Before the pandemic hit, Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Caesars Entertainment Inc Report had the best player loyalty program in the casino business. In addition to typical perks like waived resort fees, free parking, early access to tickets, and special lines at buffets, check-in, and at other venues, the casino company offered one special perk that MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get MGM Resorts International Report never offered.
Caesars offered members who reach the Diamond level (15,000 points earned) used to get access to the Laurel Lounge locations found at the company’s hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Each lounge offered free drinks, a buffet appropriate for the time of day, and, perhaps most importantly a sort of quiet space amidst the craziness of Las Vegas.
When the pandemic began, the Las Vegas Laurel Lounges closed. Caesars has reopened them at some of its casinos — the ones outside of Las Vegas, but it has not opened any of the ones in Sin City.
The company has not confirmed that the Laurel Lounges (formerly called the Diamond Lounge) will remain closed, but that seems very likely given a move that has just happened. A one-time Laurel Lounge location at Caesars Paris Las Vegas has been reopened, but not as a loyalty lounge for the company’s most loyal members, but as Vanderpump à Paris, a restaurant/bar owned by Lisa Vanderpump, a restaurateur and reality television star.
Caesars Downgrades Its Loyalty Program
The Laurel Lounge made hitting the Diamond level meaningful. Yes, there are other perks that bring value to the loyalty tier, but having access to a sort of private club added a level of specialness to reaching the status.
Now, Diamond members have simply lost the Laurel Lounge benefit with no replacement. Higher-level members — starting at Diamond Plus, which requires at least 25,000 tier points — get four free drink tickets per day which can be used at a number of bars at various Caesars properties.
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That’s a nice perk, but it’s, at least in some members’ eyes, a lesser offer than Laurel Lounge access. And, for Diamond members, they don’t get any drink tickets or any replacement for Laurel Lounge access. That could give some Caesars Rewards members less incentive to earn Diamond (or higher) status or even have them consider spending more money at MGM or other rivals.
It’s likely that Caesars has made changes to save money due to the roughly $9 billion in debt its new owner El Dorado Resorts took on when the two companies merged. Caesars has not made any official comment on future prospects for its Las Vegas Laurel Lounge locations, but it does appear they will remain closed.
What Is Vanderpump à Paris?
The former Laurel Lounge at Paris Las Vegas has become Vanderpump’s second Las Vegas location. Lisa Vanderpump recently held a tasting for select guests at the location.
“Every restaurant has to have its own identity,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. For Vanderpump à Paris, that means “French classics with an edge of whimsy. Bringing Paris to Vegas and bringing Vegas to Paris.”
Vanderpump also has a location at Caesars Palace, but she believes that each restaurant/bar must be distinct.
“We needed to create something that felt like it was part of Paris,” said Vanderpump, who speaks French fluently and once lived in the South of France. “At the same time, Vanderpump à Paris was going to occupy a casino space, not a freestanding building. You’re aware of the confines, then you work from there to sex it up,” Vanderpump said.
And while visitors to Paris Las Vegas may enjoy the new bar/restaurant, loyalty program members may look at it and see not what’s there, but what used to be. Diamond Plus members can redeem their drink vouchers at both locations (albeit only for limited choices given that the vouchers can only be used for drinks that cost $20 or less.