one of the architects that worked on Bellagio for Steve Wynn. They had seen some photos that I had online and were looking for permission to re-print them. In return I asked to see the sketches, pictures and other materials they developed for Mirage Resorts.

Keep Reading For More...

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November 7, 2005

Las Vegas Hilton Makeover Update

Posted by Hunter

The LV Sun has an interesting article on the progress of the remodel at the LV Hilton:

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November 3, 2005

You're In Charge - What Would You Change?

Posted by Hunter

So, reading a technology blog recently, I got to thinking... If I was running a Las Vegas casino, what would I change. Seems like a good basis for an article on the blog.

So, what would you change about your favorite Las Vegas property? Imagine you're running the joint - fix the things that bother you as a customer.

Please respond in the comments. I'm working on my own response right now and it will be posted below when it is done.

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Courtesy of Clark County, some additional information on progress/permits for Encore at Wynn Las Vegas and the Palazzo site, next to The Venetian.

Palazzo Permits

Encore Permits.

Neither contains any new earth-shattering information but it does show Encore going up in the room count department a good bit.

Now, this next set of permits are for a smaller expansion for Wynn Las Vegas, to include the Spamalot Theater, as well as some additional casino, retail and some other uses... 20,000 in additional casino space? Interesting.

Wynn Las Vegas Spamalot Expansion

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October 23, 2005

Macau Update

Posted by Hunter

We've got some more information on developments in Macau, the former Portuguese colony that allows Las Vegas style gambling in China near Hong Kong.

Thanks to reader Chris, we have some great first hand info as well as pictures. For those that missed them last time, we posted a bunch of his shots here: Some great shots!

This time around we have a couple more photos from Chris and they will be in the Macau group on the above site very soon.

Below, find some more comments from Chris regarding Macau developments (after the jump)...

Thanks again to Chris - he's providing us with a unique insight into Macau development that otherwise we just wouldn't have. Thank you Chris and keep it coming!

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October 15, 2005

Las Vegas Hilton Begins Renovation

Posted by Hunter

Looks like Colony is renovation the Las Vegas Hilton, once the largest hotel in the world.

Las Vegas Hilton Renovations Underway

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October 12, 2005

2,000+ Vegas Photos - RateVegas Photo Archive Online

Posted by Hunter

For those that haven't seen it, we've launched a new photo archive for the RateVegas family of sites.

It's located here:

It will be expanded over time but right now we have over 2,000 photos of your favorite Las Vegas (and Macau) resorts.

Want to submit a photo?

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October 11, 2005

Mirage: Volcano and Japonais

Posted by Hunter

Some new renderings from MGM MIRAGE on the changes coming up - check out that volcano!

Japonais Outside
Japonais Inside
Mirage Volcano

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October 9, 2005

Macau Construction Photos

Posted by Hunter

Courtesy of reader Chris, we have a bunch of construction photos from Macau to share.

The photos are located here: Macau Photos on


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October 6, 2005

Mirage Makeover: Jet, Mink, Stack and More!

Posted by Hunter

We've covered the massive changes that are coming to The Mirage over the course of the next year before. I've gathered up a few renderings of what the changes should look like for y'all.

Click on these links to see the renderings:

Mirage Map (pardon my lack of skill with Photoshop). The red parts are changes.

Jet Vegas

Stack Restaurant

Mink Lounge


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We went for a last minute trip to Las Vegas this past weekend and I decided to go out and take some photos to keep my friendly readers up to date.

The good stuff - October 2005 Photos - The Mirage, Wynn, Bellagio and More (My RateVegas photo gallery still has some issues - Flickr for now)...

Read more after the jump...

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September 21, 2005

CityCenter and Macau Graphics

Posted by Hunter

Due to a request from MGM MIRAGE, we have removed the images. Sorry guys.

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September 21, 2005

Reader Review: Wynn Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

Today we have a reader review from Tom and his recent stay at Wynn Las Vegas. Remember that we accept reader reviews at this email.

"A great admirer of Wynn’s accomplishments, I nonetheless had mixed emotions about his acquisition of the Desert Inn. A major remodel of the DI completed in 1997 resulted in a resort unlike anything else on the Strip at the time. Though relatively small, the DI had real class. Luxurious accommodations and public spaces were made complete with gracious, attentive service. From room attendants to stickmen, the employees of the DI consistently delivered outstanding customer service. How would Wynn compare with the DI? Would it measure up to my high expectations?"

Click to read after the jump...

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September 20, 2005

South Coast Speeds to Completion

Posted by Hunter

Boyd Gaming's newest resort, the South Coast, is quickly going up on Las Vegas Blvd., South of Mandalay Bay.

About four months from opening, this RJ article takes a walk through the partially finished complex:

South Coast Coming Online

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September 20, 2005

Las Vegas Centennial Presentation

Posted by Hunter

David Schwartz, head of the gaming library at UNLV and accomplished author, has posted about a new project he's put online showcasing Vegas through the last 100 years.

Some very interesting photos from the archives, especially early models of The Mirage, Luxor and MGM Grand.

Check it out: Gaming Centennial

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Boyd has been talking up their expansion of the Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ.

At the same time, all eyes are on their Stardust site in Las Vegas - will there be a Borgata Las Vegas on the horizon?

Borgata Expansion

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September 14, 2005

More Details on Wynn Macau

Posted by Hunter

Some additional information on Wynn Macau is reported in this article:

Details on Wynn Macau

The casino is slated to open in mid-2006.

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September 8, 2005

Golden Nugget To Get New Hotel Tower

Posted by Hunter

A major development for downtown Las Vegas, Landry's has announced they plan to add a new tower to the Golden Nugget, which they are purchasing.

Licensing for Landry's is proceeding.

Golden Nugget to Add New Tower

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September 2, 2005

Vegas Today and Tomorrow

Posted by Hunter

We always like to let folks know about other Las Vegas sites that we're into.

Vegas Today and Tomorrow

This site shows current and upcoming construction, along with some educated guesses about stuff like Encore at Wynn and Project City Center.

Anyone interested in Las Vegas construction should be checking this site on a regular basis.

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August 29, 2005

Clooney's Project For Real?

Posted by Hunter

George Clooney's hotel project has been batted around for months... Seems like Brad Pitt is no longer attached, but this might be moving forward.

Clooney Working on Vegas Hotel

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August 23, 2005

Starwood To Build $1.7B 'W Las Vegas' Project

Posted by Hunter

According to Business Week, Starwood Hotels plans to expand it's 'W' hotel chain into Las Vegas in a big way.

To be located on the site of 'Ice Las Vegas' near the Hard Rock, the entire complex will feature 3,000 rooms, some of which double as condos and timeshares.

Starwood will operate the 'W Las Vegas' but will partner with Edge Resorts for many of the condo units and the a 75,000 square foot casino.

Starwood plans to compete with luxury hotel offerings such as the Four Seasons, Wynn Las Vegas, THEHotel and Bellagio.

Starwood Thinks World Revolves Around Them

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August 17, 2005

More Details on Changes at The Mirage

Posted by Hunter

Back from a short vacation (not Las Vegas), some more Vegas news:

I have more information on the changes coming to The Mirage.

  • STACK Restaurant and Bar - this new restaurant will feature American cuisine and replace the current Chinese room, Moongate.
  • Fin - A new contemporary Chinese restaurant that replaces Renoir. The room will contain a 'spectacular water feature'.
  • Kokomo's - the update to the popular steakhouse will include making it more visible to the lobby area. I'm not sure how much of the rainforest/atrium will have to be reconfigured but the restaurant will no longer be 'hidden' as it is today.
  • Mink - This new lounge is a reconfiguration/reimagining of the Baccarat Bar lounge.
  • Japonais - A restaurant featuring Japanese cuisine with a European flair, it replaces Mikado AND the Ava lounge - a major design change on that side of the hotel.
  • Jet Nightclub - Looking at the property map at, it is not clear how guests will enter the club from inside the hotel - it may be as simple as an entrance along the North corridor past the lobby.

So, some specific details about what goes and what stays. We're keeping a close eye on this one.

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It's been awhile but our faithful readers will remember that the last time we met we covered Caesars Palace, Harrah's, The Flamingo and the Imperial Palace.

Sorry for the delay loyal readers. Since we last me the blog has been redesigned and another blog author, detroit1051, has been added to help fill your need for Vegas dirt. In this installment we take a look at The Mirage, Treasure Island, The Venetian and Wynn Las Vegas - three of which were built by Steve Wynn.

Disclaimer: I own some stock in both Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands (but not MGM MIRAGE)... I think that you'll find my reviews 'fair and balanced' but in the spirit of full disclosure...

STRIPPING continues after the jump...

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While slots have had elaborate computerized player tracking systems for years, the table games in Las Vegas casinos still determine comps by hand, a practice that can be a bit random at times.

Well, things are about to change for table players.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that progress is being made on a system developed jointly by IGT, Shuffle Master and Progressive Gaming, some of the biggest names in the business.

Read the article here: LVRJ: Tracking What's On The Table

So, what do you table games players think about this?

Personally, I'm all for it. I'm the type of player that falls through the cracks, sometimes losing enough to be comped but often a victim of the system. In terms of my dollar value to the casino, I'm simply being overlooked and I think this would change that quite a bit.

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July 18, 2005

David Schwartz Interviewed at

Posted by Hunter

I checked my feed reader this evening to see that one of my favorite Las Vegas Web sites,, had done an interview with one of my favorite Vegas bloggers and authors, David Schwartz.

Dave is a historian at UNLV, fantastic author, and keeper of the infamous casino carpet gallery. If you don't know his work, be sure to read the linked interview and buy his book(s).

David Schwartz at

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That's not my title, that was the name of the session at the Casino Design 2005 conference at Wynn Las Vegas.

While there were a lot of sessions that focused on general design themes and trends, this kick-off panel was looking directly at the recently completed $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas complex.

More after the jump...

May 25, 2005

Coverage of 2005 Casino Design Conference

Posted by Hunter

I will covering the 2005 Casino Design Conference at Wynn Las Vegas, June 22nd-24th.

Beyond getting a chance to rub elbows with those folks that made the resort possible, I'll be touring back of house areas to get a good feel for how the property works behind the scenes.

Also, I'm booked back into the hotel so I can check up on my concerns from my last trip.

May 22, 2005

WSJ Slams Wynn Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

The May 17th edition of the Wall Street Journal featured an article in the D section by David Littlejohn. The topic - Wynn Las Vegas.

It is clear from the first paragraph that Mr. Littlejohn has an axe to grind with Las Vegas, which he refers to as an 'ecstatically tasteless city'. From there he continues on to whine about his Wynn experience, piece by piece.

He describes Wynn's acquisition of the 200+ acre property as motivated mainly by the presence of a golf course, failing to realize the long term implications of taking on the strategically located parcel at millions below today's sky-high property values.

Other complaints are equally baseless - how does the Strip side mountain discourage pedestrian traffic, especially when compared to Bellagio's 8-acre lake, TI's Siren's Cove or the volcano at The Mirage. His critique of the pool simply doesn't stand up to popular opinion - the pool area has been regarded as one of the best at any Las Vegas resort.

Fortunately the article is not completely negative. Mr. Littlejohn describes positive experiences at several Wynn restaurants including Daniel Bouloud Brasserie and Bartolotta's Ristaurante. Perhaps surprisingly, Mr. Littlejohn praises the production show, 'Le Reve', which has been lambasted by critics elsewhere.

Overall, it is hard to see this article as anything more than just well circulated smear job.

For those with online WSJ access, the article is located here:

Many of you have already seen the property map that has been posted on the Wynn Las Vegas Web site since it launched on February 1st. Leading up to next week's opening, I wanted to post a few comments based on the map, aerial photos, and other things I've heard. While I won't be revising this after experiencing it for myself, it will be interesting to see how our predictions and analysis stack up to the real thing.

If you want to follow along, the PDF of the map is located here:

The main entrance is located just North of Spring Mountain/Sands on Las Vegas Blvd. Immediately to the left is the Ferrari/Maserati dealership.

The lobby will feature at least partially glass ceilings in a nearby atrium and the desk will overlook part of the mountain and lake area, similar to how Bellagio's check-in overlooks a small garden.

Just past the lobby is a foyer where there are curving escalators to the lake level, where two of the resort's highest end restaurants (Daniel Boloud and SW Steakhouse) and a nightclub are located.

To your left is the main casino floor. To the right, the path curves and leads in a semi-circle to the Wynn Esplanade, the resort's main shopping area. Interspersed with the stores are several restaurants and a food and beverage outlet called 'Sugar and Ice', which we believe to be a bar/lounge.

Back in the casino, most of the gaming space is located smack in the middle of the low-rise building that makes up most of the public areas. The poker room and sports book are the two main gaming areas that are set a bit outside of the main casino area. There is a private gaming salon that overlooks the pool, but if you need more information on private gaming, you will surely want to hire me as your personal consultant to make sure you make it through your trip alive. Contact info is on the RateVegas site...

On the outside edges of the casino are additional restaurants until you reach the opposite side of the casino where the main tower guest elevators are located. Right next to those elevators is 'The Drugstore', Wynn's main guest oriented retail store featuring Wynn merchandise, newspapers, magazines, medicine, etc...

The spa and salon are located on the second level via the guestroom elevators. This level also includes the villa suites, which have their own small swimming pools. These villas in the tower are similar to the villas at Bellagio.

While there is only one hotel tower currently built at Wynn Las Vegas, management has divided the resort up into the main guestroom tower and what they call the 'Suite Tower'. These rooms have their own check-in area and a semi-private restaurant, Tableau, at which breakfast and lunch are restricted to these guests (dinner is open to the public). Suite Tower check-in overlooks the pool area and is serviced by a second porte cochere and valet off of Sands Avenue.

In this same area are a few additional restaurants, including Alex, Red 8 and Wing Lei, along with Lure, Wynn's ultra lounge.

The buffet is located back towards the casino floor, on the way to the pool and is quite large at over 600 seats. Further down the hall is the Terrace Pointe Cafe, which we believe will be a 24 hour 'coffee shop' type restaurant, similar to the Bellagio Cafe or Caribe Cafe at The Mirage.

Beyond the cafe is the Broadway Theater, home of Avenue Q which opens in September. The theater is still under construction.

The Wynn Golf Club features its own restaurant and pro shop. It is located just adjacent to the course and convention meeting rooms at the far end of the property. Also in this area are the 'Fairway Villas', the highest end room product at the hotel. One of these villas is being rented by Steve Wynn and his wife Elaine as their home.

There are other retail outlets scattered throughout the property in small clusters. Several areas are not identified in the key - they have either not been finalized or some of the details are being kept under wraps.

The pool is located on the East side of the high rise tower and features two areas reserved for 'Suite Tower' guests. Two large pools are for all hotel guests. The Cabana Bar and Casino provides drinks and gaming poolside. Expect the pool deck to be more akin to a Bellagio vibe than say, The Mirage.

As of today, April 24th, non-paying guests are in the hotel. Wynn invited select employees the opportunity to stay overnight before the hotel premiere, not only to test the systems for the opening but also to give them a feel for the product they are selling. Since Wynn employees are under heavy non-disclosure agreements with threat of termination, we don't expect many first hand accounts until the resort opens to the public later in the week.

Seven days from now I will be checked into the hotel and broadcasting live. It should be a fun time and I'm looking forward to it. Cheers!

February 23, 2005

Wynn Las Vegas: Summary of What We Know

Posted by Hunter

As we get closer to the April 28th opening of Wynn Las Vegas, the hype machine is already kicking into overdrive. Wynn interviews and news stories are all over the press at this point and the company is airing a commercial during the Academy Awards ceremony next week.

While Steve Wynn has kept most of the details under wraps, we wanted to summarize what we know so far in case you haven't been keeping track at home.

Here's what we know...

Design Focus:

While designing Wynn Las Vegas the team wanted to make the place feel a lot smaller than Bellagio, despite the complex being about the same size. According to Wynn this place has "...nooks and crannies and hideaways...". Wynn often talks about 'designing from the inside out' vs his previous creations being designed from the perspective of the Strip as an audience. Under this paradigm, the guest is treated as the focal point of the experience instead of the passer-by. To learn the secrets of Wynn Las Vegas you have to head inside, and Wynn is banking on the fact that is just what you will do.


2,700 rooms and suites starting at 630 square feet. The hotel tower is being reported as 50 stories and skips floors 40-49 due to Chinese superstition. The rooms feature high-end bedding that is supposedly being custom made for the resort. Wynn has a deal with Gateway to provide flat screen LCD and plasma televisions for the resort. The hotel details several different configurations of rooms and suites that will look familiar to anyone who has stayed at Bellagio, The Mirage, or Treasure Island. The suites feature access to the VIP check-in lobby and pool area (more details below).


You may have heard that Wynn is largely turning his back on the concept of using big name celebrity chefs to lure diners to his restaurants. Instead he has decided to go after excellent chefs that haven't made huge names for themselves nationally and paying them big bucks to be in their Las Vegas kitchens five or six nights per week.

From an design point of view, expect many of the restaurants to open out over the resorts lake and mountain and to create 'theaters' of performance in the restaurants. For instance, the Japanese restaurant will look like something out of 17th century Japan when you are sitting in the restaurant. You will feel fully immersed and according to Wynn, it will be a first for any hotel anywhere.

His restaurants will not open up directly on to the casino floor but instead be separated by waiting rooms, lounges and other constructs. As Wynn says, "People know how to find the casino...".


We believe Wynn will have at least one nightclub when it opens but it's possible there will be more. We also believe that at least one additional club will be part of the 'Encore' expansion that is slated to open in 2007.


Steve Wynn's collaboration with Franco Dragone began in 1992 with Mystere. The Cirque de Soleil show produced for Treasure Island was like nothing ever seen on the Las Vegas Strip. 'O' followed Mystere and once again, the show was sold out every night for years. Dragone is no longer with Cirque but his link to Steve Wynn remains strong. The original name of the hotel, Le Reve will open in April and showcase a theater in the round where no seat is far from the stage. The facility is basically a circular cage sitting over a bowl - the water will run underneath and all around you, like nothing you've ever seen before.

Beyond that, the hit Broadway musical 'Avenue Q' will open in the fall in its own theater.

Beyond that, Wynn has mentioned the fact that he'll have capacity for additional shows with the Wynn Las Vegas 'Encore' expansion scheduled to open in 2007. He realizes that entertainment is a huge draw and a lot of fun to put together. As Wynn says, 'My marquee has space for four shows....'.


Like Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas will feature an assortment of high end retail. Expect stores from Brioni, Chanel, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Cartier, and Manolo Blahnik. Additionally, there will be an onsite Ferrari and Maseratti dealership and full service station.


The only Las Vegas Strip hotel with an 18 hole PGA level course. What else can do you want to know? The course is designed by Tom Fazio and Steve Wynn, the same crew that build Shadow Creek, the course will sit on over 100 acres directly behind the hotel and feature a full pro shop.

If you are a golfer, you will want to give the course a try. A huge waterfall at the 18th certainly won't turn you off.

The rumor is that the course will be named after the original property - 'Desert Inn Golf Club'.

Pools and Gardens:

Expect a pool complex that is a cousin to the one you see at Bellagio. Large open spaces with a lot of landscaping, private pools for suite and 'tower deluxe' rooms and spacious main pools are the signature attractions.

For a look at the pool deck along with the meeting facilities: Wynn Las Vegas Pool Deck Map.


Steve Wynn and his wife Elaine own a small but incredible impressive collection of pieces that will be on display at Wynn Las Vegas. Perhaps the most amazing of these is Picasso's 'Le Reve', Wynn's original inspiration for the resort.

Casino and Other Additional Features:

Gambling? Wynn Las Vegas will feature a 110,000 square foot casino with every major slot machine and table game. Hotel guests will be able to use their room keys as slot cards in any of the property's 1,900 slot machines, cutting down on the number of cards carried.

The poker room will feature 25 tables along with an electronic paging system to alert players when their tables are ready.

Much has been made of the use of RFID casino chips and table equipment in the casino. It seems as if Wynn Las Vegas will be one of the most high profile joints to use this new technology.

Wedding Chapels:

The hotel will feature two luxurious wedding chapels that overlook the pool deck.

VIP Amenities:

Guests staying in a Tower Suite or above will be treated to separate check-in areas, private pools and first access to tables at restaurants, shows, and more. Wynn plans to pamper all his guests by especailly those that are looking for a 'Four Seasons' level of experience.

What's Next?

Well, there's still a lot more to know about Wynn Las Vegas. We'll update this article a bit over the next few days based on feedback we get from our readers. Plus, more articles will be coming down the pipe as we get more information.


January Construction Photos at Flickr.