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The Bones of Bally's

Last edit: chesteronriver on Wednesday, 3rd February 2016 8:14 am
Last response by KickedBoar591 15th February 10:25pm

Spent two nights at Bally's the last weekend of January. It was a fun, relaxing trip with friends from high school and some spouses.......we graduated nearly 40 years ago and these trips to Vegas are as one of the spouses calls it, "regression weekends".

This is not so much a trip report, as it is a "bigger picture" question. I will make a few quick observations about the weekend though. Bally's Hotel staff were very friendly and accomodating throughout. I had one room issue that they quickly solved. I was given a good rate on a bottom of the barrel room in the Indigo Tower classic non-smoking (5th floor-lowest of the room floors I think and probably one of the pet-stay floors). When I entered the room, I was greeted with the smell of a mix of harsh cleaning fluids and remnants of some type of smoke and visually the first thing I noticed was the really, really bad carpet.....dirty beyond being able to be cleaned and reminded me of the carpet in garage apartment that I spent a semester in during college). I checked out the view and it was to the north of the High Roller and VePal as well as the monorail track making it's turn towards the back of Bally's. Also had a disturbing view of the roof of the strip mall that houses Stage Door Casino and Battista's Hole in the Wall Restaurant.......I know roofs of strips malls are not supposed to be scenic, but this one looks so bad I think it is keeping us safe from space aliens. When they see that, they just throw the ship into hyper-reverse. I went in to peruse the bath and immediately noticed some debris in the sink......it turned out to be some kind of ashes. The non-smoking-room was cleaned, beds made, fresh towels in the bath but ashes in the sink........hmmmmmm. I Immediately called down to the front desk and they apologized profusely and asked me to return to the mail desk. I did and they quickly upgraded me to the the 18th floor (Diamond Floor I think), while apologizing profusely. This room had some of the harsh cleaner smell, but that quickly dissipated after I turned on the the HVAC. The view was to the north again but this time the the window framed the High Roller perfectly with VePal and WynnCore beyond.....no Stage Door roof or monorail. The carpet though was almost as bad........I just think it is so wrong to have carpet like this in a mid-level strip hotel. Even if you do not do a full room rehab, the carpet needs to go every 5-7 years I would think.....this stuff looked original to the old MGM Grand.

A couple of other quick observations. Caesar's Casino slots and VP are just the worst.....I get nothing from them....NOTHING. Casino Royale was dead on a Friday night .....lots of construction going on I know, but it shows how important it is to have those raucous table games near the door....for now, they have moved them towards the back. I am growing to love The Cromwell's casino......when it first opened I pined for the old Barbary Coast or Bill's, but now as I age I am growing to love the big center aisle that you can walk down without feeling like you are in a mosh pit. If you want some (relatively) cheap entertainment on a Friday or Saturday night, play at the VP machines next to the Cromwell's main aisle at the back of the casino and watch to club kids parade in......WOW! And I always thought shoelaces were for shoes! It will make you feel really old and much younger at the same time......and then I just shove another Benjamin into the VP machine.

Now to the big picture observations.......As I am walking around Bally's (and the FlamingO to a lesser extent), whether in the casino or the room it just strikes me how much potential there is. The location of Bally's is unbeatable, the views from the rooms can be exceptional and the rooms are a good size for some meaningful improvements (around 450SF) in both towers. I know CET has a huge load of debt now and I know mid-level hotels that are sliding towards obsolete are a good thing for many Vegas visitors, but at some point these behemoths become a liability and the land they sit on is more valuable than the buildings. My thinking is someday down the road--20 years maybe?-- during the next building boom or the one after that, they are gone. Since the Jubilee tower has had a somewhat recent rehab then maybe the larger Indigo Tower is in the works after CET completes the work at Paris and Harrahs? It would make a huge difference for the next ten years or so.......give it good refresh on a scale of the new Paris rooms (pictures) and it would be the first place I might look at when making a reservation. So what do you think, will those buildings be there in 20 years and have a couple of refreshes under the belt, or will they be gone and replaced by a huge new mega-resort built over Flamingo Rd?

Oh....and one more quick observation. I pulled into the parking garage at Bally's and I parked......for FREE! My wallet was very happy about this and I spent more in the CET casinos than the $10 spanking MGM plans on giving in their garages .......Are you listening Jimmy or are you counting your bonus before it hatches?

Thanks to VegasTripping for letting me vent a little and dream a lot!

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 Chuckmonster responded on Wednesday, 3rd February 2016

Great report chesteronriver! I love the term "regression week" so funny.

Caesars and Park Place have been eyeballing a Bally's refurb for a long time. I always thought they'd do it in phases... cut the casino in half, build in the front yard, open it, then close the back, demolish that and rebuild. We've been yammering about this for a decade, so I'll guess it will be another decade at least before it happens. The Grand Bazaar is sort of the perfect choice if a project like this is part of the long game. Perhaps Caesars has to implode further, or sell the parcel before that happens.

I've always liked no-nonsense Ballys... it has been ages since I've stayed there, probably time to give them another shot.

 vespajet responded on Wednesday, 3rd February 2016

Up until a few years ago, the South Tower was the bad tower at Bally's (The one in which you would do the $20 trick to get a room in the North Tower or take the hotel up on the upgrade offer they'd email you about a week prior to arrival.), then they renovated it and turned it into a nice tower. The Indigo/North Tower does feel like it's stuck somewhere 1993-1996 (I stayed in the North Tower on a Diamond floor [thanks to the $20 trick] several years ago.) and presumably, that tower is slated to be renovated in the near future.

About 10 years ago, the working plans were to completely redo the entire Bally's campus and turn the property into the Horseshoe and move everything closer to the Strip.

 Drake responded on Thursday, 4th February 2016

Nice report! And thanks for that people-watching tip at Cromwells. We're getting to that age ourselves. And let's face it— video poker, booze, and eye candy—how can you beat that? Might just give that a go ourselves on our trip in May.

That corner would be a perfect place for a new Bally's tower. What views it would have. But aren't they building a real brick-and-mortar CVS there now? That would suggest that we're talking about waaaay down the road now.

 KickedBoar591 responded on Monday, 15th February 2016

Great report! I really enjoyed reading that.