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Downtown Grand thoughts from last weekend

Started by level42 on Thursday, 8th May 2014 1:46 pm
Last response by kayday 13th May 2:57pm

For VT10, I stayed at Downtown Grand...in a single King bed corner room.

Here's a few quick thoughts:

1. Check-in/Check-out were a breeze...some of the fastest I've ever had. Under 60 seconds for each transaction.

2. Every employee I interacted with...from the cafe to the front desk to the player's club to the dealers were happy, chatty, pleasant, and helpful.

3. I like the casino. It's small (I prefer small...my all time favorites are: Westward Ho, Holy Cow, Bourbon Street, El Cortez, and currently upstairs at The D). There are some playable games (VP and BJ), you just have to look around a bit.

4. Stewart+Ogden Cafe is OK...and just that. I ate there twice...once for breakfast, once at 2am. The food was fine, but nothing special. I will continue to make Dupar's and Cortez Cafe my late nite/morning food stops.

5. The sports book has 4 screens...but 2 of them were consistently showing Sportscenter on ESPN...even when games were on. That's a pet peave of mine. I did not place any bets there.

6. The room at first glance was very nicely done. Spacious, clean, simple, and I liked the corner wrap-around windows. After spending 4 days there, I had a few issues. There's no iron or ironing board in the room. I had to call down for one...which took over an hour to arrive...and what I got was surely left over from Lady Luck. I covered the board in towels because I didn't want my clothes touching it. Speaking of towels...there were only two of them in the room. I called down for more as I like to have a hand towel and maybe two to put down as floor mats in the bathroom. There was no "do not disturb" door hanger in the room. Again, I had to call down for it. The non-moveable half glass in the shower made turning it on quite a pain for a short guy like me. I had to get completely in, and get doused by cold water because my arms were not long enough to reach around the glass. Additionally, after studying the carpet, there's a lot of white in it...and that white is already showing stains. If you're gonna do white carpet, you better be Steve Wynn or fancier...because it's gonna look terrible in a year.

7. The wifi was amazing at off times, and horrible at peak times. I went from having a solid 25mb/s down and 33mb/s up to having 350kb/s down and 50kb/s up at various times. I'm guessing that maybe they don't have user throttling setup properly on their router...allowing a few users downloading or uploading large files to take the whole thing to a crawl? If you're gonna force me to pay for wifi, IT BETTER WORK! This alone will keep me from returning.

8. This place was dead. Even on Friday Night (First Friday downtown...EVERYWHERE is packed).

What I'd change:

If I'm the Downtown Grand operators, I'd immediately join the Fremont Street Experience. At the end of every canopy show, the participating properties get mentions and splash ads. That puts your name in front of tens of thousands of folks every night. Note that Main Street Station and California are participating properties, Plaza and Las Vegas Club are not. I'd then work with FSE to get a sign of some sort in the mostly abandoned alleyway leading to Downtown Grand. For most of the trip, there were porta potties and dumpsters stored in that alleyway. I'd then get a "GRAND" sign across Third Street...in between the casino and Pizza Rock. Something that says..."hey, we're open, come on over this way". The only signage they really have are ad banners hanging on the hotel towers...but...as Doug and MichStateMark pointed out, they look so much like ads that your brain just tunes them out. You might think they're just ads for a property somewhere else that somehow ended up on the side of two office building towers. I'm guessing the average-joe-doesn't-read-VT doesn't know this place is even open. Lastly, I'd make it a place for gamblers! All BJ is 3:2, all VP is full pay, and good craps odds, etc. There is a certain set of people will make the trip through dumpster alley just for that. They will tell their friends. They will post on Vegas web boards. People will come just because of the odds. Tourists will see those people headed that way and follow.

Anyways...just some rambly thoughts. Would like to hear what all ya'll have to say.

-chall
@dustinofholland

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 anawas responded on Wednesday, 7th May 2014

These are all great ideas and comments, especially on how to market to the Freemont crowd.

Downtown Grand got an early black mark in my book after I heard about Strip-like (or worse) gambling odds for video poker and blackjack. That's not a good reputation for a new property to foster.

So, if the gambling hasn't drawn folks in, what about the attractions and perks?

Without its signature rooftop pool up and running quite yet, there are few attractions that would draw me to the Grand and away from nostalgic El Cortez and Golden Gate, comparatively swsGolden Nugget's pool complex, or the revitalization of other Freemont properties.

Unless a good deal on a room presents itself or Downtown Grand's outdoor gaming (is that running yet?) is paired with a vibrant street scene, there's not much different about the Grand. Sure, If I were downtown, I'd wander by to scope out all the design elements and check in on an old haunt, the Mob Bar, but I'm not sure I'd linger.

That said, kudos to management on having a cheerful staff. That goes a long way.

 vespajet replied on Thursday, 8th May 2014

Picnic is open, as myself, Donnymac and Mrs. Donnymac listened to the band playing up there on Saturday night while dining al fresco at Triple George.

 anawas replied on Thursday, 8th May 2014

My apologies, I thought Picnic wasn't *quite* open yet. How was it?

 level42 replied on Thursday, 8th May 2014

Picnic is definitely open...my room overlooked it. I didn't see anything special about it...Nice, simple rooftop pool area...DJ during the day that was way too loud. Typically 20-30 people up there every day. They had bands at night, never saw more than 10 people there for the bands.

 vespajet replied on Thursday, 8th May 2014

We didn't go there, you could hear it down at street level.

 kayday replied on Tuesday, 13th May 2014

I was at Picnic this past weekend at a concert and had a good time, despite having no idea who the performer - J Boog - was. Two nice women in the casino gave their tickets to me and my partner so we thought we'd check it out.

I thought it was a good space for a concert, except that DtnGnd really needs to elevate the stage so you can see the performers. Also what's up with having only one bar at a concert venue? Don't they want my money? I had to fight to give it to them.

The concert was mostly reggae music, so perfect for this setting. It was like hanging out at someone's backyard party. Apparently J Boog has a sizable following, so there was a decent crowd and everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves. I'd go back, depending on the music.

 motoman responded on Thursday, 8th May 2014

"Dumpster alley" says it. Wandered over late Fri night and thought, Why would anyone even think to go down this alley? They need some sort of mini-Linq-like attraction to draw energy that way.

Agree w/anawas, I like your ideas. Signage, better odds, all would attract attention. Pizza Rock has become so well known, folks must be aware by now that the Grand is open for business.

But, with the security checkpoint for whatever was happening on Fremont being at the Fremont end of the alley instead of the Ogden end by the Grand, it seemed even more remote. If I was an exec at the Grand I'd be fuming about that, and insist that the gate be up at Ogden just so you'd feel closer to the action.

Sure, that's just perception, but didn't Mr. Schorr's former boss rip up trees from his own golf course and plant them across the street just so his guests wouldn't have to stare at the moonscape formerly the New Frontier? Stuff matters...

 Drake responded on Thursday, 8th May 2014

Thanks for the solid review. I had really been rooting for the Downtown Grand to be an alternative to the Golden Nugget and had planned to give it a try on my visit this summer, but now it looks like I'll be staying at GN as usual.

I can't understand why anyone would open up downtown and instantly earn themselves a reputation for lousy VP tables and gambling odds, especially when they're a good hike from Fremont Street proper as it is. But hey, what do I know.

GN has crappy VP tables and a child-packed pool (which is why I was rooting for the Grand), but at least I can just walk next door to the D or Golden Gate for better games, not shlep a quarter-mile plus.

You're blowing it, DT Grand!