Thoughts from my trip
Sitting in McCarran now, 45 minutes from boarding after 6 days in town. I have a few thoughts.
This trip followed the longest stretch (6 months) I\'ve gone without being in Vegas for many years. It feels like so much has changed in such a short time. Last time I was here Bill\'s was still Bill\'s, Linq didn\'t exist, The High Roller was maybe 1/4 finished, Downtown Grand was not open, and SLS still mostly looked like Sahara.
Plaza - I really have a thing for what this property COULD be. Think about it...where it sits, it\'s like the grandfather of Fremont. Everything leads to the Plaza. With the size of the property, they could really have a full strip-like destination...if the place could ever get an owner with any sorta vision. Instead, what they have is a rotting carcass of a property that got a seriously sub par spray paint on a turd renovation a few years back. The bad: On a Friday night at 9pm, the main casino men\'s restroom had bags over 5 of the 6 sinks, half the urinals, and 2 of the stalls had \"out of order\" signs on them. The 2 stalls that were open had toilets that were overflowing with feces. Every stall divider, was cracked or broken in some way, all the towel dispensers were out of towels, and the smell was worse than a chicken house. When you start walking the property and really looking at things, you see how poorly the finish work was on the renovations, and how they have done absolutely zero maintenance since then. Air vents hanging by one screw, peeling wallpaper, shredded carpet with seams that don\'t quite match, blown light bulbs, poor sheetrock joints, and many slot machines out of order. There were very few dealers at the table games and forget drink service on the floor. The good: They had a great band playing in the bar that opens to the casino. Not the standard \"farting out the hits for a paycheck\" cover band. These guys were talented and creative...and played for the 15 people that were watching them like they were playing Live Aid for 100k people in 1985. I really hate what this ownership has let Plaza and Vegas Club become. It\'s an embarrassment to Fremont Street. How are they going to support a hockey team and its crowd if they can\'t keep at least 1/2 of the toilets and sinks working in the casino restrooms?
Golden Gate - I stayed in one of the new(ish) Golden Gate suites. Overall the room was excellent, every staff member I dealt with was friendly and helpful, checkin was quick, and valet service was very quick. I would make this room my new Vegas \"home\" (see TWH3 post on having a Vegas home from a few years back), except for one thing: The in room wifi was worse than mediocre. It was less than half of a bad DSL speed. This wasn\'t a one day fluke...it was awful the entire stay. I hate to let this ruin a room and property that I love...but...if I can\'t get back to my room at the end of the day (I was in town for a work conference), work on some quotes, catch up on social media, and watch baseball highlights, well...I am no longer interested in staying in that room. There\'s no excuse for forcing me to pay for internet (resort fee) that would have been considered slow 10 years ago. Until this is fixed, I will not be back. The one other thing that bugs me...not a huge issue...but...I kinda hate the \"club\" music they blast there. I miss the piano player. With the history of the property, I\'d keep the club music at The D, and make Golden Gate the \"classy\" joint. Give me some Deano and Sinatra!
Downtown Grand - Did a quick walkthrough and got a player\'s card. First impression, I like the casino design. The \"industrial\" design was a great move...inexpensive but still classy and not easily dated. The downside, there was nobody there. Also, they had a girl on the street with a big wheel to spin for freeplay and a PA system. On a Friday night at 8pm, she was harassing people on the street that wouldn\'t stop to spin her wheel \"What? You\'re a big high roller huh? Don\'t need any free play? Sure...just walk away and ignore me...you\'ll be back after you lose your bankroll\"! Seriously...she was yelling that over her PA at people. Doesn\'t exactly make me wanna walk in the place...ya know?
Fremont St. - I just wanted to add in...after walking every property downtown several nights in a row...it is very evident that Derek Stevens is doing a lot of things very right. The people in his properties are all happy, energetic, and genrally having a good time. The public spaces are well kept and clean, the staff is all smiles, and I feel like I get a great value and I\'m treated like a high roller, even though I am the furthest thing from it.
Cromwell - Casino floor has machines powered up and ready. They are kicking butt on this thing. One design choice that I think is a mistake: Every window has a dark fabric awning over it. The sun will fade that fabric within 3 years and it will look awful...and we know Caesars will not being doing any maintenance on it...
Cosmo - I love the addition of the Jennifer Keith Band to the casino floor. They're a big band/swing group, and one of the best I've seen. It's a really nice break from the mind numbing oontz and they are a pleasure to watch. I also really like the changes to the Bond area. We had a work event at Bond Tuesday evening and the staff there was on top of everything. We had comfortable seating for the entire group and excellent drink service. In the past 2 years, I probably spend 80% of my time and money on The Strip at Cosmo.
Riviera - Like Plaza, I've long had a soft spot for this place. Partially because it's where I had my first alcoholic beverage of my life, partially because I've done a work event there for the past 10 years, and partially because Casino was filmed there. Since this was where many of my friends were staying, I spent a good bit of time there on this trip. We had a very long blackjack session there one night, starting at The $1 table, them moving to the $5 table. Both are 6:5 payout. Overall, I was very disappointed by the grumpy, inexperienced dealers (2 of them said they were temp workers just hired for the evening because some regular dealers didn't show up for work), the awful, watered down drinks, and the pit boss hovering over us constantly reminding us "only one hand on the cards" or "you have to scratch the table twice with your cards if you wanna hit". Literally every few hands he came by to scold someone at the table ( there were 2 people at our table that had never played before). He seemed very concerned about our meager play and watched us like a hawk all night (there were only 3 blackjack tables open). I have a pile of thoughts about what I'd like to see The Riv do...but I'll save them for another post.
Circus Circus - I've never seen as much graffiti in one room as I did in the restroom at the rear of the property by the parking garage. Every tile, mirror, fixture had something written or scratched into it. Does anyone there actually care? Also, sad that the table games are gone at Slots Of Fun.
Looking forward to returning in 3 weeks for VT10!!
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detroit1051 responded on Thursday, 10th April 2014
Great observations. I will stay out of Plaza. Depressing. I'm sure the owners of Golden Gate will read your comments here (and on Twitter) regarding wifi and do something about it.
I just Googled Golden Gate and was surprised that my McAfee had a warning that the site could be dangerous. Not a way to encourage visitation.
The graffiti at Circus Circus couldn't have happened in one day. Doesn't anyone check the property? Did it look gang related?
You should be a consultant to all these operators. Every comment was constructive and related to things management should be aware of on their own without a guest having to point it out.
level42 replied on Saturday, 12th April 2014
Detroit: No idea about the graffiti...not sure I'd know what was gang related or not. It's obvious that this stuff has been there a while. The maintenance on this entire property is much worse than any Caesars hotel. I walked every inch of public space twice...and there was never one spot where I could stand and not see something completely awful and in need of repair. I know this property used to be a huge moneymaker...I'd love to know what its numbers are like now.
Drake responded on Thursday, 10th April 2014
Great report! A lot of your observations are prime examples why crappy properties remain crappy properties.
I can only add that Derek Stevens deserves a medal if he has maintained a friendly, happy, and helpful staff on Fremont Street. Downtown seems to be the final destination for every disgruntled, surly jerk who has ever poured a drink or dealt a hand in Vegas, and I'm including the Golden Nugget in that, too. Crappy attitudes are the Fremont Virus.
Blakjackkid responded on Thursday, 10th April 2014
Thanks for the GREAT TR! Looking forward to catching the Jennifer Keith band at the Cosmo!
vespajet responded on Thursday, 10th April 2014
I stayed at the Plaza for #VIMFP and really didn't have too many issues there. One thing that is the problem is that when it comes to maintenance, they make Caesars Entertainment look good. I was staying on the third floor and the bingo room and a few other things are located on that floor sorta in the middle of the tower, but away from the rooms. The down escalators had been out of service since well before the renovations and either they never fixed them or they've broken again. As a result, there was a lot of extra traffic in the hallway because anyone playing bingo or some of the machines they had in the area on that floor had to take the room elevators to get back to the lobby.
I have to say that the WiFi I had at the Plaza was pretty speedy and I never had any issues with it. It sounds like the WiFi speeds at the Golden Gate are much like the ones I encountered at Vdara last May.
The tables have been gone from Slots-A-Fun for several years now, as I ventured into the place three years ago (also the last time I ventured into The Riv [I also have a soft spot for it because I stayed there my first trip to Vegas 10 years ago.] as well as Circus Circus). Even the big slot machine out front is gone (I won on it my first trip,).
level42 replied on Saturday, 12th April 2014
I guess I had forgotten they had removed the tables at Slot-A-Fun. They are advertising $1 craps out front, one of my co-workers wanted to learn craps but was intimidated by the crowded table at Riviera...we walked across the street hoping to play the $1 game there, but...it was a machine. Womp, Womp.
Like Circus Circus, Plaza has had zero maintenance. It looks worse at Plaza because everything at Circus Circus is old and worn...the stuff at Plaza is new and worn. Also, at least all the bathrooms at Circus Circus were functional! Personally, I think the Hockey thing at Plaza will be a disaster. Any idea how many people attend those games?
vespajet replied on Sunday, 13th April 2014
The Wranglers have been averaging about 4500 a game this season and this has been a pretty consistent figure over the years. The venue planned for The Plaza will seat about 3500.
MattK responded on Thursday, 10th April 2014
You certainly know how to paint a picture of disgusting bathrooms. I felt like I was there.
socalduck responded on Friday, 11th April 2014
Good report, thanks for sharing. Could not agree more about the Plaza; that really could be a gem if someone was willing to put in the effort and money. Perhaps rename it Biff's Place, as that was the Plaza's only shining moment in the last 30 years.
Circus Circus has long been a draw for gang-bangers on holiday from SoCal. It can get pretty scary there on weekend nights. I used to enjoy the Steakhouse, but walking through the place is so depressing I don't even bother anymore.
Effin 6:5 BJ is getting out of hand. Is there any place on the Strip that still offers a 3:2 game for less than $25 a hand? And seriously, if the Riv is sweating a $5 BJ game that only pays a measly 6:5 odds, they must be in a world of hurt. Pathetic.