contributing writer David Yeskel sat down with Rob Goldstein,
president of the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, for a
Weekly:In recent years, there has been a movement in
Las Vegas to add upscale hotel towers as well as hotel-within-hotel
products. Venezia and its concierge level is your answer to this
trend. What drove this movement?
Goldstein: It was driven by two variables. The first
variable clearly was that this market is underserved in the luxury
category, and this hotel particularly produced more room nights
here than we could service.
So our first goal
was [to tackle the] lack of capacity. We were filling the 3,000
rooms to 100%. Why wouldnt we add capacity? That made
The second thing
is, although Las Vegas has a lot of rooms, the luxury segment is
small. Four Seasons is in it, Bellagio, us, maybe MGM, the new Wynn
resort, but its underserved.
We felt Venezia
was the chance to build not a small, boutique hotel, but a smaller
hotel with luxury services. And we think it worked.
TW:How will the Palazzo [a
3,000-suite resort being built on the Strip by Las Vegas Sands, the
Venetians owner, just north of the Venetian] align in your product
mix? Will it be positioned above or at the same level as the
Goldstein: The approach to Palazzo is to
do the same level as the Venetian in pricing and
clear that the Palazzo opening in 2007 is roughly eight years after
the Venetian opened, so by virtue of time, eight years later its
going to cost roughly half a billion more than this hotel
The Palazzo will
be the newer, prettier model in town. No question about it. But the
goal is to have a similar level of quality, similar level of room
size and similar furniture, fixtures and equipment.
TW:The Venetians philosophy regarding
restaurants is different than the Vegas norm. What was behind the
decision to lease space to restaurant concessions rather than to
operate your own? And why the exclusion of a buffet? After all,
even Bellagio offers a quality, upscale buffet.
Goldstein: We thought this hotel would be
better served by having people who do things for a living and do it
Thomas Keller, Piero Selvaggio, Emeril Lagasse. Pretty sexy names
in the restaurant trade. People who do things very well. Great
finishers of product.
We feel that
rather than employ thousands of food and beverage people, they can
do it better, they can design it better, and they can service it
And the result
has been the highest restaurant sales in the country, here at the
Venetian. And almost every restaurant does terrific
As far as the
buffet issue, we have been criticized about that. People say the
buffet is the quintessential Las Vegas experience.
Im confused about
a buffet because I dont understand why people wait in line for an
hour or two to eat what is usually pretty mediocre food and pay, in
these days, pretty high prices relative to what you eat in a
Our answer was a
large Grand Lux Cafe. Our answer was a large food court. Our answer
was multiple casual-dining opportunities and 4,200 seats in total,
and not making you wait in line to pay $30 to eat food that is
And there are
people who think we have to have a buffet. We discussed it, but the
more we look at it, we think our customer is not a buffet
TW:Would you agree that the Venetian
broke the mold for Las Vegas resorts by de-emphasizing gaming
revenue while increasing revenue from hotel, food and beverage and
Goldstein: There is no question. Say what
you want about us, like us or dont like us, you have to respect
what Sheldon Adelson [chairman of Las Vegas Sands] saw in terms of
the meetings business. The meetings business drives the midweek
room occupancy rate, the better restaurants. Theres never been a
time here in town that weve had a better quality of restaurants
than we have here today. We do the spa thing with Canyon Ranch, and
we did a massive mall.
Our income is 30%
gaming revenue. I think, like us or hate us, you have to respect
the fact that we did what was prophesied back in the early 90s:
Create a hotel which is more dependent on nongaming.
Gaming is still
important, thrilled to have it, but we make more than $200 million
a year profit on nongaming sources.
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].
details on this article, see Venezia at the Venetian adds icing to the