Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

April 26, 2007

MGM Mirage Makes Investment in Marnell's 'M Resort'

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage announced today that they will be investing $160MM in Anthony Marnell's South Strip (far South) project, the 'M Resort'.

Marnell previously built and operated the Rio and his company, Marnell Corrao, built The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas for Steve Wynn.

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Read archived comments (23 so far)
April 26, 2007 10:11 AM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

I'm looking forward to this place, I thought it would end up as one of the many canceled projects. I am not a huge fan of the Rio but I appreciate a lot of the original details that went into it, and of course we all know Mirage, TI, Bellagio and Wynn.
Also I wonder how the "W" feels about an "M" resort.

April 26, 2007 11:45 AM Posted by Leonard Stern

This is extremely good news for Tony's young son, who is the primary developer of the proposed "M Resort". Until this announcement, that project previously had 'questionable' financing issues of actually being able to move forward due to its large scale + increasing construction budget. Now that MGM/MIRAGE is a limited joint venture partner, it will certainly now become a reality. The only unfortunate negative is the fact that [his] father's architectural division of Marnell/Corrao will be designing the entire project, so expect another Rio-type, uninspired, mega-project at the south end. MGM/MIRAGE has recently been increasingly aggressive over the past few months, particularly with their purchase of the north Strip parcels (CityCenter II no doubt). Rumors are circulating daily within the industry that Kerkorian's plans to take the company private, after having increased his stake to $62%, are widely expected to occurr in short order. He [Kerkorian] will be turning 90 years old early this summer, + there is simply no stopping him! All of his closest + long-time associates have already passed away, yet he continues to forge ahead with the most incredible deal making skills of any investor in gaming industry history - one cannot even keep track of MGM/MIRAGE's continued acquistions. His (now) second attempt to buyout Chrysler for $4.5B will be interesting to follow. Considering that Kerkorian drives around Beverly Hills in a nondescript Jeep Cherokee + a common Pontiac Firebird, you would at least expect him to be tooling around in an '07 Dodge Viper when + if he takes over the company. Tracinda's main offices located in Beverly Hills don't even have an identification sign on their door, no sh*t!

April 26, 2007 12:07 PM Posted by detroit1051

So, what's the deal here? Is it getting so tough getting financing in Vegas that Marnell had to come to MGM? MGM can't lose on this.

April 26, 2007 1:56 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Marnell�s son, Tony III was the CEO + founder of TRIRIGA (an Integrated Workplace Management Systems software company) before he decided to get into the gaming industry as a developer/investor. (like father, like son!). At any rate, if I recall correctly + I�m not exactly sure of the actual details, but I believe Anthony Marnell III made his first independent casino-hotel deal last year by purchasing a substandard + underperforming property in Pahrump (or someplace similar). The �M Resort� is most definitely a �big league� venture + major entry for the inexperienced juvenile Tony III to try + follow in his father�s footsteps. It�s just too bad that his father is using all of his personal influence in order to provide the major financing for the �M Resort� regardless of the recent limited backing + support of MGM/MIRAGE which will NOW make it go forward. Tony III must have made a killing on promoting the innovative services TRIRGIA offered architects, contractors, engineers, etc. Actually I have reviewed their entire services package + have found it to be one of the best �integrated� advanced software programs in the design/construction industry currently available. However, as I mentioned earlier, the �M Resort� will unfortunately be designed by Marnell Charterd (the architectural business component of Marnell/Corrao) which only indicates to me that it will turn out to be just another Tony Marnell uninspired, substandard design. Too bad that his son is in no position to be able to retain a really 'first rate' choice in selecting an architect for that project on his own, but then again, one must Never Bite the Hand that Feeds You.

April 26, 2007 3:18 PM Posted by cgriff

Mirage and Bellagio by Marnell/Corrao "substandard" and "uninspired", says Stern. That's an interesting take. You prefer the architectural grandeur of Imperial Palace or Harrahs I guess?

April 26, 2007 3:50 PM Posted by Hunter

I don't want to speak for Leonard but I think he was referring to the M/C designers/architects, who are responsible for projects like the Rio.

For Bellagio and The Mirage, M/C was builder/GC but design was handled by other folks (Atlandia, Jerde at Bellagio, etc...).

April 26, 2007 5:09 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Hunter: Thank you for clarifying this! You are absolutely correct + 'cgriff' evidently did not, nor was correctly informed, as to what I was specifically referring to in connection with Tony Marnell's reputation as an architect is concerned. FYI - 'cgriff', Marnell-Corrao was merely the General Contractor for Mirage, Bellagio, + WLV (existing tower). Since the completeion of WLV, Tony + Steve have parted ways. Tony was NOT involved in any of the architectural design for any of [these] Wynn projects, with the possible exception of design contributions/alterations that were made in the construction of the "Spa Tower" addition at Bellagio in order to reduce costs.

April 26, 2007 8:04 PM Posted by John

Well, at least for Bellagio, Marnell was the designer of the Spa Tower addition. Which, in my mind, is somewhat bland and, as Leonard has said, uninspired. I'm not saying the new tower is nice, it's just bland and doesn't evoke the same elegance and luxury that the main resort areas exude.

However, I'm really looking forward to the "M" resort. It will really create a center of development on the far South Strip.

April 27, 2007 9:58 AM Posted by mike_ch

I didn't know that about the Spa Tower. Well then, Marnell earns an additional one point from me. I still feel everything else seems to follow the same pattern, though.

April 27, 2007 10:04 AM Posted by Hunter

My understanding is that the majority plan for the Spa Tower was part of the original master-plan for Bellagio - they always planned on a second phase in that manner. I was under the impression that Marnell's design contributions were pretty minimal.

April 27, 2007 11:00 AM Posted by Leonard Stern

Actually, the Spa Tower @ Bellagio was originally designed by Jerde as a second phase expansion, although quite a lot of modifications were made by Marnell at Wynn's request, but it still closely followed Jerde's design scheme after it was built.

April 27, 2007 1:52 PM Posted by detroit1051

Spa Tower is a striking example to me of the difference between Wynn and MGM. The contrast of the marble flooring, crown moldings, wall treatments and other finish work throughout Spa Tower to where it connects to the original convention/meeting space with that of the original is amazing. Yes, it looks nice, and it may show why MGM Mirage is such a profitable builder/operator. It would look like quality on its own, but when it's side by side with the original Bellagio quality, Spa Tower pales in comparison.

April 27, 2007 6:20 PM Posted by John

I was always under the impression that Wynn had comissioned Jerde to design the second of phase of Bellagio, which was intended to be an Encore-esque addition. I had always understood that it was intended to be an even more luxurious addition to Bellagio, but after MGM took over the addition became just a second tower that wasn't much different than the existing resort tower. And it was always my impression that Marnell was the driving force behind the interior design of the addition; which is, for lack of a better phrase, sub-par for a reosrt of Bellagio's luxury level.

Now, I'm not saying the guest room areas of the addition are as bad as the public interior spaces. The Spa Tower rooms are spacious. They are a bit more modern than the resort tower rooms. They are a bit more comfortable. However, the public spaces are bland. They're uninspired. I mean, who doesn't remember those support columns that used to be covered in that CHEAP wood panelling.

April 27, 2007 10:32 PM Posted by mike_ch

Funny you bring that up, since I've thought the renovated Bellagio casino is better looking than the old one. Looks less like they dressed it up with stuff from your Grandmother's attic now. And of course the new conservatory displays have been pretty high quality.

I do have some complaints (Gwen Stefani replacing Bing Crosby on the muzak) but materials aren't one of them. Yes, it's recognized by now that Wynn is mad for materials that few visitors other than he and his assistants will ever fully recognize the quality of, but that's part of the reason I think he has so much difficulty making money.

April 30, 2007 2:07 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

John: The original Jerde future concept design always included a separate second tower expansion, not another tower equivalent in size + scope to the existing tower. I have the original concept drawings filed somewhere on one of my many computers + I'll see if I can locate them - it's been so long that they might have been deleted by now. Marnell's influence was mostly associated with the interior design of the Spa Tower, however the second phase proposal of the "as-built" Spa Tower was initially intended to be substantially larger in room count + footprint (same height), however, the exterior design is pretty much in keeping with Jerde's schematic design concept. I don't consider Jerde's own firm's interior design division to be on the cutting edge, however, ANYTHING is better than Roger Thomas' hideous overuse of gaudy interior finishes + materials which continually visually "clash" against one another + have no sense of continuity whatsoever. This same opinion is common consensus by just about EVERYBODY in the interior design field that I know who have experienced WLV's interior design by means of an objective + professional analysis.

April 30, 2007 4:31 PM Posted by John

Leonard, the argument still stands, does it not, that Marnell basically took the overall luxury of Bellagio's interior design down a peg with marble patterns that look like they would be more at home at the Venetian and fake wood paneling on any support columns.

April 30, 2007 5:40 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

John: This is entirely subjective at best. I do not like either (Thomas' original garish interiors for the 'original' Bellagio) or Marnell's "fake finishes" he used in the Spa Tower. Just take a look at the new Forum Shops multi-level expansion (no connection with Wynn) + tell me that just about EVERYTHING used there are not repetitive phoney graphic-applied wall + ceiling surfaces? I would rather accept the design of an inexperienced apprentice interior designer over anything that Roger Thomas creates. His stuff is absolute "garbage" + my favorite "moron" Wynn continues to pay exorbitant fess to Thomas for using the outlandish crap that [he] continues to design on Wynn's behalf (with approval), + even spending millions of dollars to subsequently tear down + revise venues @ WLV after completion of construction, because Steve decided that he just did "not feel right about it." Look at Roger Thomas' history. It's all about Wynn! I've said it before, + I will say it again for the record, had it not been for E. Parry Thomas, (Roger's father) whom Steve owes his success to, there would not be a Roger Thomas in charge of WD+D nor would he even be able to get a job as a Home Depot interior design consultant!

July 4, 2007 8:20 PM Posted by Kevin

Leonard, weren't you kicked out of and finally 86'ed from the Rio for good? How you guys go on comparing the Rio, which was the hottest Casino in the 90's and into this century, a project that was built with limited start up money that was wisely reinvested by the ingenious visionary Mr. Marnell into a seven phase project to build the Rio as it stands today, to projects like Wynn and Bellagio that were multi-Billion projects out of the gate, I don't know. The Rio still has the best and most luxurious rooms, the most awesome suites and the Pallazzo Suites are the most inspiring Villas in town.

The 'M' like the Rio will be a wonderful project, bring fun and quality to everyone at an affordable price. The design will be just perfect.

Never underestimate Tony Marnell and I would not be so quick to call his son names as he is a mature man and will be very successful in running this operation the right way.

The Rio changed Las Vegas and the way we do business and we can thank Tony Marnell for that! Why guys like you sit around and try to critize him is beyond me.

July 5, 2007 9:31 AM Posted by Leonard Stern

Kevin: I was NEVER 86'd from the Rio Hotel, during the time Tony owned + operated the property or after Harrah's took over. I have no idea where you heard that from. The reason "us guys" in the architectural community sit around + criticize him is because Tony is a far better builder + businessman than architect. The Rio, objectively, is + always will be considered a substandard property with a "hodge-podge" approach in both its design + planning. The "M" Resort will fare no better from a design perspective, Tony Marnell is not relevant because he is simply not a very good architect. His contributions as a successful builder/contractor + developer of less ambitious projects certainly warrants merit. These are his core businesses + he should stick to doing what he knows best + leave the design up to the more talented experts in the field!

February 8, 2009 8:28 AM Posted by Rick

Like the site at first blush. Surprised nobody has added comments on the M project of Marnell Carrao more recently.

February 8, 2009 8:41 AM Posted by rick

I just finished my 6 month stint at the "M" project. I want to say that the architecture is strong, well suited to the location and views of the mountains and the Strip. The entrance (port cochere) refers in its upward -curving roof to the lens-shaped curve of the hotel wall of glass. The hotel wall reflects the mountains and sky in an ever-changing display. The pool/restaurant area is a lively court of horizontals, cantelevers (sp?), glass, and water, tied to the front by massive beams that carry through to the front of the port. In the casino, much use of ceiling geometry, gold hued tones, massive lighting features and striking angular lines adds to a feeling of space inviting exploration.

February 8, 2009 3:36 PM Posted by Hunter

We've discussed it a bit and plan to more when it opens.

If you don't mind me asking, what was your role there?

March 2, 2009 7:19 PM Posted by denise

tony im from clear lake wi i know a good bar that is for sale and a small gas staion i have ideas and its not much and would be great to run a town more like as its small and i will be in laughlin end of march to april think about more less owning a town and i know alot of people that are very good workers and I would like to have to think about it ..