New Las Vegas Hotels Continue to Move Away From What Makes City Unique

by John Mehaffey on March 20, 2013

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    The former location of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall will become the site of another hotel with no real theme.  Caesars Entertainment announced this week that the former Barbary Coast property that later carried the namesake of their company founder will become a boutique hotel known as Gansevoort Las Vegas.  The same group operates a Gansevoort property on Park Avenue in New York City.

    The old Sahara property on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip will become SLS Las Vegas in 2014.  The SLS brand is owned by SBE, which stands for SamyBoy Entertainment, after the founder Sam Nazarian.  The SLS brand stands for style, luxury and service.

    SLS owns properties in Los Angeles and Miami.  An SLS branded hotel will open on Park Avenue in New York City this month.

    I commend SBE for investing at least $415 million in new construction on the Las Vegas market.  The city certainly needs the construction jobs this investment will bring, though I have already questioned how successful it will be.

    Both of these construction projects share the same issue.  Neither will provide a unique property to the Las Vegas Strip market.  Both properties will be boutique hotels that appear to be similar to existing resort properties in other US cities.

    The Las Vegas boom can be attributed to the unique properties that were constructed on the Strip.  Tourists were offered unique destinations that carried themes that were unlike any other place in the world.  It all started with the Mirage, but Excalibur, New York New York, Luxor, Paris, Bellagio and Venetian, among others, offer Las Vegas visitors an experience that is something they cannot find in other cities.  Older properties like Caesars Palace and Circus Circus also have their own unique themes.

    The same thing cannot be said about proposed properties, such as SLS Las Vegas and Gansevoort Las Vegas.  These resorts will resemble sister properties in other cities.  It appears that they will simply be clones of these properties.

    Las Vegas construction projects started moving away from themes towards the end of the boom.  CityCenter, Cosmopolitan and some unfinished projects looked more like suburban Atlanta office buildings and less like the unique buildings that tourists come to Las Vegas to see.

    Genting Understands This Point

    Genting’s Resorts World Las Vegas is taking a chance in a market that has mostly abandoned themes.  Instead of building just another office park with craps tables and a sports book, Genting will build one of the most unique properties in the history of Las Vegas.  Genting will develop the property that many will always describe as Stardust.  The resort will be just north of Fashion Show Mall and across from Encore.  The frontage on Las Vegas Boulevard will include a Great Wall of China replica.  In my opinion, this unique property is just what Las Vegas tourism needs.

    Low Rollers Getting Priced Out of the Las Vegas Strip

    Imperial Palace was a popular option for Las Vegas visitors that wanted an inexpensive hotel room near the center of the Strip.  Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall was another choice.  Both of these options are gone, as is O’Sheas, a cheap place to eat and drink.  Caesars Entertainment closed all three of these properties.  Imperial Palace has reemerged as The Quad.  The others remain closed and are the sites of major construction projects.

    Fewer and fewer properties are available to budget minded tourists on the Strip.  Most of these players will have to find a room downtown or on the far north end of the Strip.  Over the past decade, Sahara, Westward Ho, Stardust, Imperial Palace, Barbary Coast/Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and New Frontier have all closed.  There are still some affordable hotels, but those choices are dwindling.  This could be troubling for the Las Vegas Strip if the US goes through another recession.

     

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