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'Death ray' at Vegas hotel pool heats up guests

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 drink cups.
Image: Vdara pool
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.Courtesy of CityCenter
/ Source: msnbc.com

Las Vegas has a new hot spot — but it's not a nightclub.

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."

Sin City is a major entertainment center and business travel destination, known for its carefully cultivated image, gambling and nightlife.

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.

"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."

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.

"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.