The Palms question

A three-day party at the popular Vegas resort spawns questions about its future

While the Hard Rock Hotel changes hands from owner and founder Peter Morton to its new corporate owners – possibly jeopardizing its future as a hipster, boutique resort – George Maloof’s Palms Casino Resort continues to build on its status as the hottest property in Las Vegas. The latest addition to the resort’s arsenal of nightclubs, restaurants and over-the-top party suites is the fully-remodeled, $40 million Pool at the Palms.

Completed just in time for one of the craziest holidays in Vegas’ nonstop party, Fourth of July weekend, the new pool debuted to the public with a three-day bash celebrating the one-year anniversary of 944 Magazine.

Scott Weiland, (c) WireImageEvents at the resort included DJ Robert Oleysyck’s successful breaking of the Guinness World Record for longest DJ set (now 88 hours), a star-packed premier of Superman Returns at Brenden Theatres, a day-long string of live music culminating with performances by Camp Freddy and Panic Channel, fireworks, a declaration of “944 Day” by Mayor Oscar Goodman, and … man, we are running out of breath.

The Pool at the Palms features all sorts of nifty enhancements and adornments, including private tee pee-cabanas that overlook the pool area from a tall balcony, multiple bars (including one beneath a waterfall), table gaming, plush furniture and the coup-de-grace, a glass-bottomed pool and deck that rise above the table games and center bar.

On Saturday, however, the area was converted into a makeshift concert venue at which Dave Navarro’s latest musical projects were scheduled to entertain guests as part of the anniversary weekend festivities. This meant the pools were off-limits. Strictly. And amazingly, no one defied that unwritten rule, despite the heat that lasted well into the late evening.

The Palms is a study in the dichotomy of Las Vegas. On one hand, its is a popular locals casino, filled with copious (and supposedly loose) slot machines, which inevitably draws hundreds of senior citizens to its casino floor daily. On the west side of the property is a food court and the cinemas which – save perhaps for the week a year that CineVegas holes up at Brenden Theatres – cater to the lowest-common denominator.

It is on the east side of the resort where things gets interesting: Hart & Huntington Tattoo Parlor (star of cable TV’s “Inked”), ghostbar, Rain nightclub, AMP salon and spa, the entrance to the Fantasy Tower, and the aforementioned pool.

Maybe that’s why celebrities like the Palms so much. Unlike the Hard Rock Hotel, or even some Strip joints like Caesars Palace or Mandalay Bay, the average Palms gambler is mostly concerned with the three reels in front of him or her. There is no Circle Bar surrounded by mooks looking for loose women or famous faces. Heck, after Camp Freddy’s set ended, Navarro and his crew waltzed right in the front doors of the casino, no one noticing much and no need for security.

Of course, eventually the Palms will have to deal with its identity crisis. With the opening of the Fantasy Tower – home to the must-be-seen-to-be-believed Fantasy Suites and the penthouse Playboy Club – the Palms has thrown down a challenge to any other Vegas property to steal its thunder as the premier party spot in the valley. And when Palms Place — the adjacent condominium development from the Maloof mind – opens in 2007, it will be the part-time home to a number of A-list celebrities. Eventually, that cute, locals-oriented casino with the loose slots could be considered a liability.

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