Monday, January 16, 2012

Bibi Ho! :(

The Westward Ho was not Las Vegas' largest or most opulent casino. In fact, it was quite downscale and admittedly so.

The Westward Ho claimed the title of "World's Largest Motel", since all rooms were in 1 or 2 story low-rise buildings. When the the Westward Ho was constructed in the early 1960s, motel-style rooms were far more common in Las Vegas than hotel towers.

Known affectionately as "The Ho", or unaffectionately as "The Westward Hole", the property had its share of fans and detractors.

Love it or hate it, the Westward Ho was busy, bustling, and popular!

The feature most noticed was the collection of brilliantly-lighted umbrella-like things on the sidewalk by a mirrored building frontage.

The overall atmosphere, inside and outside on the Strip, was festive.

I remember staying at the Westward Ho twice.

The first time I was very underwhelmed and actually put off a bit, the main reason being that our room door showed signs of a recent break-in, or at least an attempt at a break-in.

The second time was kind of a spur of the moment trip where the Westward Ho was really the only place left which offered a decent rate at short notice for a weekend. I really enjoyed it the second time.

The room was definitely not in the "mint on the pillow" class, but it was recently renovated, clean and comfortable, and the door closed very securely. (Yes, I checked!)

I considered it to be a step down from the tower rooms at the Sahara, but a step up from the old "Dorm Rooms" out in back at the Stardust.

The Ho was most definitely downscale, but it didn't have that "down and out" vibe of the Western or the Aztec Inn.

The Ho was famous (infamous?) for their food and drink bargains!

The Margaritas tasted more like lemon-line slurpees, but a modest buzz could be obtained after consuming enough of them. :)

The Ho's claim to fame was the Mega-Dog, a 3/4 pound frankfurter, which is far more than I could ever consume in one sitting!

In the heyday of the Ho, the Las Vegas discussion forums (fora?) frequently circled back to the "Mega-Dog Challenge", with anecdotes of gastric distress. :)

Cheap rooms, cheap food, cheap drinks, and low-limit gaming were all available, in abundance, at The Ho!

The Ho you didn't know:

In 2004 a satellite casino (think 7-11 shop with slot machines and one gaming table) opened to the rear of the property, fronting Industrial Road.

Downward Plunge:

In mid 2005 it was announced that the Westward Ho would be closing, with a new development planned for the property.

I shot the above night scenes in October of 2005, only a few weeks before the closure.

As an aside, the Westward Ho is the only casino where I remember specifically not being told to take photos. I did the outside night shots, walked into the casino and raised the camera to my eye. A security guard stopped me and very courteously (cordially, actually) asked me to please not take any photos inside the casino.

When I shoot inside a casino, I'll always ask either a security person or a "suit" if it's permitted, but I kind of assumed that they would not object due to the short life expectancy of the property. Oh well.

In November, things went dark and fences went up!

The Riviera shines brightly in the reflection.

Umbrella things (I sure don't know the proper name for those) held hostage behind the fence.

What? No "Giant Margarita" or "Mega-Dog" signs?


Like a prison camp.

At least they left a few lights on, almost until the very end.

Cash yer chips across the street at the Riv!

Last Gasp!

No Ho! :(

A sad scene! :(

What's there now?

Nothing, actually!

The owners of the Ho property reached an agreement with Boyd Gaming, owners of what was the Stardust and developers of what was to be Echelon Place, to incorporate the Westward Ho tract into the Echelon project.

The vacant Ho property can be seen in the view above directly to the left of the McDonald's sign in the center of the photo.

The Echelon project has to be the number-one fiasco in Las Vegas history! Boyd had a cash cow, the Stardust, with a loyal regular following. They had grandiose plans for a project of hotels within hotels and casinos within casinos and absentee celebrity chef restaurants and megatrendy velvet rope clubs and ...

Then the recession hit!

You can read that story HERE and HERE.

Oh well, so it goes ... (and so do I!) :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stayed at Westward Ho many times in the late 90's when we were attending the nascar races in vegas. Always enjoyed the place and the prime rib special, delicious!