Vegas Past and Present

Las Vegas, June 1954 by Roland Simons

I enjoy Throwback Thursday Vegas style, because you get to see what Vegas use to look like, way back when. In particular, it’s fun to see photos from 1940’s to the late 1980’s. The El Rancho Vegas was the first hotel to spring up on the desert Vegas Strip. It’s grand opening was on April 3, 1941. After came the New Frontier Hotel and Casino in 1945, and just after that, was the infamous Mafia built, Flamingo in 1946 by Bugsy Siegel. 


Las Vegas, June 1954 by Roland Simons.
For someone, like me, going to Vegas for the last 30 years, I’m always amazed how much Sin City has changed. If it wasn’t for Steve Wynn starting the building frenzy in 1989 with his mega-hotel, The Mirage, Las Vegas (a 3,044 room Polynesian-style hotel and casino), I’m not sure if Vegas would have been built on such a large scale, as it is today.

The Mirage, Las Vegas 2003 by Bari Demers

Possible. It just might of taken longer, that’s all. Before the Mirage, Las Vegas opened on November 22, 1989, with its fiery volcano, it was common place to see hotels relative to the size of the Dunes, Las Vegas with 1300 rooms; which I might add, Steve Wynn bought the Dunes for $75 million, imploding it in 1993.    

Before the mega-hotels explosion, Vegas was more intimate, you might say.

The Dunes, Las Vegas 1986 by Bari Demers

Romance was in the air. 

The nostalgic history behind Las Vegas is considered a more romantic time, instead of today’s hustle and bustle, a fury of madness along the Vegas Strip. Looking at Stardust, Las Vegas in 1979 signifies the past when the Mafia had a strong hold on the small desert town. Even though the mobsters were busy skimming their pockets with untaxed cash, they were the first to treat their customers well, lavishing them with the now traditional room and restaurant comps you see today. 

After all, it was good business. 

Stardust, Las Vegas 1979 by Ned Paynter

The prices back then were always considered cheap. As you can see for yourself in the Stardust photo by Ned Paynter, the billboard advertises incredibly low prices : 

Gamblers Breakfast for only $0.99 cents – Wow!

All you can eat Brunch – only $1.95 

And a full Dinner Buffet – once again, All you can eat – only $2.95 

I’m loving the prices back then. I remember getting steak and eggs for $1.99 back in the 1980’s.    Oh how I wish those prices were back today! 

Buffet at Aria Resort and Casino 2014 by Bari Demers

Buffet pricing has increased considerably in the last 37 years. 

MGM International Buffet Prices Today at Aria, Las Vegas : 

Breakfast: $21.99*
Monday – Friday

7:00 AM – 11:00 AM 
Lunch: $25.99*

Monday – Friday

11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Brunch: $31.99*

Saturday & Sunday

7:00 AM – 3:00 PM 
Dinner: $36.99*

Monday – Thursday

3:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Gourmet Dinner: $41.99*

Friday – Sunday

3:00 PM – 10:00 PM

*All day, add $16.99 for unlimited Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, Champagne, Premium Beer and Wine on TAP. See more HERE

Aria Resort and Casino 2014 – Poolside by Bari Demers

To be fair, a lot has happened in 37 years. 

Buffet choices are more elaborate, trained Chefs are now employed and the general food market prices have gone up throughout the world. Each restaurant must have a 33% Food Cost to cover the cost in staff, electrical and heating, bringing the food in and so on. Mind you, with the above prices I’m thinking, their food cost is closer to 25%, which is a good margin. 

The add-ons like the All day Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and Beer is likely where they make money, simply because with food in your tummy, drinking your monies worth is hard to do. Even if you can stand to come back the same day.  I actually tried that.  Did my best to come back and get my monies worth, simply couldn’t do it. 

 My full tummy said otherwise.

But, if you put everything into perspective, you’re on holidays after all. It’s easy to loose $20 in the slot machines within minutes, so part of their strategy (I’m thinking) would be to remove $20 from your pocket as fast as they can. 

Aria Resort – Poolside 2014 by Bari Demers

Even going to the pool, the drinks start from $15 – $40 depending on the size of alcoholic drink. My wife and I will spend $80 and maybe more if we have a nice breakfast overlooking the pool.   Of course, let’s put in the equation of PROMOS where one receives promotional items, such as “Free Play”, free buffets, rooms and entertainment. There’s a bunch of different ways to receive PROMOS from Highrollers to playing games on-line. 


So, you see everything must be put into perspective. I really do love Vegas and everything it offers. Even though the nostalgic side of Vegas is gone forever, the brand new Vegas is very much as exciting. That’s why I keep going back. It still is an affordable fun holiday. As always, I hope to see YOU in Vegas

By Bari Demers 

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