I hate to beat this into the ground, but the AVERAGE age of a Las Vegas visitor is 49 years old. That fell a few years during the boom, but it came right back and settled at 49. 49 year olds that make upwards of 6 figures per year.
Downtown’s outrageous gaming gains in April (25% over the previous year) were no surprise to me. For the most part, downtown is going after the 40+ crowd and starting to do a damn good job of it. Even before their 80’s Rock themed summer for 2012, they’ve had Arena Tribute Band and other 80’s rock/metal cover bands playing for a couple of years now.
I’m 46 and downtown is starting to be my preferred place to hang out. OK, it isn’t as spiffy at The Strip, but it isn’t as expensive either. Even the best restaurants are relatively affordable. Getting bored of the casino you’re at (or simply losing too badly)? A 30 second walk will put you in an entirely new property. You simply can’t do that on The Strip.
Don’t get me wrong: The Strip has awesome shows and great attractions that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. But with the Fremont Street East bar district, the resurgence of Neonopolis, great free entertainment nightly and no thump-thump nightclubs, downtown might be calling your name if pimple cream and prom are a very distant memory.
A Saturday evening chat with one of the construction foremen (who himself is now living in one of the shuttered Binion’s rooms) confirmed that Binion’s Hotel & Casino downtown Las Vegas is about to remodel all of their rooms and suites in preparation for re-opening the hotel portion of the property. He gave us a sneak peak at some room design photos which he had on his smart phone. Going to be lots of silver and red plus each door will evidently have a steel-plated mildly cross-hatched design (think artsy, not industrial).
Completion is expected to take the rest of the year. It is more than just a room make-over. An antiquated heating/cooling system (consisting of hot and cold pipes in the walls) will have to be completely gutted and modernized. One can assume they are gunning to be open by New Years Eve.
In addition, the infamous coffee shop downstairs is slated to be turned into a Las Vegas location of the famed Velvet Margarita top rated restaurant and Hollywood hot spot which will convert to a club/lounge after hours.
Old Binion’s Horseshoe Coffee Shop:
Velvet Margarita owner Carlos Adley is also partnering with Binion’s owner Terry Caudill to move forward with the refurbishment of the old Metro Police building at 601 E. Fremont Street and the plans announced last year are indeed taking shape:
The Biggest News That No One Is Talking About – happens to be the Zappos.com takeover of Las Vegas City Hall for their corporate headquarters. Why have I yet to see even one major Las Vegas blog talk about the impact? Who, what… who cares? You should. Here’s why:
Zappos.com employs 1000 people and they are growing. These employees tend to be younger and obviously have paychecks. With a new Las Vegas City Hall under construction, Zappos will be taking over the old building (on block off of the Fremont Street Experience) for their headquarters.
Despite the bad economy, downtown Las Vegas has slowly but surely been undergoing a revitalization. The new East Fremont district has gained a nice reputation. First Friday is established. The Golden Nugget opened a new tower about a year ago. The El Cortez had a major makeover a couple of years ago and continues improvements. The Plaza Las Vegas is currently in the process of MAJOR upgrades and improvements to their rooms.
However, downtown still has somewhat of a run-down image. With justification. Many of the properties simply have not had the cash to reinvest. Here’s where Zappos employees come in:
Seven days per week, Zappos employees are going to get off of work downtown. They will grab a drink. They will eat. They will leave their money downtown (plus add to an already lively scene). This infusion of people and cash will help provide the profits and incentive for ALL downtown businesses to step up their game. They will have the money to fix-up and upgrade.
I’m not saying that downtown Las Vegas will ever compete with The Strip. Nor should it. To build billion dollar resorts, you have to charge customers high prices to recoup the cost. Las Vegas continues to need the lower-price, lower-frills option downtown has offers. I don’t anticipate that changing. But wouldn’t it be nice to see some of the older downtown properties spruced up a bit? New life into them with the influx of more customers? This arrangement between the City of Las Vegas and Zappos is a winner for all involved and a huge win for downtown in general.