No Resort Fees Rally Tops List of 10 Regrettable Las Vegas Mistakes

Las Vegas gets a lot right. When it screws up, it does it in a big way.

The anniversary of a “No Resort Fees” rally by Caesars Entertainment reminded us Las Vegas isn’t perfect, so here are some of our favorite all-time Las Vegas fails.

1. No Resort Fees Rally

On July 21, 2011, Caesars Entertainment hosted a massive rally on The Strip to promote the company’s “No Resort Fees” policy. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Not long after, though, economic pressure forced the company to reverse its policy. The awkwardness lingers to this day.

No resort fees rally

The “No Resort Fees” rally featured a bevy of “angry showgirls.” Showgirls always travel in bevies.

2. Harmon Tower

In Las Vegas, it’s go big or go home. Few Las Vegas gaffes were as big as the construction, and deconstruction, of the Harmon tower at CityCenter. The building went up in 2008, and was supposed to be 47 stories tall. Construction defects caused the building to be capped at 26, and eventually the whole building was taken down, floor by agonizing floor, at the cost of millions. See the whole demolition of Harmon Tower, beginning to humiliating end.

Harmon tower

What goes up, in the case of Harmon tower, came right back down.

3. Skyvue Observation Wheel

Las Vegas was built on big dreams, but not all those dreams come true. Construction on the 476-foot Skyvue observation wheel, which was to be located across from Mandalay Bay, began in 2012, but the project was soon abandoned due to a lack of financing. To this day, two concrete towers serve to memorialize this Sin City folly.

SkyVue Ferris wheel

A Las Vegas monument to sad.

4. Lion Entrance at MGM Grand

Las Vegas mistakes are anything but a recent phenomenon. MGM Grand originally welcomed guests through the mouth of a massive lion. Only after the resort had been operating awhile did the owners realize Asian gamblers considered the entrance bad luck. The original lion’s head was removed and replaced with a lion statue.

MGM Grand lion

MGM Grand’s lion stands 45 feet tall and is the biggest bronze statue in the country. It’s also a reminder of one of the biggest Las Vegas facepalms, ever.

5. Imperial Palace Becomes The Quad

Speaking of ticking off Asian gamblers, the law of unintended consequences was in full view with Imperial Palace was renamed The Quad. The name was meant to evoke the fun, youthful spirit of a college social space. “Quad,” though, also represents “four,” considered an unlucky number by Asian gamblers. In 2013, we were the first to share The Quad would be renamed, at substantial cost, to The Linq.

The Quad

The paint barely had time to dry before The Quad was renamed The Linq.

6. Bill’s Nearly Named Gansevoort

When Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon closed for a major renovation, it was supposed to re-open as Gansevoort. The casino owner, Caesars Entertainment, had to make a serious course correction when it was discovered by gaming regulators that a Gansevoort investor was connected to Russian organized crime. The renovated boutique hotel opened as The Cromwell in 2014.

Gansevoort

Gansevoort always sounded like the noise resulting from an intestinal disorder, so it all worked out for the best.

7. Sam Nazarian Abandons Ship

SBE Entertainment CEO Sam Nazarian had dreams of running a Las Vegas casino and seemed ready to do just that when the Sahara transformed into SLS Las Vegas. Nazarian ran into trouble when he applied for a gaming license, though. The Nevada Gaming Control Board dug into Nazarian’s past and what they found wasn’t pretty. Nazarian ended up selling his 10% stake in SLS and bailed on his fleeting plans to become a Las Vegas casino mogul. Side note: Nazarian recently announced SBE would merge with Hakkasan. We’ve heard that deal has fallen apart, so Sam Nazarian’s run of bad luck in Las Vegas appears to be ongoing.

Sam Nazarian

Fail: Gaming license. Win: Supermodel wife.

8. Stardust Imploded for Echelon Place

It’s a chapter in Las Vegas history many would like to forget, but one of our favorite Strip resorts, Stardust, closed on Nov. 1, 2006 and was imploded on Mar. 13, 2007, to make way for a $4 billion resort, Echelon Place. The economic downturn caused that ambitious project to be abandoned. On the bright side, the bones of the Echelon project will serve as the foundation for a new Las Vegas resort, Resorts World. Fingers crossed, anyway.

Resorts World crane

There’s a lone crane at the former Echelon site, so hope reigns.

9. Fontainebleau Resort Las Vegas

The unfinished Fontainebleau Resort is easily the most visible sign of an epic mistake in all of Las Vegas. That’s because while Fontainebleau never opened, it’s still the second tallest structure in Las Vegas. In an all-too-familiar scenario, construction of Fontainebleau was halted in 2009 when the project went into bankruptcy. Rumors persist a new owner has taken interest in Fontainebleau, but we’ll believe it when we see it.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

Las Vegas is always throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. Sometimes, it’s really, really expensive spaghetti.

10. Skill-Based Slot Machines and eSports

The final entry on our list of Las Vegas mistakes remains a work-in-progress. Casinos, in a desperate attempt to remain relevant to younger gamblers (especially those pesky Millennials), are betting on skill-based slot machines and eSports to save the day. This miscalculation has resulted in skill-based slots nobody’s playing and a disaster-in-the-making; Luxor recently announced its closed LAX nightclub will be turned into an eSports arena. Let’s just say we’re going to need more faces and more palms.

eSports Arena Las Vegas

Downtown’s Neonopolis already has an eSports arena, pictured above, and Downtown Grand has an eSports lounge in its former Commissary restaurant space. Unjustified optimism is utterly adorable.

If you love Las Vegas, you also have to embrace it glorious blunders past, present and future.

Have a favorite Las Vegas mistake that didn’t make our list? Please share!

29 thoughts on “No Resort Fees Rally Tops List of 10 Regrettable Las Vegas Mistakes

  1. RustyHammer

    I’m sure your readers will come up with others to add to the list. Your list is full of recent developments. No mistakes were made 15 or 20 years ago? D’ohkay!

    Piggybacking on your top entry, if the “no resort fees” celebration wasn’t enough, your pals at CET doubled down with the infamous announcement that people were demanding resort fees, so they consented. That’s the coup de grâce, and what makes it truly worthy of No. 1 on your list.

    Most regrettable casserole mistake in Vegas.
    Anyone?
    Anyone?

    Reply
    1. RustyHammer

      Had to do a little research… stunned to learn that it has been nearly 20 years since the Lion was removed from the entrance. (Doesn’t seem that long ago.) This blog is full of Vegas history. I stand corrected.

      Only today did I realize the Stardust has been gone 10 years already, and closed longer than that. Seems like only yesterday…

      Reply
      1. Wayne

        Makes you wonder how much revenue/profits Boyd could have had the last ten years had they not done away with the Stardust. They wanted Strip presence on par with the big boys though, and they probably had no way of knowing their timing was the most horrible in history.

        Reply
  2. Manybar Goatfish

    The mono-rail flop was a pretty big in my book. That was a blown opportunity to shock the world. What an embarrassment that silly piece of junk still is today.

    Reply
    1. Mike L

      It should have gone from the airport, along its current path, to the Strat and then ended at Fremont Street. Wasn’t part of the reason that didn’t happen is the taxi cartel didn’t want it?

      Reply
      1. Steven Brown

        The hotels nixed running it down Las Vegas Blvd., citing noise concerns. Had they run it down the middle of the Strip, it would have been a success from the start, as back in the 1970s, there was a proposal for a people mover system that would have run between the airport and Downtown and run down the middle of LVB. http://digital.library.unlv.edu/objects/sky/1560

        Reply
  3. Kevin Rackley

    Not even CET’s biggest mistake. Taking themselves private at the top of the market, loading the balance sheet with debt that could only be absolved with one of the largest, messiest bankruptcies in history…that’s bigger than resort fees.

    Reply
    1. double.down.now

      also not going in to Macau! of course that’s what happens when people that dun’t understand gambling are chosen to be CEO of a gambling company

      Reply
  4. Photoncounter

    Hopefully we’re all still around in 10 years and Scott can redo this list. Methinks the Raiders/Stadium will be on it. Bad location – too close to the airport and the taxpayers are getting screwed once again.

    Reply
  5. Chuck in Richmond

    Should have shown the original Lion Entrance at MGM instead of the corrected one. You were listing mistakes, not corrections.

    Reply
  6. Rob Taylor

    I think the decision to market Las Vegas as a “kid friendly” destination was a gateway mistake to many other mistakes. Any attempt to distract from Las Vegas as a gambling and adult destination paved the way for conflicting revenue streams, poor gambling odds, and touristy trap attractions; all distractions to the spirit that built Las Vegas. To make it worse, Vegas failed on the execution of the decision. Simply throwing up a few amusement park areas wasn’t going to do it. Although I do not agree with bringing kids to Vegas, perhaps Resorts World will be the property that gets it right and provides an answer for those who want to or must bring the kids to Las Vegas.

    Reply
  7. 60gregma .

    For me mistake 1 was allowing MGM and CET to control so many proprieties in the same market. The lack of real competition has ruined the LV strip experience. Fees everywhere, $20 cocktails and $60 buffets are all BS. This is why I am a downtowner. When downtown catches up, (and they will) I will stay home.

    Reply
    1. Manybar Goatfish

      So true. $35 resort fees are relatively painless when compared to $20 cocktails and $60 buffets. And, as you also point out, market concentration is a big part of the problem. All good points. Except for sports betting, there is no purpose in any of it for me. I can travel to, eat, and drink in a tropical paradise for a lot less $$. Or, I can stay home. My cooking isn’t all that bad, and I shake a pretty decent martini.

      Reply
      1. Photoncounter

        When you shake a martini little bits of ice break off and it dilutes the drink. Doesn’t happen when you stir it. Fruity drinks get shaken. I prefer my martinis stirred.

        Either way paying $15-$20 a cocktail, paying $14 a night to park, paying $303 a night for a small room and paying ridiculous taxes is just… normal. $1900 hotel bill at an airport hotel in Seattle this week! I got the parking comped. Vegas hotels should be honest and just add in their ridiculous resort fees and have one ridiculous room rate like everywhere else. Only because they have a monopoly and an addicted mass of sheeple can they get away with it.

        Reply
        1. Manybar Goatfish

          I don’t worry about broken bits of ice diluting my martini. What I hate are the actual ice cubes that get stuck in my throat when I down the martini as a shot–straight from the shaker tumbler–ice and all. When it comes to martinis, dramatic effect is key.

          Reply
          1. Photoncounter

            Excellent counterpoint! I guess if you are drinking Popov rather than Belvedere tossing it back quickly is better. /sarc

          2. Manybar Goatfish

            Since you put it that way, I’m going to quit rotgut martinis altogether and transition straight into recreational marijuana. Making sober wagering decisions, for a change, could turn into a real windfall for me. I’m also done with french fries, and I’m going to sign up for yoga class. All thanks to you.

          3. Manybar Goatfish

            That remains to be seen. Teams of stoned engineers are at the drawing board trying to figure out if Tipsy Robot can open a bag of chips.

        2. Rooster

          Dude. Just stop.

          Paying $300/night for a hotel room is not f’ing “normal”, even in Vegas.

          That option is available to you if you want it, but the average rate for a hotel room in the U.S. is NOT $300/night.

          Reply
          1. Photoncounter

            Try having to stay around a major airport. Or D.C. I just paid over $400 a night for the Residence Inn National Harbor, nothing special, regular room. The cheaper hotels at many locations lack security and I travel with very expensive test/surveillance equipment. Can’t have that stolen so Motel 6’s are out. Maids tell their boyfriends what they see and when you’re out stuff goes missing. Happened to a colleague last year. Equipment only partially recovered.

            BTW, I never said the average rate was $300, just complained that for prices like that those hotels don’t add on resort fees like Vegas does. The just are honest about their ridiculous prices.

          2. Manybar Goatfish

            Why are you lugging stuff around? Hire someone to do the grunt work. Delegate, bro.

  8. Adam

    The Stardust looms pretty big here. Boyd really should have tried to develop the back lot first as a just in case. However, props to Boyd for bouncing early and not going full FB or Harmon. And they don’t charge resort fees so they will always be cool in my book.

    Reply
  9. William Wingo

    Somewhere I heard of a proposal to string a cable between the two Skyvue wheel uprights and make it into the “World’s Shortest Zip Line.”

    Should work just about as well as most of the other items on the list….

    Reply
  10. Doug Bergman

    At risk of being banned by the blogger, I will add to the list the Fremont Street video canopy. I think the pedestrian mall was a great idea, but I never liked the canopy above. I think it really destroyed the beauty and art of the classic neon signs of Fremont Street, which can now only really be enjoyed in old photos, even though they are still there.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben

      Ha, no banning for misguided opinions. Ark. The canopy saved a dying downtown. The neon signs were, and are, charming, but the vast majority of people who visit downtown go there because of the light shows. Downtown would’ve continued its downward spiral, and it would have been gross.

      Reply

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