Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

September 27, 2007

Strip Walk: September 2007

Posted by Hunter

Well, you know the drill at this point. Another episode featuring MGM Grand, Wynn Las Vegas, City Center and more.

Photos are here: RateVegas Photos

This time we get a bonus video: Diablo's Cantina

MGM Grand: As I mentioned on the last call-in podcast, there's some kind of work going on in the backyard of MGM. For those who don't know, this is just immediately to the south of the Grand Garden Arena. Please see the photos to see get an idea of what this looks like. There's some earth moving vehicles and what looks like piping being laid into the ground. I don't have a clue what's going on here, but some have speculated more meeting space. But the location is surrounded by backstreets on several sides and the arena on the other, which doesn't make it a great meeting room expansion IMO, but we'll see.

NYNY: Peeking behind the walls of Pour24 upstairs, boxes of materials have arrived. That whole area is now starting to be built so it's not as easy to see what's going on. The nearby ceiling columns have been redecorated with more of that contemporary look (more wood grain! more chrome trim!) that the city's interior designers are so fond of. Downstairs, the large wall over the old Cabaret Theater is now walled off with a smaller wall and some metal sculpture behind it. There's Rok Vegas art on the floor to ceiling wall, so I guess this is where it's being installed. I don't know what's going on at the arcade level then. Peeking across the upstairs balcony into the old food court section of the arcade reveals no work or anything.
Monte Carlo: Diablo's Cantina is now open. It's a two-level restaurant with plenty of open air to the outdoors. I wonder how enjoyable it'll be in January when it can get pretty cold, but I guess that hasn't affected the al fresco place at Paris that much. Still, if you like the people watch, this looks like a good place. The neon sign looks a little cheesy, but this is supposed to look like some sort of cruddy dive bar or something, so I guess it's appropriate. A cheesy sculpture of a devil-girl with a pitchfork contrasts appropriately with the older, mausoleum-style statues around the property. The menu is half grill, have tex-mex. It's connected to the inside of Monte Carlo with a small entrance just inside the doors. Speaking of which, one of the questions around here is how accessible the south entrance would be with Diablo's taking up so much room, so I made a video walking across the restaurant and into the hotel. There's more room back there than I thought there was, although it could really benefit from a "Casino that-a-way" kind of sign outside. We've seen at Aladdin what happens when it's too hard to get into your casino.
Speaking of which, Diablo's isn't the only change over the past few months here. Maybe because of Bobby Baldwin's influence, or just some manager realized it was time for a spring cleaning, Monte Carlo has been trying to spruce itself up as of late. The first big change was a renovation to the Cafe last year. Sometime around spring, the buffet was given a smaller renovation as well although it still has that sort of vaguely moroccan theme for some reason. The food court was given an overhaul (the ice cream joint is still walled up) and is now actually one of the nicer looking hotel food courts (not really as nice as the one at Caesars, but that one isn't full of chains anyway.) But now changes are really starting to hit the casino. A new carpet has been laid out and it resembles the Bellagio carpet a little bit, and both of those heavily seem to borrow from the designs at Wynn. Signage has been changed to that "black lettering on a flat white board" look that's now all over Bellagio and parts of MGM Grand (basically the lobby.) I've included pictures of the new carpet and signage because I'm a nerd.
Likewise, the high limit tables section now is more secluded as they put some glass artsy-looking obstructions in the way of what were formerly wide open spaces to the outdoor casino, and a new high limit slot room has been built on the southern side of the casino with a new Players Club desk. The new room and desk, again, follow the usual mold from MGM, being very modern looking with dark wooden tones and small contemporary lighting fixtures. It looks, admittedly, a little weird in the midst of the "generic elegance" look that is Monte Carlo, but thanks to the newer brown carpets and modern looking signs, it's not too alien.
CityCenter: Some big changes here. Not much about the towers, which are basically coming along at the normal pace, but the low-rise structures are starting to come into view. Jagged-shaped supports rising into the air mark the first truly visible signs of the retail complex we've been waiting for. However, they're pretty far back there and not anywhere near the sidewalk like the renders suggested. What is really brand new is a new building reaching all the way out to the sidewalk. It looks about two levels high and has a rounded edge, suggesting it will be a sidewalk level entrance along the lines of the esplanades at Wynn or Bellagio. Will this project have more of a "front yard" than previously thought? I guess it could, or it could be that the jaggy ceilings of the retail complex will grow outward to the sidewalk over time. The whole facility still looks a bit like a pit with construction going on inside, so we'll see.
Cosmopolitan: Construction here too, as a couple dense networks of steel beams have gone up in two places on the property, including right next to the concrete box which I presume is the elevator core.
Encore: At last, a low-rise building has appeared. It's not much to look at, basically a simple two-level frame, but it's there. Go see the photos.
Fontainebleu: Again, I have to pester you to go look at the photos, because I really don't know much about this project, so I can't tell you by looking at it what's going to be be what, but it's starting to really get vertical.
Other Stuff: The wall over the dining level at Luxor has concept artwork for CatHouse. You can find some of it on the restaurant's MySpace which I won't link here because it's rather tarted up and I'm not sure if I should. Think waitresses dressed like strippers and doing choreographed dances while you dine on some Spanish-styled cuisine. You enjoy your puntillitas if you want to, but I don't think I'll be going inside anytime soon. And once more, I'll mention that Mandalay still has a significant chunk of their casino walled off.


Read archived comments (2 so far)
September 30, 2007 6:44 PM Posted by Mark D

Thanks for the report.

Yes, the retail mall at CityCenter with the jagged roof is being built from its west end first and then they add to it as they move east toward the strip (same way their convention center is being build from east to west and the Font is building their garage/convention center from south to north). I mentioned this in another thread, Libeskind's design with all the jagged shapes is very similar to his Crystal building at the Royal Ontario Museum. But the ROM cut their budget and used lesser quality material than originally planned. I think CityCenter's budget can afford the higher quality material (whatever it is), plus it will be much bigger than the ROM Crystal. Also, in the Q2 earnings conference call they said it would be called the "Crystals Retail District", but I haven't heard that any place else.

I think the construction work at the MGM Grand is for more convention/meeting buildings.

September 30, 2007 9:39 PM Posted by mike_ch

Interesting. I'll be going to the ROM sometime in the next 2-5 months. I'll gawk at those buildings so I can be a semi-informed pundit in the year ahead when the building at CityCenter starts to take shape.