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Hey Palms: What Happened?

By MikeE on Monday, 2nd August 2010 1:11am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 23


Palms Las Vegas Neon

Like them or hate them, Palms was a front-runner. While most resorts in Vegas are now realizing that nightclubs are the single most revenue-generating amenity under their roofs, Palms had this idea from day one. Party suites with stripper poles and pool tables, Ghostbar up above, Rain down below, and all this in combination with a huge boost in 2002 with MTV's The Real World quickly made Palms the first choice for Vegas visitors with non-stop partying as top priority.

The Fantasy Tower opened four years later upping the ante with truly outrageous suites and a sub penthouse-level casino featuring dealers that would surely distract you from playing perfect basic strategy. On top of it all stood Moon nightclub with its retractable roof and insane views.

Ahead of the curve? Most definitely. All this before the Surrenders and Taos of today and the casino "party pits" with gorgeous dealers. Palms achieved this level of success in a market that was only just blossoming. So how are they staying fresh and relevant now that the market exists?

They're not. In fact, there's absolutely no reason to go to Palms outside of a dead Tuesday night when your nightlife choices in town are either Moon, Blush, or PURE.

And what a shame that is. Here's a city that is over-saturated with nightlife groups who turned a Ra into an LAX, a Lure into Blush, Le Bete into Tryst, and a fucking porte cochere into the biggest party orgy I might have ever seen. These minds even put a nightclub underneath Bill's Gamblin' Hall and turned the old, classy hag into and full-fledged G.I.L.F.

Palms: do something. Rethink and renovate Ghostbar; don't let its incredible views go to waste. Spruce Rain up. Get rid of those always-empty gaming tables at Playboy Club, turn it into a dance floor, and combine it with Moon into one gigantic mega club. Toss the word "boutique" into a pool party at Palms Place and watch your cabana prices go sky high for bottle service. You've even got some balcony rooms and suites overlooking directly onto the pool. Advertise them, charge double for them, and watch your mini bar revenues go through the roof.

In other words, make yourself relevant again in the market you practically created.

Tagged: palms   nightlife   


Comments & Discussion:

True, Palms used to be THE hot place. Now the fact that they're comping ME rooms is very telling of their situation.

One of the issues with nightclubs though is their shelf life is extremely short. While they produce huge profits, they are only placeholders until the next big thing. Examples of such include Drais (the original after hours spot and before the Palms clubs btw), Light, Pure, and a host of others. If you aren't renovating and publicizing the newest, hottest place you are already behind the game.

You are right that the Palms desperately needs a fresh look at their clubs, but with the increased competition it's going to be costly to get the fickle nightclub crowd back to the off strip spot. All they have to do is look at the Hard Rock's new Vanity to see that new, doesn't always equal improved attendance.

I think that has to be factored into any decision they make on revamping. Moon and the Playboy club are still unique enough to be second tier sites, are they more touristy now then chique, probably, but they can still draw a decent crowd, which is all that matters, if I'm the Palms, I'm taking a hard look at Rain and Ghostbar and trying to come up with something that matters to the nightclub crowd (difficult in an extremely over saturated market).

The thing I think people forget is that the nightclub boom was mostly due to a huge vacuum on the strip for clubs, on my first trip in the 90's we were amazed that there was no nightlife, save Voodoo at the Rio. Ra came online shortly after it and Drais, but that was it. The new clubs have grown the base some, but are essentially pulling from the same pool. And new=hip for the most part, take a look over the last couple years and check out the 'hottest' club, it tends to be the one that just opened, save for the ones that really make an impression immediately and our able to retain the host staff and marketing they need to continue, otherwise they wind up being Studio 54, which still draws a crowd, but noone would consider it a hot spot.

My guess is we are finally starting to see the revamp and reinvest strategy for nightclubs hit the wall and we'll start seeing these properties compete in different ways other then tear down and start over, it's a natural progression for any nightlife scene, it's just that Vegas was so late to the party it seems sort of bizarre right now.

The one and only time I've ever gone to Ghostbar was early on a Monday night. There wasn't many people there, the music sucked, it was some kind of house/old rap mix. But old rap songs no one has ever heard of. It was freezing cold, we were the only idiots standing outside. But the view was awesome, we were on some "mind altering drugs" so the entire Vegas strip was a blur of lines, the kind when you take a high speed picture without a high speed camera.
Ghostbar didn't do it for me. The bar at the Playboy club did.

Instead of always targeting the 25-35 crowd, I'd like to see a club that caters to the 35-45 demographic. Picture this: The outside is all vinyl siding and Andersen windows. The inside is done up with banks of microfiber sofas and recliners. They could call it, "The 'Burbs".

The bar serves nothing but Miller Lite and Yellow Tail Chardonnay. There is no DJ, but several large screen TV's play VH1's "I Love the 80's" on a loop.

There is a small dance floor, but right about the time things get hopping, a small child walks out from an upstairs room, and everything stops until the kid is put back to bed.

The club closes at 10:30 p.m., and nobody gets laid.

^^ Only problem with that business model: Who would pay for that when you can get it at home for free?

@BigHoss - Free Hot Wing Tuesday.

Good point!

Misnomer encapsulated life as we know it...im still laughing. But to expound on that, how about a sports bar ( if we are trying to cater to 35-45 ), put the dealers from Playboy Club in ref stripes and call it the WE DONT GIVE A FLYING FUCK IF PARIS HILTON EVER SHOWS HER MALNOURISHED CRACK-SMOKIN ASS IN HERE SPORTS BAR.

For all the moaning, these places are jammed on the weekends. My trips to ghostbar have always been exceptional. Cheap bottle service (compared chic clubs),no dance floor that makes getting around impossible and Beatport DJs. I cannot speak to the other clubs.

The biggest crimes are the disgusting, outdated rooms.

My wife and I were at the Playboy club recently, and while it was kinda cool to have my photo taken with the Bunnies otherwise the place was a buzz-kill. We stayed maybe 45 minutes and watched the 10 or 12 other guys there watch the girls there. The only excitement was when a second additional shift of Bunnies arrived because some "VIP" was arriving. And then it turned out that it was Trent Reznor's posse minus Trent Reznor. The next day we at at Kerry Simon's restaurant simply because my wife heard they served cotton candy for dessert, which they do, which she had, but nothing was special enough to get us to come back - which is kinda a good way to sum up Palms as a whole these days.

I have to agree to an extent with westTexasroller. The Maloofs are sports guys, so why not make the Palms the "sports capital" of Las Vegas? They've made a bit of a start by hosting the NHL Awards at the Pearl the last two years as was hosting the finale of The Ultimate Fighter since TUF5, hosted WEC events as well as the Indy Racing League awards. Turn the nightclubs into the ultimate sports bars.

Vespajet makes a good point. Change Moon, Playboy Club and Ghostbar into "The Field" and "The Court" and "The Rink" ultimate sports bars, and not only have waitresses and servers in sexy referee outfits but also sexy cheerleader outfits. Also, is there some law that prohibits having a strip club in a casino resort? If not....

The club industry is such a one ups manship industry, MikeE said it, its just time for them to redo the joint and get back on top.

They are surviving right now on there names and legends that are associated with them. People who have not been to Vegas before who want to go to clubs still flock to the Palms because they know the names of Rain and Moon and The Palms as the place to party. I don't know how many times I'm asked about clubs (i personally don't go so I never have a good answer except for Wynncore places) and everyone always goes back to The Palms options no matter what. The Real World Las Vegas is still drawing in people to that place its amazing.

Also, is there some law that prohibits having a strip club in a casino resort? If not....

There isn't, but when you look at the situation last year with the Sapphire Pool at Rio as well as the denial of a gaming license for the Girls of Glitter Gulch about two years, I doubt the holder of a gaming license wants to put it at risk. While the Gaming Control Board doesn't have any issues with strip clubs having slot machines, they would require the clubs to be above board and ensure that no illegal activity is going on by the employees. I also doubt a casino operator of a well-known casino resort wants to be the one to do it either.

While many casinos seem to turn a blind eye to the working girls, a strip club is a different animal altogether and would generate a lot more public and governmental scrutiny. You think people complain about the Girls of Glitter Gulch, imagine if one was inside of a casino. The erotic shows that are performed at many casino resorts is about as close to adult entertainment the casinos want to get into.

Palms is the venue for the upcoming Matador Records 21st Birthday 3-day fest in the Pearl. So at least from Oct. 1-3 there'll be a couple thousand aging indie rockers and jaded hipsters wandering around, penniless and hungover, complaining about how Sonic Youth doesn't play enough songs off "Sister" anymore, and how Belle and Sebastian are just not hitting the same levels of chamber-pop perfection since Isobel quit in 2003. Personally, I can't wait.

Is there also a connection here with the Sacramento Kings? I mean, this team was rolling in the early part of the century. Valde Divac? Chris Webber? One controversial call in '02 from going all the way. And from then on it slowly went all down hill. The Maloof's started out with a bang. A new look, new players, a new spirit. Then they just kind of faded into oblivion.
The Palms has followed the same mired history. They were plowing out of the gates with the Las Vegas Real World, and the hottest clubs and women on the planet. Since that time, it has just slowly gotten worse. I think this begs the question, is this just the Maloof's getting fat and happy. Should things that hit their peak in the early 2000's and then slowly faded away be known as Maloof's? Talk amongst yourselves.

I never go to a nightclub, but honestly, if I could see one in action, it'd be Moon.

Not just for the roof, but because Tomorrowland is my fave part of Disneyland historically, sci-fi are my fave novels... If I had to have a dance floor, I want it to look like a goddamn space station.

When all the other clubs came into town, Palms, with its off-strip location was doomed.

Nightlife really is a terrible business from a long term standpoint. Like discussed, you may rake it in for a couple years, but inevitably your place gets old as fast as the next hot place opens its doors. Vegas is a bit different given the scale and constant flux of tourism, but it still plays out more or less. During the boom years Palms had a larger niche in their price point (and higher end venues could afford to ignore the party crowd), but with the down economy and increased competition for ANY business at ever more competitive price points... the young/d-bag crowd slowly realized they could move to places like Wynn for the same money they were blowing at the Palms. It would seemingly be logical to simply re-market the place as a "cheaper" nightlife alternative, but crowds are fickle, and the mere suggestion that a place is "downscale" will inevitably lead to the loss of the usual gold-digging female eye candy and ensuing male collared-shirt gawkers. What will be left is a dirtball crowd hoping to find the sluts they saw on MTV a few years ago, and a diminishing crowd of naive spring breakers that didn't do their homework on "what's hot" in Vegas. Vegas nightlife has long become the see to be seen, pretentious machine we've seen develop all over the last decade. Short of a very extravagant renovation and extensive marketing campaign, I doubt the glory will ever return to the Palms.

The waitress at XS had nicer boobs than I've ever seen at Palms.

Just saying.

I worked at the Palms for 4 years, from the opening of the Fantasy Tower until this past May. Most of you have got it right...the Palms is a house of cards.

They tried to cater to the high-rollers (who like to party), but got burned by two things. First, other places do it better, whether it's luxury adding party scenes (Wynn) or the party scene adding luxury (HRH). Second, the Palms won't touch whales. They got burned by Umar Siddiqui and Terrance Watanabe. They gaves these guys the world and never got anything out of it. Siddiqui had a $2M credit line based on his "oath." We'll see if they ever that money out of either one of them.

After Siddiqui, the Palms got gun-shy. Those $30k/night villas they're so proud of? Most weekends they are empty. If not, they are routinely comped to athletes, celebrities, rappers and chicks the Maloofs want to bang. If they are sold, it's to corporate events or frat houses who talk the price down. There's nothing classy about 15 rollaway beds in a suite that sleeps 6 to begin with, and even worse when they damage the suites, throw shit off the balcony, and each spend $30 on booze at Smiths to avoid going through casino services.

When you look at it that way, the deterioration is evident. Lower room rates + non-gaming party crowd = lost revenue. Instead of curbing this appeal, Maloof gives operational control Paul Pusateri, who according to his own claims invented the practice of putting hair dryers in hotel rooms.
Paul's stated goal to the assembled employees (not paid, attendence is mandatory) is 4 stars by the end of 2011. He then compared the 2009 product to Hooters and Sahara, I shit you not.
Paul starts counting pennies to pay a a couple million for that god-awful smell that invades your nostrils everytime you walk in. He pays for this laying off housekeepers, cooks, servers, etc. Guess who cleans those massive villas after a bunch of Jersey Shore wannabes refuse to leave until 7p? Nobody!

They literally leave the rooms trashed until the day of a check in. Then...when you are able to lure the occasional high-roller with a free buy-in to a $1,000,000 BJ tournament, he says this...

"You know why I don't stay here anymore? I've got my name on a suite in the original tower (true), my players' club number is 1 (also true); you'd think they could clean up the plastic cups and condoms from the spa and water display when I come in."

So player #1 and the rest of the good players leave, Paul & George decide they are going to focus on low-mid range players and locals. They change the area above the Mint, formerly a private gaming area, into a high-limit slots lounge, complete with free sandwiches, cookies and coffee serviced by a butler every 30 minutes. They start offering 2/1 buffets and free pots of coffee with room service orders. This only attracts more greasy nobodies who come for the do-what-you-want atmosphere. The only people benefiting from this business plan are the nightclubs and pools, who still pack it in on weekends and aren't owned by the Maloofs in the first place.

The Palms is a sinking ship. It has been for a couple of years. Pusateri will run this place into the ground, and Harrah's will pounce on it. I'd rather see Harrah's position it as a sister property to PHo, with better suites.

I'll leave you with this...a couple years ago when Palms hosted the premeire of Oceans 13, a welcome note that appeared to be signed by George went to all the stars. When Clooney, Garcia, Pitt, Damon and company checked in, they found a note that read...

"Welcome to the PLAMS. - George"

How I wish I could just bust out and say that same thing about my company. The day I quit working there, is the day I tell everyone how insurance REALLY works. (woohoo insurance!)

But seriously, damn, you tore up the Palms up. Fuck their noize. Way to tell the truth!!! And from a professional standpoint. Good read. Good read.

Got any beef on any other casinos? No seriously, I love reading the way companies REALLY run.

I stayed at the Palms in December 2010, using the LVA $50 coupon to drive the RFB cost to a little over $40 total..

I had a room on the 15th floor of the orginal tower..while the room was clean, comfortable, and the bedding, and bed itself, remains one of the best in the city, I was stunned to see a Sunbeam alarm clock where I thought an IHome Ipod clock would be, and the 27 inch tube TVs which were a big deal when the place opened 10 years ago, still in place in the original tower..on the other hand, its got one of the best channel lineups in Vegas..compared to the Sahara, which has I think 8 channels two of them in Spanish..

The casino itself is still a fun place to play, and the video poker pay tables are still some of the best in Vegas, but the original concept was always a risk..attract the locals in the daytime, then clear them out for the party kids at night...that model was only going to work for a short time..now George has run up an incredible amount of debt with the second tower, and the Condo tower that was completed right when the market tanked...

I was stunned when I strated getting offers from the Palms in 2010..my level of play was nothing to write home about, but I strated getting mailings on a regular basis nonetheless...

I hope with every fiber of my being that Harrahs does not get a hold of the Palms..what would they do with it exactly? It doesn't fit their model, would compete with the Rio across the street--unless they sell it to Ruffin or someone like that..and the bastards would destroy the decent gaming that one can still find there..

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