Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New tower opens next door

On Sunday the big hotel next door opened its new tower, the first big resort property opened on the Strip since the Wynn in 2005. It is the tallest hotel in Las Vegas at 50 stories, over 3,000 hotel suites (not rooms), over 100,000 sq ft of casino floor, 50 shops, a dozen restaurants, and about the most beautiful d├ęcor of any place I have ever been in. The place is just marvelous; it outclasses the Wynn, Bellagio and everything else here.

Sorry, no outside shots (too cold) but a lot of pictures from the inside. When you first come up the circular drive you enter into the long lobby area. This is what the entrance doors look like from inside. The place looks empty because I took these shots this morning around 7:30, well before most tourists are awake and about.

Walking in, this is the view that you have.

In the center of the lobby is a large sculpture and statue – it’s over fifty feet to the glass dome overhead.

This view is looking west, behind the fountain are large doors leading directly to a balcony over the Strip, with the TI pirate ship right across the street. Walking around the fountain you come to the check in desk. The casino had a ‘soft’ opening, meaning they were ready to take your money, but the official fancy opening is not for three weeks or so, none of the hotel rooms are ready for guests but the casino floor is open for gambling. Yes, those are people behind the counter, so how high would you say the ceiling is?

Turning from the center lobby to the casino brings you to your first view of the casino floor.

Turning around, this is what the central lobby look s like from there.

Lots of room on the floor, big slots and big chairs in front of them to keep you comfortable. It really is a classy casino, with very high ceilings, crystal chandeliers and skylights.

Walking through the casino turning towards the old hotel you come to a large atrium. This is what the casino floor looks like from that angle.

The atrium is full of fountains and flowers, and it too has a glass dome fifty or sixty feet overhead. Three stories of shopping arcade are concentrated here. Going up the escalators you come to the end of a canal, where you can ride a gondola indoors and be serenaded. That's the entrance to the old hotel to the left under the escalator.

Walking behind the escalators into the current property and turning around, this is what the atrium entrance looks like. So if you hit the old place first this is the face of the new from inside.

I continued on down past the auditorium where the men painted blue entertain and through part of the conference center. This is the main hall in the old hotel conference center. Well, I say old hall because it is what, eight years old now?

Continuing downstairs you arrive at the convention center where I work, built in 1990 it is getting a little tired and old, and construction on its replacement should be starting any day now. When that is done this will be torn down and replaced by three new towers and another grand casino.

So when the hotel opens this facility will have (OK, time for the ad men) over 7,000 hotel rooms, making it the largest hotel in the world, over a hundred fifty shops scattered around a canal located on the second floor (inside), several dozen of the finest restaurants anywhere, several hudred thousand square feet of casino floor, and over 2,300,000 square feet of convention and meeting rooms. Probably around 10,000 employees work here, our lowest price room starts at $199, and the average occupancy runs over 96% for the year. I checked on room rates in the new tower, the smallest room is over 700 square feet (well, suite really not a room) and the rent varies from day to day. Most Vegas hotels use a software package that adjusts room rate based on demand. If the place is empty the rooms are cheaper, if there is a big show and high demand the rates are high. Looking over a three month period this spring, the smaller suite was $199 for one day, went up to $249, 299, and as high as $599 during the big jewelry show week. Must be nice to be able to charge based on demand. It would be like a restaurant that had one price for food when the place was empty, and raised the prices on the menu as more people came in, charging three times as much on a Friday when people were lined up to get in.

So, if you are in town stop by for a tour. And do drop some money in the slots or at the tables.

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