The Bellagio is a luxury Resort and Casino located in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel replaced the Dunes and signalled the end to Mafia influence in Las Vegas. Opened in October 1998, at a cost of $1.6 billion, the hotel, at the time, was the most expensive in the world. The resort was yet another brain child of Steve Wynn, who revolutionized Las Vegas with his Mirage and Treasure Island mega-resorts almost ten years earlier.
Inspired by the Bellagio Resort on Lake Como, Italy, the hotel a decade later stands for European elegance. The fountains at Bellagio, synchronized to popular music, are simply amazing, and are without doubt the best free tourist attraction in Las Vegas. The amazing hotel lobby and the gorgeous conservatory add that over-the-top touch that you can only find in Vegas. Wynn sold his company, Mirage Resorts, in 2000 to the MGM group in order to build the Wynn and Encore casinos.
The Bellagio resort is located at the southwest intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Avenue, and is directly across the Strip from the Paris and Ballys, and is adjacent to new the City Centre complex to the south and to Caesars Palace to the North. The 36-floor hotel features 3,421 rooms and 512 suites, from the standard 510 sqft room, to the Presidential Suites at 4,075 sq. ft., to the 8,000 sqft three bedroom, seven bathroom Villas (available by invitation only). The Spa Tower, which opened in December 2004, added 829 rooms and 109 suites. The Bellagio boasts a 5 diamond AAA rating and a Forbes (Mobil) four-star rating. The hotel is connected via a walkway to the Vdara hotel and CityCenter while a short monorail connects Bellagio with its sister CityCenter and Monte Carlo properties.
According to the Nevada Gaming commission, the casino is 159,760 sq. feet, slightly larger than the MGM Grand’s at 156,023 feet. The Poker room is world-famous. Via Bellagio features ultra-high end shopping. The permanent show at the Bellagio is Cirque du Soleil’s “O”, which is always rated as one of Vegas’ best.
We stayed at Bellagio from April 4 to 6, 2010, over two nights. The room was booked directly through the Bellagio web site. Comparably speaking, most hotel sites boast a lowest guaranteed rate, and the Bellagio was no exception. The room rate as booked was $149 for both Sunday and Monday nights. With the 12% Nevada Hotel Tax, the total room rate was $166.88/night. The MGM Grand hotels require a one night deposit at the time of booking. You lose this deposit if you cancel less than 48 hours before the start of your stay.
When we arrived on Sunday afternoon, the registration area was quite busy. Each agent had a separate line, leaving you to the whims of the parties in front of you to determine how long you had to wait, which could be frustrating if you had a slow party in front of you. As well, the general public could intermingle with the registration line as well, leading to confusion. As a result of our poor choice, we had about a ten minute wait before we were served, with only one party in front of us.
The wait gave us a bit of time to enjoy the lobby. The lobby has stunning glass blown flowers dangling from the ceiling and a view of the conservatory. We could smell the strong sweet scent of orchids coming from the conservatory. Behind the check in counters are trees and gardens, extending the conservatory out into the lobby and adding overall class and warmth to the lobby area.
Registration itself was fairly routine. We were assigned a standard room with a “Pool” view on the 24th floor of the hotel. We were given instructions on getting to the room (through the casino, turn left, to the elevators, turn right). No coupons were issued.
The room itself was a standard 510 sq. ft. room, in what would be called a fairly standard configuration. When coming in, there is a marble floorway, with the washroom on the left. Carpets were beige. The very comfortable king bed had extra throw pillows for comfort, and had overhead lights that you could turn off at the side of the bed. The comforter was colored in the theme of the room, dark brown. As well, there was a standard luggage holder, a desk, two sitting chairs, and a small table for eating. The bed was flanked by two night stands, both with reading lamps. There was also a I-Home (a clock radio with a docking station for an IPod)
Opposite the bed was a gigantic wooden brown armoire with two cabinets for hanging clothes. The central area held a 27” tube television, while there were three huge drawers underneath — ample space to store clothes for two. The room safe (which was left in the open position and was never fixed during our stay) was embedded in one side of the armoire.
The window for the room is fairly sized, covering about 2/3rds of the outside wall, floor to ceiling. The bottom of the window had a vent that you could open to let in the outside air. Our vent was particularly difficult to open as one of the handles was not working. The Bellagio’s windows look much larger from the outside because each window actually covers four rooms on two floors, a great effect, because the hotel appears to be much smaller and more intimate from the outside. Window drapery is remote controlled from your bedside or from the entrance way to the room.
The lockable mini-fridge and snack tray above were weight sensitive &mash; you were immediately charged for any goods that you lifted (a warning was issued at the front desk) The mini-fridge was well stocked with various liquors, champagnes, beers, wines, water, and soft drinks. There was very little room to put your own items in. Prices ranged from $4 for a Coke, $5 for beer, $8 for liquors, and upwards from there. Minutes after check-in, one of the service personnel brought us a bag of ice for us. There was no coffee maker.
The bathroom was very well appointed. There was a bathtub on the left, a single sink, and a glass-enclosed large shower. Drawers and shelves held hand towels and a hair dryer, There was also a scale (which was not working). Accoutrements included large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, mouthwash, soaps, and a shower cap. Unfortunately, on the first morning the shower was only warm, which was quite a disappointment.
The view from the window looked south overlooking the pool, the Spa Tower, and MGM’s CityCenter complex. To the east was the south wing of the Bellagio. To the west were the industrial areas of Las Vegas and the mountains off to the distance.
The room was serviced twice per day and maid service was excellent. The turndown service in the evening featured our bathrobes being placed on the sides of our bed, and a towel on our floor with slippers as well as a couple of chocolates.
Las Vegas’ most recognizable tourist attraction, the fountains dance to music every ½ hour during the day (3pm on weekdays, noon on weekends), and every 15 minutes starting at 8pm. Do not miss this show, and because the display is different every time, it is worthwhile to watch several shows. The best place to watch the show is either from one of the restaurants and lounges in the Bellagio or from any vantage point along Lake Como. Music is chosen from a selection of Opera, Classical, and Broadway tunes.
The Conservatory just off of the main lobby is a must see. Naturally lighted, the Conservatory features bright, beautiful gardens and decorations that are changed for the seasons. In early April when we visited, the Conservatory featured giant ants, mushrooms, and a giant shovel and pail with flowers flowing out of them like spilt sand.
The Gallery features a very small selection of rotating fine art and sculpture. At $15 for General Admission, I don’t think it’s worth the price, especially if you live close to a major art gallery.
The Bellagio “pool” complex features three hot tubs and five separate pools. Your room card is swiped when entering the pool area to dissuade trespassers. Towels given out at the bottom of the stairs and bottles of water are available at the bar. The grounds are absolutely beautiful with gorgeous gardens and topiaries. The area is seemingly secluded as the pool area is surrounded by the hotel and convention facilities. This also cuts out some of the wind.
There are plenty of cabanas available for rent (call in advance to reserve, well in advance for weekends). 2010 rates are $250 midweek, $300 for Friday/Sunday, $400 for Saturday, and $450 for a Holiday weekend. Cabanas feature HDTV, phone, wi-fi, fruit plate, amenities basket, fully stocked fridge (non-alcoholic), an I-Home, and a mister system. You can also receive massage services in your cabana. The pools are heated to 80 degrees but none of them are deep at all (4 feet) making it difficult to do laps. The main pool is a very long and inviting. The other main pool is a large square and is quieter. The staff are very attentive to their patrons and provide service immediately on settling in to your lounge chair. The pool was very busy on the day that we were there and it was difficult to find two chairs together -- this on a cool April Tuesday. The pool features a bar and a café that serves breakfast and lunch. Despite the beautiful grounds, the pool area, for me, seems to be too crowded and not much of a respite from the Casino.
The Bellagio’s spa is supposed to be one of the best in Vegas. Use of the Fitness facilities is $25. There are group classes in Meditation, Pilate, Yoga, and other exercise for $40. Bellagio provides a 26-page Spa Brochure that covers various services. Massages start at $130 for a 50-minute session. You must be a registered guest at Bellagio to be able to use the Spa or Fitness Center.
Bellagio features 17 restaurants.
We ate at Osteria del Circo, which is located along Lake Como. Since we did not have reservations, we were placed at a table far away from the view. My wife ordered a simple pizza ($25) with Proscuitto and Cheese and was very basic and not very tasty. I ordered Cacciucco ($38) which is one of my favourites--a fish and shellfish stew in a tomato based broth. It was not very good at all. With a single glass of wine and tip, the meal came out to $100. I felt that this value was terrible, despite it being the Bellagio and with the premiere view of the fountains.
We also ate breakfast at the Café Bellagio. The Café offered standard breakfast fare of bacon, eggs, sausages, omelettes, eggs benedict, and fruit. We were in the mood for eggs, so I had a ham and cheese omelette, with hash browns and toast, while my partner feasted on the three egg breakfast, scrambled, with back bacon, hash browns, and toast. At $13 each + $8 for a pot of coffee, I found this price to be reasonable –- for the Bellagio.
For lunch, we ate soups and sandwiches at Snacks. The soups ($5) at about 12oz come in a cardboard container for easy take out. The club sandwich $9.75 (with potato chips or coleslaw) was excellent with generous portions of turkey and bacon.
The Bellagio Buffet is supposed to be the best in town for all Buffets. Line-ups for the buffet seemed long at all times, and we did not partake in the meal. Here is a list of fine dining restaurants available at the Bellagio (all of which can be reserved online through the Bellagio website).
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the casino is approximately 158,000 sqft. As of December 2009, the casino has 2,325 slot machines, 168 total games, and 68 poker tables.
The casino features 12 craps tables, 14 roulette tables, 81 twenty one games (no 6-5 blackjack), keno, mini baccarat (4) and baccarat (27 total tables), pai gow poker (5) and tiles (3), as well as Caribbean Stud (1), Three Card poker (5 games: 3 for a flush, 7.09% advantage on the Pairs Plus), Let it Ride (2), Crazy 4 Poker (2) , Wheel of Fortune, Casino War, and World Poker Tour All in Hold-em Poker (2), and Ultimate Texas Hold-em (1).
The casino itself is quite large and at first is difficult to navigate. If you follow the main pathways however, you will find that the casino is essentially a long rectangular hallway with a pathway that jigs to the right. The entire casino is flanked by restaurants on the lake side and restaurants and services on the north side. The Cashier and player’s club are in the center of the Casino. Midway through the casino is a hallway that leads to the hotel room and features the casinos’ craps tables. Table games line most of the hallway from the entrance of the casino to the end of the pathway, which is the hotel lobby and Conservatory.
This hallway, from the opulent mall that leads to Ballys and Caesars Palace, to the lobby and Conservatory, is very heavily travelled. I would venture to say that this is probably the busiest casino on the Strip, and it feels like that whenever you gamble there.
I would rate the Casino itself as first class, but I think the staff is not particularly friendly, with a bit of snootiness and attitude. The “Baccarat Bar” high limit room was especially snobby, but with minimums at $100 for Blackjack, Bacarrat, and Roulette, it’s understandable. Behind a set of curtains in that room is Club Prive, which features a very classy bar featuring rare spirits and more baccarat and blackjack tables. Club Prive is open only to “VIPs” and high rollers. A set of elevators there connect you to the top floors of Bellagio. Here is a summary of the games:
You’ll find no 6-5 Blackjack games at Bellagio. On the casino floor, I counted a total of 63 blackjack games (leaving the other 18 in the high limit rooms) There were a great deal of $10 blackjack games (Continuous Shuffler, Hit Soft 17, at 0.66% house edge). As well, there were four deck and two deck games available at $25 to $100 denominations. Early in the morning, $5 blackjack was also offered. Blackjack variants included Blackjack Switch and Super Fun 21. The $10 tables were usually staffed in the daytime by gruff and aging men and women. One particular woman admonished me on the way I made hand signals, the first time in my gambling history. I left the table.
There were 12 craps tables all centered along the main hallway of the casino. All featured limits between $10 to $25 (there was a $100 table a couple of times), 3-4-5x odds, with 3x field 12 bets and “downtown” odds, (31 for 1, 16 for 1 on horn bets, and 10 and 8 for 1 on hardway bets). There were usually always heavy gamblers at these tables frequently buying in for $5 to 10K, even on the $10 tables.
All of the roulette (11 games) in the main casino were minimums from $10 to $25 (5.26% house edge) tables. The high limit room featured single 0 roulette where you get ½ your bet back on even bets if zero is spun (1.35% house advantage on even bets). Minimums in the high limit room were $100.
The casino features a section (next to the Baccarat high-limit) room for Pai-Gow poker, Pai-Gow Plus (which features a bonus bet similar to Fortune Pai Gow and a Dragon Hand, a community hand that you can elect to play, at at least the minimum table limit), Emperor’s Challenge Pai Gow (which is similar to Fortune Pai Gow except you get a bonus for low hands as well), and Tiles. Limits were impressively low at $10 in the day and went up to $25 during the evening.
All of the casino’s baccarat tables are hidden away behind the Baccarat bar. Minimums are $100. Mini-Baccarat (four tables) is featured in the pai gow section.
High limit Lounge
Bellagio’s high limit lounge, Club Prive, is accessible from the Baccarat Bar (the area is curtained off to avoid gawkers) and from the VIP elevators, and features at least six tables. The Club features an amazing bar with very rare liquors and vintages. The motif is art deco and there is a raised floor and dark wood. Sportsbook
The Bellagio Sportsbook, tucked away behind a bar and the poker room, was fairly upscale. As it was the first main day of baseball season and the final NCAA men’s basketball tournament game, the Sportsbook was busy and a lot of fun. The chairs were very comfortable and there were about 150 individual stations where you could watch your sporting even on televisions. There is also a very nice bar bordering the sports books where you can celebrate your latest win.
Bellagio’s poker room, home to the World Poker Tour, is world renowned and known for its no limits room and is the home casino to many of the major poker players in the world. I witnessed players betting thousands of dollars in the no limits room. However, there were $2-4 games available, and the Fontana Bar had been turned into a poker room for satellite games.
vpFree2 states that the best Video poker is 9/6 jacks or better (99.54%), starting at the $5 denomination. For smaller bettors, the next best is 8/5 Bonus Poker (99.17%).
The Bellagio features a great deal and variety of slot machines from the $.01 denomination to $10 on the main casino area. The high limit room featured a number of machines that started at $25 to a small group of machines at $1,000. Drink service in the slot area is painfully slow, having to wait 20 minutes or more for drinks.
MGM Player’s Card
Bellagio does not rate you for Blackjack or Pai Gow unless you are playing at the $25 level or above. Machine players earn $1 in free play for ever $100 bet in slots, and $450 in video poker. There are additional "Holiday Gift Shoppe" points, which may be redemed at the end of the year for gifts or free play. I do not know how much value of the Holiday Gift Shoppe points add.
Comps for table games for dinners, shows, etc. require a very high level of play for which I didn’t qualify.
Our Own Gambling
We played a variety of games at Bellagio, including Blackjack, Craps, Pai Gow poker, video poker and slots. We did not have a great deal of luck during our stay. Blackjack tables were absolutely terrible for us and the craps tables were not much better. Slot machine play seemed to be very tight especially below the $.25 level (which is to be expected).
In general, we felt somewhat out of place at this casino and felt that it really caters to hard core gamblers with a lot of money to spend. At the craps tables, on any occasion, there were players buying in for $5,000 - $10,000. Dealers are generally unfriendly.
The Bellagio casino is indeed a jewel at the middle of the Las Vegas strip. With its dazzling fountain displays, lobby and conservatory, it attracts a great deal of foot traffic. But with being a high end property, the dealers and staff were a bit snooty, and did not make low level table ($10) players feel wanted (except Pai Gow Poker)
Overall, the casino resort is first rate. I would offer the following suggestions:
Given the hotel rate, the quality of the resort, and its location, I feel that the rate is a good value, especially midweek. The resort is one of the top three on the strip (often compared to the Wynn) and is indeed luxurious in every way. However, I feel that the hotel could do much better from its drink services, to its dealers’ attitude, to the room maintainance. For the price, I expect the experience both in the hotel and casino to be perfect, and it wasn’t.
The Wizard would like to thank Nikkia Carter for modeling in some of the above pictures. Nikkia invites you to visit her MySpace page.
Address: 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Web site: bellagio.com
|Blackjack||Decks||Min||Max||Soft 17||DA||DAS||RSA||Surr||Tables||CSM||Party Pit||6/5 BJ||Video||H. Edge|
|Miscellaneous||# of Tables||Min Bet||Max Bet|
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|Crazy 4 Poker||2||10||300|
|Let It Ride||1||10||300|
|Pai Gow Poker||6||25||10000|
|Three Card Poker||4||10||1000|
|Ultimate Texas Hold'em||3||10||300|
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