In our cover story back in March, author Jeff Hwang made the case that the Las Vegas Strip has a value problem—that high rates and fees are squeezing the mid-range gambler out of the Strip properties.
For the record, I’m one of those mid-range gamblers. I remember when properties like the Riviera and the Westward Ho would compete for guys like me with free rooms, full-pay video poker, liberal table odds, cheap prime rib and free buffets that actually had fairly good food.
Man, I loved the Westward Ho. I hit a progressive royal flush there once, and I was supposed to get a Westward Ho leather jacket in their royal flush promotion. Sadly, they had run out of jackets. Before they could get more, they ran out of Westward Ho. The place closed a couple of weeks later.
I really loved those old Strip properties. I even used to gamble at the Landmark, before it was destroyed by a space laser in Mars Attacks! (Coolest-ever use of footage from a casino implosion.)
I’d like to think some casino operator will eventually pick up the value ball on the Strip. The convention authority has put up a big chunk of the former Riviera land for sale. Maybe I’ll buy it and bring back the Riv just like it was. I’ll even put in musty carpets for authenticity.
Hey, maybe the place wasn’t real swanky near the end, but they still had the best coffee shop in town, hands down. Some of these new places don’t even have a coffee shop, which, to my mind, disqualifies a place from being a real casino.
Sadly, it looks like things are going the other direction on and around the Strip. Last month, both the Palms and the Venetian announced outrageous suite packages tailored for guests of substantial means (a.k.a., “not me”).
The Palms created a suite package to celebrate the opening of its posh Kaos nightclub/day club. It’s three nights in an Empathy Suite, complete with butlers in white gloves pouring “rare format” bottles of Dom Perignon and Ace of Spades champagne from a private “champagne vault.” (I have one of those. It’s out in back of my tool shed.)
Or if you prefer, you can just spend all day and night at the Kaos club, which features a 60-foot bronze sculpture of a demon in the center of a lounge that is larger than the entire Westward Ho was.
The Palms “Kaos Theory” package costs $1 million. But that’s for all three nights, so it’s quite the bargain.
As is the Venetian’s “Want The World” package. That’s a four-night stay in a suite with a lot more living space than my house. (And my yard, sidewalk and half the street.)
They’ll fly you in via private jet, pick you up in a Mercedes Maybach and whisk you to the resort. A private butler will meet you at the suite, says the casino’s website, “to serve you a glass of champagne from a red, crystal-encrusted magnum bottle of Moët.”
I don’t know about you, but if a butler tries to pour me champagne from a bottle that isn’t encrusted with crystal, I’m out of there. (I also demand that my Iron City Beer be poured from an authentic Ming Dynasty vase.)
“After a diamond massage,” the website continues, “slip into a pair of monogrammed red silk pajamas and enjoy an in-room, four-course dinner,” topped off with “gold-dusted chicken n’ waffles and a red velvet cake milkshake adorned with a 5.5-carat diamond bracelet.”
What, no buffet? Can you at least add bread pudding? If I’m in my silk PJs, I’ve got to have bread pudding.
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I don’t really want to be massaged with diamonds. It just doesn’t sound comfortable. And I definitely don’t want anybody sprinkling gold dust on my chicken n’ waffles.
Come to think of it, I don’t want chicken “n’” my waffles at all. Whatever happened to maple syrup?
Want The World is an even bigger bargain than Kaos Theory: four nights, not three, for a mere $450,000. And they fly and drive you there. Heck, the Palms expects me to find my own transportation, like some loser.
In other news this month, it was announced that Donnie and Marie Osmond will end their 11-year run at the Flamingo Las Vegas in November. How sad. They’re my favorite group, next to Iron Maiden. (I also like the Statler Brothers, and Municipal Waste.)
In case anyone from Genting, the operator that ultimately bought the Westward Ho land from Boyd Gaming, is reading this… I still want that damn leather jacket.
I hit the progressive royal in 2005! Pay up!