The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Never built: 20 Las Vegas Strip hotels

The Titanic resort, 885 feet long, 11 stories high, weighing over 46,000 tons, and containing 1,200 rooms, would have been one of the most heavily themed fantasy resorts in Las Vegas. Our guests could have enjoyed the experience of staying aboard one of the ship’s 800 state-rooms or at the adjoined Iceberg Hotel, which was to have included Ice Cave tunnels and an underwater glass people-mover to see the Iceberg’s underbelly and shops. The concept was rejected by the Las Vegas City Council. This was proposed for the big lot across the strip from the Sahara.’ — collaged


‘There’s no skimping on details of how the luxurious $5-billion, 10,000-room, five-star, five-diamond, 250-acre Moon resort would have looked. The complex included the Moon Casino, replete with multiple levels of gaming floors that culminate in the all-night party that is the Metropolis Discotheque. At the center of the Resort complex there was the Crater Wave Pool, with its surrounding private pools and spas. The 500-foot pool was to have lapped gently to the rhythm of a true ocean tide. Guests could have frolicked in the Sea of Serenity Aquatic Center then pour themselves directly into the Crater Pool via waterslides. The Lunar Lander Lounge at the center of the Pool would have been accessible via glass underwater walkways beneath the Pool’s surface.’ — collaged


Jethro’s Beverly Hillbillies Mansion & Casino is envisioned in this artist’s rendering. Max Baer Jr., who played Jethro Bodine in the “Beverly Hillbillies” television series, proposed the casino/hotel complex in the 90s and wanted to build a 240-foot-high oil derrick with a 70-foot shooting flame to lure customers. After years of being in the works, the project never got off the ground and kind of sputtered out. On August 15, 2003, Max Baer Jr. was back. He announced that he and his partners had purchased a building to relaunch the project. The building they chose was formerly a Wal*Mart department store that had been abandoned.’ — collaged


‘The 3000-room The Palace of the Sea Resort and Casino looked very intriguing. The yachts in the harbor were to be high-roller suites. The Sky Wheel, would have been over 600 feet tall (another world record for Vegas). The casino/lobby building resembled the Sydney Opera House. The hotel weighed in at 60-floors and had a sail-like shape.’ — collaged


‘The London Eye has proved to be an iconic structure on the English capital city’s sky-line. If plans had gone through, Las Vegas may very well have had its own giant wheel. Voyager were behind two attempts to bring the design to the Strip. The first came in 2003 when the Rio proposed the $86 million plans to include the wheel with a nightclub in the hub. Not long after this first failed proposal, a second giant wheel idea was put forward by Voyager. This time it was on the site of the vacant 27-acre large Wet and Wild water park. It would have been part of a new Palace of the Sea Resort and Casino. Unfortunately, that project also failed to get off the ground.’ —


‘Aimed directly at the baby-boomer demographic, The Addams Family Resort and Casino, a hotel that would look like the Addams family mansion and whose employees would be made up to look like Lurch the butler or Cousin It, never became a reality.’ — collaged


‘Although Vegas is known for its surreal architecture and mega-resorts, this hotel would have brought a fresh new look to a thriving city. JDS/Julien de Smedt Architects in collaboration with artist Olafur Eliasson designed the Mondri and Elano Hotel in Las Vegas. They wanted to create a genuine experience while extracting the identity of the Mondrian and the Delano Hotels without producing copycat versions. Another goal was to balance the project’s large scale with the need for intimacy on a smaller scale. The project was cancelled in 2012.’ — collaged


‘There have been two locations for the London Resort and Casino, and both of them have had a giant observation wheel (from the Giant Wheel Co.) The resort was to have included a Harrod’s department store, Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, a Piccadilly Square shopping area and many other London themed attractions.’ — collaged


‘ITT/Sheraton’s second plan for the Desert Inn land (now under the Wynn complex) struck a deal with the dudes from Planet Hollywood and came up with some crazy plans for a Planet Hollywood Resort on the property. The first (very conceptual) rendering was pretty wild, gravity defying, and ugly. This was later refined in to a more plausible plan with a 20-story sphere. Neither was built’ — Vegas Today and Tomorrow


‘In 1993, the Desert Inn was purchased by ITT/Sheraton. The Desert Inn had a large surface parking lot to the south of the resort (which now holds Wynn Las Vegas). Their first plans were a Balinese Resort called Desert Kingdom. The concept of Desert Kingdom was to mix African and Asian elements to make the perfect tropical resort. The concept design was a recreation of a resort in Bali, Indonesia. At night, guests would see a water and light show as they sat outdoors surrounded by tiki torches.’ — collaged


‘Protests from nearby neighbors helped to block construction of the original 800-foot ride at the Stratosphere. This Dream was proposed back in 2002. If it had been built, I’m sure that the Ivana, Allure and Liberty Towers would have chosen a different neighborhood. The roller coaster would have dropped passengers from the hotel’s tower and across Las Vegas Boulevard at top speeds of 93 mph. Residents said the roller coaster would discourage new residents from moving in and contributing to the revitalization of the area.’ — collaged


‘A knockoff of New York City’s East Village in Las Vegas — with its own version of the city’s Meatpacking District and Washington Square was planned for 44 acres at the northwest corner of Tropicana Avenue and Paradise Road, converting the conspicuously idle acreage into a 1-million sq. ft. hotel-office-and-retail project. The 27-building, 959,645-square-foot, entertainment complex was being developed by Mark Advent, a developer of the New York-New York hotel-casino. “I’ve been hand-picking our tenants. I don’t want it to look like a regional mall or life-style center that you’d see somewhere else”, said Advent in 2007. The project was cancelled in 2011.’ — collaged


‘In 1982 architect Martin Stern Jr. (the designer of the International and Xanadu) was commissioned to design a huge expansion for the Landmark. However, Landmark’s owner Ed Wolfram was convicted of embezzling $47 million from his brokerage firm, Bell & Beckwith. The Hotel was seized and put up for sale and we all know the rest (in peace).’ — collaged


‘A giant exhaust pipe shaped hotel. This rendering of the Harley Davidson Hotel and Casino uses the site directly east of The Palms on Flamingo Road.’ — collaged


‘The Excalibur Hotel already exists in Las Vegas. It looks like a white medieval castle inspired by the Sword and the Stone, but there could be so much more. At one point in time, Gary Goddard planned to install a massive fire-breathing dragon in front of the hotel. The idea turned out to be far too expensive, and the attraction was never built.’ — collaged


‘When Fontainebleau was purchased and The Drew was announced I immediately went to Vegas TAT for some information about the original plans for the big blue monstrosity. The website has renderings, videos, and specs about the failed casino project. The initial concept of Fontainebleau was exciting and unlike anything in Las Vegas at the time. The Drew plans piggybacked on this but work never started.’ — collaged


Montreux Las Vegas was Phil Ruffin’s proposed replacement for the soon to be demolished New Frontier. The project was expected to open in early 2009. Montreux would have been a 2,750-room “Swiss-themed” hotel with a 104,000-square-foot casino and massive shopping mall linked directly to the Fashion Show Mall. It would have hosted an array of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and a 465-foot-tall observation wheel (similar to the London Eye), that scooped riders from the floor above the casino.’ — collaged


‘A massive, $5+ billion project—including what would be the largest casino on the Strip—bearing the Plaza‘s name was supposed to open in 2011, but there’s been no construction on the massive lot since the hotel was put on hold in 2008. The plans include: Seven towers containing 6,700 keys (4,100 hotel rooms and 2,600 resort condominium units), 175,900 square feet of casino area (making it the largest casino on the strip), 134,500 square feet of restaurant area, 347,887 square feet of retail area, 539,607 square feet of convention space, a 50,000-square foot health club, a 1,500-seat theater, and 227,038 square feet of open space on the roof top of the podium that includes gardens and pool areas. The grand total for the project includes 3,317,400 square feet of parking garages and a total area of 15,080,846 square feet.’ — collaged


‘Entertainment designer Gary Goddard submitted an idea to the Las Vegas downtown redevelopment competition back in 1992 to build a full-scale USS Enterprise Resort. “My concept was to do something so large and so epic, it would fire the imaginations of people around the world,” Goddard wrote. If it had actually happened, the Enterprise would have been immense. Goddard claims the $150 million attraction would have been made at full scale, and would have included all the “rooms, chambers, decks and corridors that we knew from the movie.” People would have gotten to dine in Starfleet comfort in its dining area, and some ideas for “interesting ride elements” were kicked around including “a high speed travelator that would whisk you from deck to deck.” Goddard put about five months of effort into the project and had the backing of the Paramount licensing team and the Las Vegas mayor and redevelopment crew, but ultimately it was studio chairman Stanley Jaffe who shot it down. “I don’t want to be the guy that approved this and then it’s a flop and sitting out there in Vegas forever,” Jaffe allegedly said.’ — collaged


‘In 1975 Martin Stern Jr. proposed the Xanadu, an ultra luxury resort and casino, for the site now occupied by Excalibur. Stern was the designer of the International (now the L V Hilton) and the original MGM Grand (now Bally’s). Xanadu was to have a soaring atrium (like the Luxor’s), 1,730 rooms and many features which were then revolutionary (today’s standard fare). The project was approved by the county. The construction plans were then halted when it was discovered that the sewer lines in the area would not handle the output from such a large project.’ — Vegas Today and Tomorrow




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Priorities, priorities. ** _Black_Acrylic, Oh no, ‘Seagulls’ is sold out? If it gets reprinted and word reaches me I’ll give you a heads up. It’s a blast. I just read something very positive about ‘Shuggie Bain’ from a usually reliable source. Do let me know what you think of it. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, T. My pleasure on every front. Yes, I’ve been following the violent upswing in infections in LA. Terrible, and strange. Are people there really not taking precautions on a large scale? I’m telling you: Americans should get over their paranoid, individualist on steroids nonsense and let themselves be seriously locked down for a month. And politicians need to get over the moronic idea that compensating consequently screwed people and businesses is communist. Serious lockdown is not the answer, but it works to a real degree, France’s current post-quarantine re-enlivening being a good example. All credit goes to the Connie Converse post’s host and long lost d.l. little foal, and, yeah, she’s wonderful, right? Hang in there, Tosh, and stay fit. ** Steve Erickson, Hi, Steve. I mean, if you mask up and stay clean and keep your distance, you should be all right out there even now, but, yeah, I get the fear. Eek! Everyone, Mr. Erickson has a new track, ‘an EDM banger’ even, that has the world’s most vile orange human being as its ‘lead vocalist’, albeit via sample, and, if you dare, he thinks it came out quite well, and … here you go. ** Brian O’Connell, Hi, Brian. I’m pretty weak on the weird fiction genre, I don’t know why. I just never caught that train in a committed way for no known reason. Big up re: your stamina for getting through ‘The Kindly Ones’. Its daunting hugeness has warded me off, so far at least. Video games do eat time to the max. That’s why I’ve been procrastinating about getting a Switch. But it’s quality time if you have the right approach, like I said. Sounds like your brother would be a good recommender of a worthy game to restart your journey. My Wednesday lacked booty too unless buying cigarettes counts, which it doesn’t. I’m going to hit my favorite Paris bookstore today for the first time in ages, so there are booty possibilities there. See you on the other side. ** Sypha, I really need to read more Justin Isis. He’s so prolific. Should I start with ‘Fake Ass Lawyers’? Nice title: kind of great and awful at the same time. I will let you know as soon as your card arrives. Thank you so much for including me on your list! ** Right. I thought I would interrupt the cultural goings on around here just long enough to inflict upon you a post I put together whence I was deep in a very nerdy internet rabbit hole the other day. Hoping others share my off-the-beaten-track curiosity. If not, apologies. See you tomorrow.


  1. David Ehrenstein

    La Vegas is a Reality that’s a staging area for Fantasy. I’ve been there a number of times. First in 1957 as part of the trip my parents took with e across the U.S. Back then Vegas didn’t hav skyscraper towers. Just “Racho” style hotels and Casinos. Because of all th moeny top talet played there. I reccomend the recording of “noel Coward in Las Vegas” both for the greta material and for the cover which Maty used as a model for his greta Vegasflick “Casino.” The year before it came out I was in Palm Springs taking a mini-Vacation at a gay hotel which was owned and operated by two former Vegas chorus boys who worked for the guy DeNiro played in marty’s film. they told me ay number of thins about the Vegas they knew that ended up in th film –how the showgurls were weighed and how the blueberries in the muffins were counted.
    Other times I vsited Vegas I saw Keely Smith sing (many years after Louis prima died) and she was wonderful. I alwas there to see part of Jerry’s MD Telethin live. Charo sang and Jerry clowned with great panache. In recent years Vegas has become a place where buildings are stars. The great shows that Cher, Ann-Margaret and Bette Midler used to do there are a thing of the past. I don’t know if the place will survive Post-COVId, especially in light of that mass hooting a couple of year back.
    The best movie about Vegas was shot here in L.A.

  2. Damien Ark

    Hi Dennis. Some really nice posts recently. Slaves of course and all the more book stuff. So cool to see someone drop faggot in a book title – dammit, I guess I won’t name my anonymous book “faggot child” anymore, lol. If Derek is reading this, I’m gonna get your book after New Years. Literally all four of those other books sound good too, like what the fuck? I hope I get more than the fifty dollars I got last year for Hanukkah. My step brother in SF gives me a switch, smoothie maker, rice maker, and my parents are like, pay for your plane ticket to catch covid if you want to visit us… Anyway enough of me. How are you doing lately? New coworker from where you live. He helped me break into my own car yesterday. Cool guy. Wish he wasn’t Islamophobic though. I’ll fix that.

  3. Sypha

    I kind of like the Moon casino/hotel one here, that one looks pretty cool.

  4. Tosh Berman

    Las Vegas is endlessly fascinating on so many levels. I think for a lot of people reading the above post, they immediately think of the virus and how it makes Las Vegas a different type of location or fantasy. I, for one, love Las Vegas. It is such a sight when you are driving there, and you see the lights from a distance in the middle of the desert. It is no difference from walking the yellow brick road to the land of Oz. Las Vegas is for sure the city of the imagination. I hope they never lost that intensity of life imagined or based on fantasy. The virus here in Los Angeles is a total mystery to me. In theory, if you keep your hands away from your face, wear a mask, and keep oneself a difference from another, it shouldn’t be a problem. But due to human nature (which has an ugly side) this seems to be very difficult for many. When I take walks I do see people with no masks, but the majority of citizens do wear masks. Nevertheless, I’m in lockdown mode. I do it not only for my health, but also for others out there. I can’t make people wear a mask, but I can wear a mask. So that is my individualism at work. I think of others, as I think for myself. Connie Converse (what a great punk like name!) and Las Vegas rules!

  5. Nick Toti

    Hi Dennis,

    I hope you’ve been well. Love this post. I just drove through Vegas last week and always appreciate/loathe the gaudy insanity of the place. Have you ever seen the bizarre Vegas-set Herzog short about the band The Killers? It’s definitely one of the strangest entries in Herzog’s filmography, with the band treating it like a PR fluff piece and Herzog treating it like an ethnographic study or something. The post reminded me of it, so I’ll share it:

  6. MSC

    There was this brownstone in Brooklyn last year that was the Addams Family mansion that you could rent out, but it looks – idk? Like the never-happened Las Vegas one is much the better option

  7. Misanthrope

    Dennis, I like pretty much all of these and am shedding a virtual tear that they weren’t built. Come on, guys, let’s do big things!

    Yeah, I never thought Panchito’s had bad food. I’ve had worse. I’ll miss the place. And yep, the blog dinners were always great.

    Hahaha, your unintentional things there in your comments to me were hilarious. 😀

    Thanks for that about my mom. Though she’s not read your books, she’s fan of yours because of your experience on that true-crime documentary about the stuff back in the day with you know who.

    Saw that Derek’s book was taken off Amazon. What the fuck? I’m incensed. Especially when I think of all the completely crappy and sketchy shit they sell on there. What’s going on?!

  8. _Black_Acrylic

    A pity that London-themed thing never saw the light of day. There could have been an ersatz Vegas built in the UK too and we could have had some nice cultural exchange going on.

    This week’s final Flash Fiction assignment was 150 words about a journey interrupted by an incident. My story is titled Dead Cat Bounce and concerns a young techno fan hallucinating blue pyramids then crashing his car into the feline. I just signed up for the Writing More Short Stories course starting in January next year.

  9. Steve Erickson

    Imagine if the Beverly’s Hillbillies Mansion & Casino had been bought and was still around. Does anyone under 60 have enough nostalgia for the show to want to go there?

    That Killers/Herzog clip might have been the seed for a worthwhile longer project about Vegas. I can see the city in their BORN TO RUN-meets-Duran Duran aesthetic and the theatricality of their videos.

  10. Bill

    I can’t say I’m a Vegas fan, but I’d totally check out some of the hotels here. If the Titanic sank into simulated waves every evening, it would be on top of my list. The future of Vegas is not looking rosy, unfortunately.

    My excitement for the week! They finally announced the program for SF’s long running indie horror fest:

    (Complete with the usual little errors and inconsistencies on the website, sigh.) Everything is (as expected) online, so I expect to catch more screenings than ever this year, instead of grumbling about having to deal with a skanky night bus.

    Usually around this time, I start worrying about what will go on my best of 2020 lists. But of course we’ve all powered through so many books, movies, music etc this year, the problem will be to trim the bloat.


  11. Jack Skelley

    Thank you for this, Dennis. Amazing. There have been books (& related gallery shows) on Never Built NY and Never Built L.A. (by Sam Lubell). But these are extravagantly beyond . Never Built L.A. did include Santa Monica Causeway: a freeway built across the bay from SM to Malibu! WTF.

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