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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

G1 Group Lays Two More Bets

There is news that G1 Group has shut Corinthian for a refurbishment that is expected to last 6 months. As well as a bar and/or cocktail bar, nightclub, brasserie and the seemingly obligatory conference/function areas, they plan to create a new casino on one of the floors. The refurb will be masterminded by the influential Glasgow-based design company Graven Images who have worked with G1 Group before, and whose recent high-profile jobs include the Blythswood and Missoni hotels.
Gamblers say drink and gambling don’t mix but leaving aside the actual technicalities of betting, a good-looking bar can surely make the difference between rival casinos and attract those just coming to watch.
Alea Casino on the Clyde is the most recent addition to Glasgow’s handful of casinos. Its sheer size has changed the game really, dwarfing the other establishments. The massive floor space allows for 21 gaming tables, and could hold even more, the areas of unused space actually a design mistake. However, it has gone down the whole entertainment route, concentrating as much on its 3 bars, restaurant and events schedule as on the gambling. The three bars are disappointing though. Both the Long Bar (first prize for unimaginative name) and the Red Leaf overplay the use of colour – pink and deep red respectively – and lack any sort of subtlety. The other, Isobar, feels like just a stick on, only there because there is room for it.
Despite this, the intention seems to be to create sophistication, a quality that was missing from the old Chevalier casino at the bottom end of Hope Street where they took the idea of free soft drinks and snacks a little too far. One elderly lady was served her cheese and ham toastie at the roulette table allowing the rest of us the pleasure of placing our bets amongst her crumbs.
Other experiences of mine were similar in their outcome. A pal and I returned one evening, after a lengthy hiatus, to the Princes in Sauchiehall Street (now a Gala casino) with our respective partners assuring them that dressing up was the order of the evening, the surroundings deserved it, we told them. On went their best frocks, and we may have even worn ties. The ladies weren’t too pleased then to be confronted with the largest collection of shellsuits since an Adidas trade fair. That and some barely disguised spits onto the carpet and old women in their cardigans and slippers made them realise just how far they were from Monaco.
Another disappointing time was had a few years earlier when the same friend and I took ourselves to the Berkeley casino on the street of the same name. It was early afternoon and we were the first to enter, forcing us to play on a three-hand blackjack table. Within fifteen minutes our limited funds had vanished. Trying to hide our embarrassment we turned to head swiftly to the bar on the upper floor, only to be told by the croupier that it wasn’t yet open. High roller status denied once again.
Let’s hope the new Corinthian delivers on all levels. G1 have a history of providing reasonable venues that while never revolutionary, are a dependable option for many different types of nights out. Their strong point has been the restoration and preservation of historic buildings. Keep that up and we may have, at last, an elegant place in which to drink and gamble.

PS G1 press on in their attempt to dominate Scotland’s nightlife by announcing the March opening of Ghillie Dhu, described as a “traditional Scottish pub and live entertainment venue." There are hopes it will be a big draw during the Festival. Situated in Rutland Place, at the west end of Princes Street, it will be licensed till 3am. Any resemblance to Glasgow’s Oran Mor is entirely coincidental.

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