The first 2 nights at the Plaza's re-opening was quite the interesting experience. I had found out about the "soft opening" date on short notice since the announced date was September 1 so I put together the trip in just a few days. Apparently I wasn't the only one surprised by the opening, the hotel wasn't quite ready yet either...
I arrived at the completely unfinished valet area near the bus terminal, which is the opposite side of the place from the lobby. It was about 6PM with an almost empty lobby but still had to wait a few minutes due to chaos behind the counter. Once I finally made it to the desk, the clerk struggled to find me a single king smoking like I had requested so I offered to take a double if that would help but still was asked if I could wait a few minutes in the lobby for her to check on the room. While I was waiting, an irate customer started yelling at a manager about problems with her first and second rooms. I have now done 4 grand opening in the past 2 years and the one thing I have learned is that if you want perfection, stay away from a new hotel! I soon returned and was given a double on the 7th floor of the South Tower, which is back over by the valet entrance! She told me that the South Tower was the only one open and I later found out there were only 75 rooms open in it. On the way to the elevators, I surveyed the casino which was about 2/3 finished and they made good progress on the rest during my stay. Getting into the elevators, I noticed what would become a theme of the stay... They remodeled about 90% of the place but the remaining 10% seems odd!. The 3 of the 4 elevator walls, the floor and ceiling were brand-spankin' new but the front wall was untouched, covered in scratches with cracked floor buttons. Same situation in the room hallway; it was almost completely redone but old wooded doors remain.
Inside the room, just about everything has been remodeled. The carpets and furniture are all new as is the bathroom with new tile and fixtures through-out. There is also a decent sized flat-screen TV with abundant HD programming. The room is done is dark brown and beige and is a nice if not minimalistic design. It is most certainly an major upgrade from the old room! One major downside is that the bathroom suffers from the "Gaughan Design" where the bathroom is at the far end of the room and doubles as the closet which leads to a very cramped space. It only has a single sink vanity and you could barely close the door when using the toilet. The other major complaint is that there isn't an outlet ANYWHERE near the work desk! I ended up pulling a power strip from elsewhere in the room and strung it across the floor. Definitely not a work-friendly design. The room also was participating in the "soft opening" as there were no linens on the bed except for a sheet and it didn't have simple amenities like soap or a pen. I assume this will be fixed before September 1st.
The rest of the place is definitely a work in progress. I don't know how much will be ready to go by big Grand Opening but it won't be the entire hotel for sure. The only restaurant open was the coffee bar. Hash House A Go Go looked nearly done and they said it would open next week. The food court only has a SUbway which was nearly open and a McDonald's that didn't look like it would make it by the 1st. Oscar's Steakhouse in the dome over the entrance is completely torn up and looks months away from opening. The main bar was open but the "Swinger's Club" lounge looked like it needed a lot of work but had a whole crew busy on it so it might make it for the opening. The sports book bar also looked very close to done. In the casino, the entire table game pit was open as was about 2/3 of the slot area. The sports book still was under construction and probably wouldn't be done on time. The pool area and tennis courts were a total mess and I wouldn't expect to see those done before next summer.
Of all the openings I have attended, this was definitely the roughest of the bunch. It just didn't seem like they were ready to open the doors and still might not be come September 1st. They obviously knew it as they made zero efforts to attract any crowd inside at all. If you looked at the place from Fremont Street, you would have never known it was even open. Pre-opening issues aside, the work that has been completed while not over the top is pretty nice, especially considering what the Plaza once was. The remodeled rooms are a huge upgrade but still can be had at affordable prices and the casino is now a place you actually might want to linger. The Plaza will never be confused with Aria or Cosmo but definitely becomes one of the top choices downtown overnight. I look forward to a return visit in a few months to see what the finished product is like and how much of that "unremodeled 10%" still remains.
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