Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

January 13, 2008

Trip Report January 2008: Bellagio Suites and Palazzo

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Aaron_B for sharing this trip report from CES 2008. I know several readers will be interested to hear about and see photos of the renovated suites at Bellagio.

The photos are here:


I was in town from January 4th to the 10th for CES. While I was once again staying at Bellagio for six nights on this trip I was most curious to check out the Palazzo.

On the morning of the 5th I headed down the strip to check out Palazzo. As I walked past the Mirage it was obvious even from that distance that there is still significant finish work to be done on Palazzo’s exterior. The EFIS (aka. synthetic stucco) panels on the end of the building to the right of the Palazzo lettering had obviously not been sealed & still needed a finish coat of paint or stucco as it did not match the front side of the building. Upon crossing the street and waking up the Palazzo entrance it became even more obvious just how incomplete the building is. Just to the right of the driveway on the Venetian side there are still cranes and exposed steel work. On the columns that support the arched entry way over the Palazzo driveway there is wiring sticking out which will presumably be connected to light fixtures eventually. Upon walking into the port cochere it was comical to see about twelve Palazzo valets, bellman, and doorman standing around with their hands in their pockets as there were no customers in sight. The awnings with the Palazzo logo which are placed over some windows near the entrance still had large parts of the plastic protective coatings that the manufacturers had shipped them in attached making it look like there were garbage bags flapping in the wind over the windows. There were many places where the paint had not been applied to the walls along the walkway up to the port cochere. Upon entering the entryway between the port cochere and the main lobby you immediately notice the height of the ceiling and the entryway feels spacious. The trees in planters along the entryway are fake plastic trees. In front of the lobby there is a large glass sculpture underneath a glass dome skylight allowing natural light and surrounded by columns and flowers. The floors have large circular marble inlays. The lobby front desk area has a very high ceiling & a mirrored wall behind the front desk containing a large vase in the center. The front desk staff looked bored as they only had a couple customers to help. The Palazzo casino felt small in overall size. The casino has wide walkways and seems to be an improvement over the Venetian casino. The Palazzo shopping area has multiple levels and has several fountains and a waterfall. The large trees that line the columns in the shopping area are fake plastic trees. Several of the fountains contained large amounts of what appeared to be sheetrock dust which had settled to the bottom and looked pretty nasty. The waterfall has several obelisk’s on each side of it which are made of marble. The obelisk’s had large smudges of something on them indicating that they had not been cleaned prior to “opening.”

Overall Palazzo met my expectations for a new LVS property which were pretty low. I was very surprised that the areas which had been “opened” had not been thoroughly cleaned prior the opening of that area. I think Palazzo is definitely a step up from the Venetian, though I do not think that the facility can compete with the likes of Wynn or Bellagio. It is hard to rate the build quality of Palazzo as it looks like the contractors have not even begun to work through their final punch lists to correct problems or defects, but the overall layout, design and materials falls far short of Wynn & Bellagio. If Palazzo plans on charging Wynn & Bellagio type rates I don’t foresee myself staying there. LVS’s decision to soft open Palazzo does little good for the first impressions of its first visitors. IMHO a proper Wynn style opening would have been a better choice.

Back at Bellagio I had the pleasure of staying in one of their newly renovated Bellagio suites in the main tower. MGM Mirage finally gave Bellagio the much need renovations to their original suites. The changes made to the suites were mainly cosmetic. They repainted everything, replaced the carpet, wallpaper, and all of the furniture in the suite. The crown molding, doors, and baseboards are now painted a cream off white color and the wood molding around the fabric wall panels in the living room is painted a dark brown color. The fabric wall panels are a beige color and the new sofa is a dark brown with lighter colored patterned pillows. The large entertainment center from the old suites is gone and replaced with a low credenza containing the mini bar and a Phillips mini surround sound system/dvd/cdplayer. The new TV’s are 42 inch Phillips Plasma HDTV’s. The choice of using a Plasma instead of an LCD HDTV seems to have been a bad one on Bellagio’s part as the still almost brand new Phillips Plasma already had the Bellagio logo burned into it as well as other text from the Bellagio in room music channels. The picture quality aside from the burned in Bellagio logo was decent on the few HDTV digital channels available but the standard definition analog channels and in house Bellagio chanels and menus looked horrible with snow and interference and the remote barely worked. Bellagio’s A/V engineer’s managers should be embarrassed by the burn in, snow and horrible picture quality of the in house Bellagio channels. Since I hardly watch TV in Vegas the TV was not a problem for me but I think it is likely to disappoint some Bellagio customers. The bathrooms have all new brushed nickel fixtures and the steam shower in the “his” bath has a new frameless glass door and improved digital control for the steam feature. The bathrooms also have new 20’ Phillips LCD HDTV’s. The bedroom now has a nice bench at the end of the bed and new dark wood desk with a nice comfortable chair. The previous large armoire has been replaced with a short dresser with a 34’ Phillips LCD HDTV. The LCD TV in the bedroom had a better picture than the plasma in the living room as it had no burn in on it. The new furniture in the suite was very comfortable & overall the renovations have made the Bellagio suite an excellent place to stay. The only thing I miss about the old suites is that Bellagio got rid of the built in mini fridge which had its own ice maker. They made up for this by asking if I would like a portable fridge which was delivered right away and they filled the ice bucket at the turn down service every night. The suite had a couple of burned out light bulbs and the shower drain was slow when I arrived. The front desk had maintenance take care of both issues immediately. All of my interactions with Bellagio’s staff were excellent reinforcing my opinion from previous stays that Bellagio has the some of the best customer service around. I will most likely return to Bellagio on my next trip.


Read archived comments (30 so far)
January 13, 2008 11:48 PM Posted by Hunter

Thanks Aaron!

One little note, the exposed steel you see on the Venetian side when entering Palazzo is what I believe to be the 'Barney's' condo tower - that project is still over a year from completion.

Other than that, I noticed the same sort of unfinished exterior would-be punch list items a few days before they opened that led me to say 'this place ain't opening any time soon' - I was surprised when they opened the next day.

January 14, 2008 1:21 AM Posted by Mike E

Nice write-up, Aaron! Thanks!

The new suites at Bellagio look gorgeous. I've seen some renovated penthouse pics floating around the net as well and the new look works even better for them.

Palazzo's lobby has a refreshing juxtaposition of greenery and old-world style decor. What a shame that it's all fake.

January 14, 2008 5:46 AM Posted by detroit1051

Aaron, great photos and report. Las Vegas Sands hasn't wavered from its policy of sloppy openings. Your description of Palazzo reminded me of the expensive, glossy brochure LVS mailed out when Venetian opened. Photos in this marketing piece showed exposed wiring, incomplete baseboard moldings and contractors' yellow extension cords snaking across the marble floor of the main colonnade walkway. What's with all the plastic trees?
Bellagio's Suite hallways follow the decor of the Spa Tower Suites...too dark for my taste. Your photos of the Bellagio Suite show some improvements, but the furnishings/decor don't seem to go together, in my opinion. Guess that's why I'm not a designer.
The fact that the renovations didn't touch the original marble in the bathrooms confirms that Steve Wynn spared no expense in building those baths ten years ago. They must be impossible to duplicate or Steve would have done so at Wynn.
Are the Plasma screens also in use at Spa Tower? If there were problems there, I wonder why Bellagio didn't change to LCD in the main tower.

January 14, 2008 2:20 PM Posted by mike_ch

Is it really fair to slam the place for plastic plantery? Yeah, I know Bellagio has a conservatory, and Mirage has the jungle thing, but they also have the horticulturists and greenhouse atmosphere to support that kind of thing.

Other nice hotels also use fake plants. I've never heard anyone slam Red Rock for those fake plants at the buffet line or the fake palms near the Rocks Lounge.

January 14, 2008 2:54 PM Posted by frank

Stayed in a Bellagio Penthouse Suite recently, and having stayed in those suites at least 4 times/year over the last 4 years, I can say the remodeling is very refreshing. I believe these are now in line with the Spa Tower Suites in their decor, but I've never seen one in the Spa Tower, so I cannot be sure. I've also recently stayed at a Parlor at Wynn's and they are not really comparable.

Bellagio (+): Middle of the strip, which gives more variety on restaurants and walking tours. Wynn (-): Off the main strip, and unless you like a lot of walking, limited to action at Wynn's or Venetian. Wynn (+): Much better Cafe with cleaner, newer, nicer furnishings, and what I felt was a much better quality menu. Bellagio (-): Cafe needs remodeling and a new menu. It's been the same menu for a couple of years. Wynn (+) Much younger and fresher staff in the casino. It seemed the staff at Wynn were much more friendlier and nicer than the staff at Bellagio. Plus, it seems all of the cocktail waitresses at Bellagio are pregnant?!? Bellagio (+) Extra set of elevators (near VIP) so you don't have to travel across the entire casino late at night to get upstairs. Wynn (-) You have to go through the Tower Suites entrance to access your suite (except they have now had to open the doors between suites tower and regular rooms due to the fire marshall getting a bit upset.) Bellagio (-) They used to send you a limo, give you access to the VIP lounge, and treat you a bit nicer when you stayed in a Penthouse Suite (or better). Now, there is no limo, no special check-in (other than the invited guest line) and NO ACCESS to the VIP lounge. I think you now have to be in a Presidential or Chairman suite to get these perks. I guess the VIP lounge was getting a bit overcrowded. I think they are also cutting back on perks to pay for all of the remodeling. Wynn (-) Don't get the strip view, the Pallazo tower took the view away. Get the golf course view, except make sure you have those curtains tight when the sun comes up from the east early! Wynn (+) Technoligically superior to Bellagio with the HDTV welcoming you to your room, and more variety of music on the HDTV. Plus, you can create art on your HDTV with backgrounds (and light music) to create a serene athmosphere after a rough day of gambling. Bellagio (-) Very hard to get a lakeview suite, although the view of the mountains to the west are quite nice, but that means you need to be in the north/south legs of the building to catch those views. Wynns (+) Private entrance (by car) to get to the Tower Suites check-in area, with a short walk from your car or cab. Don't have to travel through the masses to get your room. Wynns (-) Looked like regular check-in was a nightmare. Bellagio (+) Seems to be a much larger casino with more variety around the building. Wynns (-) limited areas to venture around. Wynns (+) Private pool area easily accessed by the Tower Suites elevator. Quick and easy to get to and from pool. Bellagio (-) Fighting the masses for a descent pool seat.

I was able to get lines of credit at each casino, which helps out not having to carry so much cash, so that's not comparable. (But having to write a check before you leave really is no fun at all.) I'm a sucker for action, so it seems the middle of the strip is a bit more exciting for me, with more (short walks) access to other casinos, therefore more restaurants.

I only wish there was a way to see the floor plans of the actual room layouts on the suite floors to better request a prospective view.

Anyone out there no the room number layouts of the suite floors at Bellagio???

January 14, 2008 3:04 PM Posted by Hunter

I don't have a floor map per se but I have a listing of all of Bellagio's suite types and what floors they appear on. Do you have a specific question?

January 14, 2008 3:36 PM Posted by Frank

Thanks for the quick response Hunter. I just posted an "ask the experts" on the whole floor plan issue, but I'll try again here.

Basically, since it's so hard to get a lakefront suite on short notice, the options are to go to the spa tower suites (not preferred)or a westerly facing corner suite at the north or south end of the main legs of the building. The corner suites (usually Penthouse I presume) have extra windows on the sides of the suites, so you get a bit more view for the same price (especially from your jacuzzi tub). But, I only know the southwest corner (facing City Center and the pool) room numbers (floors 29 through 32) are 019 (i.e. 30-019, 32-019) since I've stayed in those rooms on numerous occasions. I don't know what the corners at the north end of the building (facing northwest) on 29-32 would be, or what the corner room numbers would be on floors 33-36. Basically, I'm looking for corner suites at any level in the suites zone, because you get more view for your buck.

I've seen these floor layout sheets with the agent upon check-in; but I was not able to memorize the room numbers. I just did not know if someone may have a copy for the our use. Thanks again, Frank.

January 14, 2008 5:39 PM Posted by detroit1051

"NO ACCESS to the VIP lounge. I think you now have to be in a Presidential or Chairman suite to get these perks. I guess the VIP lounge was getting a bit overcrowded."
Maybe that's why I haven't been to Vegas in 14 months; I was traumatized by being thrown out of the VIP Lounge. After checking in there for years, last year I was politely told I was to check in at the "Invited Guest" line.

January 14, 2008 5:45 PM Posted by Aaron_B


I had forgotten about the �Barney�s� tower being at that location. For some reason I assumed it would be at the rear of the property. I hope they do not drop any construction equipment/materials on Palazzo guests as that construction site is so close to the Palazzo driveway.


I was glad to see that MGM did not remove any of the original marble work in the Bellagio suites. I have never stayed in the Bellagio Spa Tower, but from pictures I have seen of the Spa Tower Suites, I thought that they still had flat tube TV�s rather than Plasma or LCD screens. Plasma screens definitely have their place, but with all the static images that a hotel TV will end up showing an LCD screen would have likely been a better choice to avoid burn in or �image retention� as the industry calls it.


To be fair to LVS & Palazzo I should have mentioned in my report that not all of the plants at Palazzo are fake, mainly just the large trees. Most or possibly all of the small flowers in the Palazzo lobby area and shopping area appeared to be real.


I agree with you that the Bellagio Caf� could definitely stand new furnishings, carpet and wall coverings. I think the last updates that the Bellagio Caf� received were around 2004. The carpet and fabric wall panels in the Caf� have faded significantly due to the sunlight from the conservatory. I must say that I had several enjoyable meals at the Bellagio Caf� on this visit and found that the service and food were both excellent. I would certainly agree that Wynn�s Terrace Pointe Caf� is excellent as well.

I do have photos of the Bellagio suites floor room number layout and the Bellagio rooms floor room number layouts from the in room evacuation diagrams. I have e-mailed Hunter the pictures of the layouts.

January 15, 2008 4:48 AM Posted by Frank


Thanks. You are one very intelligent fellow for taking those pictures of the evacuation plans. It would be most appreciated if you would send me those shots to the following address:

And, you are correct about the meals at Bellagio Cafe. The meals and service are both appealing; however I get tired of looking at the same old menu and scenery all of the time. I guess it's just that Wynn's is newer and fresher for me.


That also traumatized me when I tried to check in around September of last year in the VIP room, when I was slapped in the face to learn there was no more access for us losers who pay up to $750/night for a Penthouse Suite. As a repeat customer, it would have been proper for them to have contacted me to let me know this service was no longer available, and I would have downgraded to the Bellagio Suite for less money.

January 15, 2008 9:23 AM Posted by Hunter

Those floor plan shots are here:

January 15, 2008 9:49 AM Posted by LeoNYC

I called Bellagio last October and the reservation agent said that if you want to have access to the VIP lounge + limo transfer you have to pay about $400 per night. From what she said I believe you will get the same service that Skylofts offer when checking in.

I stayed at Wynn a few times (Tower Suites) and I always have been told that my key opens that door that connects the tower suites hallway with the regular rooms. I never tried, but if this is true you don't need to walk through the casino to go to your room in the tower suites.

(BTW, first time posting a comment here, but have been checking this blog since 2006).

January 15, 2008 11:04 AM Posted by Nathan Boone

Speaking of floor plans, has anyone obtained one from the Palazzo? I'm curious to see the layout of the casino and the level with the shops. Or since they're not having their "grand opening" until January 17th, maybe their PR department is holding off on publications...

January 15, 2008 12:15 PM Posted by mike_ch


January 15, 2008 1:15 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, that's very helpful for those of us who haven't been there yet. Other than spelling Barneys wrong (Barnes), it looks good. I find it interesting that Palazzo's high limit slot area is near the hotel lobby and almost separate from the rest of the casino. It's got to be better than Venetian's rather drab high limit slot area.

January 15, 2008 5:18 PM Posted by John

Aaron, has Bellagio finally made the jump from steel keys to plastic keys, in the suites specifically? I know that they made the switch in the hotel portion, but I always thought the main tower suites might just remain immune from plastic key cards. Ah well, I guess it just goes to show that MGM really doesn't care about property individuality.

January 15, 2008 6:09 PM Posted by Aaron_B


Bellagio is using plastic keys for the main tower suites. I recall reading somewhere that the reason that they switched from the original steel magnetic keys to plastic magnetic keys was because the only company who made the keys and locks went out of business and they could not get new keys or parts for the locks.

January 15, 2008 8:49 PM Posted by John

Hmm, that is interesting because I travel to Salt Lake City every so often and stay at the Grand America Hotel, which still uses the magnetic keys in all of their rooms. It's interesting, though, because, even though I was sad to see them go at Bellagio, I've never really been a fan of metal keys. On the one hand, I think they add a certain level of quality to the resort, but I just do not like a physical key that does not turn in when inserted into a lock. I may just be too used to turning my key to opening my lock instead of quickly inserting and removing my key. So I believe in that case I'm somewhat glad to see the keys finally go, but, on the other hand, I'm somewhat saddened to see another example of Steve Wynn quality being taken out of the resort.

January 15, 2008 10:25 PM Posted by GregoryZephyr

SUBJECT 1: Looking at the new decor of Bellagio's suites, I can't help but marvel at the comparison to the Peppermill in Reno. Lest you think I am crazy, I don't really pay much attention to Reno. But, for some reason the Peppermill sent me a big brochure announcing their brand new "Tuscany" hotel room tower wing. (Not sure why they sent it to me since I only stayed at Peppermill one time back in 1996!)

What's interesting about their NEW interior decor is that it looks similar in style to the OLD Bellagio--a little bit darker but similar in terms of the heavy drapes, carved wood furniture, etc.

BTW, the exterior is even more goofy looking than Planet Hollywood. They have a relatively "contemporary" hotel tower (sort of a cross between the Stardust tower and Mirage) with a completely new ground level facade in a Tuscan Italian Mediterranean theme. Very bizarre. You can see it on their website at

SUBJECT 2: It would be an interesting idea to develop a collection of floorplans or a database of room locations that offer best combinations of view/quiet, etc. by hotel (or at least for the best hotels). I could imagine someone consulting a database of the best room locations and then requesting those when reserving or checking in. Every cruiseship shows their floorplans, but hotels never do.

January 15, 2008 10:47 PM Posted by Hunter

On the floorplan database, I'd love to host/build something like that. The problem is that hotels in Vegas seem to guard that info for reasons I don't understand so we'd need user submissions and stuff like the photos of fire info. I'm all for more ways I can extend the RV database to include this sort of useful info.

January 16, 2008 6:15 AM Posted by Aaron_B

I agree that a database of room locations & floor plans for Vegas hotels would be great!

This talk of view/quiet made me recall something I observed at Bellagio that I forgot to mention in my report. While taking a look at the Bellagio fountain show & looking at the Cosmopolitan site I noticed that at the rear of Cosmopolitan they have installed elevated cooling towers at a location which appeared to be just feet away from the south end of the Bellagio Spa Tower maybe around the 7-12th floors. As Cosmopolitan moves forward I�m sure the area where these towers are installed will be enclosed or louvered on the sides so as not to be so visible however; cooling towers can produce a lot of noise and water vapor in certain atmospheric conditions which is why Bellagio�s own cooling towers and a/c plant is behind the convention area adjacent to Frank Sinatra drive. I definitely would not want to be staying in one of the Bellagio Spa Tower rooms near the Cosmopolitan a/c cooling tower plant . I meant to get some pictures of this but never got around to it. Whenever Google Earth updates their Vegas pictures I�m sure the cooling plant will be visible from above.

January 16, 2008 8:39 AM Posted by detroit1051

Steve Friess has another excellent piece in USA Today.
"It's his competitors on The Strip who ought to be worried about the opening of the posh, 50-story Palazzo."We will cannibalize them," says Adelson, the 74-year-old CEO and majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands. "We're going to take customers from other hotels."
I believe Adelson is right. With all of Palazzo's and Venetian's restaurants and the connection with Sands Expo Center, Palazzo will take customers from both Wynn and Bellagio.

January 16, 2008 8:59 AM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, I spoke with Steve last night and it sounds like he will have some more stories and photos coming out in various places over the next few days. We'll post links where we can.

January 16, 2008 9:38 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Palazzo will not hurt Wynn, in fact it will help Wynn. The more traffic in the area, the more people will gamble in his casino. The Palazzo casino is boring and plain, and is just another Venetian, and not going to get any very high end play to speak of. Wynn's customers are very loyal, and will not stay at Palazzo either.

As for Sheldon being the 3rd richest person, I am afraid much has changed, with his stock falling almost 50%, he net worth comes in now closer to only $15 Billion, which puts him much further down the list now.

Aldelson will keep this place full with his convention center, just like he does the Venetian, so this hotel will do Ok, don't get me wrong. But to say many Wynn customers will defect to Palazzo is laughable. Only in his dreams will he take substantial business from Wynn, from others yes, but not Wynn, and not Bellagio, try as he might, he isn't in that league with his property. He will take from the upper to mid-market hotels, like Mirage, TI, and MGM. But no way Palazzo hurts Wynn or Bellagio.
I've seen the pictures, I'll see the product for myself in person in a few weeks, but from what I see, its more of the same. There is nothing new and exciting about Palazzo. Now Encore will be a different story.

January 16, 2008 12:09 PM Posted by mike_ch

I think it's early to judge Encore. For the lack anything innovative or mind-blowing at Palazzo, it doesn't do anything wrong. The casino seemed fairly laid-back and less intense than Wynn. There was also less people, probably because the hotel was near-empty and a lot of people didn't know it was open. But the floor was well laid out with plenty of space to move about, something I know people have complimented Wynn for.

I didn't wander the restaurant row or even see the lobby, but the Palazzo casino is best summed up as what the sprawling Venetian casino actually should have been.

Honestly speaking, not everyone likes Wynn's over the top appearance. I can think of a few people I know who would enjoy the hotel, but go elsewhere to gamble because they can't take how visually busy it is. That's not me, personally, I've always said the casino is my favourite part of the place.

January 16, 2008 1:40 PM Posted by Mike P.


My wife attends continuing medical education courses regularly in Las Vegas, and Venetian/Palazzo is definitely getting some of that business back from Wynn and Bellagio. That's probably not a hugely significant source of revenue since those courses usually only have between a few hundred to a thousand or so attendees, at least in her specialty.

I could be wrong about this since I have no real evidence, but I don't think Wynn is getting the volume of meeting business they planned for. At least when we've been there for meetings the convention center has usually had few other groups besides hers. And after the last meeting we went to there they will probably have one less group, since there were enough unhappy campers who were kept awake all night by nightclub racket that the course director decided it would be a good idea to look elsewhere. I think that course will be in Park City this year, but most of that company's Vegas courses will be at the Venetian in 2008.

January 17, 2008 1:26 PM Posted by socalduck

Love the idea of a floor plan database. I'm a big fan of, which essentially provides aircraft layouts and brief seat descriptions for every major commercial airliner. If there is a hotel equivalent, I'm not aware of it.

January 18, 2008 12:06 PM Posted by Andy S

I visited Palazzo during the day on NYE, the place did not even look open!

The thing I noticed was how quiet the Palazzo was. I visited the Friday after New Year and every where else was packed, could not get a table at the Sports Bar at the Mirage, however the main bar at Palazzo only had two other people in it! They also had table limits of $10 which was much lower than the venetian.

The place is very nice and has light airy casino, however it is a little bland compared to the Wynn or Bellagio. The staff were also very helpful and friendly.

I'm sure it will be a good addition to the strip once it is fully open, accepts guests and any opening problems have been sorted out.

Cheers, Andy

January 18, 2008 12:09 PM Posted by detroit1051

Socalduck, I agree. I won't check in for a flight without looking at first.

I'd like to know room layouts and locations on the floor, connecting/non-connecting (I won't stay in a connecting room), proximity to elevators, housekeeping closets, service elevators and other potentially noisy distractions.

Hunter, this could be huge for you if you could get the information.

April 8, 2008 7:22 PM Posted by Alex Nahabedian

Hey guys! I just found out that the bellagio was rated 3rd in the world for "best pool"!!