Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

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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Folks, this update is a bit different than usual, as I started my adventure on Flamingo Blvd as usual and traveled south from there, so there's no Encore or Palazzo in this update. They will be there in the next update. Not going north gave me the additional time to check out some mid/south developments, such as CityCenter and largely the new Planet Hollywood, which by the time you read this will have been calming down after it's premiere event. As you'll see, the star is making her way down the red carpet, but sheesh, she is NOT ready for her close-up. Along with the photos, I tried to get some videos of the especially questionable lobby design but employee huddles where everywhere and they seemed to all get intimidating stone faces anytime I brought my camera out, so I got what I could without risking upsetting anyone.

The sports bar in the hallway between Paris and Bally's is open for those of you seeking Le Burger du Cheese. In a great moment of timing, I managed to get into the buffet at the last minute of breakfast and get lunch for a breakfast rate. My review has been posted to the RV database. It is a duck lips buffet, which offers less to the traditional middle-american diet than the Bellagio and certainly way less than Planet Hollywood. But it has a few unique elements. A decent value, and a good bargain at the breakfast rate.

Planet Aladdin:
Just as I made a last day visit to the Stardust, I make a last day visit to the Aladdin. Except really, I don't think I should even call it that. The fact is that this hotel is both ready for opening and at the same time it's completely not ready at all. I'm still not sure why they decided to hold an event the next day, except that some people were doubting this place would ever open.

When I first arrived, I thought "I guess they abandoned any intentions of having obvious construction complete before the press event." The fact is that the whole Strip facade from the entrance along past the restaurants and all the way down to the end corner is still undergoing work. That is not a pretty sight, and this will probably be the first Strip hotel in some time (ever?) to hold an opening party with a big "don't worry, we're open during this construction!" banner hung on the front.

Honestly, if they were going to go this route they could have held their event on Monday instead of Tuesday, except they were busy putting all the finishing touches on the revamped entrance. And by the way, how did the PH folks fix the Aladdin's infamous entry access? Did they expand the frontage out closer to the street with a door that didn't require going upstairs to get to? No, they just built some moving ramps and enough additional stairs to make the casino entrance look more like the entrance to a sports venue. Otherwise, there's no reason to set the Aladdin/PH transition on Tuesday because there's really nothing left that says Aladdin anymore. They're almost as ready on Monday as they will be on Tuesday, but it's still not ready enough for most our tastes.

Inside the Miracle Mile mall, Urban Outfitters was open and some trendy-looking signs were hung up pointing to common amenities like restrooms and ATMs, but everything else is incomplete. Just inside the doorway, half the shops have a contemporary storefront while others still look like a market in Iran. The PH casino has changed since I last saw it. The colored stripes that could be seen on the walls in the original portion of the hotel have been expanded all the way around the casino. Instead of changing colors like crazy they now slowly drift from color to color. The "Extra Lounge," promoting the celebrity gossip show, was partially open, you could sit at the bar but the lounge itself was closed as wait staff was still being trained. There were some very generic looking Extra reel slots nearby.

On the balcony wall over the table games they've put up a bunch of flat panel HDTVs, but two of them were zoomed in as though they wanted the screens to combine and display an enormous picture, while all the other sets were displaying the whole picture on each screen. On the opposite wall, where that stupid wall decoration with the light-up flowers and flashing blue walls used to be, there's now three enormous screens running soothing computer animation like a simulation of running water.

Meanwhile, up on the balcony itself, they've completely run out of ideas. The PH folks actually have more floor space than they seemingly know what to do with. Most of the upstairs balcony is empty space. A place formerly used for a temporary registration desk is now a very poor looking sports book. In a dark corner there were a bunch of chairs and enormous projection screens displaying output from a DVD player. They seemed to me to be looking over the video reel for the outdoors bigscreen whenever the PH installs one, but I'm just guessing entirely. The gift shop up there is still called Open Sesame. Somebody in the comments asked about the spa, and the original Elemis spa is still there, although the hallways back there are nicer looking than ever.

There were only three interesting things happening on the balcony: One, a slot tournament using PH Resort slots. Two, a glass case with some movie props and figurines. There's a few things from Harry Potter, one of John Wayne's old cowboy hats, and some posters. This glass case seems kind of lonely up here and I was hoping the hotel would have a lot of this memorabilia stuff and hopefully switch out often with the remaining restaurants opened in tourist cities around the globe. This wasn't what I imagined. Three, and most interesting, is the store and theater area for Stomp Out Loud. Although it wasn't opened this area seems pretty fun with a lot of "trash" hanging off the walls like the usual can lid, as well as more unusual fare like a slot machine reel and some roulette wheels. The whole thing reminded me a bit of Blue Man Group's antics, and it's probably a good idea to give the crowd that kind of energy from the start since Stomp itself seems to have disappeared off people's radar in recent years.

Also upstairs is the old London Club area, which still hosts penny slots and yet curiously looks a step above the rest of the property as far as quality of design and materials, although the old bar by the escalator was being torn out today.

Signage is a disappointing mix of new signs and the old Blue/Gold relics. Very strange to walk into an elevator core with modern decorating and these signs intentionally trying to look like a cheap middle east themed tourist trap. The lobby in the bottom floor is quite possibly the ugliest one known to Vegas. The wall of light behind the registration desk is gaudy enough to tie the Reno Peppermill, and looks like it belongs there. On a gentle note, the colors of the wall of light slowly change, synchronized with the slowly changing colors along the balcony walls of the casino.

There's been a lot of negativity about this place since the word was first announced, mostly because the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain is an easy punchline. I don't think a lot of that is warranted, although certainly they don't deserve endless praise. Their finished product is much more in-line with what Las Vegas is advertising itself as than their embarrassing concept art. That registration desk is pretty ugly, but the resort as a whole stands a fair chance against the likes of Paris, Monte Carlo, NYNY (who have raised their prices at some point in the past few years.) They have to get some quality restaurants and make better use of their floorplan and fully modernize the Miracle Mile and probably open up a nightclub before they can give The Mirage a run for it's money, but hey, it's only Day Zero.

So to sum it up, I think they probably have the right goals, I just question whether they have the pocketbooks to make it happen since there's plenty of signs for concern, such as how they only modernized the signs that needed new directions. There is likely a market for people who want the Palms vibe without the Palms cost and the Palms location, the question is are they likely to trade in the Palms cachet for the total non-cachet of Planet Hollywood to achieve it? The risks of negative brand equity are certainly real.

In the last update, spring decorating had come to the lobby and conservatory. In this update, spring comes to the building exterior. Bellagio is almost beginning to feel like a little nature habitat in the middle of the strip, as the trees have grown in well over the decade and animals that somehow find themselves in or over the valley will find the site has plants and water in abundance.

Walking around outside the taxi stand towards the lake, the sound of birds singing is everywhere. For a moment I thought it was a really good sound system hidden somewhere on the roof of the low-rise building. Then, I spot a hummingbird flying around between the trees. It's been years since the last time I saw a hummingbird, way back in my CA hometown. A wild momma duck and her children bob along in the front lake. They avoid getting blasted by the dancing fountains by sticking to a territory between the Fontana Lounge balcony and Jasmine. It made me think back to a few years ago when Venetian management was called cold-hearted when they were unhappy to find a Momma Duck and her kids jumped the Strip and moved to the canals from the Mirage water feature. They demanded the gondoliers to stop feeding the ducks and a rumor persisted that they cranked up the amount of chlorine in the canal to make the water less desirable.

All in all, it would be interesting to know what steps if any the management plans to take about all the wildlife outside. I think all the animals around are a compliment to the beautiful setting but they do make waste and take a toll on the building. Historically Bellagio has had a pretty good history keeping their exteriors looking nice without resorting to the kind of animal-be-gone tricks you see at other casinos, like ugly spiked metal strips along the tops of objects to keep birds from perching there. The animal presence wasn't so noticeable in previous springs and it's likely the critters could all disappear on their own accord or otherwise in time for the temperatures spike well into and over 95 in a few weeks.

Speaking of the building itself, it's starting to show signs of getting older. Some of the domes along the waterfront are starting to show their age, one has a large discoloration. The dome on the very top of the original hotel tower looks VERY weathered, and can the wear can be seen by anyone with normal vision all the way out at the sidewalk. There is also the slight discoloration on both hotel towers associated with the drainage system at work, but it's only visible up close and it was probably expected to occur when they designed the system that way. I don't any of this is a sign of someone's neglect as much as it is the building changing as years pass by.

There's a building infrastructure that's been going up near the CVS. The beginning stages of Mandarin Oriental? It looks like the right spot by my guess. There's a number of utilitarian looking columns sticking up in front of the hotel tower, I suppose to hold up that circular roadway.

The upstairs Haagen-Dazs opened. The Schrafft's just a few feet away is also still running and looks like it has no intentions of shutting down from the competition. Keep in mind that NY-NY has had an H-D upstairs in the arcade area forever, but I was taken aback to see two ice cream parlors steps away in the same location. It's also worth noting that H-D seems to be the preferred ice cream of MGM-Mirage as it's in many of their food courts except Treasure Island which of course has a popular Ben & Jerry's. The Schrafft's is connected to a Tropicana juice bar (no, not THAT Tropicana, think orange juice instead of casinos) so it's unlikely they'll leave unless both businesses lose money or hotel management gives them the boot. As I said before, the Schrafft's is one of the more genuinely New York artifacts in NY-NY, and I hope it sticks around.

Dick's Last Resort is now on resort maps, although the area itself is still walled. The new sports book opened some time ago, and while it's mostly a dark open space like all sports book there are some small decorative touches that keep in mind the medieval theme without being completely in your face about it.

Mandalay Bay:
One of the gals from Bravo network's Top Chef is personally creating specials at THEcafe. If you're interested, talk to the reception or waiter because I'm not sure what THEdetails are, so it's possible she might only be working dinner or something.

Also in the food realm, the JPop sushi bar & lounge is finished and fully open near Red White & Blue where there used to be a more traditional Coral Reef Lounge. Everybody loves HD projection screens, so a number of them displaying various groovy patterns and the faces of anonymous Asian people are hanging around the lounge. Really, the bar seems to be pretty successful but I haven't been around in the evening to judge the success of the lounge. There used to be a tank with some sea animals in the old lounge which was why it was called Coral Reef, now as JPop the tank windows are covered up. Also, the lounge extends pretty far into the casino now.

Finally, a few directional signs behind JPop are in BAD shape. These signs basically tell you that Shark Reef and Border Grill are down restaurant row, but time hasn't been kind to them and a few abusive guests didn't help them, either. There's three or so of these signs in the area, and only one of them looks anything close to intact, the worst has as many as half the letters missing. A photo ought to be available in the gallery if you want to see for yourself. Somebody should do something about this because if you're entering from the parking garage (which a lot of LA weekenders coming for a visit are) it's one of the first few things you'll run into after you get past Rumjungle and Lupo. Rehab the signs, put a more permanent message on them (reminds me of the etched glass on the Mirage front doors replacing the stickers), or get rid of them completely. Just don't let them sit there because it really does drag the place down a notch to any visitor who sees it.

You think two Haagen-Dasz and a Schrafft's is a bit much? Brace yourself, because Luxor now has three Starbucks! One in the food court on the attractions level, one in the lobby, and one in the casino by the poker and Club desk. The club desk location was formerly Keno and it meant any business in that little nook was usually not doing too well. I knew the coffee house refurb in the lobby would make it a Starbucks, but I thought the one in back would close as a result. Guess not.

Most of the pool area is drained. Could renovations be underway? I was hoping for as much a few weeks ago when the Mandalay pool enhancements were given a press release. Speaking of renovations, the Nile Bar is now also under walls, construction-style lighting can be seen from behind the southeast corner wall where Hamada of Japan used to be. Walls over the glass of the casino's upper-level restaurants mean that Isis is still becoming Aspen and the old Sacred Sea Room space still sits dark.

The Aurora lounge now has some signs. In other sign related news there's directional signs around the casino which say Aurora Bar in them. What's interesting about these signs is that they're the typical Luxor directional sign we've all seen before, with the white letters on the brown background and the zig-zag accents. Elsewhere in the resort, particularly around the Galleria (no longer in Giza) and the buffet MGM Mirage had been trying with a new sign design with modern white lettering on a black background with red accents. I don't know if the effort for the new signs fizzled or what.

That ends our tour. Enjoy the photos!


Read archived comments (41 so far)
April 18, 2007 11:43 AM Posted by mike_ch

Arrgh. From the article:

"trade in the Palms cachet for the total non-cache of Planet Hollywood"

"Historically Bellagio has had a pretty good history lucking keeping their exteriors looking nice"

Sorry, folks. This particular update was written late at night under quite a bit of stress (this walkabout ended on a sour note with a family emergency and it's all been about care & recovery since) and those kinds of sentences are the result.

Time for me to start writing this stuff up in MS Word, not in an email app.

April 18, 2007 12:12 PM Posted by Hunter


I updated the article. Sorry - I didn't have much time to proof it.


April 18, 2007 2:47 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Why would MGM remodel the Luxor pool, and start in Late April??? Why would not start this in the winter, so it can be done and open by spring? If I were staying at Luxor and it was 90, and the pool was closed, I don't know about you...But I'd be pretty pissed! Can someone help me with their logic, I am sure I am just missing something obvious here.

April 18, 2007 4:07 PM Posted by mike_ch

It's probably just a very temporary thing, Brian. All I know is that it was drained, and I can only speculate from there. If it's still drained on my next visit (unlikely as it may seem) I'll ask around to any worker who appears nearby. Someone on another site said it was just being resurfaced.

All I know is that the bottom is very rough. I spent maybe a total of 30 minutes wandering around the property before we had a medical situation in the casino. Since we were escorted out through the maintenance underground, I didn't get to take any pictures of the pool from the overhead bridge to the parking lot.

April 18, 2007 4:24 PM Posted by mike_ch

Oh, and here's a bonus I forgot to mention:

The Bistro Buffet is not open yet, but the walls have come down and they've mailed off some very thick/impressive mailers for it to their (local?) slot club members and are advertising it on the marquee, so I expect it to open any day now.

They tried hard, but they just couldn't escape making the dining room look like an elaborate cafeteria. It's miles better than the old Fantasy Market Buffet, but doesn't look as restaurant-ish as The Buffet at TI.

On the outside walls facing the casino there's some loud orange walls (we're talking traffic cone intensity) styled with some big dark patterns over it. I'm not sure what the designer was trying to get across, but it makes me think of Toys R Us more than anything else.

Rates are reasonable so expect me to give this one a go sometime.

April 18, 2007 4:57 PM Posted by Mike P.

Re CityCenter:

Yes, the structure closest to CVS is the Mandarin. If the utilitarian columns mike is referring to are tall T shaped concrete structures I think those are the support piers for the tram. One thing that's wierd -- maybe this is just a perspective effect -- it looks to me as if the northernmost pier is about even with the middle of the east wing of the resort hotel, as if the tram is going to run right through it. That's not what the renderings show.

Here's a little Wynn update for the Wynn obsessed. I walked through the casino a few days ago and noticed new carpet being laid in part of the central area of the casino. I went back today and took a shot of the transition between the old and new carpet, which I've sent to Hunter. For anyone who thought the casino carpet was fading pretty quickly your eyes weren't deceiving you.

Mike P.

April 18, 2007 6:43 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, thanks for the report. I hope the medical situation wasn't too serious.
This is the longest I've been away from Las Vegas in 25 years. The construction progress is unreal, especially CityCenter. Now I know why Mandarin sold out so fast; it's within walking distance of CVS!
Regarding Bellagio, I've see the fading from the intense sun, MGM painted and maintained the building as well as Wynn did, but now that it's nine years old, it's going to require more than superficial maintenance. Steve Wynn should be given a lot of credit for saving as many trees as he did from the Dunes' golf course. It helped make Bellagio's grounds unique and welcoming. I can't see how the CityCenter casino can compare. It will be like arriving at a midtown Manhattan or Chicago Loop hotel.
It's almost impossible to believe Steve only paid $75 Million for the Dunes in 1992. All because of Steve, MGM Mirage has expanded its empire and is now building CityCenter, the largest construction project in the country.

April 18, 2007 7:54 PM Posted by mike_ch

Thanks for the feedback, Detroit.

I've put up a cropped but full-sized original picture of Bellagio I took on Monday here and it will help you see what I'm talking about. The small dome near the very top of the main tower's height is where I was talking about the most wear. It looks like either a whole chunk of the roof has torn away in one section. This happened sometime in the past few years but I'll have to look closer into my photos to point down when. I think it's pretty recent because the white concrete underneath sticks out like a sore thumb during the day, but I often don't look all the way up there when I tour the property so I don't know when it happened.

You can also see the stains of the drainage system at work along the upper beltline, but like I said before that's something to be expected so long as there aren't huge mildew stains on the walls or something. Oddly enough, the back, freeway-facing side of the newer Spa Tower seems to have the most prominent stains.

April 18, 2007 7:57 PM Posted by mike_ch

Aye carumba, looking at that link I used the free image hosting site they cover up the photo with banner ads so I had to click the picture multiple times to see the whole shot. *shakes head*

This link has a lot less garbage on it and is a direct link to the photo.

April 18, 2007 8:17 PM Posted by mike_ch

Just to prove how OCD I can be about these kinds of things, I searched Flickr for photographs and have deduced that the roof damage occurred sometime either in July or August of last year.

I wonder why I haven't noticed it until now?

April 19, 2007 4:40 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, I know we discussed the balustrade along the 29th(?) floor of Bellagio. There are cracks and crumbling all along it. Will MGM eventually have to replace it, or will they take the easy way out and simply remove this added detail?

April 19, 2007 4:33 PM Posted by Hunter

I posted Mike P's Wynn carpet photo here:

April 20, 2007 4:26 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Hey!!! Why didn't Wynn call me for that carpet? I named my only child after him for christ sakes! :)

April 23, 2007 3:23 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

detroit: GMAFB: "All BECAUSE of Steve, MGM/MIRAGE is expanding its empire." Are you f*cking serious? Wynn basically SANK Mirage Resorts share value big-time when Kerkorian came in + made an offer of $21/share (for Steve's "pride + joy") because that public company was worth, at the the time, only ONE THIRD of what it had been at its all time high, Kerkorian's offer of $21/share was more than generous + personally netted Steve around #510M + his brother Kenny over $25M which allowed Steve to buy the former D.I. property on 'behalf' of his wife Elaine. Wynn's own shares of Mirage Resorts amounted to less than 12% at the time, so guess what, Steve LOST the BEST future opportunity in his entire career by practically giving away ALL of Mirage Resorts holdings to Kerkorian for a song! Don't you think Kerkorian had already conceived his grand plans for the center Strip property that was included in the takeover of Mirage Resorts, well in advance when Kerkorian "aggressively" took Steve to the cleaners? And, furthermore, knowing that Kerkorian himself is essentially a recluse, Steve took advantage of this fact by publicly stating that the two of them met, prior to the close of Kerkorian's absorption of Mirage Resorts, + allegedly confirmed that [he] Wynn + Kerkorian made an amenable "deal" for Tracinda's takeover. What a buch of complete BULLSHIT! Steve was voted out (even as CEO) by threat of a potential hostile takeover on behalf of Kerkorian since the shareholders agreed overwhelming by majority to sell out to MGM. As far as Steve saving "many of the trees from the former Dunes golf course" + he should have "been given credit" for this act of "green" is of minor concern. I will locate + post for you the the exact figures that Wynn exorbatantly spent on EACH + EVERY f*ucking palm tree that was specifically imported, at Steve's instruction, to both Don + Barbara Brinkerhoff [Lifescapes, International, Inc.) + the final numbers are simply stagerring! If I remember correctly, eack palm tree @ Bellagio ended up costing in excess of $20K EACH + there are a whole lot of plam trees on that property. So who's the "smart one" here, Wynn or Kerkorian? With MGM/MIRAGE's recent acquisition of the north strip property across from the Sahara, Kerkorian now controls THREE miles of prime strip frontage! How you can even suggest giving Steve Wynn credit for LOSING billions upon billions of dollars of prime Strip real estate to Kerkorian in 2000, is absolutely absurd!

April 23, 2007 5:58 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

detroit: This is only just a "taste" of what Steve overspent on landscaping/hardscaping:

April 23, 2007 6:59 PM Posted by detroit1051

"Steve LOST the BEST future opportunity in his entire career by practically giving away ALL of Mirage Resorts holdings to Kerkorian for a song!"

Leonard, that was my point. Steve built the three Must-See properties on the Strip in the 1990's, The Mirage, Treasure Island and, finally, Bellagio. In the end, he had to give them to Kerkorian because of his (Steve's) poor management. MIR should have been, and would have been, $60 a share if Steve hadn't screwed up.
As smart as Kerkorian is, I'm not sure even he realized the potential of the Dunes land at the time. If he did, good for him. Kerkorian probably doesn't have too many years left, and he certainly will go out on a high note with CityCenter.
It's funny you linked the RJ article from 1998. I remember reading it at the time.

April 23, 2007 7:07 PM Posted by detroit1051

Leonard, I said the 1990's, but I know The Mirage opened in 1989. I've probably posted this before, but it was the sight of The Mirage being built that triggered my buying Golden Nugget, GNG. I remember all the palm trees headed for Mirage being stored and staged on the empty lot on the SW corner of the Strip and Sahara, the same property MGM Mirage just acquired.

April 23, 2007 7:26 PM Posted by John

Let's see, who has consecutively purchased two of the largest sites on the Las Vegas strip. Now, Steve may have destroyed Mirage Resorts, but he did have a certain amount of foresight (notice I didn't say actual sight) to purchase the most valuable land on the Las Vegas Strip. He has also had that same foresight to purchase what has become the next most valuable, undeveloped pieces of land on the Las Vegas Strip.

Now, the man might have destroyed his former company and he might be known for uncontrolled overspending, but he knows which pieces of land will have unheard of development potential.

April 23, 2007 8:57 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

detroit: If I were in the position to be able to reveal to you the "actual" total cost for just the palm trees alone that Steve paid (in connection with retaining the services of Lifescapes International, Inc., his longtime landscape architect, + Barbara Brinkerhoff in particular) for suppplying the [trees] for the Bellagio alone, you wouldn't believe the EXCESS + total WASTE of resources which puts to rest Steve's so-called "preserving + transplanting" the natural trees from the old Dunes golf course. I can confrim, with absolute certainty, that Steve ended up spending somewhere in the neighborhood of around $20K for EACH IMPORTED palm tree (when shipped + installed on BOTH projects) because Don + Barbara Brinkerhoff would do just about ANYTHING to keep Steve happy so that their firm would continue, at any cost, to kiss Steve's f*cking ass in order to make sure that [they] continue to be on his "A-List". I have personally known Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs (now president of Lifescapes, Int'l.) since 1980. I am aware of exactly what I am talking about, trust me, otherwise I would not respond to totally inaccurate comments sometimes posted here. Actually, Lifescapes International, Inc. was awarded, quite some time ago, the contract to design the palm tree lined center-Strip median. The fact that you guys are discussing CARPET on this forum is clearly indicative of a complete lack of relevancy to REAL design issues which should otherwise be discussed on this forum.

April 23, 2007 10:14 PM Posted by Hunter

Personally, I think the carpet can be interesting...

My friend Dave Schwartz's carpet photo gallery is one of the most popular things on his Web site so it's not just me.

April 23, 2007 10:17 PM Posted by mike_ch

So then the key to finding underdeveloped pieces of land is to look for golf courses? Because that's what Wynn did. There used to be a golf course that followed along the freeway from Flamingo almost all the way to Tropicana if you look at the OLD military satellite photos.

This isn't incredible foresight as much as it is that the old 60s hotels could buy land cheap and have entire golf courses near the Strip, and those properties were to become insanely valuable as soon as the Strip went from sprawling motor lodges and a few small luxury towers into vertical, high-density development.

April 23, 2007 10:24 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

John: The only potential positive profile for Wynn long-term is the fact that MGM/MIRAGE has just purchased the last undeveloped land at the north end of the Strip across from the Sahara Hotel + that the Fontainebleau is definitely moving forward which will result in increased land value there. Nazarian is planning on a major makeover of the existing Sahara Hotel, since he has just signed an exclusive 15 yr. exclusive contract with the world famous designer Philippe Starck. Wynn's redesigned former D.I. golf course property is absolutely useless + a complete waste of land until way after 2010. Wynn's only option is to absorb the Las Vegas Country Club, + develop the existing golf course. Steve has tried for years to buy the L.V. Country Club + he will NEVER have a chance in hell of pulling it off! That being said, Wynn's Encore needs to be equal, or significantly exceed, both CityCenter, Cosmo, Fontainebleau, Palazzo/Venetian in architectural distinction + quality of service. That doesn't even take into account the Palazzo-Venetian which is expected to bring in between five to ten times "per square foot revenue" than WLV/Encore since Adelson's property will be the largest resort hotel in the entire world.

April 23, 2007 10:26 PM Posted by Hunter

Mike - you're talking about the Dunes Country Club... There was also the Trop club over where MGM v2 is now, right?

April 24, 2007 5:24 AM Posted by detroit1051

Hunter, thanks for making me feel old. LOL. I remember looking north across Tropicana at the country club long before Kerkorian began MGM Grand.

Leonard, I agree with you that Steve Wynn will never get the LV Country Club. How about Turnberry and Glenn Schaeffer turning the LVCC into the next multi-use mega project?

April 24, 2007 10:45 AM Posted by mike_ch

You know, this is one of those conspiracy sort of statements, but I'm thinking Wynn intentionally overspent and overdeveloped Bellagio as some sort of gesture to somebody, although to who? But all this stuff Leonard is talking about in regards to the trees and Roger Thomas, plus that the backside of the property is supposedly marble and chandeliers all the way down into the belly of the beast, makes me think he was intentionally running up an enormous tab.

I support budget-breaking on a property so long as it results in improvements that visitors can notice, but even I think that hotel went over the top when it comes to purchasing things just for purchasing's sake.

April 24, 2007 2:39 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

mike_ch: I really do commend you for at least recognizing the fact that Steve spent absolutely RIDICULOUS amounts of money, when he first built Bellagio, on back-of-the-house + employee only access areas of the property which would NEVER have been seen by the public. In fact, if any of you guys have ever toured the "belly of the beast" @ Bellagio as I have, it can only be described, at best, the most opulent over the top employee-only facilities that you will EVER find in ANY of [the] competing upscale properties. Can you imagine Adelson spending this kind of dough with fancy wainscoting, expensive wall coverings, etc. for [his] employee cafeteria + other staff only areas which is referred to as the "basement" portions of these massive projects. I think not. In fact Adelson was most probably talked into + convinced by his own executives to even put a lousy coat of latex paint on the unfinished drywall for the comparable employee-only areas at the Venetian! That being said, mike_ch, I can assure you that Steve did not have any intentional plan to "overspend" on purpose with Bellagio + WLV. What the diehard Wynn fanboys fail to come to terms with is that ALL of Steve's properties are nothing more than simple "playthings" to him. His comments to Jeff Simpson that he is running a business is absolutely absurd. Wynn Resorts has been bleeding red ink now for almost TWO years. BTW - McKee has another column today in the Business PRESS, check it out. Actually, I could not agree with him more!

April 24, 2007 2:52 PM Posted by Hunter

I *have* toured all of Bellagio's back of house areas (there is a LOT of ground to cover under there) and the facilities are very nice.

The employee dining, (called 'Mangia' if I recall) is very nice.

While there is a line that can be crossed, surely there is something to be said for investing in facilities for your employees, especially in a business like this where they have 99.9% of the interactions with your customers.

Please note that MGM Mirage didn't axe all the nice perks for Bellagio employees so they must see some value there as well.

As I stated above though, there has to be a line somewhere and of course it is possible to take this way too far.

April 24, 2007 3:41 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Hunter: When MGM/MIRAGE absorbed Mirage Resorts back in 2000, why would they "axe all the nice perks for Bellagio employees"? I'm not talking about "perks" here but the fact that Steve overspent + exceeded with reckless abandon, the level of interior design + luxury normally attributed to employee-access only components of Bellagio in relation to other comparable properties. Since you have personally viewed exactly what I am referring to as well, can you not deny the fact, or otherwise justify, that Steve did not cross the line with exorbitant + unwarranted expenditure in connection with the back-of-the-house portions of Bellagio?

April 24, 2007 4:10 PM Posted by Hunter

Well, I don't know what the price tag was for those specific upgrades but I can absolutely confirm that those areas are head and shoulders above any other back of house areas I have seen elsewhere. They are quite nice.

For me, part of this would come back to their rationale for doing it... If there was some specific impact/benefit they were going for then it should be measured against those goals.

If it was just cause Steve liked to spend money, that would seem excessive to me.

April 24, 2007 5:12 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

C'mon Hunter, I assume that you have also toured the related back-of-the-house @ WLV, did Steve spend anywhere near the level of frivolous investment in wasted interior design expenses as he previously did with Bellagio for non-public access areas? The answer is NO! Wynn's penchant for overspending in the construction of Bellagio lead to his ultimate demise. Steve's pattern of not allowing ANY of his most competent executives undertake autonomous day-to-day operations of Wynn Resorts is a diservice to [his] + all of Wynn Resorts, Ltd. shareholders! Okada is nothing more than a multi-billionaire "straw joint venture partner" who barely passed muster with the NGB when he was eventually acquitted of tax evasion + other criminal charges in his homeland of Japan. Don't think for a minute that Steve's recent missteps (i.e. the dealer toke mess) are going unnoticed. It won't be long before Steve will be so visually blind that the only way he will be able to read the design development + working drawings for any of his projects is after it is transcribed into Braille!

April 24, 2007 5:34 PM Posted by mike_ch

Leonard, while you're certainly entitled to your opinion regarding Steve and we've had a few jokes about obvious targets like the complimentary Enzo, your jokes about his eye disease are really below the belt, since they go past Wynn and are essentially ridiculing all people who have that condition.

I have a cousin who is almost blind from the same condition and find it quite offensive.

April 24, 2007 5:36 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, I'd prefer not to see any more of that type of commentary from anyone. Thanks guys.

April 24, 2007 6:01 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

mike_ch, I sincerely apologize for having offended you regarding a family member of yours who unfortunately has been afflicted or otherwise suffers from this same degenerative eye disease. However, I feel it's "fair game" to comment about the fact that Steve will soon become totally blind, since this is a matter of record + it has a direct impact on the future of Wynn Resorts, Ltd. + Steve's own ability to continue to govern this public company! Hunter, any attempt to censor my comments in connection with Steve's confirmed, potential blindness condition, would not be in the best interest of those who read this forum since [his] condition, from what I'm told, is increasingly becoming a major issue in Wynn's long term ability to make major "design decisions" on his own when, in fact, the man is slowly losing his eyesight...

April 24, 2007 6:05 PM Posted by Hunter

No question that his illness is an issue for investors/employees/customers of Wynn Resorts. It's a big deal and not above scrutiny.

I just think we can treat it in a more dignified way since it is an affliction that impacts others and doesn't discriminate, ya know?

I'm not saying we can't talk about his disease or we should ignore it, I'd just like the phrasing surrounding a very sad set of circumstances to be more respectful, if not of Steve then of all the other people afflicted.

April 24, 2007 7:46 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Wynn's vision in good light, is 20/40! I have 20/40 vision, and I don't use glasses to drive. Wynn skiied over 12 days in Feb alone. It will be a long time before Steve is completely blind. So I am not losing too much sleep over this.

April 24, 2007 9:47 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Brian: I don't know where you are getting your "so-called" information from, but Steve was declared "legally blind" many, many years ago. His peripheral vision has been compromised for more than a decade + continues to deteriorate on a daily basis. Would you like to know when Steve Wynn was last issued a Nevada driver's license? Wynn is rapidly approaching total blindness in short order + I can prove it! From what I have been told, the rumored wax replica of Steve's destruction of the "Le Reve" Picasso which is reportedly being fabricated by the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum at the Venetian, had to actually locate a taxidermist in order to obtain a replication of Steve's jet black (marble-like) eyeballs. Honestly, this is what I heard from several reliable sources. Steve is slowly, but gradually, going blind + anyone who has seen him recently in person, face-to-face only needs to look into his diluted eyes for confirmation. Sorry Brian, Wynn will soon only be able to view his fine art masterpieces after they have been converted into Braille + there just aren't a whole lot of people out there who have any empathy for him, including myself! If you want proof that Steve's deteriorating vision is bordering on eventual total blindless, just let me know because you are totally off-base + uninformed.

April 24, 2007 10:05 PM Posted by Hunter

I think I've heard Wynn say that himself - that may be where Brian got the info.

As far as this topic goes, I'm going to allow Brian to respond to cite his source and then that's it for discussing the eye disease in this thread. I *do* think it is a legitimate point of discussion but in threads discussing corporate governance, Wynn's design or other topics, not here.

I ask everyone to try to respect that and to keep threads on their topic of discussion as much as possible.

Generally speaking I feel like things have been going much better recently. Let's keep it up.

April 25, 2007 4:34 AM Posted by BrianFey

Leonard, Wynn is legally blind, he has not driven a car for a few decades now. You are correct his peripheral vision is horrible. He has no business driving a car. But you seem to know very little about this eye problem. Looking straight ahead in good lighting, Wynn has very good vision, almost as good as mine. Picture your self looking through a paper towel tube. You can clearly see, but you can't take in much at once, and your vision is very limited, area wise. This requires Wynn to move his head around to several areas to see the whole thing at once. Its far from what you would call great vision, and it slows him down no question. But its far from what I would ever call, blind. He can Ski, Golf, Read, etc. Steve's vision is not good at all in very dim lighting, like a theater or example. But unless Steve designs all of his hotels in the dark, I don't look for this to be much of a problem. At some point Wynn's vision may get to the point where he cannot design, or function, but that day is far away. So for now, lets both be thankful, that Steve has enough vision to keep building hotels, so that I have something to look forward too, and that you have a new property to bash, & tell us how terrible it was designed.

April 25, 2007 8:59 AM Posted by Hunter

Ok. That's the final posting on the eye thing in *this thread*.

For future postings, it's acceptable to discuss respectfully as it directly pertains to the business in threads on the biz or specifically Wynn design, which this thread is not.

April 28, 2007 9:21 PM Posted by Aaron_B


A while back I was reading a non Vegas related architecture discussion and came across a link to one of the manufacturers who worked on the small dome on top of Bellagio that you are talking about. Here�s a link to LuminOre�s page about the Bellagio dome: . I�m going to be at Bellagio on Monday & I�ll have to see if they�ve fixed the dome yet.

I haven�t been to Vegas since late December & I�m really looking forward to seeing the progress on City Center. Hopefully I�ll be able to get some pictures worth posting!