Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

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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It's been a long time since I've done a really big update, and as the we reach the months of triple-digit temperatures, they'll probably become increasingly rare. However, today (Wednesday) was a warm but nice day after a string of 90s-100s, so let's walk around town. We'll walk down the east side of the street from the Wynn parking lot, cross over at Bellagio, and gawk at the outside of Planet Hollywood on our way to Mandalay Bay.

Wynn: A chunk of the slot floor by Red 8 and the high-limit area is emptied for a renovation or remodel. Not much else happening. They really need to change the carpets in the parking garage elevators, they're all really grungy. I considered eating at the buffet for lunch but it's located close to the Encore site and you can hear the rumbling of construction present over everything, and decided to walk it towards Harrah's instead.

Encore: You can check Hunter's article for the details on this place. I know nobody and see nothin' so I can't tell you much about what they're really doing at this site, except that there's not much construction going on for a comfortably warm Wednesday. Most all the work and noise was coming from back by the golf course and buffet area.

Trump: The top five levels need glass and the crown on the roof needs to be built. Otherwise, good to go.

Echelon: A large pile of dirt is located in the area where the south entrance and shops used to be. One lone signboard (the kind you put a guy on a ladder to stick giant letters onto) from the original property remains in the southern corner of the strip frontage. As far as I can tell, it's the last standing piece of the Stardust. How long will it last? Will it remain to eventually be integrated into the new property!? The audience twiddles their thumbs in anticipation!

Palazzo: It's finally and completely beginning to look like a full resort. The northern side, which has long looked like a bunch of beams even when the rest of the place was much further along, is getting it's exterior work done finally. The backside (east-facing) of the tower is much farther along on the exterior than the strip-facing side.

Venetian: I never checked back on this, but the most obvious changes to the clocktower from last year's fire has been repaired. You can see it clearly if you get anywhere near it, and the whole face of the tower as a whole looks like a patchwork of different shades thanks to the Vegas sun and no doubt the number of banners that have been hung on the sides. Oh well, I guess the real thing in St Mark's Square is pretty worn-looking too, huh?

Bellagio: When I saw the concept art for the summer conservatory display, I thought the people behind these displays had finally gone over the top. WIth a ferris wheel centerpiece replacing the old Eagle/Bell display and a classic road trip theme, it seemed to be too much. In fact, in some areas they almost did go too far (those accents on the wheel covered in the same shimmery stuff from disco balls?) but this display is fun and has a few subtle places where you can find the usual gardening skill on display. While the actual botany on display isn't as impressive as the last display, older folks will certainly have visions of the past with the "Route 66" theme providing nostalgia in every corner: a roadside produce stand, a children's lemonade stand, and a classic Corvette placed alongside some restored old gas pumps. The ferris wheel itself doesn't move, it's seats are loaded with sunflowers (which are also plenty in count at the ground level, too.) Some things didn't quite match up with the concept art (the Bellagio B on the wheel was originally supposed to be a mossy covered design similar to the frog and watering can of the last display) but overall it's impressive and less shocking than last fall's model train display.

In news you definitely care about, my gambling experiences at Bellagio are still hilariously bad. We're talking worse luck than Tony Soprano at the Borgata's craps table. Let's leave while we still have enough money for cab fare back to Wynn.

Planet-H: The facade of Planet Hopscotch is still coming along. The Aladdin TV screen and marquee area is now just a fairly pedestrian piece of the overall screen. The big Planet Hamsters globe we thought would be out front (and I swear I saw one day behind the hotel from the monorail) is not out there, but I don't yet see where they could put something that big without it taking up a lot of the sidewalk. A huge TV display has been added over where Commander's Palace used to be, although it too is advertising the Miracle Mall instead of Planet H4x0Rz. A couple big poles have been stuck up into the air, and they've put a temporary sign up on it telling you that Planet Hammertime is open despite the mess going on outside. Maybe they'll put their big marquee screen up there? Things are on course and I'm expecting Planet Hunter will have their facade completed by August barring everyone stopping due to the heat or some other freak event.

Cosmopolitan: Hey, look ma, progress! There's now a whole bunch of steel coming out of that big pit they dug, but it's hard to get a good view of it from Bellagio and along the sidewalk I couldn't really get pictures because I was constantly being harassed by porn slappers. Sorry.

CityCenter: There's been discussion on the sawtooth edges along the freeway side of the hotel building already, the front of it hasn't changed as much. Mandarin Oriental is already starting to loom over the nearby CVS, and something seems to be going on back where Vdara should be. With all the footprints in place, this property is almost starting to look a bit cramped and I wonder if they're really going to build everything they say they will (at least one tower [Harmon] still isn't available for purchase yet, and I know there's pretty much nothing where it should be yet.) I dunno, they may pull it off, this is just my outsider's speculation. It's just that between the increasing construction and the resurrection of THEplace in the county planning agenda I'm willing to fire my mouth off and suggest there's a remote possibility that a CC tower could be axed. Please don't shoot me, I'm fragile.

Monte Carlo: Diablo's Cantina is coming along. I'm still not sure how this thing is supposed to link up to the main property as the blocked off entrance is still there, although accessibility is limited with the restaurant in the way. There isn't much inside but some of the exterior work is up, perhaps a test since it's only such a small part of the building.

Excalibur: At long last, the walls around Dick's Last Resort are gone. Basically, the construction work is done, and the exterior is basically done awaiting final touches, but the whole interior needs to be furnished and decorated still. I'm certainly surprised Dick's has taken as long as it has, and I'm sort of surprised they brought the walls down in this state. I've never seen other operators like Station take down walls until the interior is decorated and all that's left to do is stock the bar. Dick's is a chain, so maybe they're just waiting for the interior elements to arrive from headquarters or something.

Luxor: The old high-limit area in the center has been walled up for some time now. The upstairs dining room area has been partially de-masked. Half of the room in-between the old Isis and Sacred Sea Rooms restaurants is visible and the SSRoom itself is also visible. Both rooms are in the middle of massive renovation, as everything including the ceiling is out and you can see the HVAC tubes and pipes and some hanging lights all visible. There's major work going on up there. The Criss Angel production office in the Galleria is now Luxor @ Home, a home furnishings outlet. It's barely been open and it's already having a 40% off sale. I took a look around and saw regular stuff (pillows, towels, etc) but I don't know what at all this has to do with the Luxor, as I didn't ask what the connection is. I'm guessing it's the same stuff you'll see in other stores, only 60% more expensive (see also: 40% off sale.)

In other Luxor news, we now have new names for new establishments: The bar in the new high-limit area is called the Hi-Bar. The pick-up bar coming to the old center hi-limit area will be called Liquidity. They're also planning to put in an ultralounge called Flight, and I'm guessing that's either going in at the old Hamada of Japan location, or will be replacing the old Nile Bar and nearby trinket shops. Either way, Flight sounds like a place I'd expect to see at Mirage as a partner of Jet. But, I don't get to name these things.

Mandalay Bay: Oh thank heavens, the old Vintage RA shop that sold women's clubbing clothing (as in, clothing that barely hides anything and is available only in small sizes) has returned. Yeah, they've called it Fashion101, but it's the same place with a different name on the wall. I was afraid that all the customers at LAX wouldn't have an emergency outlet to buy trendy apparel that all but the most fashionably-sized people would look stupid in, but my fears are no more. Meanwhile, the walled up area of the Mandalay casino is still walled up, but they've decorated it so it doesn't seem so much like a plain blank wall. It's hard to get people to bet the big bucks when they're crammed up against a bare white floor to ceiling wall, after all.

I guess I should go ahead and give props to somebody at Mandalay Bay for fixing that Shark Reef/Border Grille sign that I complained about a couple columns ago. I haven't been able to get my camera out into town until now, but I checked it some weeks ago and noticed fresh new lettering.

I don't know about you, but my feet hurt! Thanks, Strip, I'll be back the next time it's not so hot that I melt!


Read archived comments (10 so far)
June 7, 2007 10:49 AM Posted by DavidF

Mike � Thanks as always for a great update and for being the �eyes� to those of us who cannot make it to Vegas on a regular basis.

Trump � when I read �on the roof needs to be built� all I could think is �are they going to put some sort of huge hair weave on there� Its one of those days today.

Venetian � perhaps the question to ask here is whether the clocktower in St Marks looks more or less worn that the one in front of Sheldys....

Bellagio � The new conservatory display looks fun!! I am trying to plan a trip next month, just a short in and out, I was considering staying at the B, have yet to do so, the chance to see this might swing it, thanks for the pics, that were good enough to give me a �teaser� without giving the whole thing away. Sorry about your losses, I never fess up to mine either�.

Planet Hasselhoff � looks like things are moving along, when I first read about the refurb of the Aladdin my thoughts were �You can take a piece of sh**, spray paint it gold, add perfume, remold it, at the end of the day its still a piece of sh**, but it looks like they are doing what they can, Its going to be interesting when its done, or are they just going to follow the Caesars pattern and be forever in the mode of construction. It says something that they feel a need to have the subtle �Casino Entrance� sign.

Luxor � From your latest visit have you any idea what direction they are planning to take this place in. If you do, I would let MGM-Mirage Management know, I am sure they would be delighted to find out�.

June 7, 2007 1:09 PM Posted by mike_ch

Bonus pictures: Because I don't like to drive up their anxiety levels by taking photos in the gaming areas, I use my cruddy cell phone camera for pictures in those places. This is the Mandalay construction wall. I wanted a picture of it because I wanted to point out how well they tricked it out with bamboo, rocks attached to the wall, and some metal frame thing around a TV screen. The big square things had red and amber lights in the center of them. All of that and the tan paint lines caused me to think it was a wall for the completed project at first sight.

June 7, 2007 2:00 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, great report and photos! Thanks.

The Wynn slots near Red 8 must be the $5 and $10 ones. I wonder what they're doing to the area, or is it just to replace carpeting?
The Bellagio Conservatory looks fantastic. I'd like to see it before it changes, but after this week in the markets, I may never be able to afford to return.
Regarding "older folks will certainly have visions of the past with the "Route 66" theme", thanks a lot! LOL.

June 7, 2007 3:26 PM Posted by mike_ch

Heh. Sorry, Detroit. The 60s weren't THAT long ago, right?

Dave, almost all of the money I lost was money previously won at Wynn, and I later won most of it back at Mandalay. I just kind of have this ongoing belief that the slots at Bellagio are tighter than the bodysuits at the Adult Expo, but the attractions and the atmosphere keep dragging me back in.

Bonus Photo: Here's a much better picture than the first, I didn't see it in the gallery so I'm posting it here. I had to try all sorts of angles to get that, and yeah, I suppose I try too hard to get "artsy" pictures of the conservatory. This stuff gets mailed to family as well, and that's why.

June 7, 2007 5:16 PM Posted by Mike P.

detroit - Wynn replaced some carpet while we were there back in April. I don't keep track of slots other than VP, but I don't think they changed any machines in that area.

mike - work was underway on the Harmon. It's just hard to see with all the other stuff going on in the immediate vicinity. Of course they could change their minds - Citycenter's promotional materials are careful not to promise that anything will be built.

June 8, 2007 11:17 AM Posted by detroit1051

April results for the Strip show how tight slots have become for tourists. Locals market must be suffering, too. A friend told me Sunset Station will give 10X points on Sunday. I don't think that's ever been done before. Ruthless competition.
"A surge in the locals gaming markets and Laughlin carried Clark County to an
8.3 percent growth in gaming revenue in April, even though the month had one
less weekend day than 2006.
The Strip was up a modest 2.44 percent as tighter slot machines � 6.75 percent
win percentage vs 5.84 percent last year � drove revenue up 8.3 percent. That
offset a 3.26 percent decline in table win where hold declined from 13.93 to
12.94 percent."

June 9, 2007 5:06 AM Posted by Dan

What has Dick's Last Resort replaced in Excalibur?

June 9, 2007 11:40 AM Posted by KY

Mike, great update as always. One thing I noticed in your photos that I had never seen before: It looks like the "short" walls -- not the main frontages, but the outermost ends of each wing -- at Palazzo don't have windows. Is that right, or am I missing something?

All the hotels with wrap-around windows, like Wynn, Mirage andd MGM, obviously have windows on both sides of those corners, but so do Bellagio and TI. And the main Venetian, it looks like from the photo gallery. The only ones I can see without the extra glass are MC and Excalibur.

June 9, 2007 1:41 PM Posted by Mike T

My sister is visiting from NY, and a couple of the hotels we checked out yesterday were the Luxor and Excalibur because she wanted to see them. I hadn't been in either hotel in a long time, and both are definitely looking tired. It's not a moment too soon that MGM Mirage is pouring money into Luxor, because it sure does need it. As for Excalibur, I don't think even Dick's Last Resort will save it. I don't think that, as presently constituted, Excalibur can be anything more than a low rent dormitory for the south Strip.

June 9, 2007 8:49 PM Posted by Mike E

Mike, as always, thank you for the updates.

Palazzo's low-rise looks like it'll be completed long before the high-rise. The opening will most definitely be reminiscent of THEhotel's. If I recall correctly, they only had twenty-something floors occupiable during my first stay there in August '04, but you'd never know it even as a guest.

But then again, Palazzo is supposed to be at a higher level. Assuming that most of their higher-end suite products occupy the top floors, they won't be able to market to whales beyond the capacity of their villas for a couple of months.