Las Vegas Downtown Hotels: Luck May Not Be A Lady Much Longer

Big news of late regarding ownership of downtown hotels, new construction, and the revival of a legendary lady. I’m downtown a number of times a month and most nights anymore, it is packed. A significant group of Las Vegas visitors are rebelling against what they perceive as outrageous prices on The Strip for food and drink, and tight Strip slots.

Side Note: Let me note that our Nevada gaming control board does break down statistics from The Strip and downtown separately. Downtown slots ARE looser.

A couple of years ago the Golden Nugget Las Vegas opened another tower and despite the poor economy, they have had little problem filling it. Then The Plaza completely made-over their place and seem to be doing quite well.

So… the owners of the Golden Gate — ironically just across the street from The Plaza — then recently announced that they were building an additional 5 story addition on what is now their parking lot. At first I thought that was a pretty modest addition to a hotel that is doing very well via their sexy dealer party pit — which we have dubbed the boobie pit — until the next shoe dropped:

The owners of the Golden Gate announced that they are buying Fitgerald’s, which ironically has the tallest tower downtown. The owner of the Fitz died recently after a long illness and the Golden Gate people have stepped in to buy it. Of interest to some: They are going to take their second-floor casino area and theme it Vintage Vegas complete with old school slot machines that actually take coins. No word on any changes to their Vue bar in that area that overlooks Fremont Street, but we hope they don’t screw it up too much.

BTW, I will not confirm or deny that I was throwing beads off of that balcony a couple of years ago on Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday!

The new Fitzgerald’s owners also plan a hotel renovation from top to bottom including rooms.

We do know this for sure: They don’t have continuing rights to the name Fitgerald’s, so they are going to have to rename it within 6 months. Interestingly enough, This is the same boat the Las Vegas Hilton is in since their contract as a Hilton Hotel isn’t being renewed.

Finally, we have news on the Lady Luck. It shuttered years ago and yet I’m still asked about it on a regular basis by my readers. Work to re-open it is just about to commence, but with some major changes. Guess what? They aren’t going to have rights to the Lady Luck name (familiar theme here), and are changing the name of the property to The Downtown Grand. Since the MGM Grand is always simply called MGM, I’m assuming that this hotel will end up just being called The Grand by locals and visitors alike.

Also, they are gutting it down to and including plumbing and electrical and are rebuilding the property as an upscale property. What will be interesting to see here is if admittedly mid-market downtown can support three somewhat upscale hotels in the Nugget, Plaza, and Grand. One of the reasons The Strip fell flat on its face during the recession was that too many really expensive properties were built and there wasn’t enough upscale visitor demand.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

13 thoughts on “Las Vegas Downtown Hotels: Luck May Not Be A Lady Much Longer”

  1. I think this will be great for downtown. We stayed at the Plaza the beginning of October it was very nice. They do need to upscale the pool next.It will be nice to see the Lady Luck reopen instead of an empty building sitting there..For Fitz, I think it will be surely something nice to feed old slot machines.. SO all in all, I am happy they are finally upscaleing downtown Vegas.Keep us posted. Thank you.

  2. Hi Ted
    Always enjoy reading your comments and have done so for quite a few years now, please keep up the good work.
    Having just returned from our annual trip to
    Vegas I can endorse your comments about high prices and tight slots on the strip, it is now
    getting beyond a joke!
    We live in the UK and save hard all year to come
    to Vegas for a bit of good eating, good entertainment, and fun on the slots, all within
    a budjet.
    This year we had expensive poor quality food,
    expensive mediocre entertainment, and slots that
    should have wealth warning labels on them!
    Not that we expect to win a great deal but just
    enough to be able to put back and fill in the time a bit.
    We spend nearly $3000 on flights and hotel and
    budjet $2000 for food and entertainment only to
    see one overpriced show and get fleeced at the
    slots in casinos with high priced low quality
    buffets (incl. Mandelay, Paris, Belagio).
    After 6 days we had next to nothing to spend and the only entertainment we had was riding all the bus routes on our 3 day pass!!
    I even tried playing a bigger money slot @$2 a pull and after 25 pulls the bonus feature came
    up with a whole lot of bells and fanfares
    telling me how lucky I was, it paid $20!!!
    Needless to say we will not be going to Vegas
    next year or ever if they don’t realise without punters they can’t make profits and there were many other people who were not happy with the current situation in Vegas.
    It seem’s to me that Vegas is trying to buy it’s
    way out of the recession by making the punter
    pay for it, but they overlook the fact that the
    punter is subject to the hard times as well!!
    and ripping them off with poor food, tight slots
    and cheap con tricks like the Tropicana’s first
    $200 on us, will not increase visitor numbers.

    Please feel free to add this rant to your growing file of disgruntled punters in the hope that if it gets big enough somebody out there will take notice and realise the customer is king in any business!!


  3. love downtown hope they dont destroy it like they did the strip and put in fancy hotels.People love the laid back atmosphere of the old downtown hotels and have one big party

  4. I’m sorry to hear Jon from the UK didn’t have a good time but I can certainly understand where he’s coming from. We did Vegas that way ONCE. The ol’ saying, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me,” is one to live by. Since getting fleeced that first year, we have been back every year since (6 yrs now) and we have done so on a budget of $550 for a family of 4! After the experience our first year, we started doing our research. We realized, for our next vacation we could either go to Disneyland for 2 days at a cost of $550 or we could go to Vegas for 6 days at a cost of $550. The trick was asking the kids where they wanted to go. Surprisingly they both said, “VEGAS!” Here’s how we do it 1) Stay downtown. 2) Sign up for email offers from the casinos/hotels we’d like to stay at downtown 3) Look for any food deals and plan out each day. (for example, like it or not, we’re having burgers at Hennessy’s on Tuesday for lunch because it’s Buy 1 get 1 FREE. So we buy 2 burgers we get 2 FREE and it includes fries) 4)We bounce around to get the best deals on rooms. 5) We plan our trip so we stay Sun-Thurs. and then decide to arrive either on a Saturday or leave on Saturday so we’re only paying the increased weekend rate for 1 night. 6)We won’t eat on the Strip 7)We don’t eat at fancy restaurants 8) We don’t see shows. We take advantage of free shows on the Strip to pass the time but then return to downtown for the free concerts, cheap food and drinks in the evening. 9) We only have 2 meals a day either a breakfast and a late lunch or lunch and late dinner.
    We do everything we can to stay within our budget and have a blast every year, all under $550. Let me know if you want to know more. After 5 years we’ve got our “system” down to perfection. We LOVE Vegas!

  5. thanks ted and staff for your excellent las vegas newsletter. i have been reading and enjoying it for many years. please don’t start charging for it unless you give us a nice coupon book like the las vegas advisor does. i have been going to las vegas for 30 years and have been there over 100 times. downtown is still like old vegas. lower cost rooms and food and better pay back on the slots. also you can easily walk to many different casinos. it is nice to see that they are remodeling the plaza and others but hopefully they don’t make the same mistake as the strip and raise their prices so that the average person can no longer afford to go to las vegas. free drinks low cost rooms and food are the only way we can afford to gamble. isn’t that what its all about? the casinos in las vegas need to remember we can go to indian casinos in minnesota (which are just like vegas casinos) without paying the high price for airfare. also another question if i can. john from uk keeps using the word punter what exactly does this word mean in the uk? thanks again. david johnson from minnesota.

  6. We’ve been going to Vegas at least once a year for 20 years. Never hit a jackpot over $450. City Center raised the bar for prices. We look for bargains and they are everywhere (but CC). Downtown will continue to thrive as long as they stay away from “resort fees” and card snappers. Cheers for the Fitz! And GG. The Cal and Main St Station are my favorites. The only thing lacking downtown is entertainment. More shows!

  7. I wish the downtown properties all the best.Prices on the strip are really out of control.Tough times are here and people need to get the best bang for their buck !!!

  8. Don’t mess with the downtown! We’re generally twice-a-year visitors to Vegas and gave up on most of the strip because of the outrageous price hikes. Now we stay downtown, though we’ve explored Laughlin as a possible replacement for downtown should that area go the way of the Strip. Downtown is “comfy”, friendly, inexpensive, fun, and loaded with neat, smaller, interesting places to go.

  9. Always enjoy the downtown. 99 cents shrimp cocktails at the Golden Gate.Always free music going on and the best people watching place in the United States.Vegas is value however you need to do your homework.HalfPriceTickets has several locations in Vegas for most of the shows offered. Also Vegas for Locals on Ebay allows you to bid on show tickets,food gift certificates etc. My last visit we had dinner at BB kings Blues club in the Mirage and the $50 gift cetificate cost me $26 on ebay…great food and live blues by the way. Do you research and you will save hundreds !

  10. in reply to David Johnson’s comment: 6/11/11. The word punter in the UK really means a better. You could have a punt (bet) on a horse race for example. Over the years this has expanded to mean a customer (e.g. attendance at a soccer match. The punters demand entertainment and value for money)

  11. I have stayed at the Fritz a few times over the last few years. The staff have always been friendly and the service has been great. The rooms have always been clean and the beds comfortable. I am glad to see that they are going to renovate, the casino and the rooms, are out dated and are in need of updating. I certainly hope the don’t do what the Plaza has done after their renovation. I will be coming to Vegas the second week of April 2012 so not knowing if the Fritz would be open during renovations, I checked for rates at other hotels on Fremont Street. I could not believe that the Plaza for 5 nights would charge an average of $232.00 a night. Its the Plaza on Fremont Street for goodness sake, I can get a room at the Cosmopolitan for $183.00 a night that same week. The Vegas Club is charging $79.00 a night (they also own the Plaza), if their rooms are in the same condition as the casino they should be paying me $90.00 a night to stay there. The rates at the Fritz are cheap, I stayed there in Sept. and paid $136.00 Canadian for 5 nights (not per night 5 nights) and got a free breakfast. The rates will defiantly go up and I have no problem with that, but lets not go crazy like the Plaza, the loyal clientele of the Fritz will go to the other Fremont Hotels and Casinos if they feel they are being taken advantage of. Good luck to the new owners of the Fritz, I only wish that they could keep the name. Do you think they could call it the Fritz?

  12. Visit Las Vegas at least once a year. Just returned from a one-week stay at Fitzgerald’s. The rooms (especially the mattresses) need some updating. This was our first stay downtown, but we will now stay downtown next year. The music, the street entertainers, the entire Freemont Experience is an asset to downtown. It’s great fun to walk from casino to casino. The buffets are great for the price. Hope downtown does not price themselves out of guests.

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