Video: Guests: Hotel's reflection too hot to handle

  1. Transcript of: Guests: Hotel's reflection too hot to handle

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Poolside guests at one of the newest hotels in Las Vegas are complaining about getting a lot more sun than they bargained for. Amy 's back with details on that. Hey, Ame.

    AMY ROBACH, anchor: That's right . Good morning, Meredith . It's jokingly being called the Vegas death ray . Guests say the glass facade of the Vdara Hotel and Spa reflects and then magnifies the sun's rays, making it hot enough to singe hair and melt plastic. With its $8 1/2 billion price tag, the new CityCenter complex is the hottest spot on the Las Vegas Strip ; maybe a little too hot.

    Mr. BILL PINTUS: I actually thought that oh, my God, we've destroyed the ozone layer because I am being burned.

    ROBACH: Bill Pintus was laying out by the pool at the Vdara Hotel when he says the heat from the sun became unbearable.

    Mr. PINTUS: My head was steaming hot. In fact, my hair felt like it was burning. And I could actually -- I could actually smell my hair burning.

    ROBACH: Pintus ran for cover under a nearby umbrella to get away from the intense heat. He left his newspaper behind and says the rays melted some of the plastic away.

    Mr. PINTUS: This was not a little uncomfortable. This was impossible to sit there. I mean, you were literally being burned. This is the swimming pool . And this is where I was seated right here...

    ROBACH: Pintus said the sun's rays were bouncing off the side of the Vdara hotel and focusing right on him. It's a phenomenon known as solar convergence. The intense heat is created by the curved glass surface of the hotel, acting as a parabolic dish. The glass bounces the rays from the sun and concentrates the light in a 10 by 15 foot hot zone , moving across the pool area.

    Mr. PINTUS: I said to the staff. I says, 'I don't know if you know what's going on out here,' I says, 'but I was being burned.' And they're like, 'Yeah, we know. We call it the death ray .'

    ROBACH: In a statement to NBC News , a spokesperson for MGM Resorts International , the hotel's owner, says the "pool staff did receive occasional questions about the elevated temperatures at the pool area as the convergence moved across the pool deck" and "would offer to relocate guests to the other seats on the deck." When a reporter for AOL paid a visit to the Vdara pool this week, he felt the intensity of the hot zone and talked to guests who felt it too.

    Mr. STEVE FREISS (Blogger, Vegashappenshere.com): This is Vegas so people do drink and sleep at the pool -- it's kind of our sport -- that they might in fact fall asleep, not know that they are in a very, very hot area and get very serious burns.

    ROBACH: Bill Pintus says he has no interest in suing the hotel. He just wants to make sure no one else gets burned.

    Mr. PINTUS: I just want them to fix it so that nobody does get hurt and that everybody can enjoy the pool.

    ROBACH: Well, the spokesperson for MGM Resorts International said the company is working with designers on new options for the pool, including shade structures for guests, more greenery to provide additional shade, and more umbrellas. But, Meredith , as we were saying, you know, with kids around and people asleep...

Image: Vdara pool
Courtesy of CityCenter
Guests at the new Vdara Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas have complained that design of the hotel can magnify and reflect the sun's rays at temperatures hot enough to singe hair or melt plastic cups.
updated 9/30/2010 4:21:52 PM ET 2010-09-30T20:21:52

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Guests at the new Vdara Hotel & Spa have complained that the glass skyscraper can magnify and reflect the sun's rays onto an area of the pool at temperatures hot enough to singe hair or melt plastic. It's a phenomenon that some hotel employees jokingly call the Vdara "death ray."

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Bill Pintas, a Chicago lawyer and businessman, recently was sunning himself by the pool when he became so uncomfortably hot that he had to move.

"I actually thought that, Oh my God, we've destroyed the ozone layer because I am being burned," Pintas told NBC's TODAY show.

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"My head was steaming hot. In fact, my hair felt like it was burning ... I could actually smell my hair burning."

Pintas sought refuge away from the sun's rays, where he described what happened to hotel employees. "I said to the staff, 'I don't know if you know what's going on out here, but I was being burned,' and they're like, 'Yeah, we know. We call it the "death ray." ' "

Gordon Absher, a spokesman for MGM Resorts International, which owns the Vdara, said that he prefers the term "hot spot" or "solar convergence."

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The phenomenon occurs when intense heat is created by the curved glass surface of the hotel, which acts as a parabolic dish. The glass bounces the rays from the sun and concentrates the light in 10-by-15-foot hot zone on a portion of the pool deck. Absher said that the hotel's designers foresaw the issue and thought they had solved the problem by installing a high-tech film on the hotel's glass windows to reduce the effect.

Currently, the solar convergence affects only a small portion of the pool deck for about 90 minutes around noon, Absher said.

He added that the hotel is working on a solution to the problem, such as putting in a row of thick umbrellas, shade structures or maybe some large plants. But due to the changing of the seasons and the Earth's rotation, the position of the hotel's "hot spot" changes every day.

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"The sun is constantly moving, not only across the sky during the day, but it changes with the seasons," he said. "We're dealing with a moving target."

He also noted that this was the hotel's first summer of operation and that he's confident the hotel will find a solution to the problem. "We're just trying to create a pleasant, relaxing pool experience for our guests," he said.

Vdara, which has a unique crescent design, opened in December 2009 at CityCenter.

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