Station Casinos files for Chapter 11

Station Casinos Logo

Station Casinos filed for Chapter 11 yesterday.  This day has seemingly been around the corner for a while now and it was only a matter of time for this to happen.  Chapter 11 doesn’t mean that a company will shut down.  Rather, it gives a business time to recover from their economic struggles with government protection.

Bill Lerner, an analyst for Union Gaming in Las Vegas, said the bankruptcy filing will give Station more time to negotiate with lenders. Under bankruptcy law, Station likely will have several months to exclusively propose a plan of reorganization.

The real question is what Station Casinos will look like if it makes it through chapter 11.  Odds are that it will become a little more streamlined as they sell off some assets to pay off debt.

Lerner said he is sure Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp. will seek some of the assets during the bankruptcy process, and said he wouldn’t be surprised if Penn National Gaming — which is interested in expanding to Las Vegas — also takes a look at the assets.

I’m obviously not a Las Vegas local but I have a soft spot for the locals casinos.  I like the option they provide for the local consumer and for me when I travel in.  The Gold Coast is almost always a stop for me when I visit Las Vegas.  Competition is always good for the customer.  Whether Station keeps all of their casinos or they sell some to Boyd I hope the competition lives with good management and good service for all.

Front Desk Tip Dot Com

I was looking at some of my favorite websites this evening and notice that Front Desk Tip dot com had a make over and thought it was worth sharing.

Frontdesktip.com was one of the first sites I wrote about for ECG.  Front Desk Tip is the home for how to get room upgrades in Las Vegas.  Does the trick work anywhere else?  That’s debatable.  I’ve heard yes and no.  The “How To” section has been expanded since I last looked so take a look at the instructions if you need a starter.

I’ve never tried this for an upgrade because I am usually travelling on comps, but my next trip to Las Vegas will likely be paid for and I will certainly try this.

Which hotel has the best odds for a room upgrade?  In order they are:

  1. Palazzo
  2. Mirage
  3. Planet Hollywood

The good news is that these are all places that I would consider staying where I wouldn’t receive comps yet.  I will likely be staying at the Palazzo on my next trip so I’m looking forward to the experiment.

Overall, I really like the new design of Front Desk Tip and found the site easy on the eyes and will probably visit more.  I encourage you to take a whirl if you are planning a trip.  Who doesn’t like a cheap upgrade in Las Vegas!?

Can “The Naked Gun” Now Sue Las Vegas Sands?

Las Vegas Sands owns The Palazzo where I had an awesome steam at Carne Vino earlier this year.  The casino company is suing Palazzo Design Corp of Houston, Texas for trademark infringement.

Another trademark dispute is brewing on the Las Vegas Strip, this one over the sale of “Palazzo” clothing items such as T-shirts at the Palazzo hotel-casino.

Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Palazzo hotel-casino sued Palazzo Design Corp. of Houston on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

Attorneys for the hotel-casino said in the suit that the Houston company claims to have the exclusive rights to sell Palazzo clothing items — a claim disputed by the Las Vegas Sands attorneys.

This should be cut and dry.  Whoever owns the trademark in the appropriate category owns the right to do what they want with the name.  I don’t want to deal with trademark law because it sucks and is boring.  I’ve never seen a Palazzo t-shirt, but I’ll look in the gift shop on my next trip to Las Vegas.

This leads me to question why Paramount, creators of the movie Naked Gun, didn’t trademark the name Enrico Palazzo, a favorite character of many.  If they did they could have made hundreds, maybe thousands, in merchandising products with the name Enrico Palazzo.  I would have purchased numerous items.   I guess we’ll never know.

If you’d like to see Enrico Palazzo in action enjoy the videos below.

Naked Gun is one of my favorite movies of all time.  If you don’t own it – you should.  A link to purchase is below.

Harrah’s Big Plan For Las Vegas? Food, Drink, Ferris Wheel

Harrah’s owns quite a few properties in the middle of the Las Vegas strip.  Take a look at the “who owns what” map on Vegas Today & Tomorrow for a visual.  There have been plenty of guesses over the past few years on what Harrah’s plans are now that they own most of the properties in the area.

Two years ago they decided that they wouldn’t implode any of the casinos to build a new mega-resort as they want to keep Caesars Palace as their top tier casino.  Instead, Harrah’s plan is Project Link.

..the plan calls for a collection of about 20 restaurants and bars to be built along a winding corridor between the company’s O’Sheas and Flamingo casinos, on the east side of the Strip.

With a mix of “eclectic” and “mostly casual” restaurants and bars opening to the street, it’s an attempt to create the kind of entertainment district that has developed organically in cities such as Los Angeles, Memphis and New Orleans yet is lacking on the Strip, with its enclosed, casino-centric zones.

At the end of the 1,000-foot pedestrian walkway, Harrah’s wants to build a giant Ferris wheel similar to the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer. The wheel would tower about 600 feet, offering sweeping views, plush interiors and a slow ride.

This would cost less than tearing down and building up a new casino.   It would also play to Harrah’s strong point, which is the middle class type of consumer.  The cluster of stores and restaurants would allow Harrah’s to keep costomers close to their properties.

When I visit Las Vegas I like to treat myself above my usual means of living.  So while this idea isn’t attractive to me, I can see this working.  There are plenty of people that visit Las Vegas that would enjoy something like this and there are plenty of websites devoted to “cheap Las Vegas.”  Again, this fits nicely into Harrah’s overall marketing.

It’s currently difficult to obtain financing for a lot of businesses and with the mountain of debt Harrah’s already has this idea probably won’t come to light any time too soon.  A cynic would say this Las Vegas Sun article was floated out so Harrah’s can try to get the financing needed.  By the time financing is found the idea may have passed it’s time.

Bottom line:  This isn’t for me and I don’t see Harrah’s getting this project started or finished.  Additionally, I don’t see a project with a ferris wheel as an anchor ever happening.

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Aubrey O’Day Next In Line For PeepShow?

Aubrey O’Day was introduced to the world as a member of all girl pop group Danity Kane.  She’s more recently known for appearing nude in Playboy.  Now it seems as though she may be next in line to join Peep Show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

Holly Madison recently hit headlines by scoring a seductive topless role in the hit Las Vegas “Peep Show” and it sounds as though one-time “Playboy” pin-up Aubrey O’Day wants to be follow in her footsteps.

According to an inside source, the axed “Danity Kane” diva is being primed to take over the role of “Peep Diva” (previously played by Mel B.) and if it all goes through she will most likely start performing in the Fall.

I’m clearly fascinated by the rotation of cast members for “Peep Show.”  I don’t cover much about shows in Las Vegas, but the rotating cast of women on this show has me captivated.  Enjoy a nice and clean photo of Aubrey.  This was more difficult to find than one would think.

Supply & Demand is Your Friend in Las Vegas

The recession has hit Las Vegas hard as most readers of ECG know.  The economy may turn around next year, but that may not change things much in the casinos of Las Vegas.  With all of the building in Las Vegas over the past few years there should be a deluge of hotel rooms on the market next year.

In their reports, debt analysts at Deutsche Bank and CreditSights zeroed in on the impending flood of new hotel rooms on and near the Las Vegas Strip — a market struggling with an oversupply of rooms, slot machines and gaming tables.

“The challenge for the casinos will be to maintain hotel occupancy even as new supply is brought on over the next 14 months,” CreditSights said in its report.

Even without taking into account the 3,815 rooms at the stalled and bankrupt Fontainebleau resort, analysts say new rooms coming online at CityCenter and elsewhere will pressure the Las Vegas industry.

CreditSights noted that lower room rates are helping to fill Las Vegas hotels, but sales of condominium units on and near the Strip have come to a near standstill with 2,200 vacant units on the market.

Simple economics says that if supply is greater than demand then prices will fall until demand increases.  Las Vegas isn’t like the rest of the world.  Casinos can offer a variety of different comps to keep room rates relatively stable, but in general if you search for a cheap room in Las Vegas this year and next you should find it.

I typically try to treat myself to a little luxury when I take trips to Las Vegas.  I’m curious to see how this effects the higher end hotels.

Chalk one up for the consumers!

Rumors: Susan Boyle to Planet Hollywood?

Rumors have been flying around the internet this week that Simon Cowell  has been talking to Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas about bringing a show featuring Susan Boyle to the United States.

I don’t watch any of the talent reality shows on TV and I don’t care about Susan Boyle, but people seem to be captivated by her.  I think if she comes to Planet Hollywood quickly they can have a nice, profitable, run with her.  If this takes too long to happen her 15 minutes of fame may be up.  PH – Hurry up if you want to win!

Mel B Leaving PeepShow

The news that Mel B. is leaving “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood, in Las Vegas, flew under my radar earlier this week.  Her replacement is someone I’ve never heard of – Shoshana Bean.  The cast will continue to rotate every few months to keep the show fresh.

Here’s a parting shot of Mel B.

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Here’s a shot of the incoming Shoshana Bean.

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Don’t forget Holly Madison as Bo Peep.

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Fontainebleau Files for Chapter 11

Fontainbleau filed for voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday.   Construction has been marred by financial problems for the past couple of months and this continues the Las Vegas projects regression to completion.

“The decision to file for Chapter 11 was the direct result of certain lenders having refused to honor their contractual commitments to provide nearly $800 million in construction funding for the $2.9 billion resort-casino project, which is 70 percent complete,” the company said.

“It is unfortunate that our lenders forced us to take this step. By reneging on the revolving credit facility, they effectively shut down the project and put thousands of people out of work,” said Howard Karawan, chief restructuring officer of Fontainebleau Las Vegas. “Our goal now is to secure funding to complete this world-class project and restructure our existing debt.”

I still think that this doesn’t mean that the casino hotel won’t be completed…some day.  Obviously things will continue to be delayed, but I can’t imagine that a business this close to completion won’t open.  We’ll just have to wait a little while.

Construction photo below from the awesome website Vegas Today and Tomorrow.

Welcome To Las Vegas Sign Goes Historic

In my mind the “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign has been historic for years.  That’s because I have my own memories from the sign.  This week the world famous sign received official historic designation.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is now officially a piece of national history.

Clark County officials on Thursday announced that the sign has gained listing on the National Register of Historic Places, to fit with the county’s centennial celebration this year.

County Commission Chairman Rory Reid says the 50-year-old sign at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip is an important symbol, as well as the backdrop for untold thousands of tourist photographs.

The National Park Service designation became official on May 1.

The sign cost $4,000 in 1959 and was designed by Betty Whitehead Willis of Western Neon.

It was erected after a group of Strip hotel owners asked Clark County for a sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas.

And now…..time for a photo…