Last Friday, I was invited to see Resorts World Preview Center. That’s the new $4 billion resort being built where the old Stardust used to sit. They are putting the finishing touches on the resort with plans to open “Later this summer”.
They invited me down to take a look at what the resort will be offering its guests when it opens. And from what I saw there, added to what I already knew about this property, it bolstered my claims that when this resort opens, it will be a massive game-changer. How massive? I believe that Resorts World will do to Las Vegas what the Mirage Resort did to Las Vegas when it opened in 1989.
The Mirage to Resorts World?
I know that is a very huge claim considering all the fancy resorts that have opened on the Strip in the last thirty years. But think about it. Steve Wynn was the man and the visionary behind the Mirage. When the Mirage opened, it instantly became the largest hotel in the world with 3,044 rooms. Upsetting the creator of the original Las Vegas mega-resort trend, Kirk Kerkorian and his 2,200 room MGM Grand (now Bally’s).
As I have learned from interviews and private chats with some of the movers and shakers of that era, Kirk was the driving force of Las Vegas and you did not want to do anything that may not please Mr. Kirkorian. However, by this time, the feud between Steve Wynn and Kirk Kerkorian was anything but private and anything Steve could to piss the old man off, He did….
The feud, (and it was a feud. The word rivalry is too kind of a word for what was going on between these two men) between Steve Wynn and Kirk Kerkorian was started back in the 1960s and the building of Caesars Palace. It was instigated by the late billionaire Howard Hughes and it continued until Kirk’s death in 2015!
Back to the story!
Not only did the Mirage top the charts in rooms but in other features as well. It broke all the rules of what made a Vegas resort a Vegas resort. First, it hid the casino behind trees and rocks. Where normally the casino was front and center. With the Mirage, not only was the casino hid, but you could actually avoid most of the gaming area and head straight to the large and upscale shopping and dining area on the way to your hotel room.
Then the Mirage took entertainment to the next level by making two german magicians and their white tigers the resident headliners with their own custom-built theater. Normally it would be a famous singer or musical group that was the resident headliner and the magicians were reserved for the warm-up act. And never in a “custom-built” showroom. Here, the showroom was over the top in all ways including the price.
Steve Wynn also knew that gaming was not going to continue to be the driving force of the las vegas resorts. Between the memories of his father’s death and his $350,000 in gambling debts to the known fact that gaming was beginning to open up elsewhere in the country and that would lead to a further decline in Vegas gaming tourism.
Wynn resorts would be friendly and open to non-gamblers as well. Including a world-class golf course that was off-limits to anyone NOT staying at a Wynn property. This little gem hurt the international business guests of Caesars Palace, amongst other properties. All of whom claimed that the Mirage was too large, too over the top, and would cause the Mirage to go bankrupt and that would cause a couple of the other Las Vegas resorts to go bankrupt as well.
After the Mirage opened, it sent shockwaves through the tourism world. It succeeded beyond anyone’s dreams as well as set the new standard for future projects and properties. After the Mirage opened and if you owned a resort on the Strip and wanted to stay relevant, you needed to make some serious upgrades to your resort and make them quickly. (Think; Tropicana!)
After the Mirage opened and you had plans to build on the Strip, you knew that whatever you planned to build and to offer the Vegas tourist, it would be compared to what the Mirage was already offering.
Making the Mirage Connection
Ok, twelve hundred words later, I think I need to get to the point of what makes the opening of Resorts World tie into the opening of the Mirage.
Now, before I get into the details, I do have to say, that with the Covid related closures and the technology the resorts needed to offer in order to safely open up, the resorts have upgraded and added to their offerings. They learned what the customer wants and what level of personal service vs technology-provided services they will accept.
So the resorts today, have a lot of it already installed. However, much of it is not installed on a permanent basis and their commitment to it all is superficial at best. None of them have it to the level of Resorts World who has been able to bake it all into the structures as they enclosed it.
As well, seeing that a majority of the resorts on the Strip are owned by one of two mega-corporations who care more about stockholder returns than customer comforts, I doubt they will feel the need to make any of the necessary changes to stay relevant until they see the hit to their bottom line. Another win for the Resorts World property!
Ownership of the Market
At the time of the opening of the Mirage, we still had several real owners on the Strip who saw the writing on the walls and made immediate adjustments. We don’t have much of that style of ownership anymore.
Resorts World is a one-owner, one Las Vegas property resort. The latest brainchild of Malaysia-based parent company Genting Berhad. This is a worldwide brand that has its finger on the pulse of the high-end, international tourism market.
Whereas MGM and Caesars had to learn about this market from trial and error (and they still need help), Genting already knows what high level of service these tourists want and what they will expect. Building that into the property will also benefit the average American tourist not used to this level of service and sophistication in a standard Las Vegas resort.
Resorts World not only went with Hilton as their partner in lodging, but they also made the entire resort a Hilton brand. Much like when Kirk sold the International and it became a Hilton brand with Elvis Presley as their headliner. Hilton corporation has a very loyal fan base in the world of international travelers and businessmen. They are the “American Express” of hospitality and in the designing of all three Hilton brands at Resorts World, you can tell they are focusing on the well-traveled consumer for their clientele.
I say “well-traveled” to mean they seem to cater to people who travel for a living and who appreciate the little touches that make our stress-filled world a little easier and more relaxing. Things that many of the other chains lost in the usual budget cuts.
Three Hilton Brands
The main tower is pure Hilton. As in Hilton International. The brand that most people are aware of. The second is the mid-level, luxury brand, Hilton Conrad. Named after the brand’s founder. Conrad Hilton. This is a little more upscale, a little more sophisticated than the standard Hilton. Finally, there is their newest and most exclusive Hilton brand, the LXR brand and here it is named the Crawford. Think of a Four Season Hotel on steroids. This will be the eighth such resort in all the world. It will be THAT exclusive.
Catching the Customer at the Start
From what I have been told in the past and what was maybe not well explained to me on my visit because it was not able to be shown in this setting, was that the guest will be able to see what rooms they are renting. As in being able to see the view from the room as well as the room itself, before they book it! Don’t like the view? Want a better view? Change floors!
When you arrive here in Las Vegas, hit the App, let it know you are here and the fun really starts. Your smartphone becomes your key. From that point on, no matter what you do, you do not have to interact with a live human being unless you really want to.
From checking in at the hotel to getting your place at your desired restaurant and having the meal ready to be served just as you are being seated. To get the best daybed at the pool of your choice. It’s all done with the App. It will even tell you how long to wait before you need to leave your room to get to wherever it is that your reservation is.
Stepping away from the fact that each of the three Hilton brands will have their own dedicated entrance, Resorts World has looked at the guest to see what they needed. Each of the rooms, even the basic, standard Hilton guest room is filled with the little things that others see as “perks”.
Plenty of wall outlets and USB ports where you need them. Even a wall charging port dedicated to the new iPhone 12! I won’t even have to unpack my electronics goodie bag! Each room does have the essential, well-stocked, and somewhat expensive mini-fridge, but each room will also be equipped with an empty mini-fridge for the guest to use for their own supplies! (take that, Virgin Resort!).
For me, a fan of the shower, and being six foot two on a good day, I always hated being on my long tours with multiple hotel stays because the standard hotel room shower was built for a twelve-year-old skinny person with no hair. Resorts World apparently heard my pleas. They give us a very well-designed, tall shower stall with plenty of ways to get wet, washed, and pampered.
Pools and Party Pools
One of the biggest money-makers for a modern Las Vegas Resort is the day club pool party. Large crowds of younger people packed into a small wet area, drinking $50 bottles or more of cheap booze while listening to some famous DJ play with his oversized iPod.
The day clubs are also one of the biggest headaches for a modern resort because of the complaints from the other guests who just want to sit by a nice pool, catch some Vegas desert sun rays and have a conversation with their mate on the lounge chair next to them or while floating in the pool. But they can’t because of the noise from the dayclub next door.
Here you have a variety of pools and spas above the ballrooms offering some great views of the Vegas Strip. The party pools are “over there”. Like almost in another zip code. Next to where some of the hottest nightclubs and party bars in the world will be located. Again, you can check it all from your app.
Baked in Goodness
Finally, all the baked-in goodness that the others are still trying to figure out. LED lighting throughout that can be easily programmed to change by the day, the mood, or the event. Wifi infrastructure to handle all the power that is in the resort’s App and not make it so intrusive. Las Vegas is all about creating a mirage where you can escape reality for a few days. We know you hate to see WiFi towers or cables in public areas.
For meetings and conventions, they are supposed to be well connected. So even a one or two-person team can book a small meeting room and connect easily with their clients in Tokyo or wherever to do business. They can also carry that meeting over to a quiet area in the pool area or the open courtyard without a loss of signal and see sunshine while not dealing with the cold and ice back home in Minnesota. (This was not part of the Preview Center, it is from other documents I have read about the convention and meeting side of the resort)
The virtual linkups for large events can be both real-time and virtual. Again, it’s already built into the structures as well as the supporting Apps you are already using while staying at Resorts World property.
Ok, maybe not a pioneer. But Resorts World Las Vegas will be one of the very first stops outside the convention center for the Elon Musk Boring Company underground transportation system. Yes, a mouthful to say. Note: They really need to get a better name for this project!!
Not only will this be one of the first and direct stops, but this section of the tube will also be the connecting point for the tube to shoot you downtown. A two-minute ride from the Convention center to the hotel lobby then a quick walk to the elevator to your room, not needing to wander thru a noisy casino?? After an eighteen-hour day on your feet? Oh Hell Yes, where do I register??
Did I cover enough? There are a lot more little things that make this project an eye-opener and a Las Vegas game-changer. But I will stop it here…
I know that some of you will point out that some of this may already be “accessible” in “this resort” or “that resort”. That is where the comparison to the Mirage comes in. When the Mirage opened up, most resorts already had what the Mirage was offering. But like Resorts World, what others are offering is not to the level of sophistication and support as to what will be offered when Resorts World goes live.
Let me make another comparison. When the Mirage opened up, Wayne Newton was the biggest name on the Strip and I think he was performing at the Frontier. The Frontier had a nice, yet standard showroom. It wasn’t dedicated to the performer and it wasn’t built to the performer’s needs. One seat gave you almost the same view as the next one. With a little different price based only on how close to the stage your seat was.
While the showroom at the Mirage was built to specifications for the resident performer and it was also built to give the audience a variety of options (and prices) to determine how you wanted to experience the show. Notice the word “experience”. Going to Wayne newton in the standard Las Vegas theatre was like going to a show to see Wayne Newton in a resort showroom. You told your friends back home that you got to see Wayne Newton. Yea!!
However, going to see the magic show at the Mirage was an “Experience” you raved about for months after leaving Las Vegas and you were already planning your next trip out to Vegas to see it again.
When the Mirage opened up, a lot of resorts needed to make massive upgrades to keep up with the new kid on the block or risk losing a ton of business. They built new showrooms, gave guests more options in entertainment, and reconfigured or built new towers to offer more amenities in order to be “like the Mirage”.
So what Resorts World is offering is the next generation of Las Vegas Resorts and like the Mirage, already has the new stuff built into the structures. Current resorts will need to quickly work to remodel, build on or reconfigure what they already offer to be more “Like Resorts World”. Those that don’t and want to stay as they are? They just need to look down the Strip to see the Tropicana and wonder if they will meet the same fate as that property has.
Costing $4 billion to build. It will have 3,500 rooms and suites and stands 57 stories tall. It will open later this summer.