The Luxor Gets a Make-Over

By most city standards, it's hardly old enough for a make-over.  But this is Vegas, baby and so in an attempt to keep up with the fast changing look of the Las Vegas Strip, the MGM/Mirage (or whatever they are calling themselves this week) has announced that the Luxor Hotel and Casino (the Egyptian pyramid themed hotel between Mandalay Bay and the Excalibur) is getting a make-over.

The exterior will stay the same so all you sphinx lovers can rest easy.  However, the interior is going to be completely re-done.  The interior casino and hotel will gut all traces of the Egyptian theme.  For all of you who used to like to walk through the Hotel and do your best Edward G. Robinson imiation ("I'm the overseer of Pharoh") or your best Yul Brynner imiation ("So let it be written, so let it be done") well from the sounds of things, that will be a thing of the past.

The phased renovation calls for MGM Mirage and its joint venture partners to spend about $300 million (yes, you read that right) remodeling about 80 percent of the hotel and casino, adding lounges, restaurants and a nightclub (because what Las Vegas really needs is another ultra-lounge).

The project is part of an MGM Mirage effort to refresh several properties it acquired in 2005 when it purchased the Mandalay Resort Group for $4.8 billion in cash (yes, cash. Don't you wish you had that kind of mad money laying around?  I know I do).

 According to the Associated Press:

"We're not a British museum with ancient artifacts, we're a casino-resort," Luxor President and COO Felix Rappaport told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Thursday report. "The pyramid always created a sense of wow and wonder, but the inside never delivered on that promise."

The projected renovation cost approaches the $375 million (yes, you read that right) that Mandalay predecessor Circus Circus spent to build the 2,500-room pyramid in 1993. A theater and two additional hotel towers totaling 2,000 rooms were added in 1998 for $675 million.

Rappaport said MGM Mirage invested more than $25 million (yes, you read that right) in improvements soon after taking over the Luxor, including reconfiguring and changing the carpet in the 120,000-square-foot casino, and replacing the property's 1,600 slot machines with newer games.

Next year, Luxor's atrium will be changed from a family friendly arcade to more adult-themed amenities with restaurants, lounges and entertainment venues.

Many Egyptian theme amenities have been removed, and hieroglyphics and other symbols on interior casino walls also are being eliminated.

The Aurora Lounge near the hotel lobby has replaced Nefertiti's bar. CatHouse, a restaurant and European-style lingere lounge, is replacing Isis and Sacred Sea in an upstairs area above the casino.

The casino will also change all of the slot machine stands and have chairs with the ability to adjust to a customers height. In addition, Rappaport will bring in sheek restaurants and nightclubs (because Vegas doesn't have enough of those- author).

Plans also call for opening LAX Nightclub, operated by the Pure Management Group, by Labor Day, and adding other bars and lounges later in the fall.

Owner Robert Frey says restaurants and clubs have now become the draw of a casino. "Guests come to Las Vegas, and they are looking to be entertained. Night clubs now become like the shows used to be in the 80's," he said.

Tourist Karen Scott agrees. She says when you include shows and other amenities there is almost no reason to leave a resort. "Restaurants are important. You eat. You play. You stay," she said.

The Luxor Steakhouse is scheduled to be remodeled early next year, while the pool area also is being upgraded.

KLAS-Channel 8 reported earlier this evening that a boutique hotel may be added as part of the under-utilized 60 acres that the property sits on.