It seems like just last year we were celebrating the return of Elvis to Las Vegas and back in the building he called home for the final years of his life. Oh, wait. It was just last year. Actually, it was last May. Now we hear what was supposed to be a 10-year love affair between the Westgate Resort and Elvis Presley Enterprises went sour after only 10 months and Elvis exited the building late in February. Shutting ‘Graceland Presents: Elvis the Exhibition‘
(Read: Elvis is Back in the Building)
The love affair went sour fast according to new reports and legal papers filed between the entities. Claims of money owned, contract obligations, etc… Now word is that the planned name change for Riviera Blvd to Elvis Presley Way is also being nixed.
Personally, I thought it didn’t have much of a chance for success since almost day one. The opening was great and showed promise, but fell flat quickly thereafter. The idea included a rotating “Elvis” tribute artist to perform in the renamed Elvis Presley theater monthly. That lasted about one month. The Westgate was in the middle of a remodel and rebranding, and the new owners thought this would be one of a long line of new entertainment announcements that would generate the much-needed traffic to the off-strip property.
The biggest problem is location. The Westgate/LVH/Hilton is not a “Destination” property. People don’t purposely come to Las Vegas to go to the Westgate for entertainment or museums. They stay at the Westgate because they either now own a timeshare there or are working at a convention at the neighboring Las Vegas Convention Center. It has always been a hub for the conventioneers more than a place for tourists. To get there from the Strip is either a long walk or an expensive cab ride, monorail ride.
Add to that, David Siegel, the owner of the Westgate was very hands-on in the beginning and especially with the Elvis project. Then he and his wife suffered a personal loss of their daughter to a prescription drug overdose. He then turned almost complete control of the property over to the same people who drove the final nails into the Riviera Casino so he could focus on creating a foundation to raise awareness to the problem of prescription drug overdose/addiction. So the focus and the drive to make this a success was no longer there. The current management team doesn’t have a track record for making positive or profitable changes to an aging property.
Charging for Parking
Now comes what may be the final nail in the Westgate coffin. Paid Parking. Yap. before MGM can get their greedy hands on more of your tourist dollars, the Westgate has already installed parking arms and pay kiosks. $10 to park and to enjoy all that the Westgate offers. More during major conventions…
In their defense, The Westgate has revamped their sportsbook and is home to two very worthy shows: The Prince Tribute “Purple Reign” and the second hottest Topless Revue in Las Vegas (the hottest is Fantasy) “Sexxy“. But I am one of those that just refuses to pay for self-parking in Las Vegas.