Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

July 1, 2009

Open Topic Discussion - July 1, 2009

Posted by detroit1051

The Las Vegas Review Journal and Las Vegas Sun both have lead stories on Harmon's construction defects. The Sun is more informative and includes photos of the rebar in question as well as a link to the County complaints. What an appalling saga.

Harmon inspector lacked experience
At hearing, he said he read building plans in prior jobs only with help


Read archived comments (42 so far)
July 1, 2009 7:04 AM Posted by jay

I can't help but laugh about this whole city center mess. But at least this building was capped off and the amount of condos/rooms will be less. I can only think this is a blessing in disguise for MGM. They will go to court over this and that Perinni construction company will be held liable. Insurance will cover it all and MGM may get a free building plus some damages out of it to cover city centers huge budget, so for them its a win. But terrible planning on all the parties involved. As a shareholder, MGM again will benefit from this but not as expected.

July 1, 2009 11:29 AM Posted by Brian Fey


July 2, 2009 5:56 AM Posted by detroit1051

Alex Yemenidjian has signalled that the Trop is on the way back. It's probably smart he's starting with customer service by giving each employee a book to read before all-employee meetings in two weeks, "Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service". Alex may give Steve Wynn a run for his money in the focus on customer service.
The physical property improvements are another story. Will there be enough money to transform the Trop?
Alex can really make a name for himself by pulling this off.

July 2, 2009 10:27 AM Posted by David McKee

According to the R-J story, Converse's work was obstructed by MGM Mirage and Perini, which refused (yes, refused) to share relevant documents. It'll be a miracle if there *isn't* litigation arising from this mess.

July 2, 2009 10:55 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I'll admit I don't remember any of the specifics of when Yemenidjian left MGM, but I assume it was on good terms. Which leads to the following theory: MGM has enough to keep it busy for several years, and can't absorb any more purchases for a while. The Tropicana property fits in perfectly as part of their long range plan, and Yemenidjian & co, plus MGM have worked together to make sure that someone who is part of the team operates the property. I'm guessing that the agreement is in place for the Trop owners to be absorbed into MGM when the market conditions are right. In the mean time, I see this as the best thing that could happen to the Trop, sensibile leadership and rich neighbors.

July 3, 2009 10:09 AM Posted by David McKee

Yemenidjian was shunted over to Hollywood, to run KK's movie operations, supposedly in order to lure Terry Lanni back to the company. The Kerkorian sold the movie studio out from under him, leaving Yemenidjian to wander the wilds of the casino industry. Since he was recently pursuing a casino license in Illinois that would have seen him going up against MGM's Grand Victoria, I have trouble seeing him as a stalking horse for his old company.

But we can probably all agree that the Onex/Trop deal is what private equity *ought* to be doing; i.e., buying low and reinvesting with a possible view to selling high, as opposed to the Station and Harrah's LBOs, which are working exactly in reverse (buy high, de-invest, [eventually] sell low).

July 4, 2009 5:41 PM Posted by Phil

Just my 2 cents on my 3 week stay here in Vegas. I like to talk a lot to employees whether it be in the restaurants or shops. etc. to gain the pulse on whats going on beyond my own observations so here it goes:

Encore: visited 5 times so far on my trip and with my eyes I consistently see 50% less crowd than Wynn. Whatever the crowd in Wynn is, walk over to Encore and expect the crowd to be halfed. To give an analogy, its like your mother who collects Lladro figurines to put in a glass cabinet, you look at it, but don't touch it. Encore to me seems the same, people like to walk around in the walkways along the outside border of the casino but never pass the threshold into the casino floor. Granted the economy is tough and it can be a simple case of that, but I remember 2 weeks ago on a Friday night (prime time) and Encore was a literal ghost town. It was an eerie feeling. They can spin the numbers all they want, but my eyes were telling me things aren't so rosy over there. Even the day of Warren Buffets NetJets party I heard they were expecting to do some good numbers based on the clientele that came in for that and even then the place didn't seem hopping.

From a design perspective I'm curious if Wynn and Roger Thomas have any regrets about having something within Encore to draw people in, like the Lake of Dreams in Wynn. Having a lot of people in a building does a lot for giving a building life, but with the small crowds in Encore and no Lake of Dreams type of attraction, the place has no buzz. People like I said above, walk around the border of the casino and thats it, theres nothing else to do for them there. The only buzz is at XS and thats really not within the heart of Encore its off in the mall. I noticed that people that attend XS use the Encore parking garage, walk past the pool then walk right pass the Eastside Lounge in the back and straight to XS, when they leave its the same pathway. Money is money whether you make it in the casino or not, but I don't see any carrover of that crowd going to the casino before or aftewards.

As I mentioned in another topic Wazuzu food is just bland, service fair at best and why in the hell in a place a calibur of Wynn/Encore is it ok to vacuum the floor within a restaurant while its patrons are eating. That was 100% uncalled for. You do that after the restaurant is closed, not during operating hours. The cleaner was vacuuming the floor sticking it in between tables and chairs where people were eating. Whoever is her boss apparantly doesn't have the common sense enough to tell their employees that its not acceptable to do that. I haven't eaten in Sinatra yet, but I wonder if they do that in there too. Unbelievable. As far a Society Cafe its not 24 hours, and I've seen this in serveral hotel's coffee shops, so much for the motto that is a 24 hour town, in many respects this economy has shut down that concept. The food is very good there and a place I very much will become a regular, the only negative is the music in their is so loud and the type of music seems at times un-Wynn like. I like the jazzy brazilian tunes they often play and maybe I'm wrong, but the music in Society seems more harder edge. I noticed an older lady sitting nearby, she was probably in here mid 70's and you wonder how much she enjoyed that blaring rock tune. Its a general trend I'd like to talk a lot about later, but the young marketing geniuses pretty much piss on the older retiree crowds these days, the casinos and their sexed up marketing and loud music pretty much drive those people out. Thats for another time though.

Lastly, in the good ol' days Wynn had what seemed like an overwhelmingly amount of $100 minimum tables and maybe 4 or so $25 minimum, now I see probably 16 tables at $15 minimum tables and many of them are empty. Not his fault, but its so dramatic the difference when times were good. Every table was packed in the day, not anymore though.

Now to XS, heard many stories, but I've never attended it inside to see it for myself so I'll keep my mouth shut. For everyone's sake I hope the stories are false. However general observations I had before remain the same as before. You get a lot of locals and the typical wild California crowd pissing away their check week to week, guys looking to "hook up" with girls and vice versa. That seems like the bulk of the crowd, then you have a smattering of people that look like they have money and are hotel guests and groups of people that look like they make money of questionable ways. If I was Wynn I'd shut down that place in a heartbeat, because its not the crowd you want, but for some money talks and because of that you'll put up with the negatives. Consistently you see people getting wheeled out in wheelchairs drunk off their ass, same case at Lavo too in Palazzo. Classless stuff that needs to go. I hope when the economy turns around the clubs and the crowds it attracts will cease to exist.

Also I see very little walk up traffic to Encore, I'm sure no hotels around him hurts big time. With FB next door being in limbo and Echelon on the shelf I saw very little people walk up from the street to Encore through the doors. Walk that part of the side walk outside along LV Blvd and its slow going. Side note, I remember a story that Wynn had plans to plant trees to cover up the vacated land across the street, not sure if thats accurate but there are bunch of trees across the street still unplanted.

Wynn is keeping up the grounds and his places always are the nicest in town. You go there and you feel like its a 2nd home or your favorite place and for me it still is.

More to say, but running off to Red Rock Casino for dinner.

July 5, 2009 1:39 PM Posted by Phil

other notes from my 3 week stay again, just passing along what I heard, not sure if true or not, but interesting nevertheless:

This one is confirmed. The Lamborghini dealership in Palazzo is officially closed and vacated, this happened about 3 weeks ago. Apparently Palazzo and Symbolic of Las Vegas made arrangements to keep that space should things turn around economically in the near future, if so, they will return. I had a drink at the Dal Toro restaurant which is a 50/50 split of ownership from my understanding with the dealership and the restaurant owner and they still had maybe 40 people or so dining that night, certainly the restaurant is open and will remain so, but their glass wall that looks into the 2nd floor of the dealership was bare. I'm assuming that they'll do something with that glass wall, maybe cover it up because it looks odd just looking into an empty showroom that once was filled with cars. The Lamborghini shop that sells Lambo clothing was selling everything off a deep discounts. They still maintain the Dean Martin Dr. showroom they've always had so they're technically still very much in business. I visited the Dean Martin location and it was confirmed.

Other things I heard about the Palazzo mall from a few workers in the stores there include there were strong forecasts given for sales when that mall opened up. Palazzo wanted top brands in their and got them because of that. According to a few workers in the store, now with the economy in the tank and sales figures in the tank too every tenant there is in the act or has already renegotiated their lease agreements. One guy I spoke with heard free rent being talked about to some high line stores just in effort to keep them. I would assume naturally that Palazzo will still get a percentage of every sale. Not surprisingly, the worker mentioned the last thing the Adelson team would want would be highline stores that his high rollers like, be replaced with empty storefronts or low level stores. Personally I really like the Palazzo mall much more than the Forum Shops, it just doesn't get a lot of traffic flow. The traffic the Forum Shops still create in this economy and what Palazzo Shoppes attract are night and day. Overall the traffic in Venetian and Palazzo were strong. Like Wynn to Encore ratio I mentioned in an earlier post, the Venetian has more traffic than Palazzo, but there were clearly more patrons number wise in those hotels compared to Wynn/Encore over my multiple visits.

I have to give it to Palazzo and Venetian for the little things, doormen the greet you and show respect to the customer by opening the front doors to the hotel for you and they still have the cigarette girls in the casino and respectable lounge entertainment. Every casino had that this stuff back in the day, now they rather spend money on guys spinning records and call them stars.

Some general observations about what MGM and Harrahs did to Mandalay Bay and Rio. I haven't visited the Rio too often in the past decade. It was locals hangout for many years under Marnells ownership and then when he sold out the gambing wasn't as good anymore, the locals left and things began to change. Well I stopped by a few days ago for the opening of the World Series of Poker as I've never taken in what that spectacle is and boy has Rio degraded. All the nice shops they used to have in the newer section were replaced with low level stores. I went in guessing that the parade in the sky would have broken down by now and Rio wouldn't have fixed it, but I was wrong it was working. It was crowded, I'm sure in part to the World Series being there, but the moment you enter that place your greated by every bar blasting loud music, walk another 100 feet and another bar blasting music, sporadically they still do the stripper like girls dancing on mini stages. My wife asked the one of the employees what he thought of working in that environment and he mentioned he was just numb to it now. The coffee shop I noticed that used to have a bakery in the front has been taken out, the rotisserie that used to be active sits bare. Its a shame because it used to be so much of a regular on my stays, my wife loved it because you could win there, but now we have zero desire to return.

What MGM is starting to do at Mandalay Bay I see it on the same destructive course as Rio. Give it ten years and they'll turn that into a dump too. Used the valet in the back garage, entered and RumRunner was in full gear, thump, thump, thump, thump same loud beat you hear over and over. Patrons hanging outside, one of which vomited on the floor from apparantly drinking too much. I saw it at Encore and Lavo with people getting carried out, passed out on wheelchairs now a guy vomiting on the floor with his girlfriend cleaning up his face and floor. Thanks to the influx of clubs this is what you get. Is it just a random occurance that I saw this, not according to the employees I talked to its a daily occurance sometimes more, sometimes less, but its something that is normal now.

I have to get on my soapbox, ever since the MTV's Real World took place ten plus years ago at the Palms, Mr. Maloof ignited the spark and then MGM and all its marketing geniuses that push sex marketing in all their ads plastered around town and making a conscious effort to draw a crowd that makes every casino a club environment with blasting music it has slowly turning this town into a cess pool. There are still very nice spots, but every few years I add to the list hotels I used to like that now I don't. Thank goodness for the Four Seasons in Mandalay Bay, a top notch place in my view. There everyone greets you with respect and truly welcomes you as a guest. They even have it down to giving you a cloth napkin to match your pants color so if there is any lint it won't show. Its the small stuff that makes the difference, every casino was like this back in the day with its service and respect for its customers.

Back to Mandalay Bay, it too has gone to the format that every 100 feet I walk I hear new blasting music with their 3 lounges, Mandalay was never like that under Circus Circus. It was so loud that in their coffee shop I heard it loud and clear. Many of you are familiar with how their coffee shop is, first you have the long entrance way and the coffee shop itself is a series of chambered rooms, even in their the thump, thump, thump can be heard. Can you eat anywhere in peace??? We asked the waiter if he goes to these clubs and he like many other employees say "never". He said he has a bartender friend in one of those and he says he does it because its a check, everyday all the bartenders bring their bottle of aspirin for the thumping and do what they have to do.

Other short tidbits: an employee at Treasure Island said its a much better working environment since Mr. Ruffin took over. A valet whose whole family has been in the casino business for 60 years believes that once City Center opens MGM will fire sale the rest of the properties, City Center is too make or break for them to let it fail and so the selling will begin. It appears that Paris repainted the top of their ballon sign, it was faded for some time. Not surprisingly though the LED screen on the bottom of the ballon sign has been replaced by a photo of a guy and girl making out on the sign, what exactly are they trying to promote here?? Whats the point. You do have an act there you know, I guess promoting a guy and girl making out is more important that promoting your act. For you gamblers out there, it seems many of the local joints have tightened up their machines dramatically. This arguable is our worse gambling session in 30 years here. My wife plays the machines and I play the tables so at least for me they can't tighten things up, she told me she's never seen the machines so tight. We learned long ago that you eat on the strip, but never play there, but the local hangouts my wife likes to play at have tightned up dramatically too. The only one that still seems good to her is the South Coast, not surprisngly he's an independent and not a conglomerate. Oddly she did have a lot of luck at the Palazzo on different days and walking through the casino you can see others too.

July 6, 2009 2:43 PM Posted by mike_ch

Phil: Thank for the update. Sad to hear that the Lambo dealership is gone. I wanted to combine that with Del Toro someday and oogle, just like any other person whose watched Top Gear would, the Bugatti Veyron that was sitting inside. Oh well.

July 6, 2009 3:15 PM Posted by mike_ch

By the by, Phil, I don't know what hours you walk around the casinos, but I visit them at day and often in the early evening and I rarely get overwhelming nightclub music. Wynn has that problem in the evening, but others don't. I have highly sensitive hearing and loud music that most people can endure causes me to leave the area. Rio and the whole carnival thing, for instance, is just too noisy. I don't play there but if I did I'd avoid that room for the most part.

I'm just bringing this up because I don't really see what you describe in most places. In Encore the club entrance is really inconveniently located between hotels with a lot of passing traffic going by, and Wynn has the noisy lounge just off the casino. If you like Four Seasons you'd probably like their Tower Suites section that is rather off from the action.

I would say casinos are less noisier now than they were five years ago because the free live music trend seems to be dying out. NYNY ripped out the live music lounge and replaced it with a middle bar that has no stage. Paris seems to have less live music than it used to as well.

In other casinos, Planet Hollywood keeps it's nightclub on a completely different level from the main casinos floor. Bellagio's casino remains mostly just the noise of patrons at night and vomit free barring the occasional accident.

It is clubbier, but you can still sit down at Petrossian and sip on cocktails while listening to the piano, if you wish.

July 6, 2009 4:32 PM Posted by Phil

I think its the hours you visit them when you say early evening. My wife and I are night owls and we're up to 3 or 4am every night. Our first meal is usually 2-3 in the afternoon, thank goodness Payard in Caesars still serves a quality breakfast at that hour. Because of the economy, in some cases they don't kick things up to the max until the Friday-Sat. but I stand by my position that its louder than it ever has been in those specific places like Mandalay and Rio. I'd be curious if you agree if you go there at 12 or 1am pass through the casino and you'll keep hearing the music change, start at RumRunner, then pass the lounge, then the lounge in the center of the casino and then the final one near the front entrance mixed with the music they pump into the casino and it will hit you like a wall one after another. If it was music that appealed to the masses that one thing, but not the crap they play. The trend also the past few years has been they blast this music outside. Walking past Bally's, then Flamingo and Margaritaville and Imperial its all blasting full throttle and it reminds me of a county fair with a bunch of carneys pushing their junk.

Wynn and Encore are quiet by others our there, except my experience in Society late Friday night where I thought it seemed to be a different music in there and too loud.

As far as 4 Seasons, no doubt I would recommend that because its still in the heart of the action, but a different world inside. As far as staying there, I have a 2nd home here in Summerlin. Been a part-time resident of Vegas in different locations for going on 30 years, so I was lucky enough to experience the good ol' days and thats why I see people drunk like a skunk and vomiting outside of clubs I had to go on my rant. My only hope that once room rates go up when the economy turns around it will weed out the type of people that come here with the only goal to pass out wasted. Vegas likes to reinvent itself, so like many other things I hope the club scene will be a passing fad.

July 6, 2009 5:01 PM Posted by detroit1051

Phil, I enjoyed your reports. We could never travel together because I'm up at 6 AM and hardly ever stay up past 11 PM. Reminds me of the one time I was approached by a hooker at Bellagio at 5:30 AM. I was ready for the day and on my way to Cafe Bellagio and then McCarran.. I guess she was finishing her work day. She and her friends were relaxing at the Baccarat Bar.
Does anyone know how The Bank is doing at Bellagio? I don't hear much about it or any wild times there. Perhaps its smaller size and upstairs location don't draw in the crowds like XS, Lavo, Pure, etc.

July 7, 2009 10:05 AM Posted by mike_ch

Phil: Thanks again. No, I'm not out at 2AM on a Saturday night. I've been out at Wynn and others around 1AM on weekday nights and notice that the tops become lower and the breasts larger, but that's about it. The biggest annoyance is Blush/Lure at Wynn and how it can be blasting noise into the casino as early as 9PM. I've heard of people in the Encore tower complaining about the noise from XS as well.

I'm afraid the people who pass out drunk were there when room rates were high also. Rates are about even with 2004 right now, IIRC, which is when I stopped going to Vegas (to me, 2001-2003 are "normal" because that's when I first started coming, but investors like Brian and people who work in the industry balk at how low prices were then.) A room at one of the nice hotels in an expensive period still isn't much to complain about compared to the price of "bottle service." The revellers are loaded with cash.

Detroit: Though I'm nowhere near as club-smart as Mike E, I do look at those alternative weekly papers they hand out at bus stops and look at the big glossy club ads that are always loaded in the front. You don't hear as much about Bank, but I don't know if that's because it's not popular or too expensive. They still lure in some big names, they had Tiesto there a few weeks ago, though that was a Light Group thing since he was also at JET at Mirage which I know is not nearly as popular as the Wynn and Hard Rock places.

July 7, 2009 10:09 AM Posted by mike_ch

By the way, unless anyone thinks my commentary above is a little too VegasRex in that above post, I want to make it clear that I'm being totally honest when I say that fake boobs are EVERYWHERE at Wynn past 11PM or so. I've been to the Hard Rock late at night as well and while the Sleaze Factor isn't quite that high, it's hard to miss even if you're just coming down for a midnight pastry like I was.

Comparitively, late night at Bellagio when I stayed there in 2003 was very quiet.

July 7, 2009 12:07 PM Posted by David McKee

Jean Scott recently went to the Hard Rock on a Sunday and saw *five* ambulances on duty, ready to cart away intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated revelers:

July 7, 2009 3:32 PM Posted by Phil

Just to add to my comments about service (or lack there of) in the mid level restaurants in the better hotels this time. I was talking to one of the waiters in Caesars and he said he normally works in the coffee shop (Augustus Cafe) but lately we've been switching to a lot of the diffferent restaurants. I naturally assumed this happened normally when somebody called off sick or a restaurant got busy, but he said with their hours being dramatically reduced they'll work whenever/wherever they can. Can't fault them for that and it makes complete sense, but from a service standpoint a person who serves in a coffee shop may not be the same quality (training) as you would get in mid level restaurant and hence one possible reason I noticed the dropoff in service. The other reason I mentioned earlier where I see cutbacks in less visible beverage persons making the server take on more responsibilities. When the beverage person is gone, like I said, we're finding out some of these servers maybe working in a 5 star hotel, but their service is no better than you would receive at Dennys.

July 7, 2009 10:41 PM Posted by David McKee

Don't worry, Phil. If Harrah's follows the example of Station and (sorry to say) Boyd, the Augustus Cafe will be swapped out in favor of a Dennys, thereby lowering the level of the cuisine to match that of the service.

July 8, 2009 3:02 AM Posted by Phil

I hope not David, but speaking of Boyd it seems like you noticed the trend of them adding TGI Fridays in virtually all of their places the past few years. Some of which are 24 hours. Why hire a staff and run a coffee shop when you can just rent the space out to a chain restaurant and let them worry about employees and service I guess is their logic. A week ago I was at the Suncoast playing late and saw their coffee shop closed at 11pm and they now keep their Terrible Mikes snack shop, or whatever they call it now, open 24 hours and TGI Fridays was open to 2am. I appreciate that something is open, but again its the little things going away that make this town unique. I like being able to eat Chinese food or get an omelet at 3am. not a person telling me we only serve breakfast 7am-11am now or you'll have to go to the snack bar sir, we're closed. Certainly there are still many exceptions to the above, but first it started with the limited menu during late nights, add to that now is a time limited menu, you can only eat what we serve during these hours and now the first signs of franchised restaurants like Fridays to replace coffee shops. Its that leaning out of the operations that make the little things suffer. The problem is its the little things that make this town great.

Amongst all the negativity I posted about my stay, I still love Vegas enough that it will be my full time residence of retirement in a few years. In reality if the economy was better a lot of the negative comments wouldn't have been made as that effects everything, interior and exterior property maintenance, service, looser machines.....etc. Right now it seems like a snowball effect and Vegas is in survival mode and therefore standards slip, so yes the Denny's in Caesars I guess isn't too far fetched if economically things continue to trend downward or strip clubs in hotels. I think we all don't want to see that trend develop, but if it does, my hope is that when the economy does turn around so will all the little things because coming to see big rundown resorts isn't why I come here. This town's history was built on making that customer feel special, service was priority and right now its taking a back seat to survival.

Heading back to Cleveland tomorrow, but looking forward like always to coming back to Vegas shortly.

July 8, 2009 7:59 AM Posted by mike_ch

Phil: Invisible beverage refillers are a city-wide phenomenon that goes all the way back to when I first came here in 2005.

Hell, all the way to 2000 for us, actually. My father once cheesed off a wait staff by taking his drink behind the scenes to refill it because nobody would.

July 8, 2009 8:03 AM Posted by mike_ch

Also, for whatever it's worth, I think replacing generic casino-brand coffee shops with outside chains is great. I just so rarely have a good experience at a casino eatery that I try to eat outside of casinos whenever possible, so bringing the strip mall places into the casinos is fine by me.

I went to scout out Aliante Station and there was no cafe so we took the Fridays, and had much better service than I've ever had at a Station cafe where they seem to be trained to avoid eye contact.

July 8, 2009 10:38 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Whenever I am out of town, I always try to eat at places I can't get at home. I can eat TGI Friday's or Denny's anytime, give me something different. Finding out the quality of service or food is a big part of the vacation adventure.

July 8, 2009 11:00 AM Posted by Mike T

"I hope when the economy turns around the clubs and the crowds it attracts will cease to exist."

The clubs aren't going anywhere. My guess is that you have no idea how much money those places make when they're operating at full tilt in good times. They are a license to print money. Despite only being 33 years old, I like a good lounge act as well. Listening to the pianist at Petrossian while having some drinks with friends is a great way to spend an early evening.However, places like Tao, XS, etc. are gold mines. Tao has been the top grossing restaurant/club in America every year it's been open. We're talking in the $50-60 million range. So aesthetically you may not like these places and the sometimes annoying clientele they attract (i go to the clubs, and sometimes some of the people there get on my nerves too), but my guess is if you were the one making the decisions on whether they were in your place or not, you would think differently. Ask Steve Wynn how he likes having Victor Drai run clubs in his hotels.

July 8, 2009 7:09 PM Posted by detroit1051

I'm surprised Bartolotta is the second highest grossing restaurant at Wynn. I assume SW is #1.

Q. Seafood is a big part of Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare.
A. I bring in more than a ton of fish every week from the Mediterranean, upward of 40 species. My restaurant is the second-largest grossing at Wynn. I'm able to do in one restaurant what our entire group in Milwaukee does in seven or eight.

July 8, 2009 11:00 PM Posted by mike_ch

Jeff, I go things I can't at home, too. But I go to the good ones. There's very few casino coffee shops that I think are actually good anymore. TI is alright. Cafe Bellagio is always good. I enjoyed the Planet Ho one on my stay there last year. And of pretty recently Luxor's Pyramid Cafe is improving. Those are the only ones of real note to me.

Recommended avoid are MGM (has never been good), Ballys (three out of four times all customers were seated in a noisy little corner), Mandalay Bay (new menu and a mostly invisible staff at a former top choice, very sad!) and NYNY (seven or eight visits from 2000 onwards, and it's always been slloooowww)

I wouldn't recommend replacing Botero with an Outback Steakhouse or whatever, but the cafes seem to not do much for me.

July 12, 2009 12:14 AM Posted by Anthony

The Planet Hollywood Tower(s) website is up. I'm still not sure if it's a timeshare, condo hotel?

July 13, 2009 11:27 AM Posted by Phil

Just wanted to add a couple things:

The Bally's Sports book is shut down. If you recall its located downstairs where the once great mall was. That mall has a lot of vacancies. It once was the nicest one in town in the 70's, but alas I'm living in the past. There is a sign at the sports entrance that mentioned something to the effect that they will reopen "soon", but there was zero signs of construction implying a remodel, it was just pitch black in there with everything in place as usual.

Landscaping at Caesars is in disarray. Cutbacks I'm sure have killed the gardening crew of which back in the day you used to see them every day, but now if you go to broken moving walkway across from O'Sheas you will see literally bare dirt where grass once was. Also the shrubs and hedges are not trimmed at all at all parts of the resort with off shoots coming out everywhere.

July 14, 2009 8:02 PM Posted by detroit1051

Las Vegas chefs offer candid comments on the current state of high-end restaurant business on the Strip. Tough times. There is also a slideshow.

July 14, 2009 8:10 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Well, thanks to Norm Clark via Twitter, we now know why Terry Fator is getting a divorce. Hum...Can't say I blame Terry. :)

July 15, 2009 11:56 AM Posted by detroit1051

MGM Mirage's presentation to the Oppenheimer Gaming Conference is worth looking at. It gave me a better preview of some of Aria's features and the views of CityCenter helped me understand how MGM wants Bellagio, Vdara and Aria to complement one another for conventions.
MGM is obviously putting its best foot forward, but it is encouraging to me.

July 15, 2009 1:18 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Ok, I hate to be so negative here, but WOW! I'm speechless. These are really the first shots or images of the inside of Aria, and... Well let me just say uninspiring is the first thing that comes to my mind. Those shots could have been taken from the inside of any of MGM's other 15 properties in Vegas or around the world, because it sure looks like more of the same to me. I saw nothing warm, or inviting to lure me in, and want to stay. I'm planning on staying there for the opening, and I'll (try to) reserve judgement until i see the place in person, but for 9 Billion, I'm very worried and concerned as a shareholder. I just don't see how this place can ever make money as a stand alone product. I realize MGM can carry it, but I'd be shocked if Aria can carry its own weight on its own.

July 15, 2009 1:21 PM Posted by socalduck

Bad news for those of you who love cheap beer and gaming in the shadow of the Clown House: there is a posting over at vegastripping stating Slots O Fun is going to be incorporated into Circus Circus.

July 15, 2009 7:09 PM Posted by mike_ch

Brian: while it's normally me sounding the alarms, I say to wait. If this was a Wynn hotel, you wouldn't have seen those renders because they wouldn't show them to you.

July 15, 2009 7:25 PM Posted by DavidF

Surprise no-one has mentioned it, but the Hotel 32 at Monte Carlo is now taking reservations beginning August 10th and there is more info about the place on the new website...

*cough* cheap Skylofts Ripoff *cough* one of the room types is even called theLOFTS, having said that I may give it a whirl....

July 15, 2009 7:53 PM Posted by detroit1051

Just checked rates at Hotel 32 for three nights, starting August 17. A 1,600 sq ft 1-bedroom suite is $1,200 a night.
Compare that to Bellagio's 1-bedroom Penthouse Suite for $459 per night the same days.
Hotel 32 is way overpriced, Bellagio is way underpriced.

July 15, 2009 8:12 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Mike - I said that in my comments, that i'd wait and see it in person. But I've said this countless times on this board, MGM only knows one look/style. Its all they can do. I just don't understand. Wynn can do it, LVS can do it, HET can even do it. Why can't MGM do it? Why can't they shift off this pattern, or styling for just one project?

July 17, 2009 5:42 AM Posted by detroit1051

Long story in Haaretz on El-Ad. Last half of the article talks about the dormant Las Vegas Plaza development. Interesting.

July 22, 2009 4:11 AM Posted by detroit1051

In this recession, the Federal Government continues to hurt Las Vegas, Orlando and other resort areas by discouraging travel. Makes no sense.

July 22, 2009 12:50 PM Posted by mike_ch

I find it a bit bizarre (and those to the right of me would probably call it wasteful) that the feds would go to leisure cities and privately-operated resorts for meetings anyway.

They are the nation's single largest landowner. They have more property in this country than anybody else I can think of, and thus more meeting rooms.

July 22, 2009 5:08 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Well, Mike, you and I (as taxpayers, therefore the feds) don't own any airlines or hotels, both of which, among other related costs, are more economical when traveling to "leisure cities". Regardless of cost savings (of which I really believe Las Vegas, etc. are a better value than anywhere else in America), I think there is an overwhelming emotion among the general population that no one who is a government employee should EVER have any type of "fun" when doing anything associated with their jobs. I'm not saying government employees are martyrs, but telling them to have conferences in Milwaukee is kinda lame. Maybe that's why their retirement is so good, they are getting paid back for all the years of wearing brown polyester clothing and driving a white domestic sedan.

July 24, 2009 5:31 AM Posted by detroit1051

Received an email from MGM Grand today which promotes its new Prima preferred customer program. It looks to me that it's designed to attract customers who are not gamblers and not being comped. By pre-paying $500 onto one's room account, there are discounts and 2-for-1 deals. Basically, it sounds like a pre-paid debit card which might be worth it for customers who will be spending at the property anyway.

July 29, 2009 5:24 PM Posted by detroit1051

United Daily News is published in Taiwan. It has a story today on Las Vegas' problems, but the focus is on restaurants:
"Many of the town’s 2,900 restaurants are beset by fabulousness fatigue. "It was gold, and suddenly it became fool’s gold,” said Malcolm M. Knapp, who heads a restaurant consulting firm that bears his name."

August 10, 2009 7:48 PM Posted by detroit1051

Phil reported on Bally's sports book on July 13. Here's an update from Fox News 5:
Race, Sports Book To Open Aug. 26
UPDATED: 7:13 pm PDT August 10, 2009
LAS VEGAS -- The Bally’s Race and Sports Book will reopen with a new roster of offerings just in time for football season.
Beginning Aug. 26, the full-service sports book will celebrate the re-opening with an exclusive VIP viewing area, celebrity appearances by well-known sports figures, “text-to-win” promotions and drink specials.
The recently added VIP Lounge offers sports enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy their favorite game in High Definition. The VIP area can accommodate up to 100 guests for an exclusive game day experience.
Throughout the season, guests can text to win trips to several NFL games and a grand prize package to the big game.