Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 2 a.m.
With Resorts World Las Vegas, the Gansevoort and SLS on the way, the Strip is preparing itself for a new wave of hotel-casinos, each promising a unique Las Vegas experience to top their predecessors and draw tourists the world over.
Novelty, however, isn't enough to guarantee that a casino will thrive. Greenspun Media Group staff members from Vegas Magazine, Vegas Inc. and the Las Vegas Sun weigh in on the elements they'd like to see, as journalists and Las Vegas residents, that would make for the perfect casino:
A brand new model
I’d like to see everything turned upside down in a new casino -- place the gaming tables and slot machines at the back and have all the attractions in the front. There would be moving walkways on one side of the entire building with entry and exit points similar to the airport for gates. There is far too much walking from point A to Z in current casinos; it sometimes feels like 20 minutes on a treadmill. The fragrance of night jasmine would take the place of cigarette smoke. Water fountains would be strategically placed throughout the casinos to quench parched throats. The two biggest complaints in casinos: a) signage and b) the long walk from parking to anywhere. There’s a need for good signage so you never have to guess where you want to go; Bagatelle is the only venue where you have parking just 30 steps away from the front door. — Robin Leach, entertainment columnist, Vegas DeLuxe/Las Vegas Sun
I’ve run out of hot new restaurants to take my friends from NYC to, so my perfect hotel-casino would have a few really great eateries that are not from The Big Apple. To get to these hot spots, I’d like to not have to walk 3 miles in my 5-inch heels from self-parking. Please make sure there is either close access from the self-park garage — or please create a valet that doesn’t fill up every day by 4 p.m. Nearby will be a few fun non-nightclub lounges with plenty of seating. The next day, I’d like to relax at the hotel’s gorgeous spa, which of course offers a major locals discount even on weekends, when I can actually go. Shows? Yes! Run the gamut from A-list spectacular to talented, old-fashioned torch singers, and I’ll be there to see a new show every night of the week. — Abby Tegnelia, editor-in-chief, Vegas Magazine
A fabulous headliner — and a top-notch buffet
The perfect Las Vegas casino resort has to have the following two things: 1) A fabulous headliner show. Think Celine, Shania, Elton, "Jersey Boys," "Peepshow" or the 813th Cirque du Soleil extravaganza on the Strip. I hear Britney Spears is available. And 2) a top-notch buffet. Think Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Studio B at The M Resort and the buffets at Wynn and Bellagio. Now I'm hungry. — Don Chareunsy, senior editor for arts & entertainment, Las Vegas Sun
A place for kids
I remember as a kid staying with my parents at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. It offered a kids club that provided children with supervised games, crafts, swimming and the like. Parents may have parked their kids there to get us out of their hair, but all the kids I met were, like me, enjoying our own kid vacation. I think the “perfect” resort hotel on the Strip would offer a similar kids club — and not just a games arcade that grooms children for loyalty club memberships the moment they turn 21. — Tom Gorman, executive editor, Las Vegas Sun
Great customer service
First and foremost, I think customer service is key to a great resort, or any business. If I’m checking into a room and the front desk attendant doesn’t make me feel welcome, I won’t want to return. If I’m playing slots, wanting a drink and the cocktail waitress is ignoring me or making it seem like it’s a burden to get me a drink, I’ll walk out. Bartenders who ignore me? Bye. Also, I love a resort that gives me lots of options for entertainment. I like going in to gamble and drink but staying when I hear a good lounge act. Something affordable yet entertaining. If I get done bowling and want to go see a movie, I would rather be able to stay in one spot rather than go to another resort that has a theater. In all, a great resort is one that makes the customer want to stay instead of hopping over to another venue. — Jamie Gentner, copy editor, Las Vegas Sun
3:2 blackjack payouts
Nearly every casino player will repeat the common refrain that “they need to loosen up their slots.”
While casinos have the ability to adjust their slot machine holds, the one thing that I feel casino operators really stubbed their toes on was the widespread shift of blackjack payouts from 3:2 to 6:5 on natural 21s.
The 3:2 ($3 paid for every $2 wagered on a blackjack) was the norm for years. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was a major shift to 6:5 ($6 paid for every $5 wagered). When you compare apples to apples, if you get a blackjack with a $10 bet on 3:2, you win $15, but if the table is 6:5, you get $12. That one change really irritates players. So I think the perfect casino would have 3:2 blackjack payouts. — Richard N. Velotta, senior business reporter, Las Vegas Sun/Vegas Inc.
What makes the perfect Strip casino resort is an outstanding celebrity chef restaurant that actually delivers when it comes to the food. Las Vegas hasn’t become one of the Top Five culinary destinations in the world for no reason — dining is a huge reason that foodies are drawn here and willing to spend outrageous amounts on dinner. Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace is legendary, as is Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand. Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris and Comme Ca at The Cosmopolitan are both truly divine, and Kerry Simon’s Simon at Palms Place is pretty iconic for Las Vegas because of his brunch and fun desserts. — Emma Trotter, assistant editor, Vegas Magazine
A great music venue
All a casino needs is a venue like The Cosmopolitan’s Book & Stage. They’ve hosted some great acts like Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Beach House, Mariachi El Bronx, all for free to the public and all for two to three consecutive nights. What can be more inviting than that to local music-goers? — Yasmina Chavez, photo coordinator, Las Vegas Sun
A perfect casino to me would be one that is nonsmoking. I don’t like walking out of resorts smelling like cigarette smoke and feeling like I’ve shortened my life somewhat. — Paul Takahashi, education reporter, Las Vegas Sun
The perfect Las Vegas casino resort has to have a user-friendly parking garage. Casinos employ all kinds of tricks to keep people gambling — no windows or clocks, card-shuffling machines to allow more hands to be dealt, buttons on slot machines instead of levers to allow for more turns to be played. Along those lines, the perfect casino would have a parking structure that's less labrynthine than, say, The Venetian; less far-removed from the action than, say, Planet Hollywood; and offers bigger and fewer rear-view mirror-endangering stalls than, say, The Quad. Think Bellagio. — Dave Mondt, copy editor and designer, Las Vegas Sun
Clearer signage, crunchier cannolis
I would like better signage on the casino floor, crunchy cannolis at the buffets and better comedy acts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten lost because signs hanging from the ceiling point vaguely in one direction or another. And, when you follow the signs, it seems like there are rarely any follow-up signs to help get you where you need to go. At buffets, the cannoli shells are usually soft and flavorless, if not downright stale. Also, I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy, but the acts on the Strip are tired and overpriced — $60 for Carrot Top or Andrew Dice Clay, $90 for David Spade or Jay Leno. The resorts need to stop bringing the same acts year after year. You couldn’t pay me to watch most of the comics on the Strip, so there’s no way I’m going to spend $100 for a show. — Eli Segall, business reporter, Las Vegas Sun/Vegas Inc.