"Sam, will I see you at Resorts World?" That was a frequent question in the days leading up to the grand opening on 6/24/21. When I'd reply in the negative, there was the inevitable "Why not? Everyone will be there!". And that's precisely why I avoided it...all the chaos and hoopla. How can you evaluate a massive resort in the midst of that kind of madness? You can't.
It took Genting Group over eight years to re-develop Resorts World Las Vegas on the skeleton of a failed construction project. Surely I could wait another six months for them to work out the bugs. So when I spotted a deal on Agoda.com this week for a $29-plus-taxes/fees stay under the Hilton banner (there are three hotel brands under the Resorts World umbrella), it was time to check it out. And wow, what a fiasco this place turned out to be!
Once envisioned as a massive Asian-themed destination with seven hotel towers, a recreation of China's Great Wall, a live panda exhibit, water park, lush gardens, and a 58-foot aquarium, plans were continually whittled down to its current state. That is to say, one hotel building, no discernible theme, and a massive echo-chamber of a shopping mall. Nevertheless, the final cost was $4.3 billion, making it the most expensive erection in Las Vegas history. What the money was spent on is anyone's guess. It's as bland as a cottage cheese sandwich on white bread.
You know you've left the days of vintage Vegas hospitality far behind when walking FOREVER from the parking garage. The first thing you encounter is an automated payment kiosk for valet service. Do machines drive your car away, too? Who knows? I certainly didn't see any human attendants around.
A lack of people ended up being a consistent observation during my overnight stay. Empty casino, empty restaurants, empty stores, and an understaffed reservation desk. I published a separate review of my experience with the hotel portion here, but in the meantime, let's take a walk around the resort itself.
The footprint of Resorts World Las Vegas is massive. Spread out over 87 acres on the north end of the Strip, it's sandwiched between Circus Circus, Trump Tower, and a grungy industrial section that's known for its stripper clubs and closed storefronts. An odd place for a luxury resort, but let's give Genting some credit for optimism.
Do you enjoy walking? Then fortune is on your side because Resorts World is really spread out. The casino is far from the hotel is far from the restaurants are far from the shops are far from the parking garages. The gaming area comprises a reported 117,000 square feet of space, including a poker room and the Crockfords Casino Lounge, a VIP gaming experience.
The gambling areas are surrounded by Dawg House Saloon & Sportsbook, a number of restaurants, and Street Eats, a dining court that mimics food trucks. If you're feeling especially swanky, you can indulge in their partnership with Grub Hub to bring food to your room. That's correct...no traditional room service at the most expensive resort in Las Vegas, but you can utilize the same company that delivers Taco Bell to your workplace. Nice.
Dawg House Sports Book
Dawg House Saloon
Do you enjoy making new friends? Then head to the hostess podium at one of Resorts Worlds' many fine restaurants. The lovely ladies apparently have plenty of time to chat, as their establishments were vacant. Off to one side, a young man was operating a mobile minibar, distracting passers-by from his real purpose. You see, he was positioned in the former entrance to Marigold, a peculiar lobster and burger restaurant that has already folded. How embarrassing.
A "Closed for Renovations" sign was barely visible behind the bartender's set up. When asked how something could be undergoing renovations in a brand new resort, his answer was "something new is coming in". Another casualty of the "Closed for Renovations" virus is Goldie's, a small deli-style shop that served breakfast items, smoothies, and sweet treats.
"Made reservations for dinner in one of their restaurants a few days beforehand. It was the Asian one Genting Palace. My girlfriend is gluten-free and they had a nice selection for her on their menu so we were very excited to go. The menu looked fantastic, but, alas I will never know. Got a call the day of that they would not be open due to it being slow. The first and last time I tried to eat there."
Genting Palace - pretty, but closed
So long, Marigold Lobster and Burgers
Marigold Lobster and Burgers
Farewell, Goldie's Sweet Treats
Already tired from the extensive walking, I came to the realization that so many things were lacking here...excitement, personality, and most importantly, a vibe. There's nothing like entering a casino to sounds of cheering players, the bells and clanging of slot machines, and some suitable music to complete that Vegas atmosphere. Here? Absolutely nothing. I've been to funerals with more energy than Resorts World Las Vegas.
That conclusion came as I was about to enter The District, a multi-level shopping/dining complex that's huge. Really huge. "With a curated collection of boutiques spanning 70,000 square feet, The District at Resorts World Las Vegas is where current and future trends meet. Browse through designer couture, discover one-of-a-kind treasures, and indulge in some retail therapy."
While The District brags about satisfying your need for retail therapy, you'll most likely need treatment for depression. In every direction, bored staffers looked outward with glazed expressions...nothing to do, nothing to see. The only true activity was at the far end of the corridor, where staffers were prepping ZOUK Nightclub for the evening's guests.
Back in 2014 when Sahara Hotel Casino was re-branded as SLS Las Vegas, they entered into an exclusive partnership with highbrow retailer Fred Segal. There were seven (!) Fred Segal stores within SLS, all of which closed within a year. At the time, SLS President Fred Keeler told Las Vegas Sun "If you look at the price point, it’s a pretty high price point; it’s a little hard on the wallet. Is it in alignment with the price points and sensibility of some of our customers? It isn’t.”
Fast forward to 2021, and in the midst of a global economic crisis, Resorts World has built its retail operations around a partnership with...Fred Segal. As you can tell from the photos, there wasn't a single customer inside either establishment. One of them is "powered by Amazon's Just Walk Out technology", which means there are no employees, no customers, and no reason for a place like this to even exist.
The main attraction at The District is a video sphere that broadcasts regularly-scheduled "shows". Mirage has a working volcano with spouting flames, Bellagio has dancing waters over a man-made lake, Wynn has animatronics and projections around a huge waterfall, and Resorts World has a disco-ball TV. Exciting!!!
In less than ninety minutes, I was already bored to the max and eager to leave. Alas, my plans included that overnight stay, so I decided to head elsewhere for drinks and dinner. Someplace fun. On the way to my car, a nearby disgruntled voice was muttering loudly.
I turned around and asked the lady if everything was alright. "I hate this f*cking place" she replied. "Worst resort in the city. A total waste of time and I'm never coming back".
I feel ya, honey. I feel ya.
To read part two of our report on Resorts World, click here.