Tuesday, January 18, 2005

On the Strip: Fun (and funny) stuff going on in Vegas. First, I may have mentioned before that Hooters is opening a theme hotel in the location of the old, and not likely to be missed, San Remo. It makes me giggle every time I think of it. Imagine the housekeeping uniforms.

Second, it's interesting to see that Planet Hollywood is taking over the Aladdin hotel and remaking it in its image. It's a joint venture with Sheraton, so at least they'll have some folks around who know the hotel biz. (Didn’t Planet Hollywood go bankrupt a couple of years ago?) No doubt this has potential to be a hit in the Hard Rock vein. I'd give it a try.

Third, the most hyped and anticipated property on in the history of the strip, Wynn Las Vegas, is scheduled to open in May and is already 100% booked for a full year. Wynn is the brainchild of Steve Wynn, who years ago, ushered out the Rat Pack and ushered in the new mega-resort Vegas with the opening of the Mirage, then set the bar higher with the opening of the Bellagio, both of which now belong to the MGM Group. The genius of Wynn Las Vegas is the attached golf course, the only one on the strip, thus making it attractive to both inveterate gamblers and inveterate golfers. Brilliant. I don’t golf, but I would give the tip of my left pinkie to be staying there for the opening.

Speaking of MGM, their latest plan for one-ups-manship is Project City Center which "will include the development of 18 million square feet of space consisting of a 4,000-room hotel/casino, three 400-room boutique hotels to be operated by world-famous hoteliers not currently represented in Las Vegas, approximately 550,000 square feet of retail shops, dining and entertainment venues, and 1,650 units of luxury condominium, hotel/condominium and private residence clubs." Sheesh.

In a weird way, the most interesting development is that Vivid Entertainment is opening a nightclub in the Venetian. You probably don’t know this, and don’t ask how I know, but Vivid Entertainment is one of the largest purveyors of pornography in the world. What's strange about this is that The Venetian is really one of the classiest places in Vegas. It's a little hokey with the gondoliers and such, but it's more over to the Disney side of the spectrum -- no topless revues, relatively modest costumes of the waitresses. The Venetian is where you find the Guggenheim, and Canyon Ranch for Pete's sake. I'm going to be interested to see if this is an attempt by the Venetian to spice things up, or an attempt by the porn merchants to go legit. (Let's face it, had they opened their club in Hooter's Hotel they would get no legitimacy points.)

It's estimated that 5000 to 6000 people move the Las Vegas every month. That's like the entire population of my hometown of Dexter. Every month! What an amazing, fascinating place.