Thoughts on CityCenter

CityCenter are the huge hunks of steel in the middle of the Las Vegas strip and owned by MGM-Mirage that has been under construction for the past few years.  There are multiple buildings as part of the city and there were multiple grand openings for these properties.  The final building to open was Aria, the casino and hotel, which opened while I was in Vegas.

I waited for everything to have their grand openings before exploring CityCenter.  I walked over from the Bellagio where I had a wonderful cigar and Grey Goose and soda at the Petrossian Lounge.  I was treated to some Christmas songs on piano while enjoying a Sunday night.  This is one of my favorite spots at Bellagio.

I hate crowds and I didn’t need to worry about that when I headed over to CityCenter.  After walking through the construction I finally landed in Crystals mall.  This is a beautiful building, but the lack of opened stores was kind of depressing.  If it wasn’t brand new it would have felt like a mall on its last legs and about to close.

I hope this isn’t an omen for Crystals.  It could just be the bad economy.  Right now, I don’t think the market needs more high end shopping.  Of course, this wasn’t the case when CityCenter was being planned.  Similarly, The Shoppes at Palazzo had a similar feeling but at least there are restaurants to bring people in.

From Crystals I headed into Aria.  One of the cool things about both Crystals and Aria was the modern style and clean lines with interesting shapes and certainly not boring.  Modern style only remains modern for so long and it will be interesting to see how Aria develops in the future.  From the monorail station I felt as if I was looking at a building from the movie Tron.  Below is a sweet water wall outside the main entrance.

The interior of the casino was very dark and the ceilings felt low, even though they weren’t.  My iPhone couldn’t grab any interesting pictures due to the darkness.  This is in contrast to how bright everything was on the outside.

Everything inside the casino was new.  All new versions of my favorite slot machines – including a version of Top Dollar which I’ve never seen before that paid me $200.  All of the slot machines were very bright and showed well in the dark setting.

There was one odd finding at Aria.  There was a lack of ticket cashing machines.  I walked around for a few minutes before I could find one.  I only saw one in the entire casino.  I’m sure there were more, but there was poor signage throughout CityCenter and this was just another example.

There were not many people playing table games.  If I recall correctly all blackjack games under $25 use a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CMS).  I don’t like CMS, but it’s better than 6/5.

After my tour I searched around and around for the monorail to go back to Bellagio.  Since signage was poor it took a few minutes, but I found my way.  The monorail let me off in an area of Bellagio that I’ve never seen.  If I didn’t know what I was looking for there was no way I’d ever wander from Bellagio to CityCenter.

Overall, I have mixed first impressions on CityCenter.  Everything looked very cool and very clean with some innovation that we’ll see in future casinos.  I like the modern feel to everything, but that feeling was subdued by how cold and empty Crystals and Aria felt.  I have the feeling that would have been even deeper if I’d gone into the other buildings.

CityCenter is still so new that I have to reserve judgement.  After all, I hated Wynn after one trip and my December trip changed my mind.  I’m curious to see how the property develops this year.  I’m looking forward to seeing the difference when I visit later this year.

Wynn and Encore Win Me Over

Until my last trip to Las Vegas I only visited Wynn once and didn’t really enjoy it.  It felt like old money.  Cold and stuffy.  That feeling changed on my last trip.  My first night was spent enjoying a nice dinner at SW steakhouse.  The next night I gambled at both Wynn and Encore and had a visit to XS.

Generally, I’m not a club guy but it’s always fun to check out a new spot.  I grabbed a drink and took a walk through XS and had a great time.  I can’t believe that people wait in lines half the night to get into clubs.  Thankfully, I know people and didn’t have to deal with the incredibly long lines.  We walked in and up the stairs into the club.  It was early (around 11pm) and they club was already packed with people drinking and dancing.

I took a walk around the perimeter of the club stopping at the bar for a moment before heading outside to have a waitress get a drink.  $14 for a Grey Goose & Soda feels like club prices to me.  One of the nice parts of XS is that the club is both inside and outside.  Being from the east coast, I didn’t feel cold outside like the locals.

After watching girls dancing on stages (some went commando) I looped around the club and headed out to gamble.  It was a nice quick trip through XS and I’m glad I took a spin.

After walking out of XS into the Encore casino my friends and I sat down at an empty $10 blackjack table.  It was a great spot – we were close to the drink station, close to a rest room and had a great view of clubbers leaving XS.

We played blackjack for about 4 or 5 hours and closed down the pit.  Everyone at the table had plenty of drinks and everyone at the table walked away with more money than they started with.  It was an impossible run.  Entire tables rarely win.  I think I finished up either $300.  The end of the night was fuzzy.  I was in the middle of the winners and I was happy for it.

This was a special night filled with tears of joy and vodka fueled laughter.  I had so much fun.  The dealers, pit bosses and cocktail waitresses were all fantastic.  I knew I had to start drinking water when I stopped at the urinal and took a picture of the antisplash above.  It’s the one photo I took that night and it’s the sole reminder of the laughs that night.

At Encore I learned that my earlier loss at switch blackjack (at Wynn the night before) was rare.  Evidently most people win at switch blackjack.  I’ll try switch again before I drink.  Unfortunately my gambling at Wynn was filled with losses and a small video poker victory.

My two nights at Wynn and Encore changed how I felt about Wynn.  I think the addition of Encore has added a little youth and energy to the complex that wasn’t there when Wynn first opened.

This is a good reason not to hold one visit against a casino/hotel forever – especially when hearing opposite impressions from others.  That’s something to keep in mind as CityCenter and Aria develop.

Fontainebleau To Icahn

Carl Icahn is the winner for the bankrupt Fontainbleau in Las Vegas.

Carl Icahn is expected to take over ownership of the bankrupt Fontainebleau Las Vegas resort after two potential competitors vying to buy the property failed to submit qualifying bids as of a 5 p.m. deadline Friday.

First things first.  I hope Carl Icahn unbrands the Fontainebleau name.  Second, I’ve mused about Icahn moving the Tropicana name over to the Fontainebleau project.  With the Tropicana going with a south beach theme it may make sense to switch brands with hotels as Fontainbleau was originally a Miami hotel icon.

Photo: Las Vegas Sun

Harrahs Takes Over Planet Hollywood This Weekend

That was quick.  Harrah’s begins management of Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas at midnight January 16.

In an internal memo to employees today, Planet Hollywood owner Robert Earl said things would be “business as usual” during the transition, though Harrah’s executives from neighboring Bally’s and Paris resorts will assume key roles at the property.

Sure, I’ve had issues with deal happening but I can’t stop it so it’s time for me to look at how I can benefit from Harrah’s taking over one of my favorite casinos on the strip.

First, business as usual sounds good to me.  My main curiosity is how Total Rewards will work be worked into Planet Hollywood.  I play at the east coast Harrah’s properties pretty often.  It will be interesting to see how my future trips to Las Vegas are effected, if at all, by this.

The Palazzo Suite Was Sweet

I stayed at the Palazzo on my last trip to Las Vegas.  This post is only for the room there will be plenty more reviews and info from my trip.

All of the rooms are suites and I had the basic “Palazzo Luxury” suite.  After reading the description of the suite I was stoked for the room.  Here are highlights of the specs:

  • 720 square feet
  • Sleeping area with king sized bed, Egyptian cotton sheets, 42″ HDTV
  • Sunken Living area with L-Shaped sectional sofa (pull out couch), 32″ HDTV, dining area (w/table), work desk w/fax, Strip view, dope ottoman/coffee table
  • Huge bathroom with 20″ TV, separate shower/bath, water closet, vanity, dual sinks, granite counter tops, marble floor

The size of the suite and the amenities are really what set the room apart from other rooms I’ve had in Las Vegas.  Yes there are nicer suites, but for a basic room this is the biggest I’ve seen and one of the nicest.

I’m using thumbnails for the room tour because there are a bunch of pictures and I want to keep this as a giant entry, not a “read more” post.  My digital camera died, so pictures are low-res.  Let’s take the tour!

Upon entry you immediately see how big the room/suite is and that the room is very long.

The bathroom has a grand double door entry that swing out to the main room (left above).

Upon entry to the bathroom you see the detailed marble floor double sinks and granite counter tops.  The bathroom was spotless and streakless – something I don’t always see.

One nice thing was that each day after cleaning the room my toiletries on the sinks were placed onto a new, clean wash cloth.  A nice bit of housekeeping.  (Not shown: a mirror above the sink and TV is in the upper right corner.)

The left side of the bathroom had the shower, tub and mirror.  Big soaking tub which I didn’t use and a decent sized all glass shower.  Nothing wrong with watching TV while showering, right?  I noticed one odd design element; the bath faucet was where you would rest your head to watch TV.  That seems awkward.

The right side of the bathroom had a vanity (not shown), water closet and TV.  The water closet was dark and the door shut automatically.  I didn’t like that the door closed me in.  When I’m alone in a giant bathroom I like to enjoy the space – not feel like I’m trapped in a closet.   The toilet was high and had a strong flush.  Another slight negative here is the phone in the water closet.  This may have been a “luxury” item in the 80’s, but their now unsanitary and kind of nasty.

You can see the 20″ TV in the far corner.  TV’s in a bathroom rule.  I definitely had all 3 TV’s on at the same time.  Is that a waste?

The bathroom was nicely designed, clean and spacious.  After passing the bathroom you hit the sleeping area which is highlighted by by a 42″ HDTV, the largest of the TV’s in the suite.

The Palazzo Luxury Suite had a king sized bed so there was plenty of room in the sleeping area.  The Bella suite features two queen sized beds in the same area to give you an idea of how much room I had.

I didn’t spend much time in the bed, but I slept great for a few hours every night.  The closet had a nice surprise inside – a couple of robes.  I used one as a snuggie while nursing a hangover one morning (Not to ever be shown).

At the end of the bed there was a bench to sit while getting dressed.  The velvet covering made things nice n comfy and was used a couple of times daily. Continue reading “The Palazzo Suite Was Sweet”

Things Are Normal With PeepShow

A little more digging shows that Peepshow is just going into a “dark” phase for the winter, which is normal.  America’s Got Talent will also be going dark for the winter.

Sorry for any alarms that may have been set off earlier this week.  Not getting all of the info will do that.  Back to normal.

Props to @PHVegas – “Peepshow will be back in March”

Holly and Aubrey

Notes From Las Vegas

I usually keep notes on my trips while I’m on the trip, but this time was different.  This trip was a little more regimented than most of my trips and I was with more people then I usually travel with.  I had to dig down into my memory to recall what I did and I think I got everything.

Here are my notes (in chronological order) and what I’ll write up (in no order).  Enjoy

Write up
Palazzo Hotel Room
Palazzo Coffee/food – Coffee Bean, Lavazzo, Illy
Palazzo Room Service – Breakfast, lunch
Legasse Stadium
Palazzo Food – Grand Lux
Palazzo – General – Shoppes, Venetian
Gambling – @ Palazzo – VP, Slots, BJ, 3 CP
Wynn – SW
Encore – XS
Encore/Wynn – Vibe/gambling/fun/BJ Switch (evidently I’m the only person that lost, ever)
Carne Vino
Casa Di Amore
Palms & Bellagio- Missed PH, HR
Gold Coast – Last Visit
Overall thoughts/wrap up
Flight out
1st class
On time
Easy check in
Gamble – BJ
Thurs night football
Fuzzy, but think I remember
Iced coffee
2 cups of coffee
Penny slots
8/5 JOB
Penny slots
Grand Lux
Lavazzo – muffin/latte
Casa Di Amore
Encore BJ til 5:30
No hangover
Illy muffin/latte
9/5 JOB – $ loss
8/5 JOB
Penny Slots
Room Service
Nap on couch
Legasse Stadium
Carne Vino
Palms – BJ
Gold Coast – Walk Through
Belaggio – 4CP
VP – 8/5 JOB
Wake up
Football bets
Penny Slots
BJ – PCD Pit
Augustus Cafe
Room Service
8/5 JOB – Big Win

PeepShow Closing!

I’ve just been given a heads up from Best of Vegas that Peepshow will be closing for the next two months.  I don’t have news on if the show is cancelled forever or if anything will be replacing the show at Planet Hollywood.

What will Holly Madison and Aubrey O’Day do?  Who’s pictures will I have to post here?  I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Aubrey O'Day