MONTE CARLO: Resort to reopen Friday - Friday 15th of February 2008

MGM Mirage officials said late Friday that the Monte Carlo, closed since Jan. 25 because of a fire atop the resort, would reopen in time for Presidents Day weekend.

Portions of the 32-story, 3,000-room Strip resorts rooftop facade were damaged by the late-morning blaze. The fire caused the evacuation of an estimated 5,000 guests and 1,000 employees and led to the temporary shutdown of Las Vegas Boulevard.

MGM Mirage moved its guests to other company resorts the day of the fire and transferred Monte Carlo reservations to other MGM Mirage properties during the past two weeks.

"After what can only be described as an incredible effort by the best team of employees and contractors in the business, the Monte Carlo family will be in place Feb. 15 to welcome guests for Presidents Day weekend," Monte Carlo President and COO Anton Nikodemus said in a statement.

Monte Carlo plans to open 1,200 guest rooms on Friday. No time was given for when the resort would begin accepting guests. Hotel management expects 1,300 more rooms will be available by Feb. 22.

The remaining 500 rooms are located on the upper floors and will remain out of service while undergoing more extensive redesign, MGM Mirage officials said.

Most of the resorts guest services, including the buildings 100,000-square-foot casino, will open Friday. The Monte Carlos meeting and convention facilities will also open that day. Most of the propertys restaurants will also open Friday, except for the buffet and the Monte Carlo Brew Pub, which will open as business demands.

Magician Lance Burton will resume his stage show Friday in the 1,200-seat Lance Burton Theater.

MGM Mirage spokesman Gordon Absher said workers had installed more than 400 panels of glass rock in place of the areas burned by the fire. The company worked with Clark County building officials and fire department inspectors to determine what areas of the facade needed to be replaced.

County fire inspectors last week blamed flying molten metal and a lack of safety measures by construction workers as the cause of the fire. Welders working atop the hotel were using a hand-held torch to cut corrugated steel for a rooftop walkway when the hot metal, called slag, triggered the fast-moving fire that spread across the top of the hotel, burning flammable foam that was used in the exterior design.

The company blamed for the fire, Union Erectors, disputed the fire departments report, saying its workers followed proper safety procedures and had the proper work permit needed for the job.

Clark County firefighters, supported by emergency personnel from around the valley, quickly extinguished the blaze. Fire suppression efforts caused water damage to a number of guest rooms and suites. The casino and lower portions of the resort were not damaged.

On the day of the fire, MGM Mirage officials said displaced employees would be paid wages and other benefits while the resort was closed.

Company officials said remediation work continues both inside and outside the hotel. MGM Mirage officials said the company was unable to determine the financial impact of the fire but the company had substantial property damage and business interruption insurance coverage on the hotel-casino.

The Monte Carlo, which opened in June 1996 at a cost of $344 million, was modeled after the Place du Casino in Monte Carlo.

It was built as a joint venture between, initially, Mirage Resorts and Gold Strike Resorts. Circus Circus Enterprises, which was renamed the Mandalay Resort Group in 1999, acquired Gold Strike in March 1995 while the Monte Carlo was under construction. MGM Mirage acquired the hotel-casino through its separate buyouts of Mirage in 2000 and Mandalay in 2005. Circus Circus/Mandalay was the operating partner until MGM Mirage took control of the resort.

MGM Mirage renovated portions of the resort last year. In December, The Light Group opened Diablos Cantina, which includes a Mexican-themed restaurant and nightclub that overlooks the Strip.

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