The Stardust Hotel debuted 60 years ago  | The Mob Museum

I wrote a little something to commemorate the Stardust’s 60th birthday for the Mob Museum:

The Stardust opened in a blaze of fireworks on July 2, 1958. With its 1,000 guest rooms, it was bigger than any hotel previously opened in Las Vegas. Size, rather than style, was the hotel’s most prominent feature. Its 16,000-square-foot casino was immense for its time, and the 140-foot bar that ran along much of its east wall was the forerunner of The D’s present-day Longbar in downtown Las Vegas.

Read it all: The Stardust Hotel, longtime cash cow for the Mob, debuted 60 years ago on the Las Vegas Strip | The Mob Museum

Moby Dick on the Strip

You might know Moby Dick as a seminal 19th century American novel. Or, if your tastes run that way, a John Bonham drum solo vehicle. But it was also the name of a seafood restaurant at the Stardust that opened in the late 1950s.

There’s plenty more about casino restaurants (but, regrettably, not much about cetaceans) in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

You might know Moby Dick as a seminal 19th century American novel. Or, if your tastes run that way, a John Bonham drum solo vehicle. But it was also the name of a seafood restaurant at the Stardust that opened in the late 1950s.

There’s plenty more about casino restaurants (but, regrettably, not much about cetaceans) in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

Echelon groundbreaking

Boyd Gaming broke ground on Echelon Place today. Here’s the AP story, but I’ll cut and paste some stuff from two press releases I go this morning. First up: the Delano and Mondrian:

Morgans Hotel Group Co. and Boyd Gaming Corporation today announced their development and design plans for the new Mondrian and Delano hotels at Echelon in Las Vegas. A world-class team of designers and architects has been appointed to lead the project.

MHG and Boyd have named Chad Oppenheim as design architect, Klai Juba as executive architect, Marcel Wanders as interior designer for Mondrian, Piet Boon as interior designer for Delano and Cagley and Tanner as executive interior designer. Together, this celebrated team of designers and architects will design and develop the hotels to bring a new level of style and sophistication to Las Vegas.

“We are incredibly excited about this project and the talented design team we’ve assembled,” said Ed Scheetz, President and Chief Executive Officer of MHG. “The level of creativity and experience each brings to this project is perfectly matched with MHG’s goal to set a new standard for groundbreaking hotels.”

“The Delano and Mondrian are iconic hotel brands and will help define Echelon,” said Bob Boughner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boyd Gaming’s Echelon Resorts. “Their presence will add a fresh sensibility to the Las Vegas hotel experience.”

As announced in January 2006, MHG and Boyd will develop a Delano and Mondrian at Echelon through a 50/50 joint venture. The new Mondrian and Delano will feature approximately 860 and 550 rooms respectively, with a diverse collection of rooms, suites, lofts and bungalows. Each hotel will feature its own porte-cochere, lobby, destination restaurants, nightlife venues, pools and gardens and will have direct access to the gaming, retail, dining and entertainment offerings of Echelon. Delano will boast a lobby bar and one of Morgans Hotel Group’s historically successful restaurants, and amenities including a spa and fitness center, private pool and recreation area. Mondrian will include an innovative nightlife venue, private pool and meeting and conference space to appeal to both business and leisure guests. The expected development cost for the project is approximately $950 million.

And here’s the general project rundown:

Hotel Echelon

Hotel Echelon, with 2,500 guest rooms and suites, will embody elegance, comfort and convenience with clean, contemporary design. The guest rooms and suites, designed by Lawrence Lee Associates, will be thoughtfully appointed to host, with equal attention, guests visiting for business or staying for pleasure. The hotel will feature a grand arrival experience and a dramatic entry lobby designed by Gabellini Sheppard Associates. A separate dedicated group arrival area will ensure smooth check-in and access to the hotel. The hotel will also feature a two-story luxury spa, salon, barbershop, a comprehensive fitness center and lushly landscaped pools and gardens.

Suites at Echelon

The Suites at Echelon is a 650 all-suite hotel catering to the discerning business traveler and indulgent vacationer alike. With a separate entrance and porte cochere, the Suites at Echelon will offer an elevated level of style, service and amenities. With interiors designed by Jeffery Beers International, the hotel will feature suites ranging in size from 800 square feet to over 7,000 square feet, a hotel lobby with guest reception and concierge, an intimate bar and lounge and a feature restaurant. The Suites at Echelon will showcase dedicated conference space, a luxurious spa, salon and full-service fitness center. The all-suite hotel will be steps away from high-limit casino action.

Shangri-La Hotel, Las Vegas

Shangri-La Las Vegas will be operated by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Asia’s premier five-star luxury hotel company. The intimate, modern luxury setting will include 282 guest rooms and 71 premium suites with a distinctive porte cochere and hotel lobby. Shangri-La will feature 14 guest rooms per floor, providing quick and easy access from elevators, and will offer a superior in-room hospitality experience. With interiors designed by Hersh Bedner Associates, the hotel will feature a 20,000 square foot CHI spa, well-appointed premium meeting space and two feature restaurants.

Delano and Mondrian Las Vegas

The new Mondrian and Delano will feature approximately 860 and 550 rooms respectively, with a diverse collection of rooms, suites, lofts and bungalows. Morgans Hotel Group has named Chad Oppenheim as design architect for both hotels, Marcel Wanders as interior designer for Mondrian and Piet Boon as interior designer for Delano. Together, this celebrated team of designers and architects will design and develop the hotels to bring a new level of style and sophistication to Las Vegas.

Each hotel will feature its own porte cochere, lobby, destination restaurants, nightlife venues, pools and gardens and will have direct access to the gaming, retail, dining and entertainment offerings of Echelon. Delano will boast a lobby bar, one of Morgans Hotel Group’s historically successful restaurants, and amenities including a spa and fitness center, private pool and recreation area. Mondrian will include an innovative nightlife venue, private pool and meeting and conference space to appeal to both business and leisure guests. Construction on the Delano and Mondrian is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2008.

Echelon Retail Promenade

Echelon’s Retail Promenade will complement the style and sophistication of the five distinctive hotels of Echelon. With interiors designed by Gabellini Sheppard Associates, the contemporary promenade will feature a mix of luxury boutiques, international brands, distinctive cafes and signature restaurants. The Retail Promenade is co-owned by Boyd Gaming and General Growth Properties, one of the retail industry’s most diversified and well-resourced operators.

Entertainment Venues

AEG, one of the world’s leading producers of entertainment and sporting events, whose venues include The O2 in London and O2 World in Berlin, the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the Nokia Theater in New York City, will operate the 4,000-seat production theater that has been designed to accommodate both concerts and production shows. In addition, a more intimate 1,500-seat theater will house touring acts and performances.

The Meeting Center

The Meeting Center at Echelon has been designed to meet Las Vegas’ strong and growing demand for meetings and convention space integrated into a resort environment. The Meeting Center will feature 650,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, bringing the total meeting and convention space at Echelon to approximately 750,000 square feet, including over 200 meeting rooms. The Meeting Center’s proximity to the 5,000 rooms at Echelon will offer guests unparalleled convenience and access.

Echelon Resort Las Vegas

This is going to be way more than Borgata West, and will do a lot for the north end of the Strip. I wonder how much new convention space the Strip can absorb–Fontainebleau will also be heavy on meeting space. I’m interested in seeing how this one develops.

Implosion, and thoughts on a goat man

I’d be remiss if I didn’t let KLAS tell you about the Stardust implosion:

The excitement of the implosion is over and now the massive clean-up effort begins bfore the old Stardust property is turned into the $4 billion Echelon resort.

The legendary Stardust hotel tower on the Las Vegas Strip was brought down by implosion early Tuesday morning.

There was a hail of fireworks before the 2:34 a.m. implosion. At 32 stories, it was the tallest structure to ever be imploded on the Las Vegas Strip.

It took 428 pounds of explosives to bring down the tower and less than 10 seconds for the building to fall. The final result was 170,000 tons of debris and a lot of dust.

LasVegasNOW.com | News for Las Vegas, Nevada – Las Vegas’ Legendary Stardust Bites The Dust

I was going to watch the excitement first hand, but Suni and I didn’t get back from LA until about 1, and I was pretty thrashed after driving the 4+ hours after a full day on that ranged from Culver City to Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and back. Once again, sleep wins out over watching history being made–or unmade, as the case may go.

The implosion aside, I’ve got a non-gambling or Vegas thing that’s been bugging me. I saw 300 over the weekend, and can’t get certain elements of it out of my mind. this isn’t a review as such, and there aren’t any spoilers, but if you haven’t seen it I’ll give you a few things to think about before you plunk down your money for a ticket.

As a historian, I should be aghast at anyone playing fast and loose with the past. After all, I get peeved enough at people who say that Bugsy Siegel founded Las Vegas or built the first casino on the Strip. As you can guess, I’d get really bent out of shape if someone made a movie that showed Bugsy and Aslan turning over dirt at the Flamingo’s groundbreaking. But my problem with the movie wasn’t so much the inaccuracy as it was the weird direction it took.

I’m no specialist on Ancient Greece, but I get the feeling that that’s about as accurate as 300 is. Now, I could see some room for creative license. For example, I’d buy Xerxes as the clueless but powerful guy he seems to be in the Book of Esther, but not as an 8-foot tall pre-op tranny with an interest in body piercings. The guy arrived for the battle, as my sister-in-law said, on a Carnivale float. It looked visually striking, but I don’t think, creatively, was the best route. Why not make him an effete, corrupt, power-mad king who seems like a pushover but, once the fighting starts, is an absolute maniac and a formidable foe for the Spartan king? It’d give the character more than one dimension. But the Persians were just depicted as universally weak and evil (which is in itself troubling) with no sense of how or why they had assembled such a powerful empire.

(By the way, the tranny thing isn’t just my take–there are actually 2 actors credited as playing “transsexuals” in the cast.)

All that said, I absolutely loved Xerxes’s speaking voice. Seriously, that guy should be doing voice-over work. If Gotham ever does an audio book of Roll the Bones, he’s got my vote as narrator. But there’s a scene where he comes up behind the Spartan king Leonidas and I could just hear him saying, “Hey, have you been working out?” As cool as Xerxes was, I’ve got to confess that I was laughing through all of his scenes thinking about that kind of stuff.

But Xerxes is a model of historical accuracy compared to one of the bit players. At one point in the orgy scene–yes, there is an orgy scene, but it’s very tasteful ;)–the camera pans over to a goat man chilling out, smoking a pipe.

I’m pretty sure that Xerxes wasn’t 8 feet tall, and that the Persians didn’t have orcs wearing silver masks fighting for them, but I know for sure that they didn’t have any goatmen in the ranks. He’s only in the shot for a few seconds, but he seems so non-chalant that you almost don’t notice. And nobody else at the orgy seems to particularly mind.

I just don’t get it. I didn’t see a goatman or faun in the credits, so I’m guessing it was just a CGI thing that someone at the studio thought was cool. And don’t get me wrong, I think it was absolutely cool. But it really undermined any sense that the movie was more a quicker version of Lord of the Rings where the “good guys” lose.

One last cool thing–Dominic West had a big role–you might know him as McNulty on The Wire. I kept on waiting for him to complain to the Spartan council that the fight against the Persians can’t go on unless they start tapping phones and cloning pagers.

Ahh, I still can’t get past the goat man.