Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Closed Sahara has Renovation Plans

The Sahara hotel closed six months ago, but the owners have a plan that would bring the historic hotel back to life.

County officials recently approved a plan that would renovate the hotel towers. An outdoor beer garden patio and a new nightclub are also planned for the property.

At the time of the hotel's closing, owner Sam Nazarian insisted that the hotel would re-open in 2014. Not many people believed that would actually happen, but these new plans make it slightly more likely.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see if the plans ever get off the ground. I've been fairly optimistic that a remodeled, re-branded Sahara could open someday, but I still have my doubts.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Remembering the Stardust

The iconic Stardust hotel in Las Vegas closed five years ago today. The property was open from July 2, 1958 to November 1, 2006. It was shut down to make way for the Echelon Place development, which was later abandoned due to economic conditions.

The Stardust was always one of my favorite visually looking hotels in Las Vegas. I loved the purple and pink lighting on the side of the building, and the marquee sign was great also.

The Stardust sportsbook was known for being the best in Las Vegas. They had a reputation for setting the lines before any other book in town. I remember on September 30, 2006 I wanted to bet the over/under for the Toledo at Pittsburgh college football game. I walked from MGM Grand all the way to Stardust stopping in every sportsbook along the way. The Stardust was the only place to offer the wager. I won the bet, cashed my ticket, and 32 days later the Stardust was closed forever.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fitzgeralds new owner plans Renovation

Fitzgeralds downtown on Fremont Street is under new management. The property was officially purchased on Wednesday by Desert Rock Enterprises, the current owners of the Golden Gate.

The new ownership is planning to remodel the Fitz sometime in the near future. The Golden Gate is already undergoing a similar renovation project.

The timing is right for some new blood at Fitzgeralds. The property has been languishing in mediocrity for some time now. It's nice to see new owners willing to put some money into the property to allow it to be competitive downtown.

For more on the acquisition: Fox 5 News Vegas.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heart Attack Grill is Open

The infamous Heart Attack Grill has opened in downtown Las Vegas at Neonopolis.

It appears the restaurant is betting big on this location, as the other two locations (Dallas, TX and Chandler, AZ) are now closed.

Did the other locations close so they could focus on the Las Vegas location, or is the restaurant in financial trouble? I guess we'll find out soon enough based on how long this place stays open downtown.

In the meantime check out this video promoting the new location:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Flamingo FAB Rooms

Flamingo has quietly introduced a new room type into their lineup. The new FAB rooms will are available for booking starting in 2012. The name goes along with Flamingo's "Forever Fabulous" campaign.

The rooms look like an updated version of the basic "Deluxe" rooms. The major differences are the new hardwood floors and pink curtains. I can't tell for sure but it looks like most of the furniture was held over from the old rooms, including the headboards.

Pricing will likely depend on popularity, but based on what I'm seeing right now it looks like these will be more expensive than the "Deluxe" rooms, but not as expensive as the popular "GO" rooms.

I'm wondering if all of the older rooms at Flamingo will be replaced by FAB rooms eventually. The older rooms at Flamingo could use some refreshing, but I'm not sure if hardwood floors would be a good choice for the majority of rooms.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MGM Grand Renovation Underway

MGM Grand has launched a new website highlighting the renovation projects going on at the hotel.

Here are some pictures of what the new rooms will look like. They have that modern look, not unlike the rooms at Aria. The majority of the rooms at the hotel will be updated over the next few months.

For all the details: The Grand Renovation.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Golden Gate planning Expansion

With older hotels like the Tropicana and Plaza recently completing renovation projects, the Golden Gate has decided it's their turn to make some improvements.

The hotel is the oldest in Las Vegas dating back to 1906. It's also currently one of the smallest with only 106 rooms.

The expansion will add a five story building to the property containing mostly suites. The casino and other public areas will also be extended and renovated.

There's been a lot of good news for Fremont Street recently with new restaurants, bars and hotel renovation plans. Hopefully this will help the Golden Gate stay competitive downtown.

As long as they keep serving their $1.99 shrimp cocktail I know I'll be stopping by.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cosmopolitan gets Posterized

The Strip entrance to Cosmopolitan has been decorated with a collage of small posters, each one representing a different part of the resort.

The idea replicates a wild posting campaign.

While I think the individual posters look great, all of them together seem a little busy and possibly confusing for someone just walking by the hotel.

I thought the glass entrance looked great before the posters, so I'm not crazy about the change. It looks like this will be temporary though, so I really can't complain too much.

Photos credit: Christopher Burns Twitter.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Margaritaville Casino opens at Flamingo

The Margaritaville casino at Flamingo is open. The new space is having a soft opening for the next two weeks before the official grand opening the weekend of October 14th.

The casino connects the existing Flamingo casino to the Margaritaville restaurant. What used to be a rather plain hallway is now a bright, upbeat casino area that now also opens up to the Strip.

Here are some videos of the opening. FlamingoVegas posted interviews with Rick Mazer and Tamara Baldanza along with the first roll of the dice:

YouTube user ruthatguy filmed a walk-through of the new casino:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Caesars All Night Pass

Back in April of last year, Caesars Entertainment introduced their Buffet of Buffets deal which allowed you unlimited access to any Caesars property buffet for a 24 hour period.

The promotion was so successful, they followed it up with the All Stage Pass which allowed you to see as many shows as you could within a 48 hour period.

Now they are extending the concept to their nightlife offerings with the All Night Pass. For one low price (currently $44.99 for Total Rewards members, $49.99 for non-members) you will be granted access to seven of the nightclubs at Caesars properties.

The clubs are Pure at Caesars Palace, Chateau at Paris, Gallery at Planet Hollywood, Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon at Planet Hollywood, Crown at Rio, VooDoo at Rio and Carnival Court at Harrah’s.

The pass is available Thursday through Sunday only and is valid on the day of purchase from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. Blackout dates may apply.

I'm not really a nightclub person, but I suppose this might be a good deal for those wanting to check out a few different clubs in one night. The selling point is the ability to jump the line and get into the clubs right away. If that's the case it would certainly be a time-saver at some of the more popular clubs.

For more information, check out the Caesars Pulse of Vegas Blog.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kardashian Khaos at the Mirage

The Mirage announced a new "Kardashian" themed boutique store will be opening later this year in November.

The hotel posted on facebook:

We're excited to announce Kardashian Khaos is coming! A new retail store will open later this year & you're invited to experience the Kardashians like never before!

Unfortunately for the Mirage the announcement caused quite a backlash, with 100+ comments on the facebook page bashing the Kardashians and the decision to give them a store at the Mirage.

I guess you can't please everybody all of the time. While the Kardashians are immensely popular in some circles, it looks like their demographic doesn't stay at the Mirage.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Veer Towers Wind Tunnel

Sportswriter Bill Barnwell of Grantland has recently moved to Las Vegas to write about living on the Strip for a year.

He is renting an apartment in the Veer Towers at CityCenter and recently wrote about a strange phenomenon that occurs when the wind blows at Veer:

"I was lucky to get a place in the West property that faces away from the sister tower — according to residents who live in the section of the East tower that faces west, the building is subject to a loud, sustained whistling noise that occurs any time the desert wind whips past the building. This sound makes living in the apartment impossible and forces MGM, who still owns the building, to put any resident who complains in the adjacent Vdara Hotel & Spa for a free stay. The estimate I heard for how many times this has happened in 2011 was in the mid-20s."

This is a relatively small problem that will go unnoticed by most Las Vegas visitors, but it still makes me scratch my head about CityCenter. Almost every building at the complex has had issues:

Aria: Visitors have complained that it's too far away from the Strip, and the main show Viva Elvis is already getting a makeover.

Vdara: The only restaurant closed back in March, and they also have the Vdara Sun Ray.

Crystals: Has been relatively trouble free aside from vistors complaining that it's an underwhelming shopping mall. Eve nightclub closed but that's not really their fault.

Harmon Hotel: Never opened and probably is going to be imploded, pending County approval.

Veer Towers: Wind Tunnel.

Mandarin Oriental: Is the big winner, as I can't think of any glaring issues.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Plaza Hotel Downtown Soft Reopening

Hotel guests are beginning to check-in to the newly remodeled Plaza hotel downtown Las Vegas at the end of Fremont Street. The property is having a soft opening starting today before the official grand opening on September 1st.

The hotel closed in November to complete an estimated $20 million renovation project using furniture purchased from the stalled Fontainebleau development.

Prices for the updated rooms are $39-59 for weeknights and $99-129 for most weekend nights according to the Plaza website. Seems like a pretty good bargain for essentially a brand new hotel room.

I'm excited to see the reopening of the Plaza. When the plans were first announced I was skeptical whether the hotel would be able to complete the project. I thought it might be a situation like the Lady Luck, which closed down in 2006 and hasn't reopened.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Tropicana Las Vegas Commercial

Tropicana recently posted this new commercial on YouTube. There's a lot of information for the average TV viewer to digest, but overall I think it's pretty good. If nothing else it gets the point across about the new rooms, and the whole "We're changing everything" campaign.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Revel Atlantic City Photos

The new Revel hotel resort in Atlantic City seems to be progressing nicely, on the way to its projected Spring 2012 opening date.

Revel has created a website to show off the project, with some new photos and video. The glass facade looks great with the way it reflects the clouds and sky.

For more: Revel Media Center.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

O'Sheas to be replaced by Clothing Store

I was looking at this new rendering of Project Linq, and I noticed the building previously known as O'Sheas will be transformed into a GAP clothing store.

Now, to be fair I'm sure that the actual clothing store brand that will be replacing O'Sheas hasn't been decided on yet, and the rendering just used GAP as a placeholder of sorts.

I am puzzled why they would want to replace a casino with a clothing store though. Even if they wanted to remove O'Sheas they still could have replaced it with a newer, nicer gaming establishment.

I guess this means retail is more important than drinking and gambling in Las Vegas nowadays. Shopping certainly has its place, but I think even O'Sheas haters would cringe at the thought of replacing it with a GAP.

NOTE: It has been reported that the O'Sheas casino will be re-located to another part of Project Linq, most likely inside the Imperial Palace (which will be remodeled and re-named) so O'Sheas might live on in some form.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fright Night Movie - Las Vegas Remake

The 2011 remake of the 1985 movie Fright Night takes place in Las Vegas. The plot involves a high school student suspicious that his new next door neighbor is a vampire. The student enlists the help of a Las Vegas magician to help stop the supposed vampire.

I'm not sure how much Las Vegas will be featured in the movie, but it's fairly prominent in the trailer. It looks like one of the scenes might take place in a Las Vegas club, and with one of the characters being a magician I bet there's a magic show scene at some point.

Fright Night comes out on Friday August 19, 2011. If I see the movie I will be sure to update this post with a detailed rundown of the Vegas scenes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

MGM to Implode Harmon Hotel Tower at CityCenter

News broke today that MGM Resorts International has submitted a plan to Clark County to demolish the Harmon hotel tower by implosion.

People have been speculating for almost a year now that the stalled CityCenter hotel would be demolished, but this is the most definitive statement yet that MGM has made regarding the project.

The unfinished Harmon Hotel at CityCenter Las Vegas:

It was previously thought the Harmon would sit untouched until the legal battle between MGM and Perini was over, but it looks like MGM wants to move right away with the implosion. It could happen as early as six months from now.

It's sad to see a brand new building be imploded, but this has to be done by MGM. One of the major flaws of CityCenter is the main resort - Aria (and the casino) is so far away from the Strip.

While they can't move Aria, imploding Harmon will allow them to construct a grand entrance-way to CityCenter, hopefully with moving walkways leading to Aria.

UPDATE: August 27, 2011.

This wasn't entirely unexpected, but it appears MGM will have to jump over a few hurdles before they are able to demolish the Harmon.

Clark County has asked for more detailed plans regarding the implosion, including details on how the Harmon would affect hotel room supply and demand in Las Vegas.

There are also safety concerns because the Harmon is located so close to Las Vegas Boulevard and surrounding hotels. The Strip would probably have to be shut down for the implosion.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for MGM is the pending litigation between them and the builder, Perini Building Co. Perini still maintains that the flaws in the Harmon aren't that serious and could be fixed.

Check out this Vegas Inc article for more about the Harmon implosion obstacles.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

CBS 1960's Las Vegas Crime Drama

1960's era Las Vegas might be coming to your television screen soon. CBS is developing a series based on the life and times of Ralph Lamb, the former Las Vegas sheriff (from 1961-1979) who battled the mob and helped form the Metro Police Department.

While the show is still in early stages, it looks promising. Nicholas Pileggi will be doing most of the writing. His previous work includes Goodfellas and Casino, so he knows his way around a good drama. Walk The Line director James Mangold is also attached to the project.

If the show makes it on the air, it will be fascinating to see how they re-create 1960's Las Vegas. They definitely can't use many of the current Las Vegas buildings. Maybe the Riviera and some parts of downtown. They'll most certainly need to build a large sound-stage like Boardwalk Empire did to recreate 1920's Atlantic City.

For more about the show: The Hollywood Reporter.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Which Las Vegas Hotel Imploded Next?

There's a blog post over at Vegas Tripping discussing which hotels are most likely to be imploded in Las Vegas.

I was thinking about it, and came up with these 5 hotels I think could be imploded in the near future:

Sahara - The hotel is already closed so step one is out of the way. Owner Sam Nazarian insists that he will be opening a re-branded Sahara in 2014, but most people agree that's never going to happen.

Harmon - Construction issues caused this never-opened CityCenter hotel to be capped at around 50% of its planned height. Repairing the building might be more trouble than it's worth.

Fontainebleau - Like the Harmon, this hotel might be taken down before it even opens. One of the tallest buildings in Vegas, the Font was left 70% complete when the owners ran out of money. Finishing the resort will cost well over a billion dollars, and nobody has that kind of money anymore. Another case where implosion would be cheaper than completion.

Hooters - The bankrupt hotel will continue operations for now, but if things get bad enough I wouldn't be surprised if it closed down eventually. Implosion would make room for a new Tropicana parking lot.

O'Sheas - This is a wild card because it won't be imploded, and isn't even a hotel. It will likely be de-themed and re-named for Project Linq though, which will effectively wipe it off the map.

A building that will never be imploded is the Jockey Club. Steve Friess had an interesting article in the Sun today about why the Jockey Club will live forever. The article mentioned Controlled Demolition Inc. (the company that does all of the Las Vegas implosions) already has a general plan of how to implode almost every hotel in Vegas. That's a scary thought.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Viva Elvis Changes Coming in 2012

Viva Elvis, the Cirque du Soleil show at Aria will be closed temporarily in early 2012 to undergo some major changes. The show will be revamped to become less biographical and more acrobatic.

Viva Elvis will go dark in January 2012, with an expected re-opening at the end of the first quarter.

Part of the change will be incorporating performers from the Cirque show ZED, which was forced to closed after the Japan earthquake.

One of the biggest complaints about Viva Elvis was that it wasn't really a traditional Cirque show. Instead the show relied heavily on Elvis era dance numbers.

While Viva Elvis has received mixed reviews, I'm not sure making these changes will improve that. Some people might be happy with the added acrobatics, but Elvis fans are going to be upset that the show is going to be "less of a biographical representation of Elvis."

Source: Fox 5 Vegas.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Beso taken over by Landry's Restaurants

Eva Longoria's financially troubled Beso restaurant has been taken over and will be bought out by Landry's Restaurants Inc.

Eva Longoria will remain as a partner in the restaurant. Landry's owner Tilman Fertitta issued a statement saying, "Eva created a landmark restaurant at the spectacular CityCenter, and I look forward to working with her as my partner in Beso."

Landry's is a large company which owns multiple chain restaurants. They also own the Golden Nugget casinos. Having the backing of a large company like that means Beso will be in business for a while.

Eve, the closed nightclub portion of the restaurant might even re-open as a result of the new ownership.

Source: Press Release.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Aria Occupancy hits 90%

MGM Resorts International has reported their second quarter results, and Aria has scored all time high occupancy and room rates for the second straight quarter. Occupancy hit 90% in the second quarter of 2011 while ADR increased $1 to $202.

At the other MGM properties second quarter occupancy was 94% with an ADR of $126, compared to occupancy of 93% and ADR of $115 in the same quarter last year.

Aria Occupancy and Average Daily Rate:

1Q 2010 - 63% - $194
2Q 2010 - 80% - $178
3Q 2010 - 82% - $175
4Q 2010 - 80% - $190
1Q 2011 - 86% - $201
2Q 2011 - 90% - $202

Source: MGM Resorts International.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

1OAK to replace JET at Mirage

In nightclub news, Page Six is reporting that New York hot-spot 1OAK will likely take over the space currently occupied by JET at the Mirage.

While the deal isn't officially in place yet, Daily Fiasco pointed out that JET operator The Light Group has registered the domain name, so it appears the new club will be a partnership between The Light Group and the New York owners of 1OAK.

I thought JET was one of the more successful clubs in Las Vegas, so this is kind of surprising to me. Perhaps the opening of Marquee, Surrender, Gallery and the upcoming Hyde has put pressure on The Light Group to make a change.

Old Homestead Steakhouse coming to Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace is looking a lot like New York New York these days, as they are replacing their old steakhouse Neros with NYC favorite The Old Homestead Steakhouse.

The New York restaurant dates back to 1868, while the Las Vegas version should be up and running by the end of 2011.

The addition gives the restaurants at Caesars even more of a New York flavor. PJ Clarke's, Rao's, Mesa Grill, Serendipity 3 and The Palm all originated in New York City.

For more on Old Homestead, check out Vegas Seven.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

O'Sheas to be Re-named and De-themed?

As expected, Clark County zoning officials approved plans for the Caesars Entertainment Project Linq.

New renderings of the project have been released that make the project look more upscale than previously thought. In the past, some people have referred to the project as the O'Sheas street O'Shops but in the new drawings it looks like O'Sheas doesn't even exist. At least not in its current form.

It appears that O'Sheas will be completely transformed into a modern de-themed casino, similar to say Aria or the M Resort. This could be a good thing, but I'm definitely going to miss the old Irish pub theme of O'Sheas. While it isn't the nicest place in the world you can always count on cheap drinks, cheap games and cheap food at the food court. I'm guessing all of those things will go away with the renovation.

It's important to note that I'm just speculating that O'Sheas will be re-named and de-themed. Caesars Entertainment hasn't made this announcement yet, and all of the press I've seen regarding Project Linq still refer to the property as O'Sheas. Also it appears there are a couple of different versions of the new renderings, so the final decision might not have been made yet.

Reading between the lines though, it looks like the days might be numbered for the old O'Sheas.

UPDATE: August 21, 2011
Caesars Entertainment had an official press conference this week to discuss plans for The Linq.

As speculated, O'Sheas as we know it is going away. BUT there are plans to "move" the O'Sheas casino and somehow merge it with Imperial Palace. It's kind of hard to envision what that will look like, since Imperial Palace is also getting completely made over and re-named as a result of Project Linq.

Oscar Goodman opening Steakhouse at Plaza

The newly remodeled Plaza hotel downtown on Fremont Street has announced yet another new restaurant, as former Mayor Oscar Goodman will be opening Oscar's later this fall.

The steakhouse will have a Las Vegas theme, featuring classic Vegas photographs and Goodman's personal memorabilia from his 12 year run as mayor.

In addition to the steakhouse, the area will also feature an Italian restaurant and "speakeasy." There will also be a new cocktail bar and lounge that will serve customers of both restaurants.

Oscar's will be located inside the dome of the Plaza overlooking Fremont Street.

The space was formerly occupied by Firefly - a tapas restaurant which closed late last year. Many people were hoping that Firefly would return once the hotel renovations were complete, but the Plaza owners were reportedly unhappy with the restaurant's performance.

I'm not sure how badly Las Vegas needs another steakhouse, but with Oscar Goodman's name attached to it I'm sure it will do well. I do like the classic Las Vegas theme, so it might be worth a visit to check out some of the photos and memorabilia.

Source: Plaza Press Release.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Project LINQ Details Revealed

The Clark County Zoning Commission will be reviewing the Caesars Entertainment Project LINQ on Wednesday, August 3rd.

The agenda for the commission meeting was posted online, and revealed new details about Project LINQ.

Perhaps the biggest revelation is that parking will be reduced Flamingo, IP and Harrah's to accommodate the project. It appears total parking at the resorts will be reduced by 30%.

The south facades at Imperial Palace and O'Sheas will also be re-skinned and de-themed from their current Asian and Irish themes to reflect contemporary American design.

And yes, the 550 observation Ferris wheel is still in the plans, although the FAA might have something to say about it later down the line.

Read all about the Project LINQ plans: Clark County Zoning Meeting Agenda.

UPDATE: August 3, 2011.
Clark County has approved the project and new renderings have been revealed. See them here.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Hooters Hotel-Casino is Bankrupt

Not surprisingly, Hooters Hotel-Casino just off the Strip in Las Vegas filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today. The hotel has been having financial difficulties for years now.

The hotel opened in 1973 operating as a Howard Johnson. In 1989 it became the San Remo before changing over to Hooters in 2006. Shortly after the newly branded Hooters hotel opened there were rumors of the property either being re-themed, or sold.

It will be business as usual for the hotel and casino operations until the bankruptcy gets sorted out in court, so tourists probably won't notice much of a change anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what happens after that though. Will the hotel get re-branded or even close down completely? Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Heart Attack Grill coming to Las Vegas

Heart Attack Grill is coming to Las Vegas. The themed restaurant is set to open downtown later this year at the semi-abandoned Neonopolis complex on the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard.

The restaurant is famous for making fun of how unhealthy the food is. Waitresses are dressed as nurses, and a "doctor" sometimes walks around to take your temperature during the meal. The company made headlines when their 575 pound spokesman died at the age of 29.

Heart Attack Grill has two other locations in Arizona and Dallas, although the Arizona restaurant "closed for remodeling" in June, and I believe has not since reopened.

I've mentioned a few times before how Fremont Street is improving its drinking and dining options, and Heart Attack Grill will fit right in. Along with the new renovated Plaza hotel and several other new bars, Fremont Street is having a resurgence of sorts.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jubilee! has 30 Year Anniversary

July 30th marks the 30 year anniversary of the opening of Jubilee! - currently the longest running show in Las Vegas.

Jubilee! opened at Bally's in 1981, which was still known as the MGM Grand back then. The show opened around the same time as the hotel's new South tower, which was eight months after the devastating MGM Grand fire of 1980.

Jubilee! is a great show, and is the last of the true "Vegas Showgirl" type of shows. Hopefully it remains on the Strip for many years to come.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Restaurants at Plaza

The newly renovated Plaza hotel downtown on Fremont Street will be re-opening on September 1st. In preparation for the big debut, the hotel has announced a few new restaurants (although some of them won't be open until a few weeks into September).

Hash House A Go Go: Las Vegas tourists know this restaurant from their other locations at Imperial Palace and M Resort. There's also one on West Sahara Ave, along with other locations in San Diego and Reno.

Island Sushi and Hawaiian Grill: This restaurant offers separate sushi and grill menus. It should be popular amongst the many Hawaiian tourists downtown.

Zaba's Mexican Grill: From what I can gather, this is a casual, build your own burrito place similar to Chipotle. Should be a good place to grab a quick bite.

In addition to these restaurants, Plaza will also open Swingers Club mini-golf and Piano Bar.

They also recently announced that local theater troupe Insurgo Theater Movement will occupy a new 75-seat theater on the third floor.

Source: Plaza Press Releases.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tropicana Room & Entertainment Experience

It's beyond the scope of this blog to report every Las Vegas deal out there, but this one caught my eye so I thought I'd share it.

Tropicana is offering a Room & Entertainment Experience package. The deal gives you 2 free show tickets for each night of your stay plus VIP check-in.

The shows you can choose from are Gladys Knight, Brad Garrett's Comedy Club, and Las Vegas Mob Experience.

The package starts at $99 a night plus the $9.99 resort fee. A two night stay is required. If you are planning on staying at Tropicana and catching a few shows, this could be a nice deal.

Be sure to check with Tropicana for details and availability.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NFL Lockout Over

The NFL lockout is over, which is certainly good news for sportsbooks, along with Las Vegas as a whole.

While it might not have a huge impact on the average Las Vegas visitor, football is the lifeblood of the sportsbooks in the fall.

If the season was canceled there's no telling how much revenue the casinos would have missed out on. Not only from taking bets, but hotel rooms and other revenue from visitors traveling to Las Vegas specifically for NFL football.

With the season back on track, Las Vegas is bound to do some brisk business on Sundays this fall.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Las Vegas Restaurant Week 2011

Many of the top restaurants in Las Vegas will be participating in the 5th annual Las Vegas Restaurant Week.

The event will take place August 29th to September 11th, 2011.

Participating restaurants will create fixed price, three course menus priced at $20.11, $30.11 or $50.11. A portion of each meal will directly benefit Three Square Food Bank, the largest food bank in Southern Nevada.

Here's a preliminary list of participating restaurants:

BLT Burger
BRAND Steak House
Cafe Bellaio
Charlie Palmer Steak
Comme Ca
d. Vino Italian Food & Wine Bar
Diego Mexican Cuisine
Dragon Noodle Co.
Estiatorio Milos
Fiamma Trattoria and Bar
Lupo by Wolfgang Puck
Michael Mina Bellagio
Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro
Nine Fine Irishmen
Osteria del Circo
Pink Taco
Prime Steakhouse
Roy's Hawaiian Fusion
Tacos & Tequila
Table 10
The Capital Grille
The Grand Wok and Sushi Bar
The Henry
The Steak House at Circus Circus

Be sure to check out the official Las Vegas Restaurant Week website for menus and the most up-to-date information.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bally's - No Resort Fees - Building Wrap

Bally's has a new building wrap promoting "No Resort Fees" at Caesar's Entertainment properties. The wrap went up in conjunction with the The Showgirls are Angry marketing campaign.

UPDATE: Caesars Entertainment is now charging resort fees on Las Vegas rooms booked after March 1, 2013.

Source: Bally's TwitPic.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Showgirls Angry about Resort Fees

Bally's has come up with a viral marketing campaign featuring the Jubilee! showgirls angry about resort fees.

The campaign started out by posting this vague picture on various social media sites:

Today the showgirls were out marching on the street with picket signs "protesting" resort fees. Bally's posted these pictures on Twitter:

UPDATE: Caesars Entertainment has abandoned their no-resort fee policy, and will start charging resort fees on all Las Vegas rooms booked after March 1, 2013.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

November Nine is Set at WSOP

The 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event is down to the final table. The "November Nine" will square off November 5th through November 7th with the action airing on ESPN on November 8th.

November Nine chip count:

1. Martin Staszko - Czech Republic - 40,175,000
2. Eoghan O'Dea - Ireland - 33,925,000
3. Matt Giannetti - Las Vegas, USA - 24,750,000
4. Phil Collins - Las Vegas, USA - 23,775,000
5. Ben Lamb - Tulsa, USA - 20,875,000
6. Badih Bounahra - Belize - 19,700,000
7. Pius Heinz - Germany - 16,425,000
8. Anton Makiievskyi - Ukraine - 13,925,000
9. Sam Holden - United Kingdom - 12,375,000

It's a very young final table, with 7 of the 9 players 26 years old or younger. Poker is increasingly an international game, as only 3 of the players are from the USA (2 playing out of Las Vegas).

Atlantic City Hilton is now ACH

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how Hilton was terminating their franchise agreement with Las Vegas Hilton at the end of the year.

Now news has surfaced that Atlantic City Hilton is facing the same fate. Except they don't even have until the end of the year, and have already re-branded the hotel as "ACH."

If you go to the Atlantic City Hilton website, you will see that the name ACH has replaced most of the Hilton branding.

David McKee wrote a good article about the name change. He speculates that ACH is likely a temporary placeholder name until the property can be sold off to another company.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Carlos'n Charlie's coming to Flamingo

The popular Mexican restaurant and bar chain Carlos'n Charlie's will be opening a location at Flamingo this winter.

The restaurant will be located next to the sportsbook and will feature an outdoor terrace space overlooking the back courtyard area.

I think this will be a nice addition to Flamingo, and should go along well with their other tropical themed restaurant, Margaritaville.

Carlos'n Charlie's is owned by the same company as another premiere Mexican watering hole, SeƱor Frog's, which is also opening a location in Las Vegas later this year at Treasure Island.

Monday, July 18, 2011

CityCenter - Bad News for Eve and Harmon

Two recent bits of news about CityCenter surfaced in the past couple of days.

The stalled Harmon Hotel building has been deemed unsafe in the unlikely event of a major earthquake. The news is further proof that the Harmon likely will never open, and might be disassembled. MGM and Perini Corp. are battling in court over who's to blame for the debacle.

Eva Longoria's Eve Nightclub has closed, at least temporarily. The club at the Crystals shopping complex has faced financial difficulties from day one. Beso, the restaurant attached to the club will remain open.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ladies Night is still Legal in Vegas

Good news for female (and single male) party-goers in Las Vegas - "Ladies Nights" are still legal based on new anti-discrimination legislation.

The Las Vegas Sun has a story about the new law that makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender, but allows establishments to "offer differential pricing, discounted pricing or special offers based on sex to promote or market the place of public accommodation."

This is key for Las Vegas nightclubs, which frequently offer free or reduced cover charges for female guests.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mini Golf Piano Bar coming to Plaza

A bar featuring putt-putt golf and dueling pianos will be opening at the newly remodeled Plaza hotel on Fremont Street. Grand opening is scheduled for Labor Day weekend later this summer.

The nine hole mini golf course will be Vegas themed, and will feature glow-in-the-dark "disco golf" late at night.

The bar will be owned by Las Vegas celebrity hypnotist Anthony Cools. Here's what he had to say about the bar:

"Swingers Club will be unlike anything else in Las Vegas. This isn’t an ultra club with high priced bottle service. Our goal was to create an inviting atmosphere where people can relax and just have fun. They can enjoy the live music of dueling pianos or leading stage acts, socialize with friends over drinks, and maybe meet someone new over a few holes of mini golf. I’m confident that the unique concept of the Swingers Club will complement the fun vibe of downtown and make it a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike."

I definitely like the unique aspect of this bar and others downtown, notably Insert Coin(s). Fremont Street is turning into a pretty fun place to go bar hopping. Not that it wasn't fun before, but these new bars are helping to take downtown to a higher level.

Source: Press Release.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vegas Strip on truTV

With recent violence on Las Vegas Boulevard, the new TV show Vegas Strip is somewhat timely. The COPS style show will follow police officers in Las Vegas.

Like other reality shows on truTV, some of the situations in the trailer look staged. It probably won't be great, but I'll likely catch a few episodes. There might be some good Vegas scenery if nothing else.

UPDATE: I watched the first two episodes of the show. It actually didn't look staged, although there were a couple of instances that could have been. The show is pretty much the same as COPS, just on the Vegas Strip.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Octavius Tower Open by Christmas 2011?

Caesars Palace president Gary Selesner participated in a Facebook chat recently. He mentioned that the Octavius Tower will likely be open by the end of the year, and updated the status of the new Nobu Hotel.

"Well, first of all, the Augustus Tower, Palace Tower and Forum Tower have all been recently remodeled and match the best rooms on the Strip. But I'm really excited to say that we're in the process of completing our all-new 650-room Octavius Tower, which we hope to have open by Christmas, and we are transforming the Centurion Tower, one of our older towers, into the world's first Nobu Hotel. So we'll have a hotel within a hotel at Caesars Palace. Guests will be able to enjoy all that Nobu is known for at a Nobu restaurant, and retire to a East-meets-West Nobu style room in the tower right above the restaurant. Our best guess is that we will have this open at some point next summer, but all of us can't wait!"

Source: Caesars Facebook Chat.

Las Vegas Hilton needs New Name

Las Vegas Hilton will be ending its partnership agreement with Hilton at the end of the year, so it looks like the hotel will need to find a new name.

When I first heard this news I immediately thought the property should switch back to its former name: The International.

Another possibility is the hotel partnering with an established brand. As boring as it may be, the property becoming a Sheraton, Hyatt or Marriott is probably likely scenario.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Venetian Palazzo Open Bar Package

A new open bar package is now available at Venetian and Palazzo.

The Bar Hop package is $75 per day from noon to midnight, or $150 for a weekend package that runs from Friday at noon to Sunday at 6 pm.

"Enjoy unlimited drinks, house wine, and domestic beer at Salute Lounge, Laguna Champagne Bar, La Scena Lounge, Fusion Latin Mixology Bar, and Oculus, plus complimentary admission to both V Bar and AzureTM Luxury Pool."

The $75 price tag seems a little steep, especially since the drink offerings are limited. I think I would rather just pay as I go and have the freedom to leave the property if I wanted to.

On the other hand getting the whole weekend for $150 could be a good deal if you are planning on using Venetian and Palazzo as your base of operations.

No telling how long this package will be offered, so be sure to check directly with Venetian / Palazzo before making any plans.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stalled and Abandoned Las Vegas Construction Projects

Vegas Inc. had a story on Friday profiling stalled and abandoned construction projects in Las Vegas.

I was thinking about writing about stalled construction projects a few weeks ago, and these six immediately came to mind:

- Fontainebleau
- Echelon
- St. Regis tower at Palazzo
- Harmon Hotel at CityCenter
- The Shops at Summerlin
- Wyndham Blue across from Rio

The Vegas Inc. story also profiled some lesser known projects:

- ManhattanWest
- Mercer
- Parkline Lofts
- Spanish View Towers
- Uptown
- Vantage Lofts

We didn't really need any more evidence that the Las Vegas real estate market is struggling, but 12 stalled projects really hammers home the point.

UPDATE: August 21, 2015 - I wrote a blog post updating the status of these projects.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Maloofs Lose Palms Ownership

The famed Maloof family has had their ownership stake in the Palms reduced to 2%. The hotel's debt was taken over by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, which will each own 49% of the property.

TPG Capital is one of the owners of Caesars Entertainment, which has prompted speculation that Caesars will take over the Palms and add it to its Total Rewards portfolio. That isn't happening... for now, as George Maloof will remain the operational boss. We'll see how long that lasts.

With the Palms struggling like this, recent demise of the Sahara, and Planet Hollywood being taken over by Caesars, it proves how it's more and more difficult for independent casino operators to survive.

Read more about the Palms restructuring at Business Week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rumor - Fontainebleau to be sold for Scrap Metal?

Rumors are floating around that Carl Icahn is thinking about disassembling the Fontainebleau and selling off the scrap metal.

While it might seem insane to take apart a brand new building, it would be a fitting ending to the Fontainebleau story.

On one hand it would be sad, and a little embarrassing to see one of the biggest buildings in Las Vegas go away before it got off the ground. On the other hand, if no one's going to finish the damn thing, then maybe it would be better to take down the eyesore.

Personally I have a hard time believing this rumor to be true. I don't know how much it would cost to employ a team of workers to disassemble a building, but it has to be substantial. I have to hold out hope that the Fontainebleau's value lies in someone completing the building and opening it as originally planned, although that seems more and more unlikely as time goes on.

Saint John of Las Vegas

I recently watched the movie Saint John of Las Vegas. Based on the title and description of the movie, I was expecting to see some good Las Vegas scenes. I was wrong. The majority of the movie takes places outside of Vegas, and the little Vegas there is - isn't very exciting.

A fairly major plot point involves the main character buying lottery tickets in Las Vegas. Unless there was a recent law change I don't know about, lottery tickets aren't sold in Nevada. While most of the audience probably wouldn't notice or care, this mistake kind of took me out of the movie. I also found it a little strange that someone in Las Vegas would use lottery tickets as his game of choice. Seeing John at a craps table would have been a lot more interesting.

If you're planning on watching Saint John of Las Vegas for the Vegas scenes, you might want to skip it.

Rod Stewart and Shania Twain coming to Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace recently announced that Rod Stewart and Shania Twain have both signed on for two-year residencies at The Colosseum.

Rod Stewart will begin shows in August 2011, while Shania Twain wont start until December 2012.

Caesars Palace now has a formidable lineup of musical acts, as Celine Dion, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Shaina Twain will all share The Colosseum over the next few years.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Total Rewards Marketplace

Total Rewards has introduced a new way to earn Reward Credits without gambling. Using the new Total Rewards Marketplace, you can get 1 RC for every dollar spent at select online retailers.

The program seems pretty straightforward. Just go to the Total Rewards Marketplace, sign into your Total Rewards account, and start shopping.

The TR Marketplace seems like a good way to avoid the six month expiration date on Reward Credits. I have some credits that are expiring soon, so I might use this program to extend them instead of going to a casino. The credits take up to 45 days to post to your account though, so that might be a small hassle.

Some pretty big retailers are included in the program, like Target and Best Buy, so finding something to buy shouldn't be a problem. If you were going to buy anything from these places anyway, using the TR Marketplace seems like an easy way to pick up some extra points.

For more information: Total Rewards Marketplace.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Las Vegas World Beer Fest

A year long beer festival is coming to Las Vegas. The Las Vegas World Beer Fest is scheduled to begin October 13th. The fest will take place in the (parking lot?) area behind Ballys.

The festival will feature "500 different beers weekly ... along with 100 different microbrewers, cooking demonstrations, beer games, live bands, and the Brewers’ conference."

This looks like a fun thing to do in Vegas during the day. I can imagine people taking a break from the Strip to sneak off and enjoy some good beer. They are touting this as a "year long" event, but I can see it going on for a few years if it's successful.

For more info, check out Las Vegas World Beer Fest.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Remodeled Rooms at Plaza

The Plaza hotel downtown on Fremont Street recently posted pictures of their new remodeled rooms on their facebook page.

The hotel is scheduled to re-open later this summer.

The Plaza used many of the furnishings for their new rooms from the stalled Fontainebleau project.

Source: Plaza Facebook.

Sahara Liquidation Sale - June 16, 2011

Sahara fans aren't able to visit the property anymore since it closed on May 16th, but now they will have a chance to take a piece of the action home with them.

On June 16th the Sahara is having an everything-must-go liquidation sale. Everything from room furnishings to casino games will have a price tag ready to leave the property for a new home.

The sale starts June 16th at 10am and will continue daily 10-7 Monday – Saturday & 12-5 Sunday until sold out. There is a $10 admission charge the first four days of the sale.

Seems like a great way to take home a bit of Las Vegas history.

For more information check out NCL Sales.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sahara Website Farewell Message

With the Sahara closing on Monday after 58 years of operation, their website was sure to follow suit and recently shut down.

The message left up on the site says, "Thanks for a Wonderful Engagement" and directs prospective guests to Circus Circus.

A few weeks ago I speculated that Riviera would benefit by taking stranded Sahara guests. Even though Circus Circus turned out to be the "official" relocation destination, I still think a lot of the Sahara clientele will wind up at Riviera.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Revel Atlantic City Restarts Construction

The stalled Revel hotel project in Atlantic City is back on track. The project recently secured financing for the remaining $1.15 billion needed to complete the hotel.

When it opens in the spring of 2012 it will be the first new casino to open on the boardwalk in over 20 years. Locals are hoping the $2.4 billion resort will attract new business to Atlantic City.

It's nice to see a stalled project like this get back on track. Maybe this gives hope to Fontainebleau and Echelon someday restarting in Las Vegas? Maybe not.

To read more about Revel check out Press of Atlantic City.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sahara Closed

The Sahara closed its doors today after nearly 59 years of operation.

After the final guests were escorted out of the property, owner Sam Nazarian taped a note to the front door that read:

59 YEARS....

Will Nazarian be able to keep his promise and transform the Sahara into a new luxury hotel? Only time will tell.

The hotel was open from October 7, 1952 to May 16, 2011.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Aria Improves Occupancy and ADR in 2011

In the first quarter of 2011, Aria scored all time high occupancy and room rates. Occupancy was 86% with an average rate of $201.

I've been keeping an eye on Aria's occupancy rate since it opened. They started off slow with a low 63% occupancy in the first quarter of 2010, but the numbers have been improving slowly throughout 2010 and now into 2011.

Aria probably will never be the cash cow that MGM was hoping for when the project was conceived, but breaking the $200 room rate mark is a step in the right direction.

Room rates were higher across the board at MGM properties in the first quarter, so we might be looking at the start of a real economic recovery in Las Vegas.

Aria Occupancy and Average Daily Rate:

1Q 2010 - 63% - $194
2Q 2010 - 80% - $178
3Q 2010 - 82% - $175
4Q 2010 - 80% - $190
1Q 2011 - 86% - $201

Source: MGM Investor Relations.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Boyd Updates Echelon Status

Boyd Gaming company CEO Keith Smith gave an update on the stalled Echelon Place project during the company's first quarter 2011 earnings conference call question and answer session on Tuesday, May 3rd.

Smith confirmed that nothing will be done on the project anytime soon, and said that Boyd would consider selling some or all of the land if presented the right opportunity:

"With respect to the Echelon development on the Strip, we continue to, kind of, I guess keep it as an option and assess our future. We are not taking any specific actions right now. We're, obviously, continuing to watch the market and try and determine when the best time to move forward on that asset may be. It's clearly not today. It's clearly not this year. It's probably not next year. As we kind of look into the future of the Strip and we look into the future of consumer demand and when it hits a point that you could add another project of that caliber. So if we had an opportunity to sell some of the land, we just sit on 88 acres, would we entertain it? Sure. That opportunity hasn't presented itself. We clearly have long-term confidence in Las Vegas, in Las Vegas Strip. We look forward to having an asset on the Strip at some point in our future as a company. We think, strategically, that's important for us. And still have that as a longer-term focus as we look to the growth of our company."

Source: Q1 2011 Boyd Gaming Corp Earnings Conference Call.
Transcript courtesy of Seeking Alpha.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Construction Starts on Harmon Corner Walgreens

Ground has been broken on the three story retail complex on the corner of Harmon Ave. next to Planet Hollywood. Walgreens will be the main store on the property, but it will also feature a few restaurants and several other shops.

The key feature of the project will be a large, Times Square style video board that will light up the Strip. This should look good alongside Planet Hollywood, which also features similar video boards as part of its facade.

One of the companies involved with the project has posted this video on YouTube, which includes a rendering of what the final product will look like. The rendering includes logos for Buffalo Wild Wings, McDonald's and Orange County Choppers, but Walgreens is that only store the has been officially announced.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Steve Wynn's Royal Wedding

Las Vegas had its own Royal Wedding this weekend, as Steve Wynn married Andrea Hissom.

The wedding was reportedly star studded. Clint Eastwood was the best man. Garth Brooks and Lionel Ritchie performed. Other heavy hitters expected to attend the event included Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Milken, Sol Kerzner, Brett Ratner, Celine Dion, Naomi Campbell and Hugh Jackman.

Steve Wynn and Andrea Hissom were engaged back in December.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Steve Wynn's Fair Share Concept

The Wynn Resorts quarterly earnings conference call was on Tuesday. The call is sometimes called The Steve Wynn Show by insiders because his straightforward answers can be very entertaining and educational.

Here's one tidbit from this week's call that I found interesting. It involves a concept that Wynn calls "Fair Share" that Wynn Resorts uses to judge how well they are doing:

"For those of you who really follow this, don't look at market share per se, look at fair share. We use that term, you can call it what you want. But you basically take how many units of slot machines or tables does a given operator have compared to the total in the marketplace, and then take a look at the share of the money that the person -- that the company has. If that ratio is better than 1:1, then you're a net receiver of the customers and you've sort of made a dorm out of your neighbor. If it's less than 1:1, then you're a dorm to your neighbor, and that's a negative fair share. We have been able to increase our fair share market penetration in the face of increased competition. It happened to us in Atlantic City years ago. We were the smallest place. But the more places came on, the more our premium over the average increased, and we're enjoying that again in Macau. It's a very important number, and it sort of tells you how good a job you are in delivering a good guest experience, a good customer experience that makes those people want to come back again and again and keep you as their favorite place."

You can listen to the conference call at Wynn Investor Relations, and read the transcript at Seeking Alpha.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Elton John brings Million Dollar Piano to Caesars

Elton John is returning to Las Vegas and Caesars Palace. A three year residency at The Colosseum will begin in September.

The Million Dollar Piano show is named after a custom piano built by Yamaha. Elton's previous Caesars Palace show The Red Piano ran for five years, from 2004-2009.

Elton John coming back is exciting news for Las Vegas. I was fortunate enough to receive free tickets to one of The Red Piano shows, and it was great. That show had some unique music videos projected onto huge screens behind the piano. Hopefully the new show will have some interesting visual elements like that.

Gallery Nightclub opens at Planet Hollywood

Gallery Nightclub opened last weekend at Planet Hollywood. Kourtney Kardashian hosted her birthday party on Friday and Cee Lo Green performed on Saturday. Holly Madison and Josh Strickland, Vince Neil and Carrot Top were among the other celebrities attending on grand opening weekend. Gallery is in the space formerly occupied by Prive.

Photos from Gallery Facebook.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Postage Stamp uses Las Vegas Statue of Liberty

The newest "Forever" stamps issued by the US Postal Service feature an American Flag and the Statue of Liberty. There's one small problem though. Instead of a picture of the original statue in New York, the Postal Service mistakenly used a photo of the replica statue in front of New York-New York hotel in Las Vegas.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Absinthe is a Smash Hit

I haven't mentioned the new show Absinthe at Caesars Palace very much on this blog. I really didn't know what to think of it when I first heard about it. It's billed as an "Adult Carnival" and takes place in a tent outside of Caesars.

The show seems very strange to me, but apparently it's amazing. It's getting great reviews from pretty much everyone. Las Vegas Weekly loved it. So did Vegas Chatter. Six out of eight reviews on Yelp are 5 stars, while the other two are 4 stars.

Paul Carr, the British guy spending a month in Vegas at a different hotel each night liked the show so much that he saw it twice and interviewed the host.

Ticket sales haven't quite matched the hype yet, but with EVERYONE loving Absinthe I'm sure word of mouth will take over eventually. Angel Porrino is also joining the cast this week, which will probably bring in the reality TV crowd.

I didn't think I would want to see Absinthe, but these great reviews are making me reconsider.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kirk Kerkorian Retiring from MGM Board

MGM Resorts International announced this week that founder and major shareholder Kirk Kerkorian will be stepping down from the Board of Directors. This is essentially a retirement for the almost 94 year old Kerkorian, although he will still remain with the company in an advisory role.

Kirk Kerkorian's time in Las Vegas dates back to the early 1960's. He is probably most well known in Vegas for opening the International hotel (now Las Vegas Hilton), the original MGM Grand (now Bally's) and the current MGM Grand.

For a good biography of Kirk Kerkorian with lots of cool old pictures, check out In Old Las Vegas.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Re-branded Sahara might open in 2014?

In a recent LA Times article, Sahara owner Sam Nazarian casually stated that he plans on renovating and re-opening the Sahara under his SLS brand in 2014:

"The plan from the beginning was to close the hotel for renovation. He said he was committed to reopening it in 2014 as an SLS Las Vegas, with six restaurants and two nightclubs."

As soon as the article was published people around the internet were saying how this will never happen, and that the hotel ever opening again was nothing more than hot air from Nazarian. I agree that it's a long-shot, but I want to play devil's advocate for a minute and explore reasons why it could happen:

The date of 2014 is ambiguous and gives plenty of time for a possible Las Vegas recovery. If a major turnaround does occur and the North Strip shows some signs of life with Echelon and Fontainebleau waking from the dead, then NewSahara would be able to take advantage of the resurgence.

Building a new hotel these days is expensive. CityCenter cost $8.5 billion. Cosmo was $3.9 billion. Encore was a bargain at $2.3 billion. Finishing Fontainebleu will cost $1.5 billion and it's already 75% done! Renovating is a lot cheaper. Tropicana spent about $160 million on their recent remodeling. Even if Nazarian doubled that figure to transform Sahara, it would still only be a fraction of the price of building a brand new hotel.

While a hotel can stay open while remodeling, the Sahara brand clearly didn't fit in with Nazarian's other upscale clubs and hotels. Closing and allowing some time for a complete reboot might not be a bad idea. Maybe this is what Nazarian had in mind all along when he bought the Sahara in 2007?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Las Vegas Pool Season 2011 Begins

Summer comes early in Las Vegas, as many of the pools around the Strip are open and ready for business.

A few of the more popular day-club type places will be holding grand opening parties this weekend.

Rehab at the Hard Rock:

Wet Republic at MGM Grand featuring Kim Kardashian:

Encore Beach Club featuring Michael Phelps:

The new kid in town this year is the Marquee day club at Cosmopolitan. Victoria's Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio was on hand for the opening last weekend and tweeted this picture of the pool:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Donny and Marie Wrap at Flamingo

There is a new Donny & Marie wrap on the front of Flamingo. Back in December the old Donny & Marie wrap was removed and replaced with an advertisement for H&M. It seems the H&M ad was temporary, most likely to promote their new location at the Forum Shops.

I think the new wrap looks pretty good. I really like the large Flamingo logo. The black and white photo seems to blend into the building well also.

Off The Wall Signs posted some cool time-lapse videos on YouTube showing the making of the sign and the installation:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Las Vegas Cab Fare Increase

Taxi fares in Las Vegas are going up again. The Nevada Taxicab Authority recently approved a 20-cent-per-mile fuel surcharge. The extra fare is expected to go into effect at the beginning of May and will add about $1 to the average Las Vegas cab ride.

While I understand the need for taxi companies to compensate for fuel prices, I doubt they will be removing the new surcharge if gas prices go back down. It's a one way street.

Source: Vegas Inc.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Paul Carr Las Vegas Adventure

Paul Carr, a British author and columnist is heading to Las Vegas. His plan is to stay at a different Strip hotel every night over the course of a month. By his count he will be staying at 33 different joints. He will document the adventure via The Huffington Post.

The trip seems pretty unorganized. He is staying at Sahara for the first night (does he know it's closing?) After that he says, "I'll just follow the best deals along the strip, writing about whatever fun occurs along the way."

I've daydreamed about doing a trip like this. I suppose many Vegas geeks have thought about doing something similar. In my dream trip I plan on staying at every Vegas casino-hotel, including downtown and locals places. I think the count would be around 75 hotels.

I'll definitely be following Carr's daily updates. It looks like he will be writing a lot of human interest stories, which is fine but I hope he writes about the hotels also. Check out the first installment at Huffington Post. He also has a Twitter account where he will be updating his exploits.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Vegas Shows Celebrate Milestones

A bunch of Las Vegas shows have passed milestones recently:

- Donny and Marie celebrated their 500th show at Flamingo, and their contract has been extended into 2012.

- Matt Goss has been at Caesars Palace for one year.

- Barry Manilow has been at Paris for one year.

- Absinthe adult carnival has opened at Caesars Palace.

- KA celebrated their 3000th show at MGM Grand.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3 Dice Football

3 Dice Football has hit Las Vegas. The new game is currently available at O'Sheas. Most of the new table games introduced are card games, so it's pretty rare and exciting to see a new dice game.

The game is similar to craps in that you are either betting for the shooter to score a touchdown, or against the shooter "playing defense." Like in craps, if a touchdown is scored the shooter keeps rolling. Also similar to craps are the many prop bets that can be placed on each role of the dice.

The shooter starts at the twenty yard line and tries to score a touchdown with a possible first down at the 10 yard line. The shooter has three throws, or "downs" to get a first down (or touchdown).

There are two green dice and one red. The yardage gained is the value of the green dice minus the value of the red. You can score an instant touchdown by throwing "triples." A one yard penalty occurs when the total of green dice is lower than the red die, and a turnover happens when a red 6 is rolled with a green 1-1 or 1-2.

I think 3 Dice Football looks like a lot of fun. I like craps but it can be devastating when that seven wipes out your whole roll. In this game it seems tough to lose on one roll, and you could even hedge against a turnover for a 66-1 payoff. I don't know what the math looks like in terms of house edge, but I can't wait to play it nonetheless.

UPDATE - July 17, 2017: It appears the game never caught on, and is nowhere to be found anymore.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Will Sahara Closing Help Riviera?

Ever since it was announced that Sahara will be closing, I've been wondering how the closure will affect other hotels around Las Vegas.

People who would be inclined to stay at Sahara will probably move to a similar property. The most similar property to Sahara in terms of location, prestige and history is the Riviera.

Will any of the Sahara's customers move over to Riviera and help out the cause, or will the Sahara's closing make it even harder for a property to make money on the North end of the Strip?

Last week the Sun had an article about the Riv's struggling revenue and income situation. It looks like Riviera is in a pretty bad way financially. They can use all the help they can get, even if that means "stealing" customers from Sahara.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Las Vegas Commercial - Big Time Couple

Las Vegas commercial highlights ways to "Do Vegas big-time without spending big-time." This couple takes advantage of Prix Fixe menus and free shows (Mirage Volcano, Bellagio Conservatory and Bellagio Fountains).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Earth Hour 2011 - March 26

Las Vegas will once again participate in Earth Hour. Most of the hotels on the Strip (and I assume downtown and off-Strip) will be turning off their exterior lights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on Saturday, March 26th.

I think this is the third year Las Vegas is participating. I was on the Strip for the first one in 2009, but it wasn't widely publicized so I missed it because I wasn't outside at all during the hour.

It's probably an easy decision for Las Vegas hotels to participate. Along with the good PR, they must save a lot on the electricity bill for the night.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Caesars and Wynn sign Online Poker Agreements

Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts have signed formal strategic agreements with online gaming companies. This is the first time agreements like this have been allowed by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Wynn is partnering with PokerStars. Caesars is teaming up with 888 Holdings. I would imagine MGM will announce a similar agreement within days, if not sooner.

Political red tape is sure to follow, but these agreements seem to signal the start of a movement to make online poker and gaming legal in Nevada, and even the USA as a whole.

For more about the agreements, check out MSNBC and The Wall Street Journal.

UPDATE: April 17, 2011.

It looks like the US government is effectively shutting down online poker. As a result of this Wynn has cut ties with PokerStars. Some people are speculating that the government is taking this action to clear the way for legalizing poker. I'm not sure if that makes sense or not, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.