What makes Las Vegas great?
One of the worlds most successful resort designers, Paul Steelman, has recently floated a theory that makes sense and it’s not what you might think. Steelman, 62, believes it’s the proximity to each other of the casino/resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in downtown Las Vegas that sets Southern Nevada apart. Although, the nearness of everything including the airport is an organic development rather than part of a master plan, it works and should be copied, he says.
Steelman, who has the perfect name for an architect/builder, has the credentials to know what he’s talking about and in the immortal words of the oft-quoted baseball manager Casey Stengel, “You can look it up!”
Many loath the traffic issues when visiting both local gaming hubs. As those of us a little older crave the less crowded places for gambling and entertainment fun, the younger crowd seems to enjoy the masses of humanity that visit downtown and the Strip daily. On a recent visit to T-Mobile Arena to see the Golden Knights, the buzz was palpable as our cab took us to the venue. The bustling crowd, anxious to get inside, created an excitement of its own, apart from the game. The fans had no problem navigating their way to the arena or waiting in long lines to get in hours before the puck would drop.
Even when the team lost, the energy did not subside on a walk through the Monte Carlo and then to the Aria to head to transportation home.
It’s certainly true that some do not enjoy crowds. However many, especially the younger set, feed off of them because these crowds provide an energy that’s undeniable.
Steelman, in recent comments to Forbes, says the companies that win the right to build integrated resorts in Japan need only look toward the Philippine casino market and then toward Las Vegas to create a roadmap toward success.
He says the isolation of the three Entertainment City integrated resorts by Manila Bay costing about $5 billion, have elevated the Philippine casino market, but their isolation prevents them from being more successful. He notes the parcels of empty land between them may take decades to be filled in with buildings and people. Steelman says Entertainment City casino owners have missed the hidden-in-plain-sight secret of Las Vegas, and they’re not alone.
Steelman Partners, as reported by Forbes, presented a master plan “to make Entertainment City the Las Vegas of Asia.” The plan sought to connect three of the four resorts closest to the bay via a large promenade thus becoming Manila’s equivalent of the Las Vegas Strip. He further advised linking the venues to Mall of Asia and its indoor area, just to the north, visited by 200,000 people a day.
He added that Manila needs a plan such as the one he proposed to compete with Japan and other casino centers. He also believes the joint advertising approach by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is an effective marketing plan because it promotes the region as a whole. The theory seems to be to attract large numbers of visitors to come to Las Vegas and there will be enough dollars spent for everyone.
It’s the ability of Las Vegas Strip and downtown visitors to drift from casino to casino that makes the two hubs so popular. If you feel unlucky at one spot or uncomfortable for any other reason, just walk next door. On my early visits here in the 1970’s, we often would start at the Aladdin and then drift north on Las Vegas Boulevard from place to place to see where we would be luckiest. That was more fun than being “trapped” in one spot with the feeling bad luck might stick around.
Steelman, who designed or had a part in designing some of the most famous casino/resorts in the world, believes Las Vegas continues to be the “gold standard” for entertainment districts, but other destinations haven’t gotten the Vegas message. That is, “City planning has never been a strong driver in casino development. It always amazes me that some casino owners and operators do not see that the sum of all parts is much greater than any of the pieces.”
Steelman, in his Forbes interview, recommends Japan copy what works by emulating the concept of clustering its new integrated resorts with numerous entertainment and gambling options to be more successful.
“Japan has an incredible culture, an incredible architecture, incredible art, incredible style… the world needs to see Japan in a fun sort of way, and it will be fun, no doubt about it,” he said.