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Vegas After 7.5 Year Absence

Started by detroit1051 on Thursday, 6th March 2014 7:15 am
Last response by detroit1051 6th March 1:15pm

I just returned from a long weekend in Vegas after a long absence. I wrote my thoughts for my own benefit, but you're welcome to read. NOTE: This is long and sleep inducing!

Returning to Las Vegas After Seven+ Years

This is not a trip report, but I wanted to sort out my thoughts after my first trip to Vegas since November 2006. The changes in seven years are mind boggling. So, in no particular order:
Picked up rental car at McCarran Rental Car Center which was new to me. Iíve always rented from Hertz , and it was convenient to hop on yellow bus to nearby lot. This time, queued for generic bus to take everyone way off airport. Once in Rental Center, easy to find my car and drive out without having to stop at counter. Imo, Hertz is the Wynn of car rental companies.
Decided to drive my Dodge 9-passenger van (wtf?) up the Strip to Wynn. As I started, I thought, ďWhat are those two industrial chimneys on east side of Strip across from Mandalay Bay?Ē As I got closer, I realied they were the main supports for the never-to-be-finished SkyVue. Depressing.
The Trop loomed before me. Iím glad the property is operating, and I hope profitably, but it sure looks white. Too much stark, white paint in my uneducated opinion.
MGM Grandís main entrance looked better than ever since it was tweaked for Hakkasan.
Iíve been (justifiably) called a snob, but the east side of the Strip north of MGM Grand to Paris looked very honky tonk. Lots of people dragging 3-foot margaritas down the sidewalk. I had not seen the renovated entrance to Planet Hollywood and Miracle Mile shops before; nothing to make me want to stop there. Sugar Factory at Paris looked surprisingly nice. I donít know what I expected, but the sidewalk frontage was appealing. Then came Ballyís. What a disaster. Part of it is clearly the construction, but I envision the worst. Depressing.

Letís switch to the west side of the Strip. When CityCenter first came into view, I couldnít believe it. I had read everything about it before, during and after construction, but I was surprised by the overwhelming size of the project and how close it was to the Strip. I know it was originally touted as Manhattan in Vegas, but there just is no scale. Not for me. Cosmopolitan may be sandwiched in between Bellagio and CityCenter on a postage-stamp property, but it fits Las Vegas, imo. Caesars still looks good, but I was disappointed to see the newer building right at the sidewalk at Flamingo and The Strip. Takes away the grandeur of the property.
Back to the east side. Lots of workers at Cromwell, but how can they finish it and open in just two months? I expected a larger entrance to Linq from the Strip. I didnít go in, but I believe it will be one of Caesars Entertainmentís few success stories. The High Roller was one of the first things I saw while the plane was descending into McCarran, and seeing that huge wheel lit up at night is very cool. I want to ride it.
Palazzoís steel work was going up when I was last there. I have to say the exterior and Strip frontage is appealing.
Back to the west side. Treasure Island is just plain sad looking. Gilleyís, Senior Frogís and now the demolition at the corner of Spring Mountain must make Steve Wynn shake his head at the destruction Phil Ruffin has caused. I am so glad Ruffin never got an opportunity to buy The Mirage.
Talk about wide open spaces: The empty Frontier property across from Wynn looks forlorn (and huge). Itís probably going to remain empty for dcecades. Then, just to the north, is Echelon. I never realized how far along that project was before BYD had the sense to shut it down. I hope nothing happens to delay or reduce the scope of Gentingís Resorts World on that property. It will really help the North Stripís vitality.
Now, on to that sun-blocking monolith on the North Strip. Photos could not prepare me for the pure ugliness of Fontainebleau. It looks awful from any angle, but when I drove south on the Strip from downtown, FB looked even more offensive. Icahn needs to make whatever deal heís going to make and tear down that building. Itís an embarrassment to Las Vegas.
I stayed at Wynn Las Vegas as I did on my last trip in November 2006. At that time, Encore was just beginning construction. I had thought that service quality was slipping at Wynn in í06, so I wondered what I would find in 2014. Service is outstanding and better than I remember it even after its opening in í05. I donít know how you ingrain that culture into so many employees, but everyone expressed genuine appreciation that their guests had chosen Wynn. Equally impressive was the condition of the property. I had wondered whether nine years and millions of guests would have taken their toll on the property, but it looked brand new. I donít think Steve Wynn waits until carpets need replacing before doing so. Youíd swear the property opened this year. I stayed in a Wynn Tower Suites King room on the 54th floor, overlooking the golf course. I had stayed in the same room in í06 and noticed how noisy the Tower Suites elevators were (the room backs up to the elevator shaft). I donít know what they did, but the elevators are no longer audible from the room, and when youíre on the elevator, you donít hear the howling wind noise that was there before. Wynn Magazine has a background story on how high limit slots were moved from next to Tower Suites registration and the entire area opened up to be more visible and accessible from the main casino walkway. What a magnificent change! The Tower Suite Bar is open from the casino and is used for morning coffee and rolls until 11 AM and then turned into a casual bar. It was busy from morning to night. Not only is it convenient, it certainly must add to Wynnís revenue. Access to Tower Suites elevators is now also available through the Lobby Bar which also connects with Tower Suites registration. Between Roger Thomas and Steve Wynn, they have made a genius move. On top of that, Tableau restaurant has been redone and is also accessible through the Lobby Bar. What once was a neglected, out-of-the-way (but excellent) restaurant is now an always busy breakfast and lunch restaurant. What an improvement to this part of Wynn Las Vegas. The magazine story completes the picture: .

To be continued at some pointÖ..I'm even boring myself with all these words.

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 Dave702 responded on Thursday, 6th March 2014

Not nearly long enough, and certainly not sleep-inducing. It's great to read your thoughts about how much Las Vegas has changed. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about Downtown.

 BigHoss replied on Thursday, 6th March 2014

I agree with the good doctor. I really enjoyed your tweets while you were out there. So glad you had a good time, even though I'm still bummed we missed you at #vimfp.

 jinx73 responded on Thursday, 6th March 2014

I love the perspective and seeing your tweets during the trip. I'm still amazed at changes that happen in 6 months from when I go. I can only imagine how different 7 years would feel. Did you have a chance to walk from the strip into City Center (or more specifically Aria). That's when the scope and size really hit me although you do get a sense in driving past it when you first see it and see all of the changes to the Harmon corner.

I'm in agreement on Sugar Factory, while I know most were disappointed the fountain was removed, and many aren't a fan of the restaurant itself, I thought it was a nice fit for the property and liked the way they did the front.

I'm hoping on this next trip to go look at some properties I haven't seen in years.

 salkken responded on Thursday, 6th March 2014

Great report! I visited in December after an 11-year absence. I was amazed. So many new hotels and new experiences (nightclubs, restaurants, attractions). Perfect weather, too. Can't wait to go back!

 Chuckmonster responded on Thursday, 6th March 2014

Great post detroit... i've been looking forward to this post for as long as you've been avoiding Las Vegas. Eagerly awaiting part II. Strike while the iron is hot!

 socalduck responded on Thursday, 6th March 2014

Thanks for posting, Detroit! I hope the next installment is soon! I agree that Wynn definitely does an outstanding job maintaining and freshening their properties. I also like the changes they made to the TS lobby area; it is a much better utilization of that space. I assume you had a renovated room (they should all be by now, yes?), so I'm curious as to what you thought of the changes.

Cromwell is supposed to be in a soft opening by the time I head back to Vegas next month, so it will be interesting to see if they actually make the announced date.

 detroit1051 replied on Thursday, 6th March 2014

My Tower Suite King looked the same as the one I had in '06, but everything was new. Carpeting, paint spotless. After looking at this link on the room, I now understand why Tableau was so crowded. Tower Suite rooms all include breakfast there.

Wynn Tower King