The crucial difference between "current" and "classic" has to do primarily with the amount of effort you put into it. Pay a lot of attention to what's happening in the world, learn lessons from your own past and the past of those around you, and throw a lot of time, money, and elbow grease at the issue and you can stay "current" for a long time. Anything less and you risk sliding into "classic" territory, which is not necessarily a bad thing unless you're a Las Vegas hotel. Here, "classic" can mean irrelevant.
The Palms started out as the epicenter of "current," with a line-up of hip nightclubs, celebrity chef restaurants, and a starring role on MTV's "The Real World" leading the way toward party-central and even pop-culture dominance. But that was more than a decade ago, when tweeting meant making bird noises, a smart phone was one with speed dial, and slot machines were things with reels that accepted and dispensed coins.
Not willing to slip into "classic" territory, The Palms has thrown a great deal of time, money, and elbow grease into revamping the hotel. There's a lot different here - the casino has an updated look, the pool area has been redone, rooms have been revamped, nightclubs and restaurants have changed, and more. The overall effect is contemporary, of-the-moment, and, well, "current."
It'll be interesting to see what the new (as of 2016) owners, Station Casinos parent Red Rock Resorts will do to it.
For now, the hotel, located just West of the Strip on Flamingo road (across the street from The Rio), has let go of its old Vegas-meets-Palm-Beach decor scheme in favor of something more dramatic, with bolder colors and visuals dominating the space especially in the rooms.
The accommodations in the Ivory Tower (formerly the Palms Tower) have all gotten an overhaul, turning what were nice but fairly forgettable rooms into ones that definitely leave an impression. A neon-colored mural dominates one wall with a set of eyes acting as the primary focal point. Some may find it disconcerting (they seem to follow you around the room) but most will be too busy taking pictures of it to Tweet to their friends to worry about it.
The beds are pillow-top soft, the furnishings are plush and vividly colored (fuchsia and electric blue are common), and the amenities plentiful and modern from 46" HDTVs to ports for just about any electronic device you happened to bring with you. Other standard equipment includes a desk, high-speed Internet, iron and board, safe, and hair dryer.
Bathrooms are on the smallish side and have been renovated to only include showers (no tubs), but they are sleek and comfortable as long as you aren't intending to share it with anyone else for an extended period of time. The frosted glass and stone accents certainly make them prettier than your average commode.
The biggest problem I had with the room was not with the room itself but with what was happening outside it. The hotel's very popular Ditch pool parties on Friday and Saturday afternoons include a nightclub-worthy sound system that was turned up so loud that the booming bass was literally shaking the windows of my 22nd floor room. My room happened to overlook the pool so I was getting the worst of it but I could hear it in the hallway at the far opposite end of the tower so you can pretty much rule out trying to take a nap unless you have a really good set of ear plugs. The good news is that this is only from late morning until late afternoon - the bass from the rooftop nightclubs is really only a problem for the rooms on the few floors directly beneath them.
Rooms in the Fantasy Tower didn't get the "eye"ful of a remodel but are still nice in a traditional way. Earth tones dominate the color schemes and they have all of the amenities that the Ivory Tower rooms do. You just probably won't be taking any Tweetable pictures of them unless you happen to be staying in one of the Fantasy Suites, epic bits of Vegas silliness that feature everything from the space where they filmed "The Real World" (stripper pole included) to an indoor basketball court.
If you're looking for the real peace and quiet(er) spot, The Palms Place tower, located on the far west end of the hotel's property, is a residential/rental complex with condos that are both owner-occupied and in rentable. They range from one bedroom suites with full kitchens, Jacuzzi tubs, and fireplaces all the way up to multi-story palaces that are bigger than your average suburban home. Leonardo DiCaprio is reportedly one of the people who owns a unit here but I doubt he puts his in the rental pool for you to crash in for a few nights. Don't steal anything if you do.
The casino dominates most of the main floor and it offers everything you need in a casino including all the latest slots, a lot of video poker machines, a sports book, keno and poker rooms, a high-limit salon, and all the table games you may want. The 2013 update includes new carpeting and wall treatments that blend into the background allowing the banks of new slot machines, updated tables, and big new center bar to dominate the space. Frequent specials such as free donuts on National Donut Day make this a fun place to gamble but I found it's reputation for having good payouts to be overblown. Perhaps luck just wasn't on my side.
Around the fringes of the casino you'll find some restaurants plus a food court with a McDonald's and Panda Express among others, a 14-screen movie theater complex, a fully-equipped spa and salon, and much more. There are also restaurants and nightclubs atop the room towers including the fantastic Alizé, which offers some of the best views in town.
It's worth noting that there is no traditional room service here at the hotel. You can still have food delivered to your room, but it's going to come in disposable containers and brown paper bags instead of on a cart with white linen and silverware.
Interestingly, the club scene is what is most in flux as of this writing. Four of their clubs have closed recently include Rain, Moon, The Playboy Club, and The View (which replaced the bunnies). ghostbar, a swank ultralounge on the top floor of one of the towers, is their sole nightlife offering right now. With the new, more locals-friendly owners, that probably won't be changing anytime soon.
There are some downsides. First, the elevators to the guest rooms in the main tower are located in the same area as the entrance to some of the clubs. This means that on many nights you're going to have to negotiate your way through ridiculous crowds of trendy party-goers - not a lot of fun when you're exhausted and just want to go lie down.
Those party-goers can be annoying if you are the type to get annoyed by those darned kids and their shenanigans (insert shaken fist here). If it's a Friday or Saturday night, just stick near the penny slots or the keno room and you'll probably never see them.
Prices are pretty good - as low as $129 on the weekends and as low as $99 during the week, although most of the time they are higher to much higher than that. Note that there is also a mandatory $36.27 per night resort fee that covers things like Internet and gym access.
Casino and restaurant staff members are generally friendly and willing to help. Front desk and nightclub staff often come across as brusque. Not sure why this is but it's been like that pretty much since they opened the doors.
Of course all of this is the "now" version of The Palms designed to stay current with the times. I wonder what the next version will look like.