Binions Closing Off All Rooms

The bad economy hits downtown Las Vegas.  Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel is closing all of it’s 365 rooms and laying off 100 people.

Spokeswoman Lisa Robinson said the decision was made as a result of the economic downturn, which has decreased occupancy at the property and other hotels across the Las Vegas Valley.

Robinson said Binion’s also will close the Binion’s Original Coffee Shop and discontinue keno. The casino, sports book, poker room and Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse on the property’s 24th floor will stay open.

Robinson said the decision was made Friday. She said Binion’s hasn’t determined when the rooms might reopen.

It was only a matter of time for this to happen and it’s nice to see that the casino portion will remain open.  I’ve stopped at Binion’s almost every time I’ve gone downtown because of it’s place in history.  I would never stay there, but the gambling is on par with the other downtown properties, if not a little dirtier.

The article goes on to say that there may be an investment group interested in refurbishing the hotel.  I can’t see that making a difference.  Maybe there will be a fit for more low budget hotel rooms as everything on the strip that has opened in the recent past and everything opening will be for higher end travelers.

I have no desire to stay downtown, no matter the cost and I expect more domino’s to fall before downtown get built up, but we will see.

Harrahs Definitely Closing In On Planet Hollywood

Earlier this year Harrah’s started purchasing debt of Planet Hollywood who has since defaulted on their debt obligations.  Right before Thanksgiving Harrah’s sent an email to its employees stating their interest in Planet Hollywood.

“The Planet Hollywood resort sits adjacent to the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, currently the southernmost of six contiguous Harrah’s-owned properties on the east side of the Las Vegas Strip,” Loveman’s e-mail said.

“The Planet Hollywood resort is currently in default to its lenders. As a result of our purchase of their debt, we are working on a plan that also would allow Harrah’s to own and manage the property. This is an attractive proposition because of Planet Hollywood’s proximity to our other resorts on the Strip, its high-quality product offering and its strong brand name.”

“This move is the latest example of our strategy to make purchases or acquisitions capitalizing on opportunities created by current economic conditions. I look forward to sharing more details with you about this project in the future,”

Competition always leads to good service for customers.  If the customer doesn’t like what he/she receives from on company they can choose to go elsewhere.  That’s the main reason I do not look forward to Harrah’s taking over Planet Hollywood.

This move would likely mean Planet Hollywood will eventually slow down with some of their innovative marketing ideas and just be another Harrah’s casino with the same mediocre service and offers.

I’m not worried about the gambling at Planet Hollywood going downhill since they already have plenty of 6:5 blackjack and mediocre video poker.  I’m more concerned with the overall vibe and feel of the casino as well as the valuable and interesting marketing ideas at Planet Hollywood.

Maybe Harrah’s won’t get in the way of something small and cool, but that’s not the way the machine works and that’s too bad.

Low Ballin For Disaster at Fontainebleau

Penn National Gaming made the first bid for the stalled Fontainebleau project in Las Vegas.  They offered $50 million for the casino that was valued at almost $3 billion.  About $1.5 billion has already been put into building Fontainbleau.  Penn National would still have to pay for the rest of construction, but this is a start.

Penn National Gaming Inc. on Monday made a $50 million “stalking horse” bid to buy the stalled Fontainebleau casino-resort in Las Vegas, with plans to spend another $1.46 billion to complete the project.

This is only the first bid and I have been reading rumors about other companies that may be making bids.  Nothing would surprise me with this casino.  The property may, alone, be worth more than $50 million.  The promise here is that the project will be completed.  I’m not sure that every bidder would complete the project as it stands.

There is a couple of months until bidding is up.  I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll hear about this casino with a name I’d love to never write again.

Low Budget Megaplex in Las Vegas

In 2007 Boyd Gaming changed the Las Vegas strip.  They put an end to the Stardust and planned to replace it with a megaplex called Echelon Place.  Complex on the complex was flying last year as there were plans for multiple hotels, a theater, shopping and more.  The idea wasn’t too different than that of CityCenter.  As of last week it looks as if those plans are on hold temporarily or forever.

Echelon Rendering
Echelon Rendering

When Boyd Gaming reported earnings on October 27 they mentioned that Echelon, which had already had construction suspended, would be on hold for 3-5 years.  At the same time they said that they still remained interested in buying all or part of Station Casinos’ assets.

The economy may turn around, but it will likely take more than a few years for it to get back to where it was two years ago.  If Boyd ends up obtaining some or all of Station’s casinos then I don’t know that there will be a desire to have a brand new, upscale asset as part of their portfolio.  If they do complete it they may have to find different partners to be involved.

I just had a fun mental picture of what a low budget megaplex may include if Boyd decides to built the complex, but switch focus.  I’m not an artist, but here’s my rendering since I can’t upload the file for some reason.

For a full timeline of events with Echelon, head over to Vegas Today and Tomorrow.

Palazzo, Encore and Ritz-Carlton Get 5 Diamonds

Las Vegas is now home of three new AAA Five Diamond Award winning hotels.  The good news is that I’ll be staying at one of them!

The latest additions include The Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas, Encore Las Vegas and the Palazzo in the hotel category. Nevada now has eight Five Diamond properties, trailing only California and Florida.

Other resorts earning the coveted award are repeat winners. The list includes the Venetian, Bellagio, Skylofts at MGM Grand, Wynn Las Vegas and Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, an 11-time winner of the Five Diamond award.

I’m happy to know that my selection of hotel for my next Vegas trip, Palazzo, has won this kind of accolade.  Superior service goes a long way in winning my affection and business and the bar was just raised a little higher.

The Five Diamond Award reminds me of “Ocean’s 13” which is a must watch every time I see it channel surfing.

CityCenter A Go Go

The hoopla continues as we get closer to CityCenter opening in December.  Day by day, my excitement is actually building.  I didn’t think that would happen, but it is.  Rather than try to encapsulate what I’ve been reading, I’ll just pass the links on so you can read directly from the sources.

Vegas Tripping
A Look Inside Aria
New CityCenter Photos
Aria Flip Book
A Look at Aria’s Casino Layout

Rate Vegas
Thoughts on the Inside of Aria

Las Vegas Sun
Comparing CityCenter room prices with the rest of the strip
CityCenter value slashed 31% by MGM-Mirage

Garth Brooks Signs Big Deal At Wynn

The big casino news this week was that Garth Brooks signed a 5 year deal to perform at Wynn Las Vegas.  It will cost $125 to see a man, his hat and his guitar.

In the meantime if you want Garth Brooks tickets click here.

This has been rumored for a couple of months.  I don’t like country music so I won’t be going to see this show, but I think that my parents would like to see Garth Brooks and when they make it out to Las Vegas for the first time I will hook them up with tickets.

In more attractive show news Carmen Electra finishes up a brief stint getting naked at Crazy Horse Paris at MGM Grand this weekend.

Fontainbleau Update

Fontainbleau in Las Vegas still is not finished being built.  There have been reports of Penn National trying to buy the unfinished casino hotel on the cheap.  The casino is said to be about 70% complete – mostly the shell from what I can tell.  Here is a long video showing the current state of the building.

Vegas Tripping found some renderings of possible restaurants if Fontainbleau; which include Burger Bar and Saddle Club.  Check out the story for pictures and details.

CityCenter Opening Details

CityCenter opening details have emerged.  The mega complex will open in four parts and supposedly be bigger than any other hotel opening(s) on the Las Vegas strip.  The more I look at pictures of the complex the less I like the look of it.  At the same time the more I hear about it the more in awe I am of its magnitude and I can’t wait to visit.  Details below from KVBC in Las Vegas.  Thanks to Vegas Tripping for the tip about the video.

Hate the Taxi Line at the Las Vegas Airport?

I hate the (always) long taxi line at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas – especially in the summer!  I’m not sure if the airport plans for every airplane to land at the same time, but it always seems as if baggage claim and the taxi line are both always packed.  People cheer when they land in Las Vegas no matter what time it is and the wait for a cab to their destination is excruciating.

If you are with a large party you take a limo at a similar cost.  There are always drivers stalking the baggage claim area for customers.  I’ve done this before and while the cost of a limo was only a little more than the cost of a cab, I’m not sure I’ll do it again.  Especially when travelling with a smaller party.

Vegas Chatter found a way to get around the long taxi line that doesn’t involve paying a little extra for a limo.

Find a Skycap. Let them know they can help you with your luggage. Give the guy a nice tip and tell him you want to go to Yellow #1. Here cab drivers will get pulled out of the long cab line servicing the regular folks in order to pick you up at Yellow #1. No waiting.

Now during super crowded times even this Yellow #1 tip can have a line behind it. What do you do then, or for that matter if you want to take no chances on waiting in line? When your plane lands and the pilot allows you to turn on your cell phone, Twitter Vegas Cabbie (he is the one who gave us the above tip in the first place) and tell him your flight just landed and you will gather your luggage and meet him at Yellow #1.

What a great idea.  I’m assuming that if you know where Yellow #1 is located you can probably skip the skycap and the tip and just head over and grab a cab.  I have a little time before my next trip to Vegas and I’ll be looking for info on how to bypass the line.  If I find any tricks, I’ll share them here as always.