Las Vegas Real Estate
Stiffs & Georges
They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
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They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
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OK, so the big fella wasn't actually there, to the best of my knowledge, but let's not allow pedanticism to get in the way of a Stephen Sondheim reference. The Better Half and I partook of a $119/night room special at the Venetian for a quiet weekend getaway.
Maybe not so "quiet." For one thing, the toilet emitted a deafening din every time it was flushed. Other than that, the decade-old hotel rooms are wearing their age lightly. The interface for the TVs is clunky and slow, unless you count the manually operated set in the bathroom. And it would be nice if one could simply draw the blinds by hand. But it was a spacious, comfortably appointed room that would have provided plenty of lebensraum over an extended sojorn. I've wanted to stay in one ever since I saw a prototype back in early '99.
(Hard to believe, but the concept of a minibar in every hotel room was considered a revolutionary-for-Vegas concept back then. Sheldon Adelson, it bears repeating, has to be counted as one of the two or three present-day figures who have done by far the most to move the "casino-based destination resort" concept forward.)
The room offer came with: comps at Lavo that we were able to parlay into five drinks, plus $50 of match play (which went unused; there's only so much you can cram into a day), etc. No "sweating the comps" there. (BTW, I have to take issue with LVA's characterization of the entrées as "Very Expensive," especially when you take into account that they're meant for sharing.)
The Zefferino brunch buffet is, price-wise, only for those in the mood to splurge, but I have no hesitation in saying it's the best I've sampled in Vegas so far. The erstwhile 40/40 Club is now the Sportsbook Bar & Grill. Former owner Jay-Z may be gone but the service there is as shitty as ever. After being pointedly ignored by the (copious) wait staff, we went over to the little coffeehouse off of Dal Toro Ristorante and were much the better off for it.
The al fresco drinking and dining at Lavo were so pleasant (and the service so exceptional) that two hours passed in what seemed like half the time. The Bloody Mary wasn't quite as good as on a previous visit, where you could eat it with a fork, but it rates up there with the ones at Gallagher's and Memphis Championship BBQ. The S.O. opted for a Saggio, which is too fruity for me, but we both enjoyed at least one Uva Bianco -- a lightly sweet martini with white grapes in lieu of olives.
Be warned, though: You'll be directly across from the ridiculous "Sirens of T.I." show that is too bad to be either Camp or even mere cheese. The dialogue would embarrass an X-rated film, although nobody goes to "Sirens" for its dramaturgic values.
Cap it off with late-night dining at Grand Luxe Café (the best value for the dollar to be had on-property) and we enjoyed the makings of a near-perfect day ... and a crowded one. Maybe the aggressive discounting of room rates was driving Venetian/Palazzo attendance, but the joint was definitely jumping. (Unless you wanted to play Wheel of Fortune; a bank of machines had just been removed from Venetian's floor.) Business wasn't shabby in either casino, but players clearly gravitate to the older gaming floor, judging from the greater density of people on games at the Venetian.
Between the sheer body count and the general high spirits on view, you'd be hard-pressed to know that there's a recession in progress. But be prepared to rack up some serious mileage when you stay there. After traversing the length of the Venetian/Palazzo megalith three or four times (I lost count), the unrelenting monumentality of it does get to be a bit much.
Then again, "a bit much" might be the Sheldon Adelson aesthetic in three little words.
Your father's Plaza.
All right, these are prototypes for made-over rooms that Tamares promises to deliver once it settles on a design it likes. So far, color me unimpressed. The new-fangled room doesn't look like that much of an upgrade on the old-hat one.
Not only is $8 million-$13 million a far cry from the $100 million Tamares bulls ... claimed it was contemplating spending on the Plaza before those El-Ad Properties spoilsports showed up with their Plaza trademark, their big bankroll and their mean old plans to build a Strip megaresort.
It's also well short of what Tamares would need to spend to get to its stated goal of being "just a notch below the Golden Nugget." (Unless it's a massive notch.) Love him or hate him, owner Tilman Fertitta has spared no expense at the Nugget, and it shows. Tamares is clearly not in his league.