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Chris Jones

A Pool and His Money

10 July 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- At first glance, the razor-thin bikini strings that strained to hold things together seemed to be the only things working hard around the Palms' new pools on Friday afternoon.

And no one loved that illusion more than George Maloof, who's again quietly at work raking in cash while others carelessly frolic around him.

The new $40 million pool area is the latest adult attraction at the Palms, the off-Strip resort Maloof's family opened 4 1/2 years ago on West Flamingo Road near Valley View Boulevard.

Its opening followed the recent unveiling of other upscale amenities inside the resort's $650 million Fantasy Tower expansion, including specialized suites featuring a private basketball court and an indoor bowling lane.

"The traditional Las Vegas pool has acres and acres of palm trees around it, but we wanted to create something that's like no other experience in town," Maloof said from a poolside cabana. "It's its own scene."

Three pools now sit on two acres between the Palms' two hotel towers.

The area includes 24 cabanas equipped with phones, televisions and refrigerators; three bars; a stage; and outdoor gaming.

Three bungalows -- which can be used separately or together as a poolside suite -- will soon offer second-floor decks, multiple beds and an indoor/outdoor fireplace.

An elevated patio area atop a center bar lets patrons oversee the action below. The upper deck can be cordoned off for VIP guests who want to be seen by the public but not interact with it.

The pool has yet to host its first A-list celebrity, but MTV personality Jaime Kennedy hosted a party Friday.

It won't be long before members of Hollywood's elite show up to soak some rays, however.

"We just opened today (Friday). But this thing, it's always ringing," Maloof said of his ever-present cell phone.

Stephanie Jordan, a singer in Luxor's "Fantasy" show, spent Friday afternoon lounging in the water alongside several castmates. The Las Vegas native said the Palms' pool marks the latest step in this city's movement away from the pedestrian pools of yesteryear.

"They're more like clubs now than a big cement pond," Jordan said. "It's become more like a party than a place where you get sun when it's 120 degrees."

Monet Costea, who dances in "Fantasy," liked the sophisticated atmosphere at the Palms pool, including the cabanas, couches and live disc jockeys.

"It's a little bit classier than some of the pool parties I've gone to," said Costea, 25. "The Palms is geared toward adults, so you don't see a lot of kids running around everywhere."

The pool renovation and enlargement was needed to accommodate guests staying in the Fantasy Tower, which added 347 rooms and suites to the Palms' first 455-room tower.

Locals can use the pool on Friday afternoons. Men must pay an admission fee ,while women get in free. Palms hotel guests get in free.

Maloof said the pool wasn't meant to be a moneymaker; it's there to complement the Palms' hotel, casino, clubs, bars and restaurants.

"Our identity has always been about nightlife, parties and having fun," Maloof said. "This is another extension of that."

Up next is the Playboy Club, a private nightclub/gaming area scheduled to open atop the Fantasy Tower in late September.

A 2,500-seat concert venue will open before the National Basketball Association All-Star game hits town in February, with the high-rise condominium project Palms Place scheduled to open in December 2007.