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Pre-Bellagio Whale Documentary YouTube'd

By MikeE on Wednesday, 5th October 2011 4:32pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 14

   

So what's the appeal of an outdated YouTube clip from '97-'98ish? The tacky fashion? The general sense of economic invincibility? Dan Chandler's over-exuberant, nonsensical metaphors? Sure, all those things. But most appealing?

Interior shots of the Desert Inn.

Fresh into my 18th year of life, I vacationed with my parents and brother at the Desert Inn. We stayed there on a fluke. Age restrictions prevented me from knowing the Vegas I know now and a very last-minute, very expensive weekend limited our options. To quote my brother: "We can either do Sahara or this place called the Desert Inn."

I knew Sahara was ghetto, but to drive all the way to Vegas and stay at an "Inn" wasn't appealing at all. It was then that our 56k dial up connection loaded a photo of the pool. It was summer and for an "Inn," its pool certainly looked amazing. We booked it and headed out the next day.

Jaw drops: there were aplenty. The parents declared they found a new home. The front desk declared they were closing in two weeks. Everyone declared their sadness. The place was small, personal, and immeasurably elegant. Until today, I've searched for interior shots of the final rendition of the Desert Inn to no avail. Needless to say, I'm stoked to see them scattered throughout this video.

Enjoy!



Tagged: whales   you tube   





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Comments & Discussion:

That is very cool, although I must say that it does not reflect the Desert Inn that lives in my memory. A quick image search let me down in my hunt for shots of the big, circular chandeliers that used to grace the casino, but perhaps there is some video floating around from the old Robert Ulrich series, Vega$ that would show them.

Anyway, the part of video you found that had me the most chuffed was the quick glimpse of the Tam O'Shanter Motel sign, across the street from Treasure Island in an exterior night shot of the strip.

This video actually kind of makes me realize that little has changed from our current days of nightclubs. Actually, I think I prefer nightclub Vegas simply because people want to be seen and hang out rather than do things in secret.

Has there ever been one documented case of high end Vegas that doesn't come across as obnoxious? We've talked a lot about bottle service douchebags on here, but look at what USED to be and you see a lot of people, typically caucasian, laughing and generally saying things to the effect of "boy, it sure is good to have to so much MONEY!" Then I have to quickly indulge in the old shots of days gone by before I have to punch my screen.

That one guy's "master of the house" bit didn't even hunt fifteen years ago when this thing was filmed.

Awesome. I've wanted to see shots of the Desert Inn for a while. Never got to see the place in person.

I loved the DI. On one of my first trips to Vegas as an adult, I was hosting a large meeting and was assigned a 2-level suite in the "Wimbledon" tower that included butler service. I had no idea on the etiquette of having a butler and had to call a high-roller friend of mine on the finer points of tipping, etc. It was also the first place I played craps. Lots of great memories, it was a classy resort.

My Dad was a regular player at the Desert Inn from the late 70's until his death in 1994; I spent a lot of time there (he usually brought the wife & kids with twice a year) mostly in the early & mid 80's...even then, before the super-glitzy 1990's renovation seen above, it was a classy, luxurious place, but in a far more understated & elegant way. Back then, people who wanted "bling", the new money, so to speak, went to Caesars Palace or Steve Wynn's then new (and comparatively gaudy) Golden Nugget...people with class who had nothing to prove to anyone else, but just wanted great service more than anything else, stayed & played at the Desert Inn. They used to fly us in on a private jet, put us up in a two-story suite with a private pool out back in the Wimbledon building overlooking the golf course, and used to give us a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow to use as our family's personal car while we were there. The Wimbledon building was truly the MGM mansion of its day - and yes, if you can find copies of the 1970's tv series "Vega$" with Robert Urich, you will see the Desert Inn prominently in every episode in all of its late 70's glory, including many of the suites in the Wimbledon building...and the service, was impeccable. The restaurants the "Monte Carlo Room", a tiny little jewel box of a french restaurant right off the high-limit tables pit, Portofino (I believe that was the Italian restaurants name at the time), a great gourmet Chinese place that sat above the casino so you could look down on it while dining...I remember when we were only like 12, the casino staff used to let my sister & I play slot machines in a secluded part of the casino, complete with a security guard to watch over us and keep anyone from bothering us or questioning why were allowed to play when we were obviously underage...my Dad's casino host, Dave Woods...I'll never forget him...a tiny little old white haired guy who had been in Vegas since the "old days", a total class act, he actually used to convince my dad to walk away from the tables when he was losing big; he & his wife used to eat dinner with our family at least once every visit...my Dad told me that Dave had been a "degenerate" gambler and wound up working as a casino host as a way to pay off his massive debts, which I don't doubt was probably true...my dad was heartbroken the day Dave Woods died, and I was heartbroken the day I heard that Steve Wynn had torn down the DI...a few years ago I came back to Vegas for the first time in nearly 20 years, and I stayed at the Wynn, in honor of the hallowed ground on which it was built, and while it is a very nice place, I fail to see how it was an improvement on the Desert Inn...I wish Steve had just let the DI be (who knows maybe if he had, he could've/would've built the Wynn where city Center is instead, and maybe the Vegas of today would be a better place because of it, LOL)

Oh, and for the record, "Vega$" is available on DVD (or at least was, I bought it a couple of years ago)...and The Desert Inn really does figure prominently in every episode, along with most of the rest of late 70's Vegas, as it was pretty much all filmed on location...definitely worth the price for anyone who loves Vegas history, probably one of the best video time capsules of Pre-Mirage era Vegas there is...

Mike E, thanks for posting the video. Bigdaddyj, thanks for your personal remembrances. I've always thought the Desert Inn seemed like a special place. Wilbur Clark put his heart and soul into creating that place. To think it stayed open 50 years is a miracle in these times of buy out/blow up/rebuild.

Tam O'Shanter Friendly Inn!

I took a stroll thought the (then) "Deserted Inn" just before it was closed. Looked at the machine that Cynthia Jay-Brennan hit Megabucks on (search it, Vegas story that most have forgotten).

The property was truly deserted, but you could see and feel the presence that it one had. Plus why Las Vegas "old-time" gamblers would want to stay there.

@bigdaddyj Most of the Vega$ episodes are on Netflix. (Side Note: Vega$ the TV series was using the $ long before Ke$ha used it). But yes, I've heard the same thing: Kids of BP'S (big players... high rollers) could screw around in the casino with someone from the "house" watching them.

While I dearly love "my" Las Vegas (of the past 20 years), I am bummed that regulations are so tight that the house can't cut some slack.

Mike--Check out this page: http://www.steelmanpartners.com/partners/#loc=projects

Click on "Desert Inn" (obviously) and you'll get a few sketches and photos from the '97 renovation.

I was able to visit the DI once in the late nineties. A friend and I were doing the 'crawl', hitting the Frontier, Stardust, etc. and thought why not, let's check out DI. It seemed a bit stuffy from the outside and there were no people around. Walking in, it felt like visiting someones grand house. We saddled up to the $5 'kids' blackjack table. You could tell the 'adults' were at one end of the casino, the 'kids' at the other. Our dealer took care of us, making sure we didn't make stupid mistakes. A drunk lady in fur and decked in diamonds came up to our table, obviously bored with the adults. Throwing down a couple $100 bets. "ah screw it".
In a weird way, it was all very refined and classy - but not pretentious. I remember thinking the casino was one of the most amazing things I'd seen.

Thanks Mike. And you too bigdaddy. What sticks in my memory about the DI, before the 1997 renovation, was how intimate the casino was.
Small but so very opulent to a young player who usually was down the strip.
I'll get the Vega$ dvd.

The entire hour-long episode from which this was pulled runs on The Travel Channel frequently - often as part of what seems to be a Las Vegas Day of programming.

I remember the "Cynthia Jay-Brennan hit Megabucks " story very well without having to look it up. She was a cocktail waitress on her night off when she hit the Jackpot. I believe she was there with friends to see a show. A few weeks later she was hit by a drunk driver. Luckily she survived the accident.



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