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The Future of Mirage?

By MikeE on Monday, 13th February 2017 8:00am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 28


Mirage TP

It was the end of March, maybe around 2am. We took a couple seats in Mirage's High Limit Lounge with the intention of having a few more drinks before one last go at the tables; in my mind, the night was still young.

To say that it was dead would be an understatement. A surprised waitress finally came around and took our order. The lack of activity in and around the high limit room was a total buzz kill and we quickly got up after one drink. Perhaps a game of baccarat would lighten up our mood, but the empty tables and depressed looking dealers weren't appealing.

What happened to Mirage? I could always count on it buzzing with activity at all hours of the day, seven days a week. Was it the recession? Perhaps, but there was something more. I had a strong suspicion of what it was and I was going to get to the bottom of it.

Fast forward to last weekend. I had two comped nights booked at Mirage and attached a Sunday for an additional $119. More friends decided to come so I booked them about three weeks in advance for a dick-punchingly expensive $219 on Friday and Saturday, and $139 on Sunday. Before I left, the same nights were running $299, $299, and $179. Suites were sold out.

While I generally avoid crowds, this made me happy. I knew Mirage would be buzzing the nights I was there considering their near-capacity pricing.

But my experience Friday night into Saturday morning was no different than what I saw four months ago - a moderately busy casino and an absolutely dead high limit room. Four baccarat tables were running, all of them midi style, without a single player. Reader JohnD and I pulled up to the high limit bar and struck up a conversation with the bartender. We mentioned how we had just walked up from a very busy Aria. Her nostrils flared.

Aria. No amount of hype surrounding it was enough to get Bellagio hosts or their players to switch allegiance. But Mirage? Mirage was gutted. The bartender told us of near total turnover of casino hosts and inevitably, their players. She told us how just last week, she finally saw one of their former whales back in action - a first since Aria opened. The private rooms out back? They hadn't been used in months. I'd find out later that they had a total of three occupants in the villas that weekend. Saturday evening, two $25 mini baccarat tables stood empty while one $10 table - yes, a $10 baccarat table at Mirage on a Saturday night - had one person on it.


Pressure to lower prices is always an appealing notion, but Mirage is not a Flamingo, Treasure Island, nor even a Paris. Mirage is still a luxury resort despite whether or not you agree with MGM's changes. Its high limit salon is one of the most gorgeous rooms in town with four private spaces. Five of just 27 floors of rooms are key access and dedicated solely to suites, another two floors are a premium option that are also key access only, a few dozen suites are found throughout the rest of the building, and 14 villas out back - accommodations that no amount of superlatives could sufficiently describe the opulence of - round out the high-end room options.

There's no doubt that Vegas overbuilt itself on luxury resorts and Mirage may quickly be turning into the next Monte Carlo or Treasure Island of today, but unlike those two properties, a significant portion of it is dedicated to the very, very high end. It was built for the whale but can't even get a modest high roller now. Play new the best io games at this website now.

What does this mean? A giant high limit room staffed with dealers, bartenders, and only two players. Or villas manned with 24-hour concierges, butlers, chefs, pool cleaners, maids, and a fleet of limos all for a couple occupants who would otherwise qualify for RFB in a Salon suite at Wynn.

At some point, accommodating black chippers at a place built for banana players is no longer lucrative. Maintenance costs of top suites far outweigh renting them for next to nothing or giving them away to players with a low theoretical loss. High limit rooms are better left shuttered than with one or two players.

Mirage's high end is bleeding for Arias sins and I remain genuinely concerned for what its future holds.

Tagged: mirage   aria   cannibals at the gate   


Comments & Discussion:

Ahhh. I knew I'd see MikeE's review here sooner rather than later. Great, but sad. Mike asks, "What does this mean?" Imo, it means that MGM will sell The Mirage if and when it can find a buyer. The Mirage is now 21 years old and is the "Before" picture of Steve Wynn's evolution when you compare it to Bellagio, Wynn and Encore. Las Vegas won't get back to its glory days for at least a decade, if at all. Until that day comes, MGM doesn't need The Mirage. Bellagio appears to be thriving, MGM Grand has The Mansion and Skylofts. For Aria and CityCenter to succeed, MGM needs high rollers to move there. I believe MGM will sacrifice The Mirage for survival of the company.
For nine years, The Mirage had little competition for the high roller market, but those days are gone with Bellagio, Wynncore, Palazzo and even Aria. If I were a heavy player, I would choose a suite at Wynn over a villa at The Mirage. The total experience is more important than the accomodations, imo.
As a hotel, The Mirage's standard rooms are disappointing. Not only are they small, the bathrooms are miniscule, and the noise transmission between rooms and from the hallways is unacceptable. When Steve Wynn opened the place, some of those failings were overlooked because of the total experience which included Alex Stratta's Renoir, the original Kokomo's and Las Vegas' first CPK, Siegfried and Roy, the gorgeous pool area, the volcano, atrium and other unique attractions. The Mirage's status as the Strip's first new megaresort changed Las Vegas forever, but nothing lasts forever.

Much like your write up last week on the club scene at the Palms, this article falls under the same idea. The new sexy cousin opened up and business is hurting. While you can argue that the samething may have happened when Bellagio opened all those years ago, obviously players came back. Even though we are a few months shy of the one year anniversary of City Center, I would assume that things will pick back up at the Mirage.

Like the bartender said Hosts and players were steered towards Aria, once people have stayed there and given it a yes or a no, they may or may not return. I am not casino host but if I was in that position I would present options to players, because there is obviously a relationship between player and host. You now have three options for five star accomadations at your disposale and each property presents a different option. While Aria is new and sexy, ti is also massive. While Bellagio still has the lure of the name, she is getting up there in age and is starting to show. Mirage, with the recent renovations is now a smaller more intimate option for players. MGM isn't going to lose any players with those three places avalible, and I doubt they would let Mirage go the way of Excalibur and end up falling into disrepair, they just need to ride out the rough patch. If it still looks empty this time next year then yes be afraid, but give it a year before the sky starts falling.

Ruffin smells a deal.

Oh god.
Mirage = Wild Wild West hotel round 2. What the hell has Ruffin done with Treasure Island? I'm sorry, but PIRATES and the WILD WEST are two things that do not go together no matter how hard you try.
I like the Mirage, It's a very very very pretty hotel inside, it's got a somewhat tropical feel to it. I love the dark wood interiors and the sleek restaurants. It's probably one of my favorite hotels on the strip. I'm actually scoping it out for my next Vegas trip.

BUT, there is one thing. I hate gambling there. The slots are tighter than anywhere else on the Strip. It's the only place I've gotten ID'd three times in an hour by the SAME pit boss. Everytime I've ever gambled there I felt like all eyes were on me.

It was an early Saturday night in May when I was in the Aria casino. I was surprised to see 9 very active craps tables open. It was a busy place which only confirms the above.

I think Ruffin buying the Mirage could be a good thing. I think most would agree Mirage's room renovations were a success. Yet I think most people dislike what they did to the interior, specifically the casino.
I love the Mirage. I hope MGM sells it because long term, mirage would benefit more from being either independent or part of a smaller group of properties.

I stayed at Aria about a month-and-a-half ago. For the past ten years, Mirage has been my casino/hotel of choice. I was amazed at how many of the dealers and pit bosses I knew from Mirage were now at Aria. I knew someone at each table I visited, and I'm far from a high-roller.

All but one of the dozen or so dealers/bosses I talked to really liked working at Aria and were happy with how busy the floor was starting to get. Every single one of them lamented the "changes" they'd seen at Mirage. Most didn't elaborate, but a couple dealers said they hated to see the island theme disappear in favor of the generic modern.

When did King Ink open? When did the celebutard lollipop boutique open? It seems like Mirage is going after the Jet/Bare crowd much more agressively than the traditional strip high roller. Maybe you can't sustain those villas too long with a few black-chippers. Maybe you can cram two dozen fedora-wearing bottle-service-having douchers into one though. Even as the economy rebounds, I think the excess room inventory is going to force some hard decisions for MGM and HET in the coming years. It'll be interesting to watch.

I stayed 1 night at Mirage on our last trip, courtesy of a Room offer, which was amazing given my low/no play there, and get offers still, without going into my inbox, I am pretty sure I can practically pick almost any day to stay for $33/$44/$66 .

Hotelwise I do think that Mirage has done a good job of the refurb, even with the smaller Bathroom I was not disappointed, and I don't think I would have been unhappy if I had been paying a "regular rate".

Right now Mirage is marketing itself to the Party Crowd and is not striking a balance between that and caring for its Players, or old fogies like us

We walked by JET around Midnight, and the line was several hundred deep, King Ink and Revolution were also packed. We wanted somewhere to have a quiet drink to end the night, and right now there are no options to do that in Mirage - we did ponder the High Roller Bar, but it was too dead for us to feel comfortable just going for a drink.

Part of the problem is indeed a combination of too much high roller facilities and not enough high rollers to go around. but as Detroit says you need to give your RFB customers the Total Package and the way Mirage is set up right now, it can''t do that for a significant chunk of a market that has plenty of other options.

With Mirage furnishing the physical plant for the TI, Phil's a perfect match to buy the Mirage. Never stayed at Mirage, never gambled there, but got a $79 per night room offer Wed-Sun Sept. 15-19.

I usually stay in a Wynn Parlor or Salon. I'll be playing Shadow Creek after the overseed so will stay at an MGM property. I usually get a Bellagio Cypress but didn't want to stay there. I never considered Mirage. The redone casino and entire vibe is one of appeal to the club crowd. MikeE's post seems right on. I booked an Aria City View Suite. The demo has passed up the Mirage's initial design focus. MGM will have to do something. Cosmopolitan will impact the high end player market even more. And it's a limited enough market to begin with.

Let's be honest though, the high end base is limited, especially considering the last couple years, the Mirage was the likely choice to move down a notch, it may still be a great place to stay, but it hasn't been 'high end' for a number of years. The only hope MGM has is to reposition itself as a high mid range property. They've already done that with the poker room, which for the longest time was top 5 even after the big game moved to Bellagio, but now resides as a jackpot room, meaning it's the biggest jackpot room on the strip.

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold" -- Yeats

Compete for the high-end at your peril. Eventually some new casino is going to show up and it's going cause movement for everyone else downward, as it becomes the hot, happening place to be. God forbid if you can't stay relevant and keep up.

MikeE, your review reminds me of what I saw at Mandalay Bay last November and again in March. Mandalay Bay used to be packed to the gills and it was hard to find any table limits under 25 dollars. The last time I went to MB, it was nearly empty and I saw, much to my amazement, a 3 dollar craps table. And it was empty.

Where did all of the MB people go?

Vegas overbuilt for the high-end properties. With Cosmo coming online, I cannot see how any property will pass 2011 unchanged. There's just too many rooms and not enough people and gambling to sustain what is currently on the strip.

I also stayed at Mirage last weekend. I am a black chip player. The high limit room was dead and had no atmosphere. It was a buzz kill. Meanwhile, despite getting RFB, they wont pick up show tickets and really nickel and dime you. That is not the treatment that one receives at Wynn/Bellagio/Caesars. They need to be courting black chip players and making them feel good, or else we'll play somewhere else.

I have never stayed at the Mirage but went in there once for Love, which (if you are a Beatles fan) is pretty cool. I went into the Revolution bar beforehand and gambled at a $10 blackjack table after the show. I agree that the Mirage is a nice casino but like people said above, the casino doesn't treat the regular visitor/gambler well and now the big boys have disappeared. With some of the free offers I can from Harrah's (I am NOT tooting their horn, I know their faults as well), paying over $100 for a hotel room or more per night doesn't thrill me when for $100 for the length of my stay, I could upgraded to a Go Room at the Flamingo.

From December 28, 2009 Vegastripping: Mirage closed 14 floors; that's about one out of every three floors that's closed. I would love to stay at The Mirage sometime, but it is still being priced at the level of a Wynn or Bellagio, and MGM Mirage is stingy with comp room and discounted room offers. Here's the article:

"Aria opens, Mirage closes
Started by Atltrainman on Wednesday, 16th December 2009 10:37 am
Just as the newest MGM Mirage hotel, Aria, is set to open with over 4,000 rooms, word comes via the LasVegasAdvisor.com that the Mirage hotel is closing off up to 14 floors of rooms due to low demand.

I wouldn't be surprized if other MGM/Mirage properties are also quietly shutting down floors of rooms, also due to weak demand and an over supply. The Aria/City Center effect has begun. It is just a pity that people at these other fine properties will lose jobs over this."

I can only hope that with MGM/Mirage taking rooms out of service at the Mirage and maybe even other hotels, that they will use this opportunity to completely clean, repair, and even refurb those rooms, so that when or if they do come back online they will be better than they are now.

I like Mike E's reports and I'm still concerned over the state of his taint, but I hope this isn't what I check into this Friday.

Aren't the general public, and those on Vegastripping, VegasRex, et. al. always lamenting the loss of "themed" casino/hotels. City Center is an amazing property, but I am always reading Vegas blogs about how it's a bleak monolith of nothing. Why is the Mirage being steered into this vast wasteland of corporate bleh.

Someone earlier noted the move away from the tropical theme. I understand the Excalibur and the Luxor look horribly dated. However, the tropical island theme isn't a passing fad. It will always appear timeless and fun against the Las Vegas heat. I know it's a crazy idea, but why not go the other way? Why not go way themed out. Totally corny and beach boys playing over the radio. What's the worst that could happen? You close off another 14 levels?

Completely agree with ndfanwabashman: MGM Mirage is killing Vegas by their stubborn insistence on de-theming every casino. Customer opinion be damned! MGM Mirage knows best and it shows in the crappy results they are getting from Sh*tty Center. Wynn knew what he was doing when he built The Mirage. It didn't need MGM's "fixing".

Interesting story. But I don't agree with the comments that MGM will sell Mirage.

I think Phil Ruffin will own the place before the end of 2011

I'm all for MGM letting go of Mirage. I'm totally against it getting into the hands of Phil Ruffin.

I wouldn't mind Phil Ruffin buying The Mirage as long as he promises not to install mechanical bulls and mud wrestling. Treasure Island is The New Frontier!

I don't know. I have been getting free room offers for Sun-Sat for months. I have about 3 offers sitting in my inbox. I'd hardly call that unfriendly.

I'd chalk the experience to this-ME. I'm bad luck. I kill casinos that I stay in just as I kill every topic that I post comments on here. I take full responsibility.
Seriously though, on my last trip, every casino was dead. Every casino. EXCEPT the Sahara. To me this just says that people are broke right now. For those of us that still can somewhat afford to blow $$, they will do it cheaply. I think that this is more of Vegas' problem, not the fact of whales moving from casino to casino. There are more people like me that go to Vegas than whales.
Please forgive me if I kill this topic, too.

My upcoming trip will be the first time I've ever spent any significant time at Mirage. I've been in there a few times for maybe 20-30 minutes or so to wander around the place and play a few machines. I'm headed over there pretty much as soon as I get my bags in my room at TI to see Love. I'm planning to spend some time before (depending on how close to showtime I get over to Mirage) and after the show checking out the bars and dining options.

The theme at Mirage is one that is timeless. The Trop and the Flamingo have used variations of it as well. While some elements of the tropical theme/decor can be updated, the overall concept is still good.

I would not be surprised if MGM does sell off Mirage before 2012. Ruffin is the popular choice since they sold TI to him, but someone like Penn National, Pinnacle, or even Icahnhazcheezburger could be a potential party.

Saharalv, How much do you have to play to get the free room offers?

I got the first offer after playing at MGM for a few trips. I have stayed at the Mirage for free since then. Honestly, I say ballpark only about $500 per two day trip. But that doesn't include the winnings that I always like to give back. On the last trip it was a Royal, and two separate 4 deuces.
But still, seems reasonable to me, no?

I am happy with a $10 baccarat table. I've never felt comfortable shoving out a whole rack of blue chips for a min bet. :) Blue chip players rejoice! We now have a swanky hotel for ourselves. (Ok fine, not entirely to ourselves, we have to share it with the Bottle Service DB's that pay the bills...)

In all honesty, MGM should have had a plan for all other properties even in the early planning for City Center. Even in the best of times, there are only so many Whales to go around and there is plenty of space for them between Wynn, Bellagio, and Caesars. Throw in Encore, Macau, and to some extent, Venetian, and it becomes obvious that to build Aria means a rethink is in order for Mirage.

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