Friday, May 22, 2009

Sands Bethlehem Pictorial 1: The Inside

It was a long, fascinating day in Bethlehem, Pa., where Las Vegas Sands opened its 137,000-square-foot, 3,000-slot steel-themed casino atop a former ore pit on the grounds of the late great Bethlehem Steel Co. You can read my New York Times piece and for more on the significance to Bethlehem and to LVS as well.

You can also watch this special 10-minute video edition of The Strip. The interview with two very colorful women anchor the episode and, also, I scared a baby. It's in the podcast feed so you can subscribe via iTunes or, also, as you can see, I posted it on YouTube.

You can also hear me describe the joint live from the scene on KNPR on Friday. As I said in that appearance, Sands Bethlehem is surprisingly coherent and classy, having adapted a lot of architectural cues from the historic steel business that built and then vacated the city. LVS owns about 150 acres and has halted, for now, construction of a 300-room hotel and a large retail area because of the credit crunch.

The place has four restaurants right now including Emeril's Chophouse. Chef Lagasse was on site today to open it and plans two more restaurants here. This is his first restaurant in the northeastern U.S. Below, folks are trying to see him in the kitchen...

...and here's the wine racks...

...and the menu. (Click to make it big enough to read.)

Here's a cocktail waitress in one of her color-appropriate, demure-for-Vegas outfits:

I liked how the bars were named for steel-related things, like Coil and Molten. And As you can see, there's a Sands Lager on tap.

You're never far away here from Vegas...

...but oddly the MySands players club is not linked to the Grazie Club that LVS uses for Macau and Las Vegas. That is, you can't earn comps in Vegas here. That's a strange decision. LVS has never had another domestic U.S. location before other than Las Vegas, but it would seem like they'd want to use such incentives to lure people to Vegas, no? That's how Harrah's, Boyd and MGM Mirage do it, right?

Nonetheless, the rush was on to get one of those cards:

Here's the map of the casino as it is now:

Later this year, LVS is supposed to add 2,000 more slot machines here:

No table games, per Pennsylvania law. Instead, you get this stupid game which I've always hated and been creeped out by:

I did find this water feature right at the lobby entrance to be very pretty:

There'll be two more posts, one with images of the outside and around Bethlehem and, of course, one with all the weird and quirky stuff I noticed. Stick around!


Anonymous said...

Nice work Steve. Personally it doesnt have much appeal to me, and its a shame that this city is pegging its high hopes on this place. It's nice, but I still think that the Borgata is nicer on the East Coast. This place truly looks like a locals grinder joint, especially with no retail or hotel yet. Atlantic City shouldnt lose sleep over Sands new place, and the Borgata will still be king. Maybe its me and I am use to seeing all these places. This is why Vegas will never hopefully loose it's appeal, it has its own identity, granted MGM's City Center does make it look more like New York City then Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...

Good review. The beer tap and cocktail waitress photos, a vital part of the casino-going experience, are appreciated. I like the empty slot area picture, it makes you wonder why they couldn't stick in a few rows of slots. It couldn't be more than a few days work. Looking forward to the follow-ups.

MOB said...

they can't put the extra slots in yet because they haven't been granted the license for the additional slots yet.

Anonymous said...

Re: beer tap. One important thing there, like any good PA establishment they are going to serve Yuengling. America's Oldest Brewery.