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Insta-CoGo: Burning Questions From Vegas

John Deiner

If you were anywhere near a TV set on Friday afternoon and it was tuned to CNN or MSNBC, you saw the flames shooting out of the roof of the Monte Carlo casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip. Pretty harrowing stuff, right?

The 3,000-room hotel remains closed, and travelers get a popup notice on the hotel's Web site that says: "Thank you for your concern and support at this time. Monte Carlo management is responding to the situation at hand. Thanks to quick action, both our employees and our guests were promptly evacuated. All of our guests will be relocated to a sister property for the duration of their planned stay in Las Vegas. Response from Clark County Fire Department has been fast and effective. They are investigating the cause of the fire, but we don't want to speculate at this moment. We will provide updates as they arise. For inquiries about reservations, please call 1-888-395-0776."

That's it for now. Poking around some more, I found that the online reservations component is "currently under renovation," and if you click on "What's New at Monte Carlo," the top item is a breathless promotion for the BRAND steakhouse due this April.


Smoke billows from the top of the Monte Carlo hotel and casino in Las Vegas last Friday, forcing the evacuation of guests and staff. (Jerry Gallegos/Reuters)

Yesterday evening I spoke to Yvette Monet, a spokeswoman for MGM Mirage, who said that there's enough availability in the company's other Vegas properties, including New York-New York and the MGM Grand, to fit the Monte Carlo-ans. Hotel workers and building contractors are currently on the site sifting through the mess, and there's no date set for the place to reopen. Right now, guests are being re-accommodated through Thursday.

Since anyone with upcoming reservations should call that toll-free number for information, I gave it a whirl. I waited nearly 10 minutes for a reservationist, then found myself talking to an agent at TI, the pirate-themed resort down the Strip owned by MGM Mirage. Very pleasant guy, and eager to make sure I had a room for the night; I told him I was just calling for information.

Oddly enough, if you go to the official Vegas tourism site, there's no indication that a fire has closed one of the behemoths on Las Vegas Boulevard. To its credit, Vegas.com, an excellent private site geared toward travelers, has a "Special Notice" on its home page about the blaze.

And while we're talking about the Monte Carlo, has anyone actually stayed there before? That's the one hotel in that area of the Strip I've never overnighted at, and I'm wondering what it's like. Never had a whole lot of appeal to me, but now I'm intrigued.

By John Deiner |  January 29, 2008; 7:42 AM ET  | Category:  Insta-CoGo , John Deiner
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I've stayed at the Monte Carlo, and it was what I considered to be a nice hotel. The rooms were about the equivalent of a high-range Marriott (not exactly the Ritz, but the linens were nice and the rooms were large, with big clean bathrooms. The casino was usually about 1/2 full, making it a nice place to learn new games and easily get drink refills. Definitely worth it to stay there if you don't mind being just off the strip. I've also stayed at the Imperial Palace, which was incredibly cheap, but the Monte Carlo was a nice place at a fair price.

Posted by: lala | January 29, 2008 8:48 AM

Stayed at Monte Carlo and really liked it. Reasonable price and for just $25-50 per room (not person) you can sometimes upgrade to the concierge level that offers cocktail hours, private lounge, breakfasts and a host of other amenities.

Another nice feature is that you can get to the front desk without going through the casino, so if kids, elderly, or mobility impaired are involved it makes for a much easier check in procedure.

Pool area was a little crowded but poolside service was very fast.

Posted by: kevin | January 31, 2008 3:14 PM

My husband and I stayed at the Monte Carlo eight years ago, to attend a wedding held in the hotel's wedding chapel (which was pretty cheesy, BTW).

The hotel itself is nice enough but architecturally uninteresting. Colors are peachy/beige/pink, if you like that sort of thing. Room was a nice size but I've stayed in bigger for less money (Westward Look Resort in Tucson comes to mind).

Bottom line: I don't know why one would choose this hotel over any of the others on the Strip, unless it's a good deal or a special, i.e., cheaper than comparable properties.

Posted by: mel from L.A. | January 31, 2008 4:13 PM

My husband and I stayed at the Monte Carlo almost five years ago on our trip to Vegas to get married, therefore the hotel holds a special place in my heart. We stayed in a suite near the top of the building - likely close to where the fire has damaged parts of the building.

We found the hotel to be classy, reasonably priced, and without all the regular foot traffic and disturbances one finds in most of the theme hotels on the strip.

I hope the hotel is able to recover from this setback and reopens soon!

Posted by: Karen from Virginia | February 1, 2008 5:57 AM

Just returned from Las Vegas, where my company was scheduled to hold its annual conference at the Monte Carlo Sunday through Thursday. What timing! The Monte Carlo staff came through for us with beautiful accommodations at the MGM Signature Suites and meeting rooms at NYNY. It is amazing how they were able to turn things around so no one's trip was ruined and they deserve much appreciation for that.

This was to be the third conference in four years at the Monte Carlo. (Last year was in Palm Springs.) As best I can remember, I would agree with the previous posters that it was a perfectly nice hotel but lacking much personality.

Posted by: Anne from Fairfax | February 1, 2008 2:14 PM

Posted by: nlqzm | February 26, 2008 10:05 AM

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