Monday, December 03, 2012

FTC Cracking Down on Resort Fees?

For experienced Las Vegas travelers, resort fees have become way of life. Most large hotels in Vegas have them - with the notable exception of the Caesars Entertainment properties. (UPDATE - Caesars Entertainment started charging resort fees on Las Vegas rooms booked after March 1, 2013.)

While resort fees are certainly annoying, they are at least tolerable if they are fully disclosed before booking the room. Unfortunately that's not always the case, as visitors failing to read the fine print can be greeted with a trip-dampening surprise at check-in. Combine that with airline baggage fees and cab driver long-hauling, a trip to Vegas could potentially contain hundreds of dollars in hidden fees.

CNN is reporting that the Federal Trade Commission has taken note of resort fees, sending a letter to 22 operators with fees that may be considered deceptive. The FTC believes that resort fees should be listed upfront in the total price quoted for a hotel. Hard to argue with that, especially if the fee is mandatory (it almost always is).

I never thought resort fees were a great idea for hotels. Yes, they boost revenue in the short term, but I feel like they just make people angry and less likely to return to that hotel in the future. They probably aren't going away anytime soon, but hopefully the FTC will make resort fees a little more transparent when booking a hotel in Las Vegas.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Human Nature moving to Venetian

Just as it looked like Human Nature might be leaving Las Vegas, they signed a new deal to remain on the Strip.

VegasChatter is reporting that Human Nature will be starting a two year residency at the Venetian in January 2013.

The Australian Motown singing group had just performed their last show at The Quad this past weekend. They will hit the road for shows in Florida and Australia before beginning their new gig at the Venetian.

Human Nature consistently gets good reviews, so it's not much of a surprise they were able to move up to a more prestigious hotel.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bill's Closing for Remodel on February 4, 2013

Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon will be closing on February 4, 2013 to undergo an extensive renovation and transformation into a luxury boutique hotel.

A Caesars Entertainment press release described the $185 million dollar project:

"The complete remodeling of the guest rooms, casino floor and common areas, the addition of a new second floor restaurant, and the construction of the 65,000 square foot rooftop pool and dayclub/nightclub."

Ever since Caesars acquired the former Barbary Coast in 2007, they've had plans to do something with it. At first they were thinking about demolishing it along with Flamingo and Imperial Palace to make room for their version of CityCenter. When the economy tanked they scrapped that idea and settled for modest renovation projects.

I'm always in favor of property improvements, but it's going to be sad to see Bill's go. It was always a fun place to stop in for cheap drinks and low table minimums, just like O'Sheas. Those two closing leave Casino Royale as the premier low rolling joint on the Strip.

Photo: Larry D. Moore

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Quad

Imperial Palace is now officially named The Quad.

If you go to the Imperial Palace website you will be redirected to The Quad is also now used in all of the Total Rewards and Caesars Entertainment marketing materials. The Quad even has it's own Facebook and Twitter pages.

With the new name also comes new entertainment. Singing group Human Nature recently performed their last show at the property. They will reportedly be replaced by Recycled Percussion. No surprise the Imperial Palace theater will be renamed Showroom at the Quad.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wynn Funhouse Show and Billy Joel Rumors

With Garth Brooks recently ending his run at Encore, Steve Wynn has revealed plans for a new show to take his place at Encore Theater. Wynn told Robin Leach about the new "Funhouse" show, which he claims will be different from anything else on the Strip. The way Wynn described the show makes me think it will be somewhat similar to Le Reve, but Wynn claims it will be different from that and similar Cirque du Soleil type shows.

Casting and rehearsals for "Funhouse" are beginning immediately, with the show likely to make a late 2013 debut.

That time-frame leaves Encore Theater rather empty for the next year or so, which might give the following rumor some legs. Robin Leach is also reporting that Billy Joel might be taking over Encore Theater for New Years Eve, and could possibly stick around for a longer residency similar to what Garth Brooks did. This seems to be a good fit for the Wynn clientele, and would give Joel a nice one year run before "Funhouse" starts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Slotzilla Zipline on Fremont Street

The zipline on Fremont Street is getting upgraded. What had been a temporary platform will be transformed into a huge faux slot machine called Slotzilla where thrill-seekers will begin their descent.

The new permanent attraction will increase the zipline height to approximately 100 feet and the length to 1700 feet. The slot machine structure will have two levels of four ziplines each, and will also feature safety doors and the ability to "launch" riders.

The new zipline is scheduled to open during the first half of 2013.

This video from coastercrew has a good explanation of the attraction from a project consultant, along with a model of Slotzilla:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ice Skating at Venetian and Cosmopolitan

Visitors will be able to ice skate on the Las Vegas Strip this holiday season, as The Venetian and Cosmopolitan have both constructed temporary rinks.

The synthetic Venetian rink is already open right in front of the hotel. Skating will continue until January 6th from 11 to 11 each day. Prices range from 9.95 to 14.95 and include free skate rental.

The Cosmopolitan Boulevard Pool will be transformed into a skating rink from November 30th to January 20th. Normal hours will be 3 pm to 11 pm with extended hours on Holidays. Prices range from $10-15 plus an additional $5 for skate rental. The Cosmopolitan will also offer themed skating nights on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Ice skating seems like a good way to bring some holiday cheer to these hotels. The rinks are also being used to draw locals into the properties. I wouldn't be surprised to see more hotels add ice skating in the future if these two rinks are popular.

Please contact each hotel for more detailed pricing and hours information.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Rattlecan opens at Venetian

When I heard about the new graffiti inspired burger/shot/beer bar opening in Las Vegas I thought it was likely going to be located at Cosmopolitan, or perhaps downtown on Fremont East. I was slightly surprised to hear that it's actually going to be at Venetian. A hipster bar seems slightly out of place at the high rolling Venetian, but looks like a pretty cool place to check out. It opens tonight. Here's hoping it sticks around for a while.

Check out Rattlecan on Facebook for more info.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Linq gets Bowling Restaurants and Bars

The Linq announced a list of tenants which will be occupying the property via the Caesars Pulse of Vegas blog.

The headliner appears to be Brooklyn Bowl, which is a combination bowling alley, nightclub and performance venue. At first glance I scoffed at the idea of a bowling alley on the Strip, but further investigation shows the original Brooklyn Bowl in New York to be a pretty cool looking place. Will it work in Las Vegas? Maybe.

The other Linq tenants will include:

Sprinkles - cupcakes and ice cream.
Koto - an "oddities" store.
Off the Strip Bistro - an Italian restaurant and bar (not surprisingly, they also have a location off the Strip).
Bella Scarpa - footwear boutique.
F.A.M.E. - stands for food, art, music and entertainment and will aim to recreate an "Asian Night Market" vibe.
Ruby Blue - jewelry and accessories.
Yard House - bar and grill, this will be the third Vegas location (Red Rock and Town Square).
Tilted Kilt - an upscale, Scottish version of Hooters.
Flour and Barley - wood fired pizza and craft beer.
Chayo Mexicano - huge restaurant with multiple bars.

None of these are entirely unexpected, but all of them appear to be pretty good selections for a development like The Linq. All of the dining options appear to have good bar components, and it appears many will include live music, which is a plus.

While some of these are chains, they are all fairly unique. I doubt we'll be seeing an Applebee's or Friday's as part of The Linq as some had feared.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The D Refunds Bets - Gets Publicity

The D hotel (formerly Fitzgeralds) is making a splash by offering to refund losing wagers on the controversial Packers at Seahawks Monday Night Football game. The game was decided on a blown call by the NFL's replacement referees.

This is a pretty brilliant move by The D's owner Derek Stevens. For a relatively low investment, he is getting a ton of free publicity from sports media outlets around the world.

The D is in the final stages of a transformation that was kicked off when the property was purchased by Stevens' Desert Rock Enterprises about a year ago.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bacchanal Buffet opens at Caesars

The new Bacchanal Buffet has opened at Caesars Palace. The buffet reportedly cost $17 million to build, and has seating for six hundred.

The buffet looks pretty impressive, and has already been named the best buffet in Las Vegas by USA Today, although I'm a little wary of those rankings.

It certainly looks like it will be an abundant buffet, with many different offerings. I'm looking forward to trying it out to see how it compares to some of the other top buffets in town.

The Bacchanal Buffet will also be included in the Buffet of Buffets promotion, which potentially makes that an even better deal.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Imperial Palace might become The Quad

Total Rewards and Caesars Entertainment sent me (and many other people) a survey asking what I think about a hypothetical new casino named "The Quad."

It became obvious very quickly that this "new" property was really a refurbished Imperial Palace. The survey even mentioned Dealertainers, an IP staple.

I'm not crazy about "The Quad" as a name, but the casino renderings are fairly promising, especially since it will likely be done on a shoestring budget.

Speaking of budgets, it looks like this hotel will be targeted to younger, budget conscious travelers. The property is also exploring a social theme, with elements designed to promote communication between guests.

While no official plans have been announced for the re-naming or remodeling of Imperial Palace, this is an interesting look of what may be coming soon.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Zarkana to replace Viva Elvis

Viva Elvis at Aria will be closing in August and will be replaced by another Cirque du Soleil show - Zarkana.

Zarkana spent two successful summers at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and has also toured internationally with stops in Madrid and Moscow.

It's kind of sad to see Viva Elvis go so soon, but I have a feeling Zarkana will be a much better fit for Aria.

I always wondered why they would have a 50's themed show at an ultramodern hotel like Aria. They were obviously trying to capitalize on the success of the Beatles show Love, but it just didn't work out. I wonder how the Michael Jackson show at Mandalay Bay will fare.

Source: Cirque du Soleil Press Release.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Wynn Foxboro Rendering

Wynn Resorts is looking to build a billion dollar casino resort in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The project still needs to be approved locally, which may or may not happen.

Today Wynn released a rendering of the resort. It's a lodge style building modeled after Steve's personal home in Idaho.

This design is definitely different than one would expect from a new casino. I suspect they kept it subtle to appeal more to the local clientele.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out if they end up building it. Steve Wynn rarely disappoints, so I'm guessing it would be pretty nice.

Images: Wynn Resorts via Boston Globe.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flamingo getting New Steakhouse

Flamingo will soon be getting a new steakhouse, as Burger Joint has closed and will be replaced by Center Cut Steakhouse.

Flamingo's previous steakhouse was closed in late 2010 to make way for the Margaritaville Casino.

In other Flamingo news, popular Mexican restaurant and bar Carlos'n Charlie's will be opening very soon. I assume they are working hard to have it open in time for the spring break party season.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hooters sold to Creditor

Hooters casino hotel has been sold in bankruptcy proceedings. The buyer is the hotel's primary creditor, which placed a $60 million bid that was not matched.

Now we just have to wait and see what the new owners will do with the place. I suspect they won't do anything for a while, but I imagine they'll be looking to sell the property eventually.

If they can't find a buyer, I wouldn't be shocked to see the hotel close its doors.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Linsanity hits Las Vegas Sportsbooks

The Jeremy Lin phenomenon has been taking over ESPN and newspaper sports pages. Now even Las Vegas sportsbooks are feeling the effect.

The odds of the New York Knicks winning the NBA championship have been reduced dramatically since Lin began his incredible run just over a week ago.

LVH (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) has lowered the Knicks chances from 50-1 down to 25-1, while the Wynn sportsbook currently has them at 20-1, down from 30-1.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Total Rewards - New Logo and Cards

The Caesars Entertainment loyalty program Total Rewards is getting a makeover, complete with a new logo and card designs.

Along with the new look, several new benefits will be added to the program. Access to pre-sale show tickets, restaurant discounts, and the ability to use points for free play are some of the highlights.

I like the new cards, but the three main tiers are the same base color, which might cause some trouble for employees wanting to quickly identify a player's status based on the color of their card.

For more on the new Total Rewards, check out Pulse of Vegas.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Vegas Stripped on Travel Channel

Travel Channel is introducing some Las Vegas programming this week when they debut the new series Vegas Stripped.

Although they have strikingly similar names, this is a completely different show from Vegas Strip on truTV.

Vegas Stripped will document the goings on at South Point, which makes the show's title even more strange, since most people would consider South Point an off-Strip property (even though it's technically located on Las Vegas Boulevard).

Vegas Stripped looks similar to the trio of Vegas reality TV shows that aired back in 2004-05: American Casino (Green Valley Ranch), The Casino (Golden Nugget) and Caesars 24/7 (Caesars Palace).

Those shows were all entertaining, but lost steam after a few episodes. I expect the same fate for Vegas Stripped. The first two episodes will air Wednesday, February 8 at 10:00 PM and 10:30 PM ET/PT.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Wynn Launches New Website

Wynn Las Vegas has launched a new website.

In the past Wynn was infamous for having a sub-par site that was slow and featured unnecessary sound and visual elements.

The new site is also heavy on multimedia, but it seems to be faster, sleeker, and more user friendly. It even gives you a message (or warning) telling you to turn your sound on (or off) for the best experience.

I know a lot of people were frustrated by the old Wynn website, so hopefully the new one will be a crowd-pleaser.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Mob Museum opens Valentine's Day

The National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement will open downtown later this month.

The museum will open on the anniversary of a famous date in Mob history - Valentine's Day, February 14, 2012.

Rack rate admission will be $18 for adults, with discounts available for children, seniors, students, military, law enforcement, teachers and Nevada residents.

Check out the Mob Museum website for all the details.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Steve Wynn is 70

Steve Wynn is celebrating his 70th birthday today.

Like him or not there's no doubt Steve Wynn has left his mark on the Las Vegas skyline, building the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn, and Encore.

It doesn't appear Steve is going to slow down anytime soon. He just got married, and is looking forward to developing his new Cotai Strip property in Macau.

I don't know if he'll ever build another hotel in Las Vegas though. I guess it depends on the economy. It would be fun to see what he comes up with if it happens.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hakkasan to replace Studio 54

Studio 54 at MGM Grand will be transformed into Hakkasan Las Vegas.

Hakkasan is an upscale Chinese concept with restaurants around the globe.

The Las Vegas location will also feature a luxury nightclub in a partnership with AMG (operators of WET REPUBLIC and PURE).

The transformation is part of MGM's Grand Renovation project. Hakkasan is expected to open in December 2012.

Source: Press Release.

Imperial Palace Wedding Chapels

Imperial Palace has unveiled two new wedding chapels.

The Skyline Chapel can accommodate up to 80 guests. This chapel looks really nice. I'm guessing it's comparable to some of the nicer chapels on the Strip at a fraction of the price.

The Southwestern Chapel is a smaller 20 person venue. It obviously has a very different look. The theme kind of reminds me of The Little Church of the West. I'm not so sure about this one. I think some people will be turned off by the faux background.

Imperial Palace is likely going to be de-themed and transformed into a contemporary American design as part of The Linq. These new chapels definitely reflect that new design scheme.

Photos: Pulse of Vegas.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Las Vegas is Rude and Stressed Out

Las Vegas has ranked highly in unfavorable categories on two recent surveys.

Vegas was ranked #12 on a list of America's Rudest Cities by Travel and Leisure. New York was ranked number 1. Pretty much every major city in the country made this list though, so I'm not sure it means much.

Perhaps more troubling is LV's ranking as #2 on a list of Most Stressful Cities as ranked by CNBC. The factors considered were divorce rate, commute times, unemployment, violent crime, property crime, suicides, alcohol consumption, mental health, sleep troubles, and the annual amount of cloudy days.

While most tourists are insulated from the problems of the locals, there might come a time when travelers are adversely affected by the poor economy and other issues. We've seen some of that with the increased crime and panhandling on the Strip, although an increased police presence seems to have cracked down on that somewhat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Western is Closed

The infamous Western Hotel and Casino downtown has closed.

This is news to me, as somehow I had thought the Western had already closed a few months ago. It looks like I was mistaken, as they only announced the closure on November 15th, but the official closing date was January 16th.

Either way, the property is now officially closed, as reported by KTNV.

The Western opened in 1970 and at the time was the world's largest bingo parlor. In recent years the casino was famous for its low limits which attracted an eccentric crowd of lowlifes. The actual hotel part of the property closed a few years back.

Tamares Group, the owner of the Western hasn't yet said what they're doing with the property. They will try to relocate the 90 employees at their other properties (Plaza, Vegas Club and Gold Spike).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cosmopolitan Dominates Vegas Tripping Awards

Vegas Tripping announced the 2012 Trippies award winners today. The awards are voted on by readers of the site.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas dominated the awards, winning many of the major categories.

Cosmo took home Best Strip Hotel, Best Hotel Overall, Best Rooms, Best Dining Overall, Best Nightclub (Marquee), Best Bar (Chandelier Bar), Best Casino Carpet, Best Website, Best Social Media, and Best In Show.

These results are somewhat surprising because Wynn Las Vegas and Encore have traditionally won most of the awards. This year the only award Wynn or Encore won was Best Dayclub (Encore Beach Club).

Check out all of the results: 2012 Trippies.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Undercover Boss - Diamond Resorts International

The season premiere of Undercover Boss airing tonight features Las Vegas company Diamond Resorts International.

The company owns various timeshares around the globe including the Polo Towers on the Strip.

CEO Stephen Cloobeck will be doing the usual gimmick of dressing up as a common employee in order to get a better feel of what's going on in the company. At the end of the episode he'll probably end up giving the employees he worked with cash and prizes.

While this episode might not be as Vegas-centric as the MGM Grand episode was, it still might be worth checking out. Set your DVR for CBS at 8/7c.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Flamingo Tennis Courts Removed for Linq

It appears the tennis courts at Flamingo have been removed to make way for Project Linq.

A picture was posted on Vegas Chatter showing an empty lot of dirt where the courts used to be.

I remember in the past thinking to myself that the tennis courts at Flamingo were a big waste of space. I have nothing against tennis, but the courts always seemed empty.

I knew it was just a matter of time before the courts were removed to make way for other purposes. I would have preferred to see the pool area expanded into that space instead, but I'm guessing The Linq will be a bigger revenue generator.

Phantom at Venetian closing in September

Phantom - the Las Vegas Spectacular will be closing on September 2nd according to the Las Vegas Sun. The show has been running since June 2006, which is a pretty long run by Vegas standards.

This is the third major show to leave the Venetian / Palazzo complex in recent months.

It was announced back in February that Blue Man Group would be moving to Monte Carlo.

In September it was revealed that Jersey Boys is moving to Paris Las Vegas.

It will be interesting to see what ends up replacing these shows.

January Restaurant Roundup

A couple of restaurant tidbits have crossed the wire over the past couple of days.

The biggest news is probably the Gordon Ramsay restaurant rumored for Paris Las Vegas is actually happening. Robin Leach reported the Ramsay news way back in December 2010. A year went by without anything happening, but now there's an official press release stating that Gordon Ramsay Steak will be opening in the spring to replace the closed Les Artistes Steakhouse.

KJ Dim Sum & Seafood Chinese Restaurant is opening at Rio. Pulse of Vegas says they should be open in time for Chinese New Year, which is January 23rd. Las Vegas locals might be familiar with KJ's sister location in Chinatown, branded KJ Kitchen.

Lastly, Vegas Tripping is reporting that Union Restaurant at Aria is closing. It appears the restaurant might have suffered from service issues and was a tad overpriced.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Holly Madison NV Commercial - The Return

Las Vegas personality Holly Madison stars in this new commercial for NV weight loss.

The ad shows Holly getting out of a limo on a red carpet. She then walks into a clothing store and tells the clerk she wants to exchange her jeans for a smaller size.

Mystere getting Zed Infusion

Today marks the beginning of a month long closure of the Treasure Island Cirque du Soleil show Mystere, as it undergoes a minor makeover.

Robin Leach reported the key changes will include the addition of a trapeze act from the Japanese Cirque show Zed.

Zed was a popular show at Tokyo Disney Resort. The show opened in 2008, but unfortunately was recently canceled due in part to effects of the March earthquake.

It appears that elements from Zed will also be added to Cirque's ill-fated Viva Elvis show at Aria.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 Circus Circus Improvements

The new year has brought several new improvements to Circus Circus.

The hotel revealed some newly remodeled rooms in the Casino Tower by posting this picture on twitter:

They are also replacing the casino carpeting in all of the public areas:

Lastly, the property is adding a new attraction opening January 19th. The Chuck Jones Experience:

Come see how animation was done during the "Golden Years." Try your hand at making an animation, experience interactive exhibits and total immersion into an animated world. Special workshops and lectures on the art of animation are planned for children and adults. Plus you can catch screenings of some of your favorite Chuck Jones animated films. A never-before-seen collection of drawings, doodles and paintings will top off this one-of-a-kind attraction.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Imperial Palace Capri Tower Closed

The Capri Tower at Imperial Palace has closed and has reportedly been demolished to make way for Project Linq.

The Capri Tower was basically a motel behind Imperial Palace. The room doors led out to outdoor walkways, although the interiors were the same quality as Deluxe rooms.

I never was unlucky enough to stay in one of these rooms, but from what I can tell it appears as if they suffered from lots of noise from the nearby parking garage.

This should be the first of many changes at IP to make way for The Linq. The hotel will likely be re-named and re-themed as part of the project. I suspect there will be room and public area improvements also.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Vegas Magic Theatre at Gold Coast

If you're looking for a magic show and don't want to spend a lot of money, you might want to check out the new Vegas Magic Theatre at Gold Coast.

The show is dirt cheap at only $14.95 plus tax and fees. Different magicians will be headlining each week along with various variety acts. Murry SawChuck from Pawn Stars will be there this week.

The show also offers a chance for guests to interact with the performers, as they perform close-up magic in the lobby starting one hour prior to showtime.

Shows will run Thursday-Sunday with two shows on Saturday nights. The website states it will be running through March 31st, but I suspect it could be extended if successful.

Check out Vegas Magic Theatre for all the details.

Bellagio Fountains - New Songs

Three new songs have been added to the Fountains of Bellagio rotation:

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" by The Beatles.
"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson.
"In the Mood" by Glenn Miller.

They join the existing song list:

"One" from A Chorus Line
"Hoe-Down" by London Symphony Orchestra
"Simple Gifts" by Aaron Copland
"Singin' in the Rain" by Gene Kelly
"Rondine al Nido" by Luciano Pavarotti
"Luck Be a Lady" by Frank Sinatra
"Winter Games" by David Foster
"Hey, Big Spender" by Gwen Verdon
"Con Te PartirĂ²" (Time to Say Goodbye) by Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman
"Hallelujah Chorus" by Mormon Tabernacle Choir
"Carol of the Bells" by Los Angeles Master Chorale
"O Holy Night" by Placido Domingo
"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" by Johnny Mathis
"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Johnny Mathis
"We Need a Little Christmas" by Johnny Mathis
"Sleigh Ride" by Johnny Mathis
"Santa Baby" by Madonna
"Your Song" by Elton John
"God Bless The USA" by Lee Greenwood
"Star Spangled Banner" by Whitney Houston
"Pink Panther" by Henry Mancini
"My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion
"Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra with Count Basie
"This Kiss" by Faith Hill
"Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" by Mikhail Rudy
"Gayaneh Suite (Dawn, Ayeshe's Dance)" by London Symphony Orchestra
"Overture and All That Jazz" by Catherine Zeta Jones
"Ecstasy of Gold" by Ennio Morricone
"Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis Presley

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

MGM to Close Lion Habitat

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting the lion habitat at MGM Grand will be closing permanently January 31, 2012.

The lion habitat was frequently ranked as one of the best free attractions on the Las Vegas Strip. It seemed to be very popular, attracting a nice crowd whenever the lions were there and active.

Despite the popularity, I'm guessing the habitat wasn't a money-maker for MGM, as many of the visitors were families with children not old enough to gamble.

The habitat received some bad publicity at the end of 2010 when a video surfaced of a lion attacking one of its handlers. Not sure if that led to the decision to close the attraction, but it couldn't have helped.

Pop-Up Wedding Chapel at Cosmopolitan

I found it odd when Cosmopolitan opened they didn't have some of the traditional Las Vegas staples that you would find at most hotels.

Since then they have added two of those things. A sportsbook and now a wedding chapel.

The chapel though, like many things at Cosmo, has a twist. It looks like it was designed to be intentionally tacky and a parody of of the stereotypical Las Vegas wedding.

One of the most popular packages will likely be the "Faux Ceremony" where participants can post pictures on facebook without the commitment.

The chapel will do real weddings too, at an extra cost of course. You need to bring a marriage license for the ceremony to be legally binding though.

The venue is behind glass right near the entrance of the hotel, which will surely attract gawkers walking on the Strip.

So if you're planning a wedding, real or fake, check out Pop-Up Wedding Chapel for all the info.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Las Vegas Hilton is now LVH

Back in August it was reported that Hilton would be ending their partnership agreement with the Las Vegas Hilton at the end of 2011.

Well, 2011 is over so the hotel has indeed changed its name to LVH, which apparantly stands for the very generic "Las Vegas Hotel."

The name change is similar to the Atlantic City Hilton, which earlier in 2011 changed their name to ACH.

When I first heard the news about the Las Vegas Hilton I was hoping they would go back to their original name of The International. I also speculated that the hotel would partner up with another hotel chain, which I suppose could still happen at some point.

Check out the new LVH website for all the info about the name change.

Top 5 Vegas News Stories of 2011

Now that the calendar reads 2012, I thought I'd attempt to recall some of the top Las Vegas news stories of 2011. These are more or less off the top of my head, so I might have forgotten something, but here goes:

5. Absinthe opens to rave reviews.
Usually shows open and close in Las Vegas with little fanfare, but Absinthe got such great reviews that it really opened some eyes. I can't remember a show that has received almost unanimous positive reviews in some time.

4. Plaza renovation leads downtown resurgence.

The Plaza hotel on Fremont Street purchased the Fontainebleau's furniture and used it to complete a major renovation project, which included a makeover of rooms, public areas and a few new restaurants. Along with the improvements at Plaza, many new bars and restaurants on Fremont Street made downtown a fun place to hang out in 2011 and beyond.

3. Cosmopolitan opens.
Technically Cosmopolitan opened during the last few days of 2010, but it was the talk of the town for much of 2011 as visitors got to experience it for the first time. Despite some issues with long check-in lines, the property has received high praise for its uniqueness and many drinking and dining options. That being said, it struggled to make money because it has attracted a largely non-gaming crowd.

2. Project Linq.
The Caesars Entertainment Project Linq has been talked about for a few years now, but in 2011 the project pushed full steam ahead. We learned many details of the project, including the news that O'Sheas will be closed in its current form and re-located, likely being incorporated into Imperial Palace, which will also be re-named.

1. Sahara closes.
On May 16th 2011 Sahara closed after nearly 59 years of operation. A month after the closing, a huge liquidation sale was held on the property where visitors could take home a piece of Las Vegas history while walking around the joint for one last time. The Sahara's owners have a plan to re-brand and re-open the hotel in 2014, but we'll just have to wait and see if that happens.