LAS VEGAS (AP) — A lifelike network of twisting tree roots emerges from the ceiling and branches out into the lobby featuring green, earthy accents, crystal chandeliers and soon, work from British Pop Art legend David Hockney. Steps away from the check-in desk, Pablo Picasso artwork graces a South of France-inspired restaurant.
Not one slot machine is within sight of the lobby at this Las Vegas casino-hotel.
With a robust art collection, rooms with a residential feel and an overall romantic atmosphere that contrasts sharply with the city's stereotypical glitz, the Monte Carlo is being transformed from an antiquated midlevel property taking up prime real estate on the Las Vegas Strip into the upscale Park MGM casino-hotel.
The redesign is aimed at attracting younger, affluent visitors who favor modern aesthetics over kitschy themes and who travel to Sin City for its countless entertainment options, not necessarily to gamble.
Monte Carlo owner MGM Resorts International partnered with New York hotelier Sydell Group for the ongoing $450 million overhaul that will result in two hotels.
Park MGM will retain 2,700 rooms, while about 290 rooms and suites in the existing hotel's top floors will be transformed into NoMad Las Vegas, a version of Sydell Group's New York City flagship property by the same name.
Guests are already being assigned renovated Park MGM rooms, which feature a cozy nook with a picture window and built-in settee, eclectic artwork like framed photographs and postcards, and red or green accent walls. Gone are the patterned carpet and drapes, cream-colored walls and generic hotel furniture sets.
"At the heart of what we do is we like to create a sense of community, a sense of warmth, almost like a residential feel," Sydell CEO Andrew Zobler recently told The Associated Press. "We create a place where you go and you kind of feel at home."
The company expects to have 90 percent of the rooms overhauled by next week.
The site is the most centrally located among MGM's Strip properties, catty-cornered to the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena and near the complex that includes the luxury Aria casino-hotel. But over time, the 21-year-old Monte Carlo, which was originally modeled after Monaco's famous Place du Casino, became the operator's least recognizable Las Vegas brand.
"It was not living up to its potential based on its real estate," said Alex Bumazhny, gambling analyst with Fitch Ratings. "MGM is doing the right thing by redeveloping both in terms of return on investment and having better flow of traffic of people going through their most prized corridor."
Other Las Vegas hotels that have been rebranded have seen strong results, Bumazhny said.
The new hotels will anchor an MGM-developed section of the Strip that features the arena, a theater and a leafy outdoor pedestrian area with restaurants. The French-inspired restaurant and a steakhouse are already seating diners. Eataly, a popular Italian food emporium, will open next year.
Park MGM is expected to be finished in the first half of 2018, while the entire overhaul will be completed later that year.
Weekday rates for a renovated room currently start at $88 as construction is still ongoing and sections of the casino are blocked off.
During an earnings call with investors last month, MGM Resorts Chief Operating Officer Corey Sanders said that after a transition period, the company plans to set Park MGM's rates "right around or above" the rates of the Mirage ($113 per weekday night) and MGM Grand ($111.60 per weekday night) casino-hotels.
"We think there's an opportunity from the Park MGM perspective to hit that sweet spot," he said. "The NoMad will be more on the higher end and should be priced with some of the luxury properties."
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