Can the Excalibur survive the new Las Vegas building boom?

Can the Excalibur survive the new Las Vegas building boom?

Excalibur Hotel and casino, Las Vegas

Old hotels in Vegas are disappearing at an alarming rate, with giant billion dollar mega hotels being built on their imploded ruins. The Stardust went in March 2007, and the New Frontier is set to be imploded in early 2008. These hotels, though large, were old, and although imploding them was expensive, the total cost of imploding them paled into significance compared with the billions of dollars being poured into the construction of the new hotels that will replace them.

However, Las Vegas is one city that doesn’t stand still, and the new hotels are changing not just the skyline, but the nature of the visitors who are set to come to the strip in future years. Just as the older hotels such as the Stardust and New Frontier fell out of favour once the huge themed mega-resorts such as the Luxor were built, the worry is that these existing mega-resorts will also go into decline once the new super-luxurious mega-hotels are completed.

Luxor Hotel Las Vegas

This gives the existing mega-hotels something of a dilemma. You can knock down a building the size of the New Frontier because its land is far more valuable than the old decrepit building that sat on it. With the mega hotels such as the Luxor and New York New York, though, it’s not that simple. The land they sit on is valuable, but so too are the hotels themselves, and the cost of imploding them is currently too prohibitive to even contemplate such a move.

Besides, many of them are only approaching their 20th birthday, and although Las Vegas doesn’t do sentimentality, knocking them down before they reach 20 years of age seems a little over the top even for Vegas.

So what do you if you have a mega hotel that faces going into decline when faced with the relentless competition from brand new multi-billion dollar hotels that focus purely on luxury?

Well, some hotels, such as the Luxor, are going for a bold refitting exercise, stripping away much of their theme and replacing it with up-market furnishings that should see them move upmarket in an attempt to compete on an equal footing with the new players.
The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas

Other themed hotels, such as the Venetian and Paris, should be OK, as they were always relatively high-end hotels anyway, and certainly weren’t as kid-friendly as Luxor or New York New York. But what about hotels such as Excalibur, or to a lesser extent, New York New York? Excalibur is based on Camelot and already looks like Disneyland. There’s no way you can refit the place, as the Camelot theme is pervasive, and no matter how much you dress the Knights of the Round Table up, it’s never going to appear cool and sophisticated!
New York New York hotel and casino, Las Vegas

New York New York, too, has similar problems, as although it’s got a cool vibe going on within, it’s also got a gigantic roller coaster running through it! In an effort not to be left behind, New York New York is going for a minor refit, replacing its kids arcade (which is great, by the way, and a real shame it’s going) with a new ultra lounge. This, combined with Coyote Ugly and the party vibe it has going on inside the place, should see it through, but it’s still not what you’d call sophisticated.

At this point, I could also talk about Circus Circus, but I don’t think that’s ever been described as sophisticated, and so it should do fine within its own niche for years to come!

So it seems that Vegas might become bookended with two kid-themed hotels (Excalibur and Circus Circus) sandwiching the new grown-up Vegas that’s rising in the middle.

Neither of these hotels are in danger anytime soon, as they’re both owned by MGM Mirage, who, apart from saying that Circus Circus’s future is secure and will get itself get a major refit in a few years’ time, won’t have any money left over for the Excalibur, after spending $7.7 billion on Project City Center, and a similar amount on another project it’s planning on building next to Circus Circus.

As time moves on, though, and the next round of mass implosions begins (and I’m talking at least a decade away), expect the Excalibur to be the first to go.

3 Responses

  1. B July 24, 2007 at 2:03 am #

    Circus Circus will go before Excalibur…there’s been big capital improvements in Excalibur recently.

  2. Mike February 20, 2008 at 4:44 am #

    I was saying to my wife just today that Excalibur must surely be in danger as the “LA-ification” kicks into full swing. We are seeing the fun and theme stripped from Luxor with a trendy new renaming of the nightclub to “LAX” to appeal to the Paris Hilton set, but what can be done for Excalibur? Nothing I fear.

    It’s going to be a sad lookout for Vegas if we end up with nothing but super luxury resorts down one end of the strip and trendy faux Los Angeles things down the other (just look at what happened to Aladdin)


  1. Vegas Bound - September 19, 2007

    The Frenzied Pace Of Las Vegas Growth…

    I found some insightful commentary on the Las Vegas building boom going on right now. Word has it that some experts are worried that Las Vegas is expanding too quickly and may end up suffering for that.


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