Everything Under a Stale Blanket: Crockfords and the Resorts World Experience

I was one of Crockfords’s very first guests checking in less than two weeks after Resorts World opened. Hiccups were to be expected. Hard hats weren’t. Technical glitches are the norm the first weeks of operation. But ladders in guest room hallways? At times, I felt like a welcomed guest, at others, a nuisance in the way of construction of an entirely unfinished hotel.

At almost $400 per night midweek, I would’ve been less forgiving, but a week prior, I touched base with a host and sent her my MLife win/loss statements. She comped both nights plus round trip transportation. It made everything you’re about to read a little easier to digest…

Arrival

The arrival experience will one day be among the very best in town. One day. At the porte cochere, I was greeted at the door and walked with bellhop to the front desk. They poured me their signature welcome tea which changes colors when some kind of extract is added. As expected, the tea had a subtle hint of… tea. I’d rather have a hot towel and welcome beer. The room wasn’t ready and my luggage stowed.

The lobby is stunning and easily a contender for one of the nicest in Vegas.

This is the view from the entrance. Left foreground is the front desk, left background the hallway that leads to the elevators and Conrad lobby. The right foreground is the lobby bar and right background a winding path to Hilton’s lobby. Directly in front is the private entrance for Crockfords Casino, Resorts World’s high limit room. It’s not, however, the more welcoming part with the lounge set up just off the main casino; this part is the baccarat salon and private gaming and significantly more intimidating. Unless you’re strictly a baccarat player, you’ll find sneaking out of the elevators towards Conrad’s lobby the more efficient route.

Here’s an evening shot of the porte cochere. It’s unremarkable and simply a smaller version of the Hilton and Conrad entrances. For a place that unabashedly caters to Asian players, the lack of fu dogs is surprising.

There’s plenty of moderate-to-maybe big deal art throughout the lobby. Much of it is easy to miss, almost all of it is accompanied by a few words. Here’s Frank Sinatra’s rendition of a derpy Mondrian.

The lobby bathrooms are beautiful.

The front desk agent walked me passed the Crockfords elevators towards the Conrad lobby. My understanding is that had my room been ready, they would’ve walked me all the way to it.

The whole arrival experience was lovely but the polish has a ways to go. “After you” doesn’t mean anything when I literally don’t know where I’m going. When this process is well-oiled and rehearsed, the experience will be truly special.

(One fairly comedic note: there’s this ultra-level luxury gesture that I’ve only seen in the most rarified Vegas spaces. When staff and guest are walking towards each other and come within about ten feet, staff smiles and steps aside. Within five feet, staff greets the guest. When it’s done right and consistent, it feels downright embarrassing. Everyone at Skylofts or The Villas at The Mirage has this gesture down. Crockfords is trying but not everyone has gotten the memo and they certainly haven’t specified parameters. One staff member stepped aside some fifty feet away. C’mon! I might go any direction in fifty feet! Another time as I passed a pair of employees, one stepped aside and semi-violently grabbed the other’s arm to do the same all while still keeping a smile on her face. Week two of operation at a six-star hotel, I suppose.)

After an hour of technological frustrations throughout the casino, I was shocked to actually receive a call that my room was ready. Keys are presented in a tiny sleeve (quarter presented for scale). They also include a working novelty key with RFID fob in a leather pouch.

The Room

It’s horribly underwhelming.

It’s a Conrad room with slightly upgraded finishes and a Nespresso machine. There was a distinct lack of glassware (definitely an opening hiccup and mugs were provided after calling down). Television and sound bar are among the best for a standard room. Storage is ample with an extra large room safe located in the drawers.

The door closest to the entrance is the closet and not the bathroom like in most other standard rooms. I found this awkward and almost pissed on my clothes in the middle of the night.

The wallpaper is lovely and the live plant—a qualifier for the Forbes Five Star—a nice touch, but making sure they have live plants is the least of their worries right now.

At first glance, the bathroom looks great but leaves much to be desired.

Towels were ultra plush and Byredo bath products outstanding; they were “Mojave Ghost” scent which, as you’ll later see, was perfectly appropriate. I’d love to show you a toiletry kit but I never received one despite calling down. Robes and slippers (not pictured) were divine.

Crockfords passed on the seldom-used tub for a shower that’s entirely too big. While I love a shower bench, the pressure wasn’t strong enough for water to reach me. The water closet is hardly a closet and misses the point—to contain the smell of your shit—when there’s about a one-foot gap between the glass door and ceiling. There isn’t a trash receptacle in the main part of the bathroom because there isn’t logical space for one.

Among the many opening annoyances, the biggest was that my Nespresso machine didn’t work. I discovered that it wasn’t plugged in. Unable to plug it in myself (the socket was behind the minibar and fridge), I moved it to another part of the room and it still wouldn’t work.

I called down and they sent an engineer up. He smacked it really hard and voila! A tiny cup of espresso started brewing. To their credit, when I left the room and came back, it was plugged in at its proper space and worked without issue the rest of the trip.

Other opening hiccups included the automated drapes closing at random times (fortunately it wasn’t the other way around), bathroom lights turning off and on while showering, and finally, the A/C unit letting out this eerily human-like exhale/sigh when shutting off. My friend (also staying at Crockfords) said this was the Mojave Ghost trying to communicate with us.

I was in stitches.

The thing is, if everything the Resorts World site promised was provided, this room would still, still, still be a competitive choice among the Waldorfs and Wynncore Tower Suites, but alas, the “complimentary light snacks with beverages” were nowhere to be found, my bare ass had to suffer on a cold toilet seat because “automated toilet controls” (translation: Aria style Totos) was a lie, the “rain shower” was an angled drizzle at best, and those high ceilings in the renderings are of villa bedrooms and/or entourage suites on the villa floor.

Here’s a video tour of the room by my hopelessly uninformed, helplessly ignorant alter-ego, Typical Vegas Vlogger.

And here’s perhaps the single-most telling piece of information: after uploading this video to my overtly facetious YouTube channel, my esteemed Vegas expert friends Five Hundy and Misnomer thought this was an elaborate bit and texted me the same question within a minute of each other.

That’s how underwhelming the standard rooms at Crockfords are.

Resorts World Thoughts

First, The Bad…

Almost every resort I enjoy staying at has individual spaces that complement each other to create a whole greater than the sum of their parts. The Mirage does this best despite almost 32 years of tinkering and ownership changes; little feels garish or out-of-place. Wynn has this quality to a lesser extent. Bellagio as well. Early Encore definitely did. Even Circa, Aria, and Cosmo have this to some degree.

Resorts World doesn’t. Give. A fuck.

Gatsby’s? Doesn’t belong there. Crystal Bar looks more temporary than the temporary Petrossian at Bellagio. There’s random Rolls Royces on one end, a shopping mall on the other, and a novelty food court that serves up overpriced dishes that look better on Instagram than they actually taste. The casino is entirely beige and, as Misnomer put so brilliantly, is only peppered with color by its own slot machines.

Dawg House was a never again. Cold food and slow service that far surpassed my generous threshold of opening jitters forgiveness.

I witnessed something at the pai gow poker tables that left me in disbelief. Even the very best dealers make mistakes and sometimes they’re in your favor. Here are a few personal examples from past experiences of how various casinos have handled it…

  • Wynn: as the dealer released the pay out from her hand, she caught the mistake, called the pit boss over, and he shrugged: “Pay the gentleman!” That’s putting customers first.
  • Mirage: dealer released the pay out, caught the mistake, called the pit boss, apologized profusely and took the pay out back on a push hand. Fair enough.
  • Golden Nugget: dealer released the pay out, I pulled it back into my stack of chips, she caught the mistake and leaned over and grabbed it from my bankroll. I immediately colored up and swore I’d never play there again.

Now, *I* wasn’t victim to this at Resorts World and if I was, I’d have done the same thing I did at the Nugget. About an hour into an otherwise fun session, the pit boss comes to the table and announces, “15 minutes ago, our dealer set a hand incorrectly. Our eye in the sky caught it and informed me that you,” as she gestured to the gentleman next to me, “did not actually push the hand in question but lost. You owe us $100.”

Imagine a resort that cost $4.3 billion to build asking you for their $100 back. I promise, I’m not a contentious, belligerent drunk, but I had to speak up.

“Don’t pay her,” I told the guy. “Tell them to run it back and prove it [I knew they couldn’t at this point]. I’m sure they wouldn’t speak up for the money they might’ve wrongfully taken from you.” He was far more amicable than me and put out a black chip. The pit boss smugly said, “This is our policy,” to which I responded, “Keep up these policies and Wynn is going to crush you.”

Anyway…

The Good (and there’s lots of it!)

The pool is by far my favorite in Vegas. Current pool policies are very fluid and constantly changing so consider that before I tell you how miraculous it was that nearly all seating, including daybeds and half-immersed loungers, were first come first served (this on a Wednesday afternoon). There’s a specific area for Crockfords guests that opens up to Conrad guests on weekdays. It’s nothing special. There’s also “The Infinity”/VIP pool. Pictures and video make the construction look more obtrusive than it is. It’s a fantastic space, adults only, and you only have to order a drink to use the pool (seating in that area is still entirely reservation only).

Agave might be the only poolside restaurant I’d go out of my way to dine at even if I wasn’t planning on swimming.

¡Viva! was fantastic with unique twists on Mexican staples and some more adventurous tapas. Service was on point. I’d go back again and again.

Here Kitty Kitty Vice Den (aka “Secret Pussy”) is a fun speakeasy behind Mamak which, as a store that basically sells nothing but waving cats, is obviously a front for the more profitable venture behind its shelves. On my second night, I was supposed to meet friends already at the bar when they texted me that Steve Aoki just walked in and shut the place down for his private party.

I love a challenge.

I went up to the clerk and quietly said, “Hi, I’m in the Aoki party. Now, I know you don’t want to draw too much attention while customers are here and open the secret door so I don’t mind waiting.”

She was so grateful that she didn’t check my credentials. Easy.

Resorts World’s higher-end bars truly shine. The Crockfords Lobby Bar is known for rare gins. So rare, in fact, they were out of stock of most of them. Still, I enjoyed the quiet solitude while gawking at the lobby design. Crockfords Casino has a fun lounge and bar to people watch. Crockfords Club runs deeper into the more intimidating baccarat salon but the bartenders were fantastic and made me feel right at home. One guy saddled up next to me, told me he’d been playing since opening night and that he was “down the price of a helicopter.” I’d normally jump to conclusions and call him a douche but he offered to buy me a Blue Label and I witnessed him tip the bartenders a couple thousand.

The crown jewel of Resorts World’s bar lineup is Starlight on 66 with the adjacent Sky Casino located on the top floor. They knocked it out of the park with this space. It’s both luxurious and inviting; you’d feel just as comfortable here in shorts and a polo as you would a suit.

Comps seemed fairly generous. I got the bill at ¡Viva! plus another $200 knocked off before departure. The car back was one of their two incredibly ostentatious, unabashedly gaudy Rolls Royce Phantoms in their signature “Resorts World Red.”

Conclusion

It’s a polarizing place. There’s lots to love and just as much to hate; a million diversions presented in the most boring way possible. That said, among hotels I feel similarly about—The Venetian, Palazzo, MGM Grand, even Caesars—I’d stay at Resorts World over any of them. There’s little at Hilton’s price point that offers the same variety of restaurants and that caliber of pool; I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there if I needed a more budget-friendly option.

At the other end of the spectrum, Crockfords has serious growing pains, but if/when they begin providing what they actually advertise and/or lower their prices considerably, they’ll be an exceptional experience worthy of the incredible staff they’ve assembled. Yes, I’d even give them another go… when they actually finish constructing it.

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