Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

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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It's been a long time since I've written an update. I haven't gotten out on the Strip much this year between cold weather, a trip out of town, and a flu that left me shut in the house for the better part of a month. This just means there's more to post about!


I have no idea how old this news is, but the restaurant out in the newish patio portion of Caesars is closed. I guess this is pretty old since most websites have removed it from their listings, but I've never noticed it before. In the patio nearby is a big shrine thing for Chinese New Year. The area where the casino connects to the Forum Shops is covered with tarps and scaffolding. That whole statue and dome thing at the entrance is completely invisible and there's some kind of work going on in there. They did a really good job covering it up (in fact I thought the connection to the Forum Shops was closed when I saw it from a distance, visitors are being routed around the project through some small bottleneck pathways) so I don't know what's going on underneath.

At Forum Shops, the restaurant space near the horse fountain is reopened again. It's now an Italian place with an obnoxiously hip design and it's got a name like Tiali [It is called 'Trevi' - Editor] or something. At lunchtime, business was less busy than you'd hope for if you ran the place. I don't know if any restaurant can really do well being less than twenty steps away from Spago, but best of luck to them.

The Venetian:

They're STILL working on repairing the clock tower from that fire in September. I figure they need to get the infrastructure repairs done to the base of the tower first before blasting it with water, but would it be unfair to point out that the big black smoke mark is approaching a six months old?


There's so much scaffolding to see through, but if you squint you can see the exterior of a resort under there. The main entrance is really underway now and the strip frontage is seeing the majority of the labor, although there's really people crawling all over this place. however, on the far north end there's still only a bare skeleton of a building. The rotunda-shaped thing in the center of the strip frontage is getting the most work done, and there's some curved concrete stairs leading up from the ground level to an elevated area in front of the building. Anyone who has had a longer chance than I have to stare at the model know what's going on there? On the tower itself, the exterior curtain work seems to have stalled.

Wynn Las Vegas:

A corner of the floor near the sports book has been cleared of slot machines and is currently holding "The Wynn Classic" poker tournament. Something I should say about Wynn is that the casino and player's club employees are still very friendly and sometimes even a little generous to yours truly. I don't get as much contact with the hotel and resort folks but they still give off that "why are you here/you don't belong here" thing. Food & Beverage workers are still a mixed bag, as there's some people who care and others who either don't know what they're doing or are only going to do enough to make you go away. No serious upkeep problems like a few months ago.


It's getting really big now but it's still a WLV-shaped honeycomb with nothing spectacular to tell you about it. What's the shorter building behind it? It looks kind of like a parking garage but as far as I know they don't intend on adding any additional lots. [It is indeed a new valet parking lot - Ed]


I was really unhappy with how long Boyd let Stardust sit around after closing but now that the demolition crew is here they're making very quick work of the place. The property is almost unrecognizable now, and I can count the number of exterior pieces still intact on the buildings with one hand. Last week the big sign finally had enough of this destruction and moved away to the retired sign yard across the street from Cashman Field. It's unassembled into big pieces in the southern-most lot. Between Stardust and all those pieces of La Concha in the northern lot, the old sign organization must be running out of room so I hope they begin to rebuild one of their holdings soon. Back at the demolition site, there's just two sticks with some blue and gold diamonds lodged into them left to remind you what used to be here.


The conservatory is celebrating the Chinese New Year, of course. Outside on the moving path out to the sidewalk, they have a patch of potted trees and patches of grass which I'm not sure are for the conservatory or for the grounds of the hotel or what. The tall trees, for all I know, could be intentionally placed there to hide the view of the construction projects happening behind them. However it all looked rather like something a horticulturist left behind without concern for. [They sometimes use that area for storage of plants they aren't using - Ed]


Before we had Dirt Mountain, but now meet Giant Hole! The canyon that's been dug around the Jockey Club is huge and between the trees at Bellagio and their fairly good construction wall coverage I had to settle with just the few shots I could get. They also have a very tall crane erected there, unusually taller compared to the other cranes at the site nearby. Still no actual signs of a building, though


I was really excited to see what's progressed at CityCenter in all this time. I haven't missed much. The main building is still going up and everything else is just a tractor & crane convention. However, in the area where I'm expecting The Harmon to eventually be built they've lowered the dirt level quite significantly. A footprint? A future pit? Something more?

Planet Hollywood:

I intended to go inside this one and then got a look at it and decided not to. The whole strip frontage is being ripped apart now, any facade that hasn't been removed has at least been destroyed/ruined by the wrecking crew. In certain places where they've simply stripped the exterior away it looks oddly just like it did when the hotel was going up seven years ago.

Monte Carlo:

First, the small news: The food court has joined Cafe and Buffet in the Newly Refurbished Club. And speaking of clubs a Subway is opening soon. Now, the big news: Sure enough, the southern-most entrance is closed off and being ripped up, but it's still a long way from done. They haven't even gotten around to clearing all the big naked statues away, and the few pieces of exterior that have been removed are covered with enough tarps to not even make the scene worth a photograph. I guess the entrance to Diablo's Cantina is where the former HyperMart store will be, as everything from the door to the Lance Burton store is closed off. A big construction wall says that the place is opening up in the fall, and I wouldn't be surprised if it slipped, so they're taking their time with this. Which will open first: Diablo's or Palazzo?! Stay tuned to find out!

New-York New-York:

Breaking news! Upstairs, next to Coyote Ugly, a construction wall advertises that Haagen-Dazs will be opening up in that space. Yes, that seems extremely unimportant, but I can't help but wonder if this spells the end of the Tropicana/Schrafft's just a few steps away. It likely does, and I think it would be unfortunate because Schrafft's which is more relevant to NYC (and almost unheard of to those of us who don't get out there) and it's not exactly like there's much authenticity to be found at NY-NY in the first place. Next time I go, if Schrafft's is still open I'll ask whoever is working there if they've heard of any plans.


Of course, most the details of the renovation project are going on in the room towers that I can't get to, but little details are showing up around the hotel. The mannequin knights lining the roof of the strip entrance are gone, and now that plastic Merlin in the center of the castle roof-line (you know, the one with the permanently-affixed angry face and neon lightning bolts coming out of his armpits) is gone.

Mandalay Bay:

There's an area in front of the Fleur de Lys part of the hotel that I think used to be a lounge or something. It sort of sits on it's own surrounded by water. Well, it's a closed off area of tables and there's a very temporary-looking sign there saying that it's "JPop Sushi" from 11AM to 11PM. The only thing that gave the impression of a sushi restaurant away was the presence of tables chairs, as well as some TV screens on the wall playing for the benefit of nobody. There was no visitors, no guests, no obvious place for someone to come out serving sushi. The whole thing was closed and it was between 11AM and 11PM, so I don't know what the deal is.

Mandalay Place:

Though it managed to steam ahead for a few months without the nightclub it shared a name with, "Vintage RA" has closed it's doors. I know you must be devastated like all of us at hearing this news, but that's what the blog community exists for. Just post a comment if you need some help coping with the empty hole in your heart where this noisy store and it's skanky wares once stood. We can all heal, together.


Big changes here. First and foremost, the High Limit Area in the center of the casino is gone. It has been moved to the area across the aisle from the Poker Room. This places it directly adjacent to the path of people going to and from the towers and Excalibur walkway, and I can't think that's a good idea especially there's no barrier or anything to ward off those of weak pocketbook. I found this out when I was delighted to see an even-pay-table Double Diamond machine and then noticed it only accepted bets in $100 amounts. The old high limit area is still there but closed off, but they've put up a projection TV playing ESPN and placed some chairs around, but there's no actual service operating there. I have no idea what's going on here, perhaps it was set up for the NBA game, but I suppose it's possible they're planning to build one of those "dead center of the casino" hook-up bars that are popular right now. They've also cleared the casino entrance from the front door of machines so you immediately walk into a new table game zone. The area that was Cleopatra's Lounge is now used both as part of the new high limit floor and a bar behind that high limit floor. I've seen this bar once or twice before and meant to get a picture but today it was serving customers so taking a photo didn't seem appropriate.

Now then, the construction walls around the lobby area are gone, leaving some curtains and obvious work behind. A big planter gewgaw thing that had a few Ancient Egypt statue-guys standing underneath light-up fan-shaped lights is now gone. Really, I'm a sucker for Luxor's tacky theming but that piece of art was always a little too much even for me, so no loss. However, the part of the lounge that wasn't being used for the bar and high limit area are being renovated into what appears to be another Octane-style contemporary lounge. This lounge will open up directly into the lobby area, there's a path and steps leading from the lobby inwards but the whole area is roped off. Along the wall that separates the casino roof from the attractions floor, the big themed gewgaws have been ripped off the wall and left plenty of visible marks.

Finally, the area between the Attractions escalator and the room elevators, formerly used by Hamada of Japan, is behind more walls after a few months of sitting empty and dark. I'm guessing it'll be part of the project that has swallowed up the RA entrance and those ticky-tacky shops near the RA entrance. Some themed murals along the walls to the parking lot have been whitewashed away. And the Sacred Sea Room is now illuminated again and hosting wedding receptions or something, so I'm guessing that Aspen702 is being built in the Isis space.

That's all for now! Thanks for reading! I hope this has been somehow informative to you, because if it has been then it inflates my ego even more. :)


Read archived comments (10 so far)
February 27, 2007 12:54 PM Posted by mike_ch

Note to self: Don't write for blog in the wee hours. It results in a lot of forgotten names, stream-of-consciousness rambling, and overuse of unpleasant words like "gewgaw."

Something I forgot to mention is that the Palms buffet work is well underway. They have TV screens showing you concept art of the new buffet which is way WAY better looking than the lame cafeteria styled setting they had before. The new design seems to carry that same motif you find in the casino with a brighter color scheme.

Like the cafe during it's renovations a year ago, they've opened up a temporary buffet in the upstairs of Garduno's. But even the Aladdin's temporary buffet was quite bad so I didn't have the guts to try this one. And they also appear close to opening up some sort of convention space as well, as there was a set of doors and a reception counter that I don't remember seeing before, with guys in hard hats running in and out.

February 28, 2007 3:05 AM Posted by Mike E

Thanks for the report, Mike!

I for one am all for late-night ramblings and have already incorporated "geegaw" into my regular vocabulary.

February 28, 2007 12:34 PM Posted by Mike E

By the way, the Brahma shrine in front of Caesars you speak of isn't there just for Chinese New Year--I've been stopping by to admire it for the last year and a half or so. Shame it has to go. So unique.

February 28, 2007 9:58 PM Posted by Miku Araman

Thanks for the update! It's been a couple of months since I've been there so it's nice to hear what's going on.

March 2, 2007 7:15 AM Posted by Rob

Thanks Mike - great to get some updates on properties other than the usual suspects (Wynn/ Bellagio etc).

What does MGM intend do with the vast number of mid range properties (MC/NYNY/Luxor/MGM/MB/TI etc) that it now has? I'm not convinced that de-theming these properties is the right thing to do. Do they have a masterplan?

Anyway thanks again Mike - look forward to your next post - unless you and Leonard are planning to have a duel at dawn on the strip ;-)

March 4, 2007 2:45 PM Posted by KY

This update makes me really depressed about MGM/Mirage. I like sleek, modern, minimalist design, so I usually go back and forth on them. But it seems now like they want to make the whole Strip look the same ... turn The Strip into THEStrip. And that sucks. Because while I like the look of THEHotel, I wouldn't have the same enthusiasm for Vegas if everything was that way. I know this is nothing new to most of you, and not necessarily the gist of this update, but it was just kind of a nail in the coffin for me.

March 4, 2007 8:14 PM Posted by mike_ch

KY, I know where you're coming from about that. I blame the resorts of West Flamingo, myself. Marnell's original Rio design was kind of a shorter, stubby version of the Stardust west tower but since Masquerade Tower was built everyone has been going to tall, glassy towers. The Wynn brown-swoosh thing that can be seen all over town takes it up to the max.

And of course, interior-wise, everything MGM has been doing for the past few years, aside from Bellagio's renovation, feels like a knockoff of the Palms. With Red Rock and now Aliante, even the Station brand, which is pretty much the preferred choice of senior citizens (except in Summerlin where I'm still the youngest person in every room at the Rampart Blvd casinos), is going all hip and trendy. I think that's going to come off as obnoxious to Station's bread and butter market.

This is partly why I'm almost excited to see Palazzo come online. It seems to be eschewing this explosion of modern & marble fusion in favor of the kind of stately look you'd expect from Ceasars or Bellagio. Of course I could be wrong and inside it might look completely like the phony casino from NBC's Las Vegas or something, but here's hoping I'm wrong there.

March 5, 2007 9:15 AM Posted by detroit1051

Hi Mike_ch. Next time you or any other locals are at Bellagio, I'd be interested in knowing if they've started work on the new high limit slot room and whether it's in the same location or next to Club Prive. Same question about the Suite floors, but with keycard access and vigilent(?) redcoats watching the elevators, it's probably not easy to get up there. Thanks.

March 23, 2007 1:39 PM Posted by detroit1051

In Business Las Vegas has a story on CityCenter. What caught my eye is the construction photo of MGM's CityCenter Casino. It is really going up fast.

March 23, 2007 3:39 PM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit, I'll try to get a look again this weekend but from what I've seen there hasn't been any major construction in the past month like that at Bellagio. I did walk past Club Prive on this update and there was nothing going on there.

The only thing I've ever seen in the past month is curtains over the eastern-side wall of the club/cashier. That was in the update before this one and I didn't check during this update to see if they were still there.