Monday, Jan. 21, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Resort openings are among my favorite Las Vegas business news events, and I was excited to check out the Palazzo Las Vegas’ grand opening last week.
The official debut of the $1.9 billion hotel and casino was the first resort premiere since Red Rock opened in 2006 and the first on the Strip since Wynn Las Vegas opened in 2005.
I visited the Palazzo a couple of times before last weekend’s official opening, and, for the most part, was impressed.
Among the things I really liked were:
• The underground parking garage. I parked on the second level beneath the surface and rode an escalator two levels up to the middle of the casino floor. The driving lanes are wide and the garage signs are easy to follow.
• The Strip location. The property is smack-dab in the center of what is now the most spectacular turf on the Strip. Views are fantastic, as is the Palazzo’s marquee.
• Entrances and exits for pedestrians and cars. For cars, taxis and limos on Las Vegas Boulevard, the double-decked porte cochere is great, and locals and conventiongoers will appreciate the Sands Avenue entrance to the underground parking garage.
• Barneys. The New York-based fashion retailer should be a smashing success and a great asset to the property.
• A great cocktail lounge near the “Jersey Boys” theater. On Sunday night there was a fantastic blues band playing in the intimate venue, which has a very cool look.
I have yet to see Palazzo’s suites or dine in its restaurants, but they look very promising.
Almost all properties have glitches when they open, and I’ve noticed a couple of tiny ones at Palazzo.
Next to the casino cashier, cocktail servers enter the casino from an area with plainly visible employee lockers.
And someone must have forgotten to order enough custom door handles. When I visited Sunday the doors to and from the lower porte cochere level each had only one of the custom handles instead of the customary pair. One of each pair of doors sported a very cheap-looking metal handle — a temporary stand-in, I’m sure, as the top-level doors had the nice handles on each door, inside and out.
Overall, I think Las Vegas Sands executives should be proud of the Palazzo.
When combined with Venetian and the Sands Expo Center, the Palazzo is part of what has undoubtedly become an even more attractive convention site, and surely the best two-resort combination in the city (among properties joined to a neighbor under one roof), topping Mandalay Bay and the Luxor.
I think it would be hard to argue that any other pair of neighboring sister properties can top the Palazzo and the Venetian in terms of entertainment (“Jersey Boys,” “Phantom” and “Blue Man Group”), retail and dining options.
Where the Palazzo will end up in the city’s resort pecking order remains to be seen, but my bet is that, when average daily room rates and cash flow per hotel room are tabulated, it will slot among the top three in the city.