New Name For Monte Carlo, Excalibur Expansion, Crystals For Sale, REIT and More From MGM Resorts Earnings Call

Jim Murren, CEO MGM Resorts
Jim Murren

Earlier today I listened to the MGM Resorts quarterly earnings call. The company has so much going on that they’re easily the most fascinating of the Vegas casino companies to follow.

You can read press releases and listen to the MGM quarterly earnings call here for specifics. Below are my notes with lots of information.

  • Jim Murren said MGM would like to participate in DFS in the future. They’re waiting for clarity in the area. This was last question asked if you’d like specifics.
  • Excalibur is underperforming and Jim Murren discussed idea of mid-scale retail expansion on the Vegas Strip to draw people into property.
  • Murren restated that Monte Carlo will have a new name next year. Outlook is very optimistic for the property.
  • Small note given to the fact that customer booking windows are growing
  • Crystals still on the market by MGM Resorts. There’s plenty of interest. They’re sorting through investors. Murren says it’s worth over $1 billion.
  • Mandalay Bay now has the 5th largest convention center in the US after recent expansion. Details on the expansion here.
  • 2016 should be best year ever for conventions at MGM Resorts. Even with Mandalay Bay expansion they still don’t expect to have enough capacity.
  • Press release on MGM REIT
  • MGM Resorts keeping 2 most profitable properties in Las Vegas out of the REIT (Bellagio & MGM Grand).
  • MGM REIT will be called MGM Growth Properties and be a separate stock offering planned for Q1 2016.
  • MGM Arena not part of REIT because it’s a partnership with AEG. REIT doesn’t include any partnerships like City Center.
  • Non-luxury MGM Resorts properties growing faster than luxury. For example REVPAR for non-luxury up 14%, lux up 6%
  • Aria hotel EBITA up 23% Year over Year. Vdara 0ver 40% EBITA increase.
  • MGM Detroit EBITA only ranks behind Bellagio, MGM Grand & Mandalay Bay. Better than The Mirage, New York New York, etc.
  • MGM hotel rooms had a 96% occupancy rate last quarter. Up 1% from same period last year.
  • Average Daily Room rate for MGM hotels was $141 last quarter. That’s up $10 (8%) from same time last year.
  • Circus Circus is interesting opportunity for MGM seemingly because it’s 100 acres of land on the Vegas Strip.

Mr. Chow Plans to Open in early 2015 at Caesars Palace

Mr. Chow Caesars Palace
The Other Mr. Chow

When I think of ultra exclusive restaurants in New York City I think of Rao’s and Mr. Chow. It’s almost impossible to get a table at either restaurant unless you’re super rich, famous or both. While Rao’s in New York is famous because it has fantastic food and only 6 tables but Mr. Chow is different. Mr. Chow is a decent sized restaurant for New York and more famous for being famous. Kinda like Kim Kardashian.

Many moons ago I had a celebratory dinner at Mr. Chow and I couldn’t have been more stoked. Why? Forget any other famous person that may have been dining along side of my group – Jay-Z was in the house! Jay-Z came up to the table as smooth as can be to say hi and congratulate our table on being awesome. Then he knocked over someone’s water and said something that made him appear even smoother. I don’t think I was the only person who was a little swoony.

5 year’s ago Mr. Chow was being planned to open at either The Harmon or Vdara at City Center. Well, things have changed and Mr. Chow will now open next year at Caesars Palace which also is home to Rao’s. If someone wants to do something awesome together and celebrate at Mr. Chow, I’m down! Otherwise, you have a better chance of catching me at another New York favorite at Caesars Palace, Carmines.

Here are more details from the Mr. Chow press release

Caesars Palace is pleased to announce internationally renowned MR CHOW is expected to open its seventh restaurant location in early 2015. The luxurious Beijing cuisine eatery will be located in the impressive second story space currently occupied by Empress Court, which will close this spring.

With locations in Malibu, Beverly Hills, New York, Miami and London, MR CHOW has conceptualized and perfected refined Beijing cuisine dining with European style service. The menu will feature beloved dishes such as the Chicken Satay, Green Prawns, hand-pulled MR CHOW Noodles and famed Beijing Duck.

“Continuing with the tradition of offering Caesars Palace guests the best in customer service, hospitality and dining, I am honored to welcome the legendary MR CHOW to our award-winning culinary lineup,” said Regional President of Caesars Palace, Gary Selesner. “We look forward to guests experiencing the elevated cuisine, paired with the unique location and chic and stylish design MR CHOW is well-known for.”

Not only will the menu feature signature MR CHOW dishes, but also a selection of specialty cocktails made with fresh ingredients and carefully crafted by a team of mixologists.
“For MR CHOW, Las Vegas is a must,” said Mr. Chow. “After many years of hard work, at last, we are happy to announce that we found our perfect match in Caesars Palace. Caesars is the pioneer and cornerstone of Vegas and we are delighted to open in the year of the sheep.”

MR CHOW guests will enter through a set of private elevators, located on the casino floor level of Caesars Palace. The restaurant will be located on the second story, which will overlook the Garden of the Gods pool oasis. With design credits including boutiques for Giorgio Armani, Mr. Chow’s keen sense of design is sure to be reflected in the space.

Coming Soon From MGM: FREE ROOMS (+ $100 Resort Fee)

Yesterday, Vegas Chatter, revealed that MGM Resorts is raising their resort fees across the board at their Las Vegas hotels and casinos.

Bellagio, MGM Grand, Aria, Vdara, The Mirage, Mandalay Bay — now $25 (previously $20)
Monte Carlo — now $20 (previously $15)
New York-New York, Luxor — now $18 (was $15)
Excalibur — now $15 (from $12.50)
Circus Circus — now $8.95 (up from $7.95)

Hotels charge a separate resort fee to give the illusion of cheap room rates. As hotel companies continue to raise resort fees in an effort to make their room rates look more competitive or cheaper than other hotels in the market it’s hard to imagine that one of these companies won’t discount their rooms so much that it looks as if the room is free.

Imagine this scenario in the future: The fee for your room at Luxor is $1 but it actually costs $100 after the resort fee. Meanwhile, down the street, you’re much newer room at Cosmopolitan also costs $100 and the don’t charge a resort fee.

Your net room fee is the same at $100 in this case. Where will you stay? A lot of people would choose the $1 room even if it’s the same price as the newest rooms in Vegas because of the fee they see up front. People are, generally, lazy and  simply didn’t do the math.

Resort fees suck, but we all have to deal with it. When pricing rooms you should always add the resort fee to the room rate to get the actual price you’ll have to pay for the room. It’s a pain in the butt, but it will give clarity when comparing room rates. Check here for a list of current resort fees and what you get.

At the end of the day the power is always with the consumer and your money. It is your choice to spend, or not spend, money on resort fees and the companies that charge them. If you don’t like the MGM resort fees then you probably shouldn’t stay, eat, drink or gamble at their properties. The dollar speaks louder than words.

On a personal note while I don’t like resort fees, per se, they don’t really bother me. I don’t mind doing the work to come to an all-in price to see if I’m getting a good or bad deal when going on vacation. Sometimes the resort fee that covers in-room wifi for an extra $10 is fine. Other times it’s not. I depends on the purpose of the trip and location.

There have been trips where I don’t mind paying $20 to sit in my Palazzo suite and use wifi because I’m feeling lazy, while there are other times where I’ll stay at a Caesars property and don’t mind going somewhere off site for wifi.

Why Book A Room At Caesars Palace Octavius Tower?

Last week Vegas Tripping noted that you could book a room at Caesars Palace Octavius Tower in Las Vegas. Yesterday Caesars sent out an official press release that rooms are, indeed, available beginning today. I questioned myself on why I would care? Renderings don’t show anything real, but the room descriptions and thoughts on Vegas Chatter actually seem pretty nice.

Octavius guest rooms will start at 550-sq.ft. and will feature “earthy” shades of browns, grays, taupes and beiges with “pops” of green and deep red. Judging from the photo above, the room still looks Vegassy in that mass-reproduced hotel room way although we like the high tufted headboard. And dare we say, a little “Palazzo-y”? But we are excited for prime Garden of the Gods views. Oh the fun our cameras will capture!

Technology will (finally!) be a big focus in the rooms too with 42″ flat screen HDTVs, media hubs with multiple outlets and bedside iPod docks. Rooms will also come with iPad and iPod Touch apps that will allow guests to order room service and make reservations all from their iPad or iPod (and we’re assuming iPhone.)

I’ve said it before that I really like The Palazzo and a big reason are those awesome, and giant, rooms. However, staying at the Octavius Tower seems akin to staying at Vdara and using the Aria for casino and eating. Maybe staying at Venetian, but gambling and eating only at Palazzo is more accurate since you don’t have to go outside.

I like to be  able to go downstairs in my PJ’s (t-shirt and basketball shorts) to gamble and eat and I don’t like walking 5-10 minutes to do so.  That said, I’d stay there for free just to see what it’s like, but would probably would never pay.

After a quick review of the Caesars website, I didn’t notice any room tours for the Octavius tower, but if you go to book a room you get all of the details and a price, which was over $200/night for me.


MGM Auction Was Fruitless but Fun

Last week I noticed that MGM was auctioning items from CityCenter and was stoked to find there there were some useful items.  I’m still furnishing my new apartment and in the market for a chair for my bedroom and a couple of end tables for the living room.  While these are *wants* and not *needs* they are things I’d like to finish out my joint.  After starting with ice buckets and such the auction turned to more useful items (for me).

Check the video of the auction

Unfortunately, I didn’t pull the trigger on the chairs I liked but I had a lot of fun watching and listening to the auction.  I was actually more caught up in it than I thought.  It didn’t help that I had my hootsuite open and there were about 10 or so people I follow equally caught up in the auction.

All in all this was fun for me and it was a good way for MGM to shed some of it’s, relatively, old CityCenter furnishings.  If you’re ever in the market for new things I would recommend checking out local hotels for auction and leftover sales items.

Furniture From CityCenter Up For Auction

Just saw this on Vegas Chatter and wanted to share ASAP!

Apparently, more than one thousand furnishings from ARIA, Vdara, Mandarin Oriental and Veer are being sold to the highest online bidders this Monday, February 21. A peek at the auction catalogue shows everything from ice buckets, scales and vanity mirrors to lamps, art, sofas and chairs. Most of the notes for each item report minor scratches, broken parts and/or wear, but some are seemingly damage free.

Unlike the Fontainebleau auction where they were only auctioning nuts and bolts to the public this CityCenter auction has stuff we can actually use (and want)!  Check out that chair above!  I’ll be signing up for the auction to see if I can finish furnishing my new joint on the cheap!  Details below.

Out With The Old In With The New

There have been a bunch of restaurant and bar closings in Las Vegas over the past few weeks and the latest is, no surprise to most Vegas nerds, Silk Road at Vdara.  Here are some of the details from Tasting Las Vegas, who was the first I saw to pass on confirmation of this long talked about rumor.

Boo!  The much speculated closing of Silk Road at the Vdara resort at CityCenter is finally coming to fruition.  I’m bummed.  It was a fabulous restaurant in a horrible location; horrible location meaning the Vdara resort.  However, before its closure, the much anticipated Market Café Vdara is scheduled to open on March 1st.  Finally, the so-called residentially-friendly CityCenter is going to have a grocery store.

In addition to Silk Road closing Fontana Bar at Bellagio and Alex at Wynn Las Vegas among others are all closing.  From what I’m seeing most of these places are being replaced with newer, similar facilities.

This is Vegas and this happens – a lot.  Nothing lasts forever.  However, there is only one place I don’t want to every see closed or change and that’s Petrossian Bar at Bellagio.  Petrossian has great drinks and great people watching as well as a great location!

Las Vegas Roundup

As I’ve mentioned I’ve been prepping for a move and haven’t had much time for ECG the past couple weeks.  I wanted to share a few articles that I’ve enjoyed recently just in case anyone missed them.

This roundup is all Las Vegas.  I love Vegas!

CityCenter Opening Nears

The buzz surrounding CityCenter’s opening has been slowly growing for a couple of weeks.  You may know CityCenter as the mass of construction in the middle of the Las Vegas strip.  The property is being built by MGM-Mirage and will consist of multiple hotels, condos, casinos and retail space.  The project has had its up’s and downs, but the end of the long construction is nearing and the world will get to see for themselves soon.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.

To help feed the buzz, CityCenter started a youtube page and has been releasing teaser videos for the last week.  To keep up to speed on CityCenter check the youtube page regularly.  I’ll share information as I receive it.  Here are the first three videos of, and for, CityCenter.

THREE more videos after the jump

Continue reading “CityCenter Opening Nears”