Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

October 28, 2007

Open Topic Discussion - Oct. 28, 2007

Posted by Hunter

Here's a new open topic thread for y'all. A couple of notes on this sunny Sunday:

Regarding the piece on VT&T regarding the Encore casino and a 'poker island', based on the plans I have seen and the people I have talked to, this is off the mark. Now, the plans I originally saw for the low rise stuff have substantially changed since then, as we have already discussed... My understanding is that there is no poker room planned for Encore, plus the walkway changes he talks about obliterate the retail that's planned along the WLV-Encore corridor and generally just sound like they waste space. I am very skeptical.

Second, thanks to reader MikeP for sending in a photo inside Palazzo's retail area, plus the new aquarium at The Mirage:


Read archived comments (48 so far)
October 28, 2007 12:21 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Wow! Nice shot of the Palazzo shopping area. I see they did indeed keep the canal moving through the shops. I had wondered if they would skip this idea, since it had been done already, but it appears it will be included. I have to admit I am a bit surprised we don't get more inside shots like these. There are literally thousands of workers in each of these projects, yet they almost never see the light of day. I saw some insides shots of Venetian Macau, which I sent to hunter, but they just don't seem to be any around. I realize nobody is going to sneak a Canon Rebel XTI into a job site, but everyone has camera phones these days, I would sure like to see more shots of the insides of these places while they are being built.

As for this new Wynn rumor, its really hard to say. I mean the idea sounds kind of cool, but I don't know. Especially that it would house a poker room, when just today there was a story about how poker is a dying game. I clearly rememeber Gary on LVTalk, telling me 3 years ago about how Wynn's lake feature would have this huge head that would come out of the water, I thought he was crazy! Turns out, he was right. Imagine that! Who woulda thought? :)

October 28, 2007 1:23 PM Posted by detroit1051

Based on MikeP's aquarium photo, Mirage's website is still using an old photo. In MikeP's photo, the parrot perch stand at each registration station is missing, and the the Polynesian "beams" below the ceiling are also gone.

Unrelated, has anyone ever spent New Year's Eve in Vegas? Even though I haven't been there this year, I've gotten invitations from Bellagio, Wynn, The Mirage and TI. Is it too crowded to be enjoyable?

October 28, 2007 1:26 PM Posted by Mike E

VT&T says they'll remove the current poker room and surrounding rooms and while that will open up the walkways, it would still leave a bottle neck between the self-park garage and Le Reve theater.

As for "poker island", the idea is really cool, but I'd expect such prime real estate would be given to high stakes baccarat players.

October 28, 2007 1:27 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, it is strange that more photos don't leak out - BTW, I am happy to share your secret photos with the world, friendly contractors!

On the Encore thing, I could be wrong, no doubt. I'm just saying that based on what I know and have seen, this is off the mark. Plus, when I asked Mark at VT&T about the credibility of his source, he indicated he didn't really know how credible the info was. I got the impression it was a random tip from a random person.

October 28, 2007 2:28 PM Posted by Hunter

I've done New Years in Vegas a few times - at The Mirage, Bellagio, Monte Carlo and New York New York.

It is crowded as hell. I don't know if I would do it again.

October 28, 2007 2:51 PM Posted by Hunter

Regarding the VT&T thing and Encore, I have checked a few other pieces of info and I'm even more sure that it is totally incorrect.

October 28, 2007 4:58 PM Posted by sharky

What's different about the Mirage aquarium. It looks the same as it always has no?

October 28, 2007 5:03 PM Posted by Hunter

Come on 'Sharky', don't you keep up with what the other fishes are doing???

Lame, I know.

It's been re-done.

October 28, 2007 6:49 PM Posted by Hunter

Oh, one other tidbit from a friendly reader (who may not want to be named):

The Jean Paul Gaultier store at Wynn Las Vegas has closed and will be replaced by Alexander McQueen:

October 28, 2007 7:51 PM Posted by Mike P.

Brian, that shot of the Palazzo retail area was taken through a window in the barrier between the Grand Canal shops and Palazzo. Anyone can walk up and take a look and a picture. Sorry it wasn't a better shot, but there's plenty of dust on the other side of the barrier.

I was prepared to be a contrarian and say sure Palazzo will be open in time, but after walking around this weekend and peeking in wherever I could I gotta agree with the majority. They'll be doing well to have the lobby and some portion of the hotel open before Christmas.

They must have all the HVAC equipment installed though, because the last tower crane is being dismantled. So the hotel will at least have heat in December.

By the way we stayed in a renovated Bellagio suite this time, and were really happy with the suite and our stay in general. I know it was a bad week for a lot of clients and staff there, but we managed to avoid any reservation system related issues -- I think there were continued glitches as late as Friday, but we checked out with no problems on Sunday.

October 28, 2007 8:15 PM Posted by DavidF

It doesn�t surprise me to see a lack of interior shots coming from Palazzo, by and large its been the case with most casinos opening recently and I am sure its due to something in the contract that allows for significant fines if something does leak.

I remember watching a documentary on National Geographic about the Construction of the Venetian and Venezia that mentioned the GC was subject to (IRRC) a $100,000 �fine� if a worker ended up in the Canal.

October 29, 2007 1:23 PM Posted by Dave

As far as New Year's on the Strip, I used to live at Flamingo & Koval and have spent several New Year's out on the Strip. It's very, very crowded, with a lot of people doing very stupid stuff. I'm sure that being inside at the Bellagio would be great, but as far as hanging around the boulevard, it doesn't seem that compelling to me.

Last year my wife had to work, so I spent it with her doing impromptu security for a TV news live shot at Mon Ami Gabi. This isn't actually as much fun as it sounds. It was really cold and we had to stay out there forever, because even after the show was over we couldn't leave because the Strip wasn't open yet and the garage was jammed.

Still, it's a great fireworks show, and it's probably the kind of thing that it would be good to do at least once if you like Vegas. Two tips: don't drive there (obviously not a problem if you're staying on the Strip) and dress warm. And try to avoid drunken idiots.

October 29, 2007 4:50 PM Posted by mike_ch

Brian: "I realize nobody is going to sneak a Canon Rebel XTI into a job site"

Well, get me a DRebel XTI and we'll see. ;)

Detroit: I've spent a couple New Years from my bedroom window looking out at the Strip. I can't see as many buildings as I used to when I moved here, but the Strat and Palms and Mandalay are still visible. :) Anyway, unless you're looking for a good reason to get loaded, I wouldn't bother with New Years. The 2006 show was so over the top that it was nearly cancelled for light winds, and eventually it brought down the wrath of the county fire inspector. 2007's show was really unimpressive after 2006's, and I imagine they'll continue to be showing more lacking shows to keep The Powers At Be happy, while the crowd down below is too drunk to notice the shows aren't as big as before.

October 29, 2007 5:47 PM Posted by detroit1051

Thanks for all the comments on New Year's Eve. I've come to my senses. If I don't like "Amateur Night" here, why go to Vegas.
Dave, regarding Flamingo and Koval, a friend used to live in The Meridian. When it first converted to condos, I seriously considered buying but decided against it.

October 29, 2007 6:59 PM Posted by Mike T

I have done NYE on the Strip twice, most recently for the millenium. I will never go back. I saw a guy die when he climbed up a telephone pole that was supporting power lines into the under construction Aladdin. He scaled the pole, grabbed the lines, and was subsequently fried. And if the jolt didn't kill him, the 30+ ft fall certainly did.

As if that wasn't enough, I saw a guy punch a Metro officer in the back of the head while the officer was attempting to break up a fight. The cop flinched, turned, out came the nightstick, and the would-be tough guy got his ass handed to him Rodney King style by about four cops. And then he got arrested.

You have to understand there are literally hundreds of thousands of people on the Strip on NYE, and a good number of them are highly intoxicated. And before you say, "Sounds like a normal Saturday night in Vegas." I have lived here for 11 years. NYE is so far beyond a weekend night that it's not even worthy of comparison. Unless you're enjoying the company of some friends inside a hotel, I recommend staying away.

October 30, 2007 10:58 AM Posted by Hunter

Yesterday's VT&T update had more info on Encore's room split, which does appear to be legit.

October 31, 2007 4:13 AM Posted by Mike E

Can anyone share recent experiences with the LV Hilton? I've never even stepped foot inside the place, but I'm considering it since I may need to make a short and cheapo one-nighter a week before returning to town for some real splurging. Is the Wynn shuttle to and from the convention center open to all? I've heard conflicting reviews. Anyone know the hours? Also, is the walk to the strip from there safe when the shuttles and monorail aren't running? My instincts tell me it's not.

October 31, 2007 8:38 AM Posted by Hunter

The casino was re-done a couple of years ago and they did a nice job. They kept the 'vintage' vibe without it feeling like the place should be in mothballs. It was clearly an amazingly beautiful place at one point.

As far as casino+hotel+restaurant, it's a totally viable option.

Only issue is distance but that's mitigated by the monorail and the various shuttles.

As far as walking to the Strip at night - you'd probably take Convention Center Dr. to LVB or something. Not totally dangerous but since the 'Dust is closed there's less foot traffic and thus more opportunities to be snagged, dragged into a dark corner, beat on the head and tossed into a van. Happens. I read about it.

October 31, 2007 8:44 AM Posted by mike_ch

Hey Mike E, I sent you an email.

October 31, 2007 9:36 AM Posted by DavidF


Come on, you can tell us, you are just putting up a front, you've reserved the Verona Sky-Villa haven't you ;-)

I have wondered about the Hilton myself a few times, as I use Hilton when I am travelling and that means HHonors stuff, but to my point, worst case don't forget there is the Monofail to set to the strip....

October 31, 2007 11:00 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike E, I can't believe it's been two years since I reported on The Hilton here. I'm sure they've made further improvements since I was there, but I wouldn't go back. As I posted, after one night, I moved to Venetian.
I wouldn't walk to the Strip from there, and I've heard conflicting information on the Wynn shuttle as well.

October 31, 2007 1:25 PM Posted by detroit1051

The November issue of "Las Vegas Life" has an article on CityCenter, "Center of Attention." Although there isn't a lot of new information for people like us who read every word written about Las Vegas, it offers some insights on the architects and the prosesses used to select them. Bobby Baldwin comes off very strong in the article. The only paragraph I believe should have been omitted was a quote from Sven Van Assche, MGM VP of Design, who compared the speed of progress on CityCenter to the slow progress on redeveopment of the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. That was unfortunate.
I didn't know that Pelli's casino resort will be second only to Stratosphere in height.
If you're interested, you have to buy the magazine. There is only an excerpt online:

October 31, 2007 11:05 PM Posted by detroit1051

"Two chefs have said goodbye to the Wynn Hotel and Casino. Grant MacPherson, former executive chef of the Wynn Hotel in Vegas and the Wynn Macau, has left to pursue other opportunities, as has Steven Kalt, former executive chef of Corsa Cucina (to which Alex Stratta and his team have taken over the stove at Corsa)."
I knew Stratta had taken over Corsa, but didn't MacPherson go way back with Steve at Bellagio?

November 1, 2007 3:02 AM Posted by Mike E

Thank all for your insights on the Hilton. And no, I'm not secretly planning a stay in the Verona suite--too gaudy for my tastes :-).

November 1, 2007 8:52 AM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, MacPherson's been around since the MIR days.

He left awhile ago now...

One thing to remember is that like a lot of tech companies, many of these top WYNN people made a lot of money with their stock options and simply want to retire.

November 1, 2007 3:38 PM Posted by mike_ch

I didn't realize the CityCenter hotel was going to be that tall. The buildings are really starting to dominate over the Bellagio pool and I wonder when it's filled if the pool isn't going to feel very comfortable as far as exclusivity and privacy goes. Then again, with a good chunk of 4000 rooms looking it's way, it's not like the privacy of the pool is much more than an illusion with the way things are.

November 1, 2007 5:05 PM Posted by Pikes

After reading the post about predictions for Macau, It got me thinking about Leonard, I did a quick google search to look for his site ( with no luck, anyone know whats up with it/him?

November 1, 2007 5:27 PM Posted by Hunter

I email back and forth with him every once and awhile. He's doing his thing. I don't know if he's reading the site or not.

I also don't know the status of his project. Last we discussed it he was working with lawyers on the project. is registered to someone named Dave Walton in Ohio so I don't know what's up with that either. He registered it the day WLV opened it seems.

November 1, 2007 5:58 PM Posted by Pikes

Thanks Hunter. I forgot to ask in my post if they tiled the tower suites entrance?

November 1, 2007 8:49 PM Posted by Hunter

Sorry, the last question about the tiles - what is that regarding?

November 2, 2007 12:27 AM Posted by Mike E

I think Pikes is refering to the Villa Atrium. The last I saw the Villa Atrium in July, it was hard to tell since they wouldn't let anyone near the area, but they were in the middle of removing the carpet and adding what looked like mosaic tile floors even more ornate than the ones in Bellagio's Conservatory. Hard to believe I haven't been back since or that we haven't seen any reports or pictures of the new floor. In any case, I'm sure they've been long finished with that project.

November 2, 2007 5:22 AM Posted by Pikes

I heard they got rid of the new carpet and tiled the floor in the tower suites atrium.

November 2, 2007 10:11 AM Posted by detroit1051

If Mission Industries' workers go on strike next week, I don't see how management can keep up with laundry for 50 hotels.
Doesn't MGM Mirage operate its own laundry for all its properties?

November 2, 2007 10:17 AM Posted by Hunter

I know the MGM Grand had its own laundry but I also know that the MIR properties (dunno about MBG props) used Mission.

I don't know if that's changed.

November 2, 2007 11:00 AM Posted by Hunter

From NORM:

"Hmmm, what should we assume from this: Steve Wynn, spotted in London on Wednesday night with Andrew Lloyd Webber at "Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

This is the second time they were hanging out. Hmmmm....

November 2, 2007 6:56 PM Posted by mike_ch

"I took a trip to (international city) and one evening I was invited to (name of performance) and I knew it would be a perfect fit for this city and our resort."

I don't see it. That show really doesn't work with the crowd drawn to Vegas, IMO.

November 2, 2007 8:03 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah Mike, you're exactly right. LOL.

November 3, 2007 1:56 AM Posted by Mike E

Anyone know when Mirage is scheduled to renovate their suites? Sometime next month perhaps? I know it's the slow season, but they've been sending out offers for their penthouses that are almost too good to be true. I'm tempted to reserve, but it makes me wonder if it's much like when MGM sent out unheard of offers for their penthouses; little did anyone know they'd be hearing jackhammers next door as this was during their conversion to Skylofts.

November 3, 2007 6:18 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike E, the Penthouse Suites were getting pretty tired when I was there in May '06.
Some of the suites on the floor had new, leather couches, but there hadn't been any renovation. I was less than impressed. I didn't listen to MGM's Conference Call last week, but I read the transcript, and they don't mention renovation at The Mirage. They did talk about Mandalay's renovations and also talked about the OPERA res problems and the impact of closing Bellagio's Baccarat room for renovation. It will open before the holidays.
A side note, I find Seeking Alpha a great site for many Call transcripts. LVS' recent Call is there as well as Riviera's. Here's the link to the MGM Call, and you can go back to the main transcript page from there.

November 3, 2007 9:55 AM Posted by Mike P.


Vdara will loom over Bellagio's pool, and parts of Cosmo might have a pool view. Here's a shot I took last week from the north entrance to the pool area:

November 3, 2007 12:53 PM Posted by steve_c

I stayed at TI in August, and stayed on one of the "penthouse" levels at the top. Most of these rooms were suites, and all were in the process of being completely gutted down and rebuilt. During our week stay, we saw marble replaced, new carpets put in, new lighting schemes and new furniture installed. The decor would be more similar now to the rooms at either the Wynn or the Palms. We asked if they had planned on doing this with the Mirage rooms since that is the property my girlfriend and I love to stay at. We were told that MGM Mirage is planning to redo all the accomodations starting at the beginning of next year. Hopefully all guestrooms and suites are redone soon, because currently the rooms at TI are a lot more comfortable and pleasing to the eyes than any of the still out-dated rooms at the Mirage.

November 3, 2007 6:40 PM Posted by detroit1051

Steve_c, thanks. When Steve Wynn opened Treasure Island in October 1993, it was designated to be one step down the pecking order from The Mirage which opened in November 1989. In the mid-1990's, I toured Treasure Island's Penthouse floors and found them to be a step above The Mirage. I'm glad to hear renovations at The Mirage will start early next year.

November 3, 2007 10:43 PM Posted by Hunter

Mirage Resorts was previously on a 4 to 5 year renovation plan for major guest room work.

That's been adjusted a but since the MGM merger with some properties taking longer. The Mirage's standard guest rooms are actually now a bit overdue for this treatment and the last set of work at TI was basically beds and curtains if I recall properly.

November 4, 2007 12:32 AM Posted by steve_c

Our "Deluxe Guestroom" at TI had it's advantages and it's disadvantages over the one's at Mirage. The bed and pillows alone were top quality. The side chairs, wallpaper and artwork left much to be desired. The disadvantage of this trip was the fact they were remodeling so much of the penthouse levels that it became a problem for us. Cable went out a few times, some elevator issues, and a little plumbing problem. One night (or morning, it was 2 am) after a long night on the strip, I was dying for a shower and wouldn't you know it? No water at all. I phoned the front desk and was told they were having problems with the water and it would be on by morning (I am assuming those large hot tubs I saw sitting in the elevator lobby eariler that night had something to do with it). At least all that marijuana smoke that always seemed to drift down the hallway seemed to calm me down a bit. I guess I was really with the HIGH rollers that night. lol.

I'll be curious to see when exactly the Mirage remodels their rooms and if they will be a complete redo, which is much needed. This place has the potential to be as grand as it once was. I like the changes they've made to the rest of the resort in recent years. It really brought the property up to date.

Speaking of TI, I have read that the lobby is fairly recent (within the decade) and it was once located elsewhere. The lobby is one of my favorite public spaces of TI, the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the pool add a similar vibe IMO to the front desk of the Mirage. Are their any photos of the original lobby? And where exactly was it located? I like the set up of TI a bit more than Mirage as you don't have to take that long walk across the Mirage to the Elevators.

Thanks guys,

November 4, 2007 6:58 AM Posted by detroit1051

LV Sun on MGM's upgrades/renovations:
"Strip giant MGM Mirage will spend close to $800 million this year on resort upgrades including room remodeling, restaurants and nightclubs. Executives say the return on investment so far has been impressive. In the third quarter, food and beverage revenue rose 10 percent, entertainment revenue rose 13 percent and hotel revenue rose 7 percent despite 29,000 rooms being out of service for remodeling at Mandalay Bay and the Bellagio."

November 4, 2007 8:03 AM Posted by Mark D

"29,000 rooms being out of service for remodeling at Mandalay Bay and the Bellagio."

Huh? Mandalay Bay and Bellagio don't have any where near 29,000 rooms combined.

November 4, 2007 9:14 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mark, I saw that, too and wondered if the writer meant 29,000 room-nights which were lost in the course of all the remodeling.

November 4, 2007 10:35 AM Posted by Hunter

The original TI lobby was where the Stefano's restaurant is now - the lines of people literally spilled out into the casino, which was a less than great setup. It was changed when they decided to 'upgrade' the property a bit and go for the Four Diamonds.