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August 30, 2011

The Plaza (2.0 Beta 1)

Posted by Hunter

I stayed in an updated room at The Plaza this past week, just a few days before the official opening. This is my story.

If you want to see my pictures, they're here:

May 4, 2011

April 2011 Trip Notes (Cosmopolitan, et al)

Posted by Hunter

Some notes from my trip, now two weeks past:

- Hotel: Stayed at Cosmopolitan and tried their lowest end room product, the City Room (which I believe is the only room offered with two beds). I took my brother along on this trip, who is 29. This was his first experience at the Cosmopolitan and he absolutely loved it. Everything from the design, to the room to the pool - right up his alley. It was interesting to see the place through someone else's (significantly less jaded) eyes.

- Cosmo: Generally, things went well. The room was clean and we got in right way. I visited the spa and while I appreciated the design, the attendant allowed towels and used cups to stack up all over the place and they didn't have any combs or brushes for your hair. Weird. In the casino, I was informed that none of the bars have Stolichnaya Vodka (they have flavors but not the normal stuff). It's such a common brand, that seemed odd to me as well. Service was pretty good throughout the resort. Friendly workers and lots of curious folks wandering the property. I didn't see a lot of gaming action.

- Food: Hit some places I'd already been or had been recommended to me: China Poblano (twice - so good), Tacos al Gordo (near Encore ; very good taco stand style - highly recommended. It seems their new Strip outlet was a surprise to some based on the Twitter reactions), Steak and Shake (South Coast ; was fun and worthwhile but the line was loooooong). Drinks at Sinatra where we had a long talk with the bartender - he'd actually served The Chairman long ago.

- CityCenter: Took my bro through CityCenter for the first time. He's an artist and really appreciated the work they've installed around the campus. He didn't care for The Crystals very much though ("this place is a disaster. WTF?")

- Construction: Ruffin is removing more of the TI lagoon to add a Starbucks and some sort of margarita debacle. The area being torn up is the southern tip, between the porte-cochere and the front of the hotel. Further down The Strip, the Tropicana is looking more 'finished' - less jarring moments as you move from a renovated part of the hotel to one that hasn't been touched. At Cosmo, Blue Ribbon was having it's floors replaced (it's since re-opened) - in talking to employees, it sounds like it was pretty dramatic when that pipe broke (I can't believe we haven't seen any random customer video). The Sugar Factory at Paris is just as ugly as I expected it to be.

- Sahara: Went by for what might be the last time. It was medium busy in the casino but the employees looked pretty sad and tired. Being in there was a bit of a bummer but I'm glad I got the opportunity to take some pictures.

- Crowds: This was a Tuesday and Wednesday night but it was crowded. There were people everywhere. Nice to see.

- Vegas Video Network's Pub Crawl: On Wednesday, I went to a taping of Pub Crawl at the Vegas Video Network studio. This was a lot of fun and if you're a fan of the show, you should consider it on your next trip. Everyone was super friendly and they're a laugh riot. Bring booze.

I took a load of photos. They're available here in case you want to see them.

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

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!

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 12, 2010

Casino Design Photo of the Week: Paris Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

I'm including Paris Las Vegas this week as an example of a themed property that looks pretty good - the inclusion of several important Paris landmarks across the facade, the 'cobblestone' streets inside (which can be a little painful to walk on sometimes) all the way to the half-size Eiffel Tower - one of the youngest themed properties on The Strip.

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...

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 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.

NOTE: I was told that as recently as this week, some of these signs have disappeared. Word from MGM Mirage is that this doesn't indicate a change of policy, just a temporary adjustment of the signage itself.

Over the past several weeks, several bloggers and Las Vegas visitors noticed that at both Luxor and Excalibur, new signs had sprung up prohibiting guests from taking photos or videos in any of the two resort's public areas.

If you're interested in understanding and debating the new policy, continue after the jump.

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:

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:

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:

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 1, 2009

UPDATED: Vdara: Some Photos and Opinions

Posted by Hunter

Dr. Dave Schwartz has blogged a bit about his walk through Vdara this morning. Also, his photos are available here:

Also, VegasRex has his own take, another interesting read.

I'll be at Vdara on Saturday to explore it more fully, along with The Crystals, before the big event in two weeks.

Update: Steve Friess lends some new pictures and thoughts about Vdara.

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...

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.

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

The photos are here:


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.

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.

March 22, 2009

Casino Photography - Punishable By Law?

Posted by Hunter

Casinos have discouraged photography inside for ages - it's nothing new. This is usually under the guise of protecting their customers privacy.

Recently though, some have reported casino security taking a much harder line and in one case, a photographer was even detained.

VegasRex has been beating the drum on this issue for some time - if I recall, he even had a run-in himself. Some of his commentary is here:

The RJ is now looking at the issue as well, contacting Rex, the detained customer and a few security officials:

As someone who has taken literally thousands of photos of these places, inside and out, I have strong feelings on this. Now, I understand a private business can prohibit photography - I've been asked not to take photos - but the idea that this is some kind of security threat and that it could even possibly be a real offense is ludicrous.

March 2, 2009

UPDATED: M Resort Opening - Day Two

Posted by Hunter

As most readers know, I was at the M Resort opening party last night... not as an invited guest but as a media person - I basically forced myself on the PR folks and they were gracious enough to give me the green light.

After spending three or so hours there on Sunday night and then another hour again today, I wish I could say it was awesome and that I was blown away. Generally speaking, I wasn't. There are some cool touches like the wine cellar, the pool deck and the pharmacy but other than that, I could have been inside Aliante Station (which also cost $400 million less to build) or GVR and not known the difference.

I don't mean to say there's anything 'wrong' with the place but by that same token, I did not see anything that would make it a recommended must-stop. In the boom times of years past, this would be another strong locals contender, easily in the same bracket as Green Valley Ranch or maybe even Red Rock but those times are long gone. It's certainly a lot nicer than South Point so the folks that live in the area should be pleased, though I think the only people living in the immediate neighborhood are lizards and coyotes - there is nothing but empty desert across the street.

I timed the trip from MGM Grand to the M - 22 minutes by car in moderate traffic on Las Vegas Blvd. It would no doubt be faster on the 15 but the point is that it is quite a ways from the resort corridor of The Strip. If they are trying to poach anyone from that zone, I wish them luck.

In the run-up to the opening, owner Anthony Marnell III has been making a big deal about recognizing the new economic reality. His implication is that the days of expensive hotel rooms and high end meals are waning. My inspection of his restaurant menus didn't give me much faith this philosophy has been implemented - $42 steaks with $7 baked potatoes sounds more like Bellagio prices than Value Central.

When I came back today, Marnell himself was walking the floor, fixing problems and attending to customers - that's great. With Strip casinos being run by large corporations and even the bigger locals operators filled with bureaucracy, it's refreshing to see an owner/operator involved at that level. The Las Vegas Strip is such big business that nothing happens that isn't PR approved and focus group tested - that means little to no innovation and lots of 'me too' copying (see nightclubs, ultra lounges, gourmet burger places, etc...) A directly involved manager like Marnell has an opportunity to innovate and I hope he does. Putting the pharmacy in the casino is a promising first step and his background in technology, a sector known for innovation, gives me hope we'll see them trying new and interesting things out there. The family did that at The Rio and I hope that trend continues at 'M'.

I ended up doing the rounds with Steve Friess and I'm glad I did because it made the entire thing far more fun. His write-up is here and I recommend checking it out if you're curious about the resort. Steve's a much better writer than I am (duh).

So - should you check out the 'M'? If you're in the neighborhood, sure. I think of Red Rock Resort as enough of a spectacle to be worth visiting from other parts of the Valley. Not sure if I would put 'M' in that category, at least not yet. The VP pay tables didn't look all that hot (lots of 8/5). Some of the restaurants looked interesting and the wine cellar joint is pretty cool.

Some new photos:

Update: David McKee has chipped in with more thoughts including from others that were there last night. Seems like opinions are all over the place for 'M'.

March 2, 2009

M Resort Opening Photos

Posted by Hunter

I took some photos at the VIP opening party for M Resort, located on Las Vegas Blvd. at St. Rose Parkway.

The party was a lively affair with most all of the restaurants open for tastings. The wine cellar was also open downstairs, one of the cooler parts of the property.

I'm going to go back to the casino again today to spend some more time there before I render an option. First impressions - some interesting restaurants and nice pool deck but a fairly unimaginative casino design. I still think some aspects like including an on-site pharmacy are brilliant.

The photos:

February 23, 2009

City Center Starts Taking Reservations for ARIA

Posted by Hunter

ARIA, the main hotel component at City Center, is taking reservations starting today. The first night for regular guests is December 17.

The Web site for bookings, which also contains some new renderings of the property and rooms is here:

Rates for opening night are currently at $299 (ouch) for what is normally a very very slow week in town. We'll see if those come down.

Reservations for Vdara, the condo hotel next to ARIA, are expected to open today as well [online here - thanks Mike P!] for dates starting in October. Not sure what it will be like to stay in what will still be a construction site in the delta between those two openings.

This is the first opening of a [ed: Las Vegas] hotel for MGM Mirage since the company was combined in 2000.

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.

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 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 11, 2008

Vegas Gang #23 - December 11th, 2008

Posted by Hunter

Vegas Gang #23 is online:

This time around we cover:

* Mirage Volcano Reborn (Photos: here
* Encore Suites at Wynn Las Vegas Opens December 22nd -
* Nevada Gaming Numbers from October 2008
* Las Vegas Marathon

Feel free to leave any comments below.

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.

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 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 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 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:

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 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.


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:


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:

April 21, 2008

A Stay at Trump International Tower - Las Vegas, NV

Posted by Hunter

For my first stay in a condo-hotel, I picked the Trump International Tower, right off the Strip in Las Vegas. This is a short write up of our experience this past weekend.

Continue after the jump for more...


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!

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 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 21, 2008

Encore Construction Photos

Posted by Hunter

Ok, still working on my Palazzo story but in the interim, here's some recent photos of Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.

Some nice shots showing low-rise progress. Curtains and what looked like furniture was in many of the lower floors of the high-rise.

In particular, this shot shows where the glass wall looking over the pool area will be:

And the rest of the shots:

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:


December 31, 2007

UPDATED: Palazzo Opens Just to Spite Me

Posted by Hunter

Well, Palazzo's casino and some other public spaces are open.

We got back from Las Vegas on Saturday - I was really hoping to see the insides myself. So much of the exterior needs work but I guess they were just determined to start the cash meter.

Update: Thanks to Mark for sharing some exclusive photos with us. You can see them here:

Updated Again: I just booked two nights over the opening weekend so we'll be reporting on the full Palazzo experience.

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.


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:


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 12, 2007

New Fronter Implosion - Our Coverage

Posted by Hunter

Well, I decided that I'm going to jump in the car and head to Las Vegas to photograph and shoot video of the implosion of the New Frontier tonight (early tomorrow).

I'll be trying to do this as 'live' as possible, including posting to my Twitter feed @ratevegas. Also, Flickr should have updated photos and of course I will be posting here, but that's probably going to have a little delay, just due to the nature of the tech. The Twitter feed will be the most up to date as it happens.

So, wish me luck and you'll hear from me soon.

Update: If anyone reading this is either a Wynn Resorts employee or is staying at Wynn Las Vegas and has a room overlooking the Frontier, drop me a line at editor AT ratevegas DOT com - myself and another high-profile Vegas blogger/writer would love to watch from your window.

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 21, 2007

Palazzo - Opening on Time?

Posted by Hunter

An article over on the VegasRex blog talks about the Palazzo and if it will open on time. It's a question that a lot of people are asking - and wondering if 'opening' will be qualified with 'limited'.

Now, some of what Rex talks about are probably less of an issue than he makes them out to be - when these high-rises are built, the lower floors are finished, fixtures are installed and furnished while the upper floors are still being framed and curtained.

We know that the retail shops will be open in January and the 'Jersey Boys' show will be later in the Spring. Also, I'm pretty sure that some of the convention space expansion will probably not be open on 12/20 either.

Anyway, any inside info in this thread would be fascinating - what do you guys think?

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:

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

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 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 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:


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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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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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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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 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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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 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).

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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January 20, 2007

Play The Strip Photo Quiz!

Posted by Hunter

We've just launched the Las Vegas Strip Photo Quiz. You can reach the quiz here:

It is a simple but fun photo matching game that you can use to test your knowledge of Las Vegas Strip architecture and geography. The highest scorers will be displayed on a special page.

Over time we will be swapping the photos out, so this will remain fresh.

This thing was put together very quickly but I think it's a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it. Don't worry if you have a hard time with some of them - it is supposed to be a challenge!

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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 1, 2007

Reader Trip Report: Bellagio December 2006

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Aaron_B for this well written trip report from Bellagio. This is his first contribution so let's give him a warm welcome.

Also, if there's anyone else out there that would like to share a report, please feel free to send them to I cannot guarantee that it will be published but I will guarantee to read it and get back to you. I'm especially interested in reports from hotels that we don't cover as often (i.e. not Wynn Las Vegas, The Mirage, Bellagio, etc...) but that doesn't mean you cannot submit one from the above.

Some photos are also posted:

The report continues after the jump. Enjoy!

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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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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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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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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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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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My photos are now online. I updated all the various categories but if you just want to see the new photos, use this URL:

There are a load of pictures of the Palazzo model they have up at The Venetian. There's no note at all about what the thing is but everyone that walks by checks it out.

I did get a couple of requests and I tried to fill them. I did peek around the barrier and take Social House photos (not open yet) but they DID NOT come out so I am not posting them. Social House looks kinda neat on the inside, as does Japonais at The Mirage.

Keep reading after the jump for more...

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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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April 28, 2006

Las Vegas Photos, April '06

Posted by detroit1051

I added some photos to my Webshots account. They include, Wynn, Palazzo, Red Rock, Golden Nugget and the Residences at MGM Grand.

Las Vegas Photos

April 9, 2006

MacauCasinoWorld Publishes New Photos

Posted by Hunter

Thank to, we have some new photos of the progress of various properties in Macau.

These photos show various resorts such as Wynn Macau, MGM Grand and The Venetian Macau, all of which are showing fantastic progress.

Check 'em out: Macau Photos

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April 3, 2006

Google Earth Publishes New Las Vegas Photos

Posted by Hunter

For those of you that are Google Earth users, they have posted new, high resolution images onto the service for Las Vegas, NV.

The photos were apparently taken in March 2006 and feature fairly high resolution. You can see people and their shadows, all the Strip casinos, etc... Great stuff.

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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 2, 2006

Las Vegas Photos By Andreas Schmidt

Posted by Hunter

I received a review copy of a new Las Vegas photo book by German photographer Andreas Schmidt. I see a lot of these types of books and most have nice photos but are very cookie cutter. This book is different - click the link to read more to find out about this book.

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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:

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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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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I sometimes forget that new readers may not be aware of all of the thousands of photos that we have cataloged...

So, as a reminder, please be sure to visit our Las Vegas photo gallery at

Wynn Las Vegas Photos
All Las Vegas Photos


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January 29, 2005

Las Vegas Photos Posted

Posted by Hunter

We've posted some of today's photos at Flickr:
Vegas Media Group at Flickr.

Now, I have about 60 more to upload but I'm waiting for Flickr to finish upgrading my account.

January 29, 2005

Live From The Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

Live From The Las Vegas Strip

* The new Augustus Tower at Caesars is really coming along quickly.

* Bellagio is reconstructing the main entrance. According to workers onsite, it will include a waterfall and be done in March.

* The Bellagio Spa Tower is gorgeous. The new Via Fiore wraps around the pool to include the pastry shop with incredible chocolate fountain, the new restaurant Sensi, and several other shops. Much of the interior design points to future directions for the rest of the public areas at the hotel.

* The Bellagio/Monte Carlo tram will be running again in March. The new station will be at the back of the new Spa Tower complex.

[mobile posting]

January 29, 2005

Live From Las Vegas Update

Posted by Hunter

Live From Las Vegas Update

* First off... As far as the pictures go, I had planned to upload some from the camera in my Treo. That isn't working so I will upload shots from my digital camera as soon as I stop back at The Mirage.

* The Venetian is rusting. Big surprise.

* The Forum Shops expansion has some pedestrian flow problems. People are confused about how to get to the rest of the mall. For the record, it is on the second floor but you have to walk all the way around the building.

* Next up, Bellagio Spa Tower...

Any requests? Leave comments...

[mobile posting]

January 29, 2005

Welcome to Las Vegas! It

Posted by Hunter

Welcome to Las Vegas! It is raining here right now...

This mobile blogging thing isn't totally working correctly... Specifically the images are having problems... We'll see if we can fix that later or we will post the images later in the day...

More soon.

[mobile posting]