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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Looking in on: Gaming

20 June 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Got parking?

While the Cosmopolitan and Palazzo resorts have spent millions to build multilevel underground parking garages, the planned Montreux resort at the New Frontier has enough extra land to park 5,600 cars - 2,850 more spaces than hotel rooms at the property.

And there will be enough space left over for a bus depot.

Going underground would have cost too much time and money, says Paul Steelman, the Las Vegas-based architect designing the Montreux. And let's face it, time is money - especially for tourists who have only three days in which to blow their budget.

Customers decide which casinos to patronize based on traffic and parking more than any other factor, Steelman said.

Steelman said Clark County commissioners are likely to come up with some solutions to the Strip's growing parking problems that will include some kind of satellite parking lots.

"We have a Los Angeles-planned city," he says. "Everybody drives."

• • •

Some companies just don't get it.

Rob Dondero, a member of the R&R Partners team who made Las Vegas one of the top five brands in the world with the "What happens here, stays here" ad campaign, knows what that brand stands for.

And it doesn't stand for families.

But that message apparently hasn't filtered down to the many companies offering family-oriented products. Those companies call R&R Partners for sponsorship deals and other promotional opportunities with the company's client, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Dondero reports.

But the LVCVA doesn't do families. It markets to adults.

"That's the F word for us," he said. "We don't have families in our TV spots. We never have."

The MGM Grand theme park is long gone, and the Treasure Island pirate show has replaced burly men with scantily clad women. In spite of our sky-high "sex sells" quotient, the LVCVA says nearly 4 million of Las Vegas' annual visitors are kids. Many more are parents or relatives of those kids.

But it just wouldn't look right to have an ad for frozen pops on the side of a hotel building, no matter how hot it is.

• • •

Hey kids, too hot for the pool? Let's check out that indoor water park!

That's what they'll be up to soon enough at the Reno Hilton.

Harrah's Entertainment's sale of the property to private company Grand Sierra Resort Corp. is expected to close by July 1 after the Nevada Gaming Commission signs off on the deal later this month.

Next year, owners are expected to break ground on the resort's signature feature - the country's largest climate-controlled water park.

The 150,000-square-foot water park will set a precedent not only in outdoorsy Reno but the rest of the casino and resort industry, predicts Larry Woolf, the casino veteran appointed to run the Grand Sierra Resort.

"It used to be, 'Is there a pool? Is there a health club? Is there a casino?' " Woolf said. "In the future, it's going to be, 'Do they have a water park and is it indoor-outdoor?'

"Everyone has great pools, but those pools don't go year-round."

These water parks wouldn't necessarily be of your Wet 'n' Wild, kiddie variety, Woolf said.

Think indoor wading pools where adults can lounge in wintertime. Going topless would be optional.