Writer's Note: Resorts World is the first major mega-resort to open in Las Vegas in more than ten years. Last week, I had a chance to visit this new attraction. So, I wrote the following "review" about my impressions and experience.
Grading any casino resort, especially based on initial impressions, is a purely subjective exercise. My review here is admittedly subjective — which is influenced by expectations, uniqueness, and value.
So how do I grade Resorts World? By expectation, I mean — does the casino meet the high expectations created by such size and scale and stoked by months of anticipation and hype? By uniqueness, I mean — is this casino different from all the rest, or is it like so many other resorts on The Strip, another indistinguishable money grab in what might as well be a giant shopping mall? By value, I mean — am I getting what I pay for (knowing in advance that the prices are certain to be higher than what we’d pay just about anywhere else)?
Resorts World is a gamble. A huge gamble. Especially right now. It was built on the ashes of the Stardust, demolished a decade ago. Construction on the new project seemed to last forever — on again, off again, marred by delays, lawsuits, and of course, a pandemic that basically shut down Las Vegas for nearly a year. Add the abomination that remains the dormant Fountainbleu across the street, which has been gathering rust for 13 years, and this entire neighborhood just north of Fashion Center resembles a belly-up construction zone. It’s *still* an eyesore.
For this reason, Resorts World stands out like a glowing torch in the abyss, especially at night. The 3,500-room structure is pillared with three hotels, a curved facade (which is a blatant rip-off of the Wynn design across the street), and a 25-story high panorama video screen plastered on the side of the building which makes for visions of Shangrila
Aside from the city streets around the casino which are a mess, marred with potholes, orange cones, delays, and impassable traffic, once you drive onto the property the layout is both accessible and navigable. We located public parking easily and found a space within a 40-second walk of the elevators on the fourth floor — not bad for a Thursday afternoon visit. Hmm, don’t try this at Caesars or far worse, Harrah’s — where it might take 30 minutes to get in (or out) of the garage. Oh, and parking is free, at least for now.
Parking is also very convenient to the center hotel, which is where most of the action is located. By action — this refers to the main casino floor, most restaurants, the sportsbook, and the poker room. Perhaps it was because the casino wasn’t crowded, but this is the first time in 20 years I made it from my car to the middle of the casino in less than 3 minutes. As I said, don’t try this anyplace else, folks.
First impression and the one word I’d use to describe Resorts World….spacious. Everything is spread out. How refreshing. Unlike the horrors of City Place which seems so claustrophobic, I felt the comfort of walking and breathing with plenty of light. I didn’t play on this visit, but Resorts World might want to lower the betting limits. I saw lots of bored dealers standing around waiting for a customer. But there aren’t going to be many customers when the limits are $25, $50, and $100 on a Thursday afternoon. That’s just dumb. Where do they think this is — Macau?
The dining layout and restaurant options are PHENOMENAL. I didn’t try any of the big-name spots, but a short tour and a look at the menus tickled every culinary temptation. I’ll definitely return and try several of these places, especially as the positive and negative reviews roll in.
As for the highly-acclaimed food court specializing mostly in Asian fare, this is an extraordinary epicenter of quality and variety. There were at least two dozen items I could have ordered and enjoyed, perhaps more. However, it’s not cheap. This isn’t burger row, so recalibrate your budget. I estimate to do this right, expect to spend $30-40 for a lunch you will carry to a table on a tray. You can get by for $20-25 perhaps with a single item, but that has to be mentioned. These are tourist prices, not locals prices. But the food looks — and from what I hear from everyone else — tastes great. I did have two items that were wonderful. But I can’t afford these $70 lunches, so this will be only an occasional treat.
I can’t speak to the quality of the rooms, the pool, the workout facilities, or much else. However, everything does meld together into one mega-resort. It does seem like a cruise ship, with everything you could possibly need or dream of onboard. I also liked what I saw of lounges and live music. It looks like Resorts World will have some music venues, which have become hard to find in modern-day corporate-controlled Las Vegas which gives NOTHING away for free.
The sportsbook looks functional. Very easy access from the parking garage and aligned with a bar-grille that serves food. I’ll try and write more on this when I have a chance to spend more time here.
Now, a few comments about the poker room. Here’s an honest review. I had to see this new room I’d heard so much about for myself. There are 25 tables (I think), but 24 of them were vacant. So, just one game was going — a $1-2 NLHE game, I presume. This was a red flag to not see more action on such a nice summer day. Of course, no one expects a full room and it takes time to build a loyal clientele, but given the investment Resorts World has made committing to the game and placing the venue so close to the casino, sportsbook, and parking, they have to be concerned by the lackluster turnout. Perhaps business kicks up later at night, but this needs to change fast.
Also worth noting, once I entered the new poker room I spoke to a few managers who were there on duty. I was masked (face covered) so they had no idea that I have a poker background. I didn’t see the names of either manager but these guys are surely doing their jobs well, that is if my encounter was indicative of how they run things. One manager smiled and asked where I was from. Another inquired if I wanted to play, without being pushy. I tend to like active, friendly poker people, and these managers get it when it comes to customer service. I sure hope they can coax a few more players to jump-start the business. I’ll go back sometime soon and share with them a few kind words because I’m a big believer in positive reaffirmation. So, even though poker appears to be struggling, I like the effort that’s been put into this room.
IMPORTANT ADDED NOTE: I also like that they did not have a *blank board* for a waiting list. Rather, they had games and limits for most of the games they hope to spread (1-2 PLO for instance) and even though there were no players yet, it shows they want to jump-start those games. Note to poker staffs out there–make a board like you WANT it to be not as IT IS. Be aspirational.
So, we ate lunch (delicious!), saw lots of restaurants, made a circle around the casino, and visited both the sportsbook and poker room. We were in-and-out within 90 minutes.
Overall, mine was a very favorable experience. I give the new resort a high grade, with my curiosity piqued by so many intriguing restaurants. Pricey, but seductive. Well designed, needs some work in the gambling department for sure, and was pleasing in the personal encounters I had. I shall return and undoubtedly write more reviews as I get to experience more of what Resorts World offers.
Note: This review first appeared at nolandalla.com