Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

June 12, 2009

Strip Walk - June 2009

Posted by Hunter

Mike is back with a Strip Walk for June 2009 including Encore, Palazzo, Treasure Island, City Center and more.

As always, the photo gallery is here:

Click through to read more.


I'm pretty sure this sign is old [It's been up for a few months - ed] but I come to Encore infrequently enough that I forgot. Along the same lines, this store was closed last time I came. But the reason I really came here was the bar in Society had opened. I was afraid of what this bar would look like, Encore has a ton of places to impair your common sense in a fairly small casino already. It's actually inside the restaurant, though, not reachable from outside, and is a smallish counter with some small coffeehouse/deli style seating around instead of the big restaurant tables. It was pretty popular on Saturday night and I was trying not to bother anyone and so the shot came out not so great, which is what happens when I force the flash off or do anything other than let my camera pick all the settings (and it wanted to flash the customers right in the face.) Urgh.

Also, allow me a tangent/rant for a moment: That same night I also found a Wynn-branded skateboard and plush dolls and other wares for tykes (for proper orientation, click "rotate photo.") The tags on the dolls have a little cartoony image of the animals riding one of those red Wynn buses with the flower designs on the side, going somewhere (probably not the monorail station, unless the cartoon animals have connections I don't.) This was found in the Encore sundries store by the elevators, I just found it a bit odd. Not because there's children's toys for sale in a casino (if you're going to aspire to five-star you have to be prepared for everything, I suppose, even if families aren't your ideal market), but because they seem to be looking to promote their adult-focused brand on people's children. They have Wynn signature clothing for small children for parents who, well, I don't know why they'd buy these things.

Caesars has had an FAO for years, but they sell FAO product lines there and not Caesars. You can kind of make a case for childrens merch at the MGM Grand Lion Habitat or the Mirage's Dolphin/Garden exhibits or Mandalay's Shark Reef since that merch is about an all-ages attraction instead of a casino brand itself, but what does Wynn-Encore offer to children? They don't even want strollers in there. Better to have Wynn clothing on children than Hooters clothing on children, I suppose, but I'd consider Las Vegas a negative brand influence overall for the younger set.


This upstairs entrance from the old Venetian-TI bridge still wasn't open but a long escalator downstairs was. You're going to have to view this photo at it's huge original size to read the sign, I believe, but Walgreens got top billing over Barney's. Right.

Treasure Island

Notice: Empty menu at Isla. Could be a change to the menu. I've never dined there, so I wouldn't know. You change the 24 hour coffee shop menu, though, and I'll notice. Cuz that's more how I roll.

Monte Carlo

I couldn't quite tell if this billboard was making a crack on the poor grasp of the English language in some Asian countries. If it is, I wonder if they realize it wasn't a smart idea to do that, considering where a large part of the upscale market comes from. Also, I guess this is supposed to be the new Market City Cafe or Caffe or whatever.

City Center

I took a lot of photos, many are of unusual angles because I had the luxury of a car that day. Go look in the gallery.

The bridge across the Strip is underway and you can see how it connects to Cosmo and onward past the Mini-Harmon. Also, the finishing layers of the Crystal building is being applied and egads it reflects a lot of glare. Like "avert your eyes, don't look into it even though it's very distracting" bright. And that's just with a couple panels. I hope they haven't made a Gehry-sized mistake with this one.


Read archived comments (27 so far)
June 12, 2009 2:43 PM Posted by parchedearth

I agree with you on the Wynn branded clothing and toys. Not sure this makes much sense, especially with a fashion mall across the street.

Looks as though the Walgreen's is out by the street, but isn't that also near the entrance to the St Regis condos? I suppose the strip does need more practical stores (ala CVS near MC).

I think the closed entrance to the Shoppes from the V-TI bridge may be where the new First Food and Bar is going. I am pretty excited to check out this 21hr establishment. I like the idea of being able to get a gourmet burger and beer at 9am.

They better top out soon on Veer. They don't want those cranes still hanging around during the opening.

Glad to see the Harmon bridge has been started. I was a little fearful they would do it last. I think its going to be needed to navigate the area.

June 12, 2009 3:27 PM Posted by mike_ch

Something I forgot to mention in my report is that the reason I went into Monte Carlo was to see if there was anything I could find regarding Hotel32 (registration desk, information, anything) from the perspective of Lobby1. I found nothing, as the whole area looks exactly as it has for months, or at least since they covered up the escalators to the self park garage (the new garage still isn't open to the public yet.)

I bounced in and out of an elevator to see if there was any special Hotel32 buttons or anything, and the 32nd floor had an old worn tag that said something like "Presidents Level" or some other descriptor that could be used at the top floor of almost any hotel tower.

So unless they're deliberately making an effort to make it look like it's not there (in which case they're doing an even better job than The Mansion did), and I don't think they are, you certainly won't see anything new from this "hotel within a hotel."

Hiring for Hotel32 asks for experience in Five Diamond resorts so apparently they're going to try and make it kind of ritzy even though it's in the Monte Carlo.

June 12, 2009 4:51 PM Posted by Tom M.

Frank Gehry has made a career out of one design. Does this guy have an ounce of creativity left in him. I am not a big fan of his "branded" design style.

June 12, 2009 9:45 PM Posted by mike_ch

Tom M: The Crystals isn't Gehry, it's Daniel Libeskind. Though he too is just phoning it in with a design that he's used before.

I've mentioned before that everybody I talked to in Toronto hated the Crystal, maybe in front of CityCenter instead of attached to a very old-fashioned museum it might fare a bit better in the critical eye. I still can't believe when I told the lobby receptionist (which is in the Crystal side of the building) that I was interested in the architecture while taking a bunch of lobby pictures, and mentioned there was a Vegas casino building that was going to look like this, that she suggested I head to the old part of the building to look at the architecture. It turned out all but the top floor of The Crystal was closed (and the top floor didn't allow pictures) but she seemed to automatically assume I was talking about the old half of the museum because nobody likes the new addition.

Best insult I heard all trip was "it looks like an alien cancer."

June 12, 2009 9:48 PM Posted by Arthur

Which Encore sign did you say was old? The link to the supposed picture leads directly to the gallery itself, and not the picture, and you got me curious. Hahaha

June 12, 2009 9:56 PM Posted by Hunter

The 'Taste of Wynn' sign.

June 13, 2009 8:48 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, what is the sandstone colored building next to the parking structure along Frank Sinatra Drive? It's in your photos 16, 24 and 26.

June 13, 2009 8:53 AM Posted by Hunter


It's part of ARIA - the spa is in the back there as well as some convention space.

June 13, 2009 9:34 AM Posted by detroit1051

That's it. Thanks. I was surprised by the color, but I like it.

June 13, 2009 9:57 AM Posted by PeterF

I like, "We Are Smiling to Service You Again". I don't think it makes fun of anyone. The english you find in Japan is much crazier.

June 13, 2009 6:33 PM Posted by Phil

Piggybacking on the Crystals in Toronto, it does look fairly unique at night, the lighting they use make it look very untypical. They use its varying flat surfaces as almost a canvas to shoot bright color patterns on it to make it look almost like mismatched puzzle pieces. Not sure if they have the same intention with the Vegas version.

June 13, 2009 11:36 PM Posted by mike_ch

Phil that might be some kind of seasonal/temporary thing, or else it's very new. (Sounds almost like a Nuite Blanche project to me.)

In November 07, anyway, it was just illuminated with plain ol' outdoor lighting.

Peter: I actually knew about "All Your Base" before it became a phenomenon around the start of the decade, so I know what you mean. This is subtle enough that I figure most won't notice but among those who do there's a group who will see it as "laughing with" and others as "laughing at"; poorly constructed English is one of those things that can be funny when it happens naturally but when it's done deliberately it can feel like you're making fun of people.

June 13, 2009 11:47 PM Posted by mike_ch

BTW, I kind of looked at this page again and realize that between my talk about Wynn Kids and Dragon Noodle, I'm sorta coming close to being Sin City's PC Patrol.

To make it clear I don't generally have a problem with what the strip officially/legally offers, but my primary complaint is marketing. There's been a lot of idiotic marketing lately.

I mean, do I think DNC will be a classy restaurant or will it be a crass stereotype with broken English in the menu? Obviously I suspect the former given the destination, but if they had simply wrote "Dragon Noodle Co will return in the Fall" then I would have never had any suspicion that it could possibly be the latter.

As for the Wynn stuff, I like family attractions and consider myself more of an amusement park guy than a casino guy, but Wynn's product has about as much family appeal as Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, even if it's far superior.

June 14, 2009 4:42 AM Posted by Doug

I like that sandstone building - it looks classy.

I don't know what's going on with 'Hotel32' at Monte Carlo, but I still think there's a move to upscale the entire Monte Carlo image because of City Center. However, the MC has 'Sooo...many problems' : Lack of good bars, a small boring casino(their biggest problem), thin walls in outdated rooms(a spa tub next to the bed??) and no music club or at the very least a 'Fontana Lounge' with some music. The MC has a long way to go.

June 14, 2009 5:10 AM Posted by Tom M

Mike ch: thanks for the correction, I just assumed it was his due to the similarity in design. I looked at a picture of the Toronto ROM and I think they destroyed the archtitecture of that museum, again not by Gehry. I am not sure but I think I.M. Pei may have started this trend with hes redo of the Louvre which I still hate but at least does not overwhelm the original design. Gehry was asked to design an addition to the Corcoran art museum in Washington DC back in 2004. This museum is around the corner from the White House. The addition was a hideous stainless steel design that would have destroyed the character of the original building not to mention the neighborhood including the White House. Fortunately, the director of the museum that wanted to build this addition resigned when the board of directors refused his vision as too distracting. You can see the picture of that design here:

I guess I think the city center design is at least part of a modernist skyline and not surrounded by classic architecture. I don't like the overall layout of city center( I think they never should have built Veer in the center, cuting off Aria from the strip design wise) but I will give them a chance to finish the whole site before I comment on the design of the crystals.

June 14, 2009 7:40 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Nice pics of City Center, I am glad the bridge is moving along. I think it was crazy, that the bridges at Wynn were not complete at the time of opening, they had years to prepare for them. I hate I cannot make it to Vegas this summer, but its just not going to happen. This will be the first summer trip, i've missed in many years. But I'm still planning on hitting CC opening, if possible.

On the subject of Wynn's toys and kids clothing. I understand your point, and can see your point of view. And while I fully expect a very conservative or extremely religious person could find that offensive, I don't think most visitors to Las Vegas fall into that category. As for myself...well, I named my only child Ashlyn Wynn, and her collection of Wynn clothes and toys extends as far as the eye can see. Though I did have to take a pass on the exclusive Wynn Teddy Bear, at $50 for a small stuffed animal, maybe even this old fool, is a bit too conservative for a purchase like that. :)

June 14, 2009 10:33 AM Posted by mike_ch

Brian: It's not so much a political-religious thing (I'm basically a secular socialist anyway), it's more that I'm not sure what they were thinking. I've certainly seen weirder. You may remember that a few years ago I found an Elmo/Sesame Street shirt for Bellagio. That one actually was far weirder than the Wynn stuff because I know those characters are owned by Children's Television Workshop (public television) and not the Hensons and CTW is usually pretty watchful of their merchandise.

Excalibur had a lot of kids stuff (but they were targeting families while Wynn seems to actively avoid them) and I also remember Luxor's Pharaoh teddy bears (though I know a lot of adults who collect bears.)

June 15, 2009 6:57 AM Posted by doc_al

IMO, and having been in the situation, I suspect the kids toys/clothes are more for that guilt-assuaging last minute purchase before going home from a kid-free trip. So those items get added to the gift shop, and if it goes in the gift shop, it has to be logo'ed.

Or, maybe Steve's new SO likes kids.

I like the MC, not just in spite of but because of the faux-museum exterior and rather bland interior. But I've also found decent gaming there, the front casino bar is handy, and while I've never spent time there they do have the Houdini lounge which at least used to get some sort of live acts.

June 15, 2009 11:37 AM Posted by David McKee

The Gehry-designed concert hall in L.A. is an architectural masterpiece, to my untrained eye (we spent a Sunday morning touring; time well spent). However, I don't have to live across the street from it, either. If you want to see an expensive disappoint, try Richard Meier's Getty museum, a real triumph of form over function. But I digress ...

That Aria spa/convention space is a heckuva lot better integrated into the overall project than is the giant shoebox which is F'bleau's parking garage. There are no words adequate to describe the shock of stepping onto the Stirling Club's veranda, expecting a tranquil westward view and instead looking at the backside of this ginormous eyesore. Who'da thought Turnberry would replace one monstrosity (the hulk of the El Rancho) with another?

Thanks, Mike, for another thought-stimulating report.

June 15, 2009 9:07 PM Posted by Tom M

I think Frank Gehry is a one trick pony, but i have never toured one of his projects. I think his design for the Corcoran was totally out of place for the location. I like the look of the Getty center, but I have never toured that either, so I don't know if its a good design functionality or not. May need to take a sidetrip from Vegas next time out to check out the LA architecture scene. I would love to see Gehry's Bilbao project as that is widely recognized as an architectural masterpiece. I just wish the guy would try to expand his design horizons rather than rinse and repeat.

June 15, 2009 11:25 PM Posted by o00000

This is getting kind of off topic and ridiculous, but I'm wondering if possibly some of the out of place gift shop branding discussed on this board is possibly the result of some kind of "package deal" with manufacturers or middle men.. IE: Someone in charge at Wynn needs to purchase items to be sold in the gift shop, they contact X, who offers them a standard "package deal" of everything from towels, t-shirts, mugs, teddy bears, etc. (of course at a much cheaper price than negotiating each product individually). I know furniture, housekeeping supplies, etc. are usually purchased somewhat in that fashion. Just a thought.

June 16, 2009 10:43 AM Posted by Mike T

This is off topic to Vegas, so I will be brief. David McKee, what could you possibly not like about the Getty Center? I toured it, and spent a good amount of time there. I thought it was brilliant. Yes it's gigantic, but it is such a beautiful building.

June 18, 2009 11:14 PM Posted by david Slavin

I find it hilarious that people that know basically nothing about architecture would pass judgement on a genius like Frank Gehry. He's a "one trick pony". Good times LMAO!

June 19, 2009 7:19 AM Posted by Hunter


Well, if you disagree, instead of deriding the previous commenters, how about you explain why? What are they missing?

His work is designed to be enjoyed by all people - not just other architects - it seems acceptable for all people to be free to share their opinions.

Of course there are times when trained architects and art historians have additional perspective on certain works but if you don't think great masters phone it in sometimes, you're crazy. At least 30% of Picasso's output was crap he did for money when he learned he could trade on his name.

This is getting off-topic so David is free to respond to this but otherwise, let's keep it focused on Las Vegas - thanks.


June 19, 2009 10:07 AM Posted by david Slavin

I think most here should probably stick to whether the brocade on the backs of the booths at the latest coffee shop is to their liking or not.LOL

June 19, 2009 10:13 AM Posted by Hunter


Instead of raising the level of discourse, you are lowering it. I will not publish any more of your comments unless you're actually bringing something to the table besides random insults.


July 6, 2009 9:34 AM Posted by joe

Just out of the blue but, did encore receive the AAA five diamond award or it is still too easy to determine?