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Players Club: Pegging Properties Down a Notch?

By MikeE on Wednesday, 16th December 2009 12:39am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 7

   

Ever since CityCenter broke ground, us aficionados looked on curiously to see how its main resort - the name of which was at the time unknown - would be positioned in the MGM Mirage hierarchy. Would Bellagio graciously bow out as top tier? Or perhaps they'd compete together for different tastes within the same budget?

Needless to say, the clues started rolling in. There's the inexcusable use of an armoire and tube television in all the standard guest rooms at Bellagio. Then there's MGM Mirage's corporate site, which months ago placed ARIA first on its homepage reel. And most recently, there's the information that has slowly leaked out about the place that I can, at least for now sight unseen, conclude is an overall better resort than Bellagio (someone's going to scream at me for that last statement).

After recently logging in to my Player's Club account, I think I came across the final nail in the coffin of the grand dame of Las Vegas. Let me explain...

Comp offers are always weird. I've never gotten a full room comp at Mirage. Mandalay Bay on a few rare occasions has sent me a couple midweek complimentary nights and so have MGM and Excalibur. Oddly, Luxor and even Monte Carlo have been stingy about tossing me a free room. As for Bellagio, I could pretty much forget about them.

This was the case in the summer, the week before Thanksgiving, and even this very week - the slowest seven days of the year in Las Vegas.

But now first quarter comps are rolling in and what do I see? Free midweek nights and freeplay across the MGM Mirage board from Bellagio down to Circus Circus while ARIA suspiciously sits on its $109-a-night pedestal.

It's pretty safe to say MGM Mirage has pegged all their hotels down a notch. Bellagio: welcome to Mirage circa late-1998.



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Comments & Discussion:

MGM Mirage may have originally planned to position Aria and Bellagio as equals with different personalities. However, that pesky thing called Recession got in the way.
Unless and until MGM finds a way to accelerate capital improvement projects at Bellagio, your analogy of The Mirage in 1998 is right on. Bellagio needs a freshly painted exterior, and the rooms look very Last Century. That costs a lot of money in an almost 4,000 room property.
Murren recently said how strong Bellagio's international and high-end play is. Once Aria is open for a Quarter, that will likely change.
If many of the executive hosts move from Bellagio to Aria, that will be another indication of where Bellagio stands now.

Mike, I'll just assume you saw my tweet about the company totem pole, but does "across the board" include Vdara? I'm curious to know whether they're even including that in comps, considering they do own it but probably don't expect anyone who gambles to want to be there.

(stands in the lobby playing "nearer my god to thee")

Based on everything I've seen, CityCenter is essentially what you would build if you were to re-do MGM Grand from scratch. I suspect Aria will take much more business from MGM Grand than from Bellagio. High-end Bellagio players are going to want to stay at Bellagio and if it falls any further they will move to Wynn. It is only a matter of how quickly MGM realizes this. I anticipate a big internal fight over resources between Bellagio maintenance and Aria redesigns.

Parchedearth's comment about MGM Grand customers moving to Aria is interesting. Where would that leave MGM Grand, on a par with NYNY? Also, the comment that Bellagio customers would go to Wynn if Bellagio declines in quality is another very good reason for Jim Murren to get his head out of the sand and spend some time at Wynn/Encore. Murren's got a lot to lose if there are many high spending defectors to Wynn.

parchedeath couldn't have described it better. AriaCenter was essentially built on the idea that bigger is better, much like MGM Grand. I can't see Aria being in as good shape as Bellagio is in now when it reaches its tenth birthday. Maybe Murren should've been CEO of Marriott or Hilton instead of MGM Mirage.

Regarding ARIA VS MGM Grand, keep in mind that ARIA more or less took a culinary lineup and a lot of service from Bellagio. Service was taken from MGM too from what I can see (though that property always has a longer list in the jobs page than MGM's other places), but MGM still has the Mansion and Joel Whathisname.

A basic room at Aria beats the hell out of a basic room at MGM, especially now and for the foreseeable future, but MGM Grand still has a trick or two up it's sleeve.

Although I'd think coming soon MGM may want to consider shutting the Mansion down for a bit and moving all it's hosts and workers to the comfiest corners of Bellagio. But that's just my impression of the market from the outside looking in.



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