In this episode of the Hotel Design Podcast we welcome design industry icon Paul Steelman. He’s been involved in some of the most influential casino resort and hotel projects around the globe. His company Steelman Partners, has been closely tied to the leaders of the casino resort business such as Steve Wynn, Sheldon Adelson and Kirk Kerkorian.
Glenn and Paul touch on it all, from his start in a pre-gaming Atlantic City to a chance design the Golden Nugget and how that led to a seminal shift in what casinos would become. Paul talks about Steve Wynn being a visionary and how he got The Mirage launched with 1980s junk bonds with the help of the infamous Michael Milken and how the launch of this property changed everything about the Las Vegas casino resort scene. Plus, they talk about the pressure of creating what would become the model for the modern casino resort, what the Mirage design process was like and how much money the resort needed to make every day to survive. They even talk Siegfried and Roy the former Kokomo’s restaurant, which was a staple at Mirage.
Steelman shares examples of why great design is essential and how it creates sense of place.
Paul also reflects on the state of The Mirage today, and other stories from the early modern era in Las Vegas.
Also, how Frank Sinatra and Steve Wynn’s relationship transformed the Golden Nugget both in Vegas and Atlantic City, how the Nugget the property reinvented east coast casino gaming. We even get an update on the current state of the city by the sea.
The discussion moves onto the notion of creating an experience at “personal scale,” says Steelman and how that relates to properties and how that notion created design challenges at the original MGM Grand (now Bally’s), and how the casino forms the basis for a property’s energy and how other elements emanate from that energetic center.
This conversation even examines the cruise ship like form of Showboat Atlantic City, Sol Kerzner and the creating of African casino resorts such as the famed Sun City.
Also on tap, discussing designing casinos and resorts around the world from Dubai and Macau to Vietnam, South Africa and more. Here creating cultural relevance is critical and we learn about the process of how different cultures gamble differently and how that is reflected in design. After all, the American casino goer is very different than the prototypical player in Macau.
In Macau, we hear about public casinos, VIP casinos and super VIP private casinos none of us will ever see. Plus, casino maverick Sheldon Adelson comes up as the conversation turns toward Venetian Macau.
Other famous names that pop up in the conversation include Bill Bennett and Stanley Ho, before the conversation turns toward developing ship-based casinos.
Finally, Paul and Glenn discuss the current and future state of the casino resort experience including the importance of great design to creating social media moments, the incredible resurgence of downtown Las Vegas, and creating highly organized entertainment experiences.
Paul and Glenn also discuss Steelman’s ownership in a slot machine company, and how that company is using technology in new ways to lure younger casino goers.
They sum the conversation with Steelman’s reflections back on how he and others changed the design-scape of the casino gaming resort business.
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