Themed hotels alive and well–in SoCal

For a few years now, everyone who is anyone in casino design has known that theming has gone the way of the 99-cent shrimp cocktail. But has it actually gone the way of the $29 room rate, surprising everyone with a boomerang comeback? This LA Times story made me wonder:

Only two months after announcing plans to add a water attraction at the theme park in Carlsbad, Calif., Legoland has won approval from the city of Carlsbad to build a Lego-themed hotel on the property.The Carlsbad City Council approved a plan last week to build a 254-room hotel outside the entrance to the park. The plan must also win approval from the California Coastal Commission, which regulates construction along the state's coast.A final price tag and a construction timeline are pending approval by the commission, said Julie Estrada, a spokeswoman for Legoland.But she said the hotel would adopt the Lego theme throughout the building, including Lego-designed carpeting and wallpaper.”You'll feel like you are staying in Legoland,” she said of the hotel.

via Legoland gets an OK to build hotel —

Now if they could actually build the hotel out of Legos, that would be something to see. Lego-designed carpeting sounds pretty compelling, though.

Themed hotels are still an attraction because they are something different. Of course, turning your hotel into a Lego castle or spaceship isn’t the only way to give visitors variety–in fact it’s a bit of a lazy way to do it. Instead of building something new that’s carefully crafted to offer a unique experience, it’s just turning out a soundbite concept that’s easy to explain. Take the corner of Sands and the Boulevard. On one side you’ve got the Venetian and Palazzo, which you can explain in a sentence: a resort that tries to look like Venice. Across the street you have Wynn, which takes a little more effort. I’d use the words plush, luxe, detailed, and enveloping if I were to try to describe it in a single sentence, but even that doesn’t do it justice.

So themes are bad, right? Not so fast. A lot of people like soundbites. This is particularly true in Las Vegas, where people are by definition going to have fun, not be uplifted by the subtle and sublime charms of an exquisitely-crafted resort. There will always be a market for a fun, affordable alternative, and a theme, unless it’s completely obtrusive, is an easy way of giving a property an identity.

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