24 February 2009

Las Vegas Tip

I remember thinking several times while we travelled throughout Las Vegas that things have changed.

For years people have said that Old Vegas is gone. In some weird way, I didn't want to believe it.

In the nineties many of the properties invested in theme park rides, heck - MGM had a theme park! But there was still a feeling of Old Vegas in the air, many of the old hotels were still standing, the Sands, the Frontier and the Desert Inn still had lights flashing.

When the new century turned over many of the hotels turned into mega-resorts that defy description, they have to be seen to believed - they are just so massive and outrageous. These new hotel/casinos while impressive in their own right are completely different from the glitz and sparkle of the old casinos. They are too sophisticated. The old casinos had rudimentary lights (lots, and lots of em) that flashed and sparkled and drew you in - now they draw you in with replicas of famous landmarks from around the world.

Again, don't get me wrong, it's impressive, it's just not the same as it used to be.

On our most recent trip, not one person opened a door for us at any casino - just 10 years ago, there used to be someone in a suit waiting for you at every entrance, you flipped him a buck and a smile and he opened the door for you.

But when we went to a show and there was no máitre d' to take us to our seats, no one to spiff with a tip to move you up front, I knew things had changed. Every show I've ever been to in Vegas was seen from the front row with a few extra bucks attached to the ticket - a nod by the máitre d' along with the passing of the buckage seemed to always work, until now.

I entered the theatre, tickets in hand with a twenty neatly folded around each ticket and handed them to the person at the door - she looks at me and says, you won't need that, you're tickets are right up there (pointing to where the seat numbers were on the tickets) I was shocked. And, at that moment, it confirmed in my mind that Vegas had became less about extraordinary and more about just ordinary... they had taken the excitement away from so many parts to the essential Vegas experience, and the feeling of successfully applying grease to move you into the VIP area was the last straw.

On the plus side, you can save all tips you used to give out and stand in line for a buffet meal - they charge for those too now.

People used to go to Las Vegas for the experience and the new Vegas with it's endless shopping malls and masstardization is less about feeling important for a few nights, a very large part of the past Vegas experience in my opinion, and more about churn. Get people through the lines, like cattle, and move 'em in, move 'em out. Rawhide.

Next time I may just opt to go to the casino down the road - same old, same old.


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