Our room was on the 19th floor of Carson Tower. Guests are given an electronic card and the elevator will only let you onto your floor - apparently there are stairs but I never saw them.
The corridor is wide, enough to let two Midwesterners waddle past each other. The carpet pattern looks like two were loaded into the software at the same time; my brother says Vegas floorcoverings are designed to drive your gaze upward to the gaming machines. Although it’s busy downstairs, here is reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel. A confectionery vending machine stands empty, but the neighbouring ice dispenser is always ready; Americans need their drinks chilled.
And in the desert you must always have water; the cleaning staff leave a supply of bottles each time.
As in the street below, everything is unobtrusively but meticulously managed. When we passed on room service a couple of times, my brother rising late from his nocturnal gambling, two men from security visited to check all was okay. On another occasion a pair of female cleaners knocked to see if the room needed tending; I answered in my dressing gown and they glanced eagerly past me hoping to be scandalised; they had to settle for giving me fresh armsful of water.
Our room is standard Western world type: clothes cupboard with programmable safe (I worry that I will forget my code on the morning of departure); bath with shower over and extractor fan, gels and shampoo in a tantalus on the wall - but plenty towels and paper-wrapped soap bars; bureau with large TV; two armchairs, two beds with bolsters as well as pillows.
Our window looks east onto (I think) South Casino Centre Boulevard, the lights of the Four Queens visible on the corner. All around are skyscrapers of accommodation. The colourful Vegas street view is akin to a child’s-toy mascot on a truck’s radiator: the Strip’s casino turnover nets eight billion dollars annually but that is only one-tenth of what tourism brings in overall, what with five million convention visitors alone.
The bedside table has two pairs of earplugs so you can ‘sleep soundlessly.’ The choice is between two roars: the muted mushed-up noise audible even this high up, with the odd PA voice breaking through, or the louder racket of the big air con unit that must be essential in the 100+F heat of midsummer. I open the window, opting for fresh air; it only slides a few inches, to prevent falls - or jumps. Or worse - we didn’t see any crime, but last year and three floors up a man was found barely alive in a locked room with smouldering bedding supplies.
Now above-board corporate-owned, the Golden Nugget has criminal roots, having been founded in 1946 by an ex-cop who married a brothel madam. It was only thirty years later that the Nugget’s first hotel tower was built, by a former slot supervisor from the Frontier; now there are four, with 2,400 rooms - one tower, the Spa, is reserved for two-storey luxury suites.
There is a ‘Mob Museum’ that we didn’t visit, but like everything else big-bucks crime has gone IT: two weeks before we flew in there was a cyberattack on MGM-owned properties, locking guests out of their rooms for days and blocking their mobile app payments. Allegedly no ransom was paid, though the business losses totalled some £100 million. We were spared this disruption, for although MGM used to own the Nugget they sold it in 2003.
So, back down the shaft. The entrance to the elevator lobby is supervised only intermittently for some reason. We exit to a hallway with the indispensable cash dispenser, then it’s right turn towards the fun and noise.
We pass a luxury goods shop for winners to celebrate by splashing out on their squeezes - I didn’t see it open that week but there wasn’t a conference on. However a few days later came the Life Is Beautiful festival, the first sign of which was the appearance late at night in the gaming area of large numbers of very skimpily-dressed people, witnessed by my brother who thought at first ‘working girls’ had invaded; apparently this is how people dress to go clubbing - even persons of size, whose unashamedness he admired.
People are arriving and leaving all the time - the average Vegas stay is three days - so the redroped and brassrailed hotel reception is always busy fielding enquiries. Several times we see a tall suited man who looks like staff, but his job is to engage passers-by to sell them timeshares. ‘Get ‘em spending!’
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