Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kirk Kerkorian Retiring from MGM Board

MGM Resorts International announced this week that founder and major shareholder Kirk Kerkorian will be stepping down from the Board of Directors. This is essentially a retirement for the almost 94 year old Kerkorian, although he will still remain with the company in an advisory role.

Kirk Kerkorian's time in Las Vegas dates back to the early 1960's. He is probably most well known in Vegas for opening the International hotel (now Las Vegas Hilton), the original MGM Grand (now Bally's) and the current MGM Grand.

For a good biography of Kirk Kerkorian with lots of cool old pictures, check out In Old Las Vegas.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Re-branded Sahara might open in 2014?

In a recent LA Times article, Sahara owner Sam Nazarian casually stated that he plans on renovating and re-opening the Sahara under his SLS brand in 2014:

"The plan from the beginning was to close the hotel for renovation. He said he was committed to reopening it in 2014 as an SLS Las Vegas, with six restaurants and two nightclubs."

As soon as the article was published people around the internet were saying how this will never happen, and that the hotel ever opening again was nothing more than hot air from Nazarian. I agree that it's a long-shot, but I want to play devil's advocate for a minute and explore reasons why it could happen:

The date of 2014 is ambiguous and gives plenty of time for a possible Las Vegas recovery. If a major turnaround does occur and the North Strip shows some signs of life with Echelon and Fontainebleau waking from the dead, then NewSahara would be able to take advantage of the resurgence.

Building a new hotel these days is expensive. CityCenter cost $8.5 billion. Cosmo was $3.9 billion. Encore was a bargain at $2.3 billion. Finishing Fontainebleu will cost $1.5 billion and it's already 75% done! Renovating is a lot cheaper. Tropicana spent about $160 million on their recent remodeling. Even if Nazarian doubled that figure to transform Sahara, it would still only be a fraction of the price of building a brand new hotel.

While a hotel can stay open while remodeling, the Sahara brand clearly didn't fit in with Nazarian's other upscale clubs and hotels. Closing and allowing some time for a complete reboot might not be a bad idea. Maybe this is what Nazarian had in mind all along when he bought the Sahara in 2007?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Las Vegas Pool Season 2011 Begins

Summer comes early in Las Vegas, as many of the pools around the Strip are open and ready for business.

A few of the more popular day-club type places will be holding grand opening parties this weekend.

Rehab at the Hard Rock:

Wet Republic at MGM Grand featuring Kim Kardashian:

Encore Beach Club featuring Michael Phelps:

The new kid in town this year is the Marquee day club at Cosmopolitan. Victoria's Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio was on hand for the opening last weekend and tweeted this picture of the pool:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Donny and Marie Wrap at Flamingo

There is a new Donny & Marie wrap on the front of Flamingo. Back in December the old Donny & Marie wrap was removed and replaced with an advertisement for H&M. It seems the H&M ad was temporary, most likely to promote their new location at the Forum Shops.

I think the new wrap looks pretty good. I really like the large Flamingo logo. The black and white photo seems to blend into the building well also.

Off The Wall Signs posted some cool time-lapse videos on YouTube showing the making of the sign and the installation: