Thursday, December 29, 2016

Debbie Reynolds Las Vegas History

The sad news of Carrie Fisher passing away a few days ago was compounded by the news that her mother Debbie Reynolds had also passed away the next day.

Debbie Reynolds was a Hollywood mainstay appearing in countless films highlighted by Singin' in the Rain and her Academy Award nominated performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Reynolds also had an extensive history in Las Vegas. During the 1960's and early 70's she was a constant headliner at the Riviera performing a lounge act which included singing and comedy. She was famous for doing impressions of other female celebrities during her shows.

Debbie Reynolds was also a Las Vegas hotel owner in the 1990's. She purchased the closed Paddlewheel Hotel and Casino at auction in 1992. It was reopened in 1993 as Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino. The property was highlighted by a Hollywood Movie Museum and Debbie's Star Theater.

Unfortunately the property was never financially successful under Reynolds. The casino was closed in 1996 and the hotel was put up for auction again a year later. It was eventually re-branded as the Greek Isles in the early 2000's - ultimately becoming a Clarion before being imploded in 2015.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Crown Resorts Abandons Alon

Crown Resorts has indicated they are pulling out of the Alon Las Vegas development. The proposed resort was going to be located on the North Strip across the street from Wynn.

Alon's management team has contented they are still working to find funding. In a press release earlier today they touted the benefit of a turn-key project for a company with deep pockets:

Having invested two years in the program planning, design, development, pre-construction and entitlement process, the Alon resort project has been thoroughly vetted and is considered "shovel-ready."

All they need is $2 billion or so to make it happen.

As much as we would like to see new mega-resorts on the Strip, the math just doesn't add up for some of these new projects.

Existing Las Vegas companies already have enough casinos and hotel rooms.  They are increasingly choosing to renovate rather than rebuild.

New companies looking to enter the Las Vegas market can often do so more economically by purchasing existing properties. Penn National did just that by purchasing the Tropicana and M Resort.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sands Arena Opening Late 2018 or Early 2019

Las Vegas Sands reported their second quarter 2016 earnings earlier this afternoon.

As usual most of the earnings conference call centered on the company's primary casino operations in Macau and Singapore, but there was one tidbit about Las Vegas:

The Sands music arena which will be built with Madison Square Garden will begin construction in early 2017.

The arena located behind Venetian and Palazzo will take 18 to 24 months to build, which means the opening date will be Late 2018 or early 2019.

I suppose that timeline is perfectly reasonable for a new arena to be constructed, but 2019 seems like a long way off. I was looking forward to the Sands arena and T-Mobile Arena squaring off and competing for top musical acts, but I guess we'll have to wait a few years.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Riviera Monaco Tower Implosion

The first of two Riviera implosions took place this morning as the Monaco Tower was taken down. A series of fireworks and live musical performances marked the occasion as onlookers flooded the sidewalks to see the tower fall.


Video: Jay Brannan.

Riviera's Monte Carlo Tower will be imploded later this summer. It was delayed after asbestos was discovered.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Park MGM is new Monte Carlo Name

Monte Carlo will be renamed Park MGM as part of a $450 million remodeling project. The new name was announced in an MGM Resorts International press release earlier today.

The property will also feature a "hotel within a hotel" concept with NoMad Hotel occupying a small portion of the rooms. NoMad will be operated by the New York City based Sydell Group.

It's unclear what will happen to Monte Carlo's current "hotel within a hotel" concept Hotel 32.

Re-naming Monte Carlo after the adjacent Park promenade was a fairly predictable move, but attaching the MGM brand to the property is kind of a head–scratcher.

While I understand "MGM" is a valuable brand name to the company, having two different properties on the same street with MGM in the name could become pretty confusing.

I could see a drunk tourist who cant remember the exact name of the hotel telling a cabbie to take him to MGM which would probably get him dropped off at MGM Grand.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

MGM buys Borgata - Monte Carlo Rename Next?

Boyd Gaming has agreed to sell its 50% ownership stake of The Borgata in Atlantic City to MGM Resorts International for a purchase price of $900 million. MGM was already the owner of the other 50% stake, however Boyd was the operator of the hotel and casino.

The announcement was made via separate MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming press releases.

After the sale is complete MGM Resorts will transfer ownership of The Borgata to their real estate subsidiary MGM Growth Properties. The MGP REIT will then lease the property back to MGM, who will operate the hotel and casino. Borgata will become an M Life Rewards property.

This transaction doesn't have a direct impact on Las Vegas, but there's an interesting wrinkle. Now that MGM owns 100% of The Borgata I assume they are free to use "Borgata" as a brand name in Las Vegas.

Last year it was announced that Monte Carlo would be getting a name change. I had speculated that Borgata Las Vegas would be a great name for Monte Carlo. MGM's purchase of The Borgata today takes that unlikely scenario one step closer to reality.

Update - June 3, 2016: I guess it wasn't meant to be. The new name of Monte Carlo is Park MGM.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Support Las Vegas Dome Video

The Oakland Raiders have been talking about moving to Las Vegas. A new hotel tax would pay for much of the proposed new stadium, with the Raiders and Sheldon Adelson picking up the rest of the tab.

Adelson and Las Vegas Sands look to be stepping up their live entertainment game. A new football stadium would complement the new music arena that was announced yesterday.

The location for the stadium is still in question. An announced UNLV site near Tropicana Avenue looks less and less likely. Sands is pushing for the former Riviera site because they don't want the competing convention center to be expanded. Downtown Las Vegas might also be on the table.

While I still think the Raiders to Las Vegas is a longshot, talks are getting more and more serious by the day. A new video was released on YouTube by an organization called "Support Las Vegas Dome" which shows a variety of community leaders and football people (including Raiders owner Mark Davis) talking about how great a stadium in Las Vegas would be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sands Arena behind Venetian and Palazzo Announced

Las Vegas Sands and The Madison Square Garden Company have announced plans to build a new 17,500 seat arena behind Sands properties The Venetian and Palazzo.



The partnership was announced in a press release earlier today and will also involve Azoff MSG Entertainment, Live Nation, and Oak View Group.

At first glance this seems like a direct competitor to MGM's new T-Mobile Arena, however this venue will be slightly different as it will be designed for music concerts first and foremost. The arena won't be hosting an NBA or NHL team, but UFC and boxing might be a possibility.

The first question is whether Las Vegas really needs another arena like this. Along with the new T-Mobile Arena many other large music venues scatter the Strip including MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mandalay Bay Events Center, Axis at Planet Hollywood, The Colosseum at Caesars, and the upcoming new Monte Carlo Theater.

I'm guessing Sands and MSG have done their homework and determined the demand will be there. MSG has apparently had great success in the Los Angeles area by remodeling the Forum to a similar music centered arena.

It will also be interesting to see what kind of amenities will surround the arena. Sands will be building a walkway back, but it's not really clear if there will be any dining and shopping similar to The Linq Promenade and The Park.

Another angle is the arena's close proximity to the upcoming Wynn Paradise Park development. I suppose there could be some synergies if Wynn and Sands were willing to work together to create some kind of pedestrian access between the two.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Robert Irvine Restaurant coming to Tropicana

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine best known for his Food Network shows Dinner Impossible and Restaurant Impossible will be opening a restaurant at Tropicana in 2017.

Irvine announced the restaurant at a press conference earlier this evening. In true Vegas style he arrived by repelling down the building at Tropicana.

Parent company Penn National has planned improvements for Tropicana since purchasing the resort last year. Having a well known celebrity chef should breathe some life into the property and help to turn around anemic results.

Penn National is a relative unknown in Las Vegas, but they are an established gaming operator with casinos throughout the country. With their acquisition of M Resort in 2011 and now with their purchase of Tropicana they are slowly building a Las Vegas presence.

With Caesars Entertainment in bankruptcy and MGM Resorts doing things to upset their customers I think Penn National could have an opportunity to pick up some market share. I expect Penn to keep expanding their Las Vegas profile in the coming years.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

MGM Wynn and Caesars Talk Results

It was a bonanza of Las Vegas casino company earnings results today. MGM, Wynn, and Caesars all reported their first quarter 2016 results and held earnings conference calls.

MGM Resorts International
focused on the Profit Growth Plan (PGP) during their conference call. PGP is the company's plan to increase profits by correcting inefficiencies in the operation. Examples would be consolidating linens and toiletries across all of the company's properties instead of using 14 different types. PGP is also the program responsible for MGM's upcoming parking garage fees. There wasn't much Las Vegas development news this time, but CEO Jim Murren further hinted at the upcoming re-branding of the Monte Carlo. He mentioned that the new Monte Carlo theater would host "A+ residency acts."

Steve Wynn spent much of the Wynn Resorts earnings call talking about the proposed Wynn Paradise Park development. Wynn mentioned that the lagoon coastline was already being expanded by 600 feet, and that zip-lines would be an available attraction. Wynn Paradise Park will have a 1000 room hotel with balcony rooms facing the lagoon and fireworks show. Steve Wynn thinks these balcony rooms will be the most sought-after in all of Las Vegas.

Caesars Entertainment
held their earnings conference call at the same time as Wynn's. I guess when you're going through a bankruptcy you want as little attention as possible - and it worked since only one analyst asked a question in the 30 minute call. Operationally, Caesars highlighted strong trends in occupancy and ADR due in part to room renovations. Caesars also talked about their new self service check-in kiosks. Entertainment and dining offerings were also seen as a positive, with In-N-Out Burger coming to the Linq Promenade being the most exciting.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zarkana Closes - Postmortem Review

April 30, 2016 marked the final performance of the Cirque du Soleil show Zarkana.

As I had wrote in a previous blog post - the show and showroom itself are being removed to make way for an expansion of the Aria Convention Center. In that blog post I said that I had always wanted to see Zarkana, and its closing might give me extra incentive to actually see it.



I did in fact see Zarkana during my recent stay at Aria. I really enjoyed the show and thought it was just as good - if not better than - the other Cirque shows I've seen (Mystère, , and Zumanity).

Zarkana didn't really have a strong plot or theme. Similar to Mystère it was more or less a collection of acrobatic acts and live music that Cirque shows are known for.

While I don't think that hurt the production value of the show - it probably hurt marketing efforts. It seems like every other Cirque show in Vegas has some kind of hook to bring people in.



Perhaps the biggest reason for the show's demise was the fact that Aria doesn't really seem to be centered around entertainment. The showroom was located well off the casino floor up an escalator. Zarkana and the property's first show Viva Elvis kind of felt like afterthoughts rather than a priority.

While getting rid of a showroom to add more convention space won't benefit the average Las Vegas tourist - it probably does make sense for Aria.

Monday, April 25, 2016

New Wynn Paradise Park Lagoon Details

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Wynn Paradise Park - the new proposed development by Wynn Resorts which will include a 1000 room hotel with a large man-made lagoon as a centerpiece attraction.

Today a press release was issued giving more details about the project. The lagoon will be constructed by a Miami based company called Crystal Lagoons.

"A 38-acre Crystal Lagoon will be the centerpiece of the development that will feature 260,000 square feet of premium meetings and convention space, a 1,000-room hotel tower, a small casino and extensive dining and nightlife. The elaborate water attraction will include both daytime and nighttime entertainment elements. At night, the space will transform with an elaborate fireworks display that is launched from the 120 ft. center island and surrounding areas. The expansion will be constructed on approximately 130 acres of real estate that currently houses the Wynn Golf Club. The project remains subject to the approval of Wynn's board.

The man-made lagoon with crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches will be the size of more than 30 football fields and close to the size of almost 100 Olympic-size swimming pools. The new Crystal Lagoon will change the Las Vegas lifestyle with by making water sports readily available, such as stand-up paddle-boarding, wind-surfing, sailing, swimming and more."


Also notable from the press release was information touting the environmental sustainability of the project. The lagoon would use significantly less water than the current golf course.

It certainly looks like an impressive project, and if the sample image below is any indication it will be a great place to hang out. New outdoor spaces are a trend in Las Vegas with The Linq and The Park developments recently opening. Wynn Paradise Park would take the outdoor entertainment concept to the next level.

In my blog post a few weeks ago I was pretty skeptical about the project actually happening, but now that we have more details I think it would be a great expansion. If anyone can pull it off Steve Wynn is that guy.


Image: Crystal Lagoons

Friday, April 22, 2016

Derek Stevens buys Mermaids and La Bayou

Downtown Las Vegas king Derek Stevens plans to expand his Fremont Street empire even further. He has agreed to purchase Mermaids and La Bayou casinos, as well as the Glitter Gulch strip club.

Those properties will close on June 27th. The real estate will then be used to facilitate the expansion and remodeling of the Stevens owned property formerly known as Las Vegas Club.

Expanding the Las Vegas Club space into the Mermaids space seems like a great idea, as it will extend the property down into the heart of Fremont Street - attracting more foot traffic.

Expansion of Golden Gate - also owned by Stevens - into the La Bayou space also seems like a possibility, but it's kind of hard to tell at this point.

Derek Stevens has quickly become one of the most popular casino owners in Las Vegas by interacting directly with his customers at the bar and in the casino. Rumor has it he shakes so many hands every day that he has to soak his hand in ice each night.

Stevens has also gained international notoriety with some of the creative marketing techniques he's used to promote The D and Golden Gate.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Boyd buys Aliante

Boyd Gaming is expanding their reach in the Las Vegas locals market as they have agreed to purchase Aliante Casino and Hotel for $380 million.

Boyd seems to be in a buying mood as they are also rumored to be nearing a deal to purchase Cannery Casino Resorts which would give them even more Las Vegas locals exposure.

Las Vegas locals is Boyd's bread and butter so these deals make perfect sense.  Is too much of Boyd's revenue is concentrated in one market though?  I wonder if Boyd will be looking to acquire more properties outside of Vegas.

Boyd still doesn't have a property on the Strip though after abandoning the Echelon Place development a number of years back.

It's interesting that Boyd at one point was set to open a multi-billion dollar resort complex on the Strip, and now they're reduced to buying Aliante and Cannery.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Wynn Paradise Park Lagoon

Wynn Resorts held an investor day presentation yesterday. In an effort to share more about upcoming projects Wynn addressed investors for two and a half hours, and the company released a ton of renderings of the upcoming Wynn Palace Macau and Wynn Boston.

Many topics were discussed, but the item grabbing all the headlines is the plan to redevelop the golf course behind Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas. The new project could have a budget as high as $1.6 billion and would include a hotel, small casino, restaurants and retail.

The centerpiece of Wynn Paradise Park would be a large lagoon where guests could partake in a variety of water activities. The company would also plan to launch fireworks over the lagoon every night, just like at Disney.



Even with this model of what Wynn Paradise Park would look like, I'm still skeptical of this actually happening anytime soon. If it does get built I'm guessing the lagoon will be scaled down a bit. Something about building a huge lake in the middle of drought-ridden desert just doesn't feel right. I know what you're going to say - Wynn already did it a Bellagio. True, but this looks like a much bigger undertaking.

Either way, a project like this just underscores the continued expansion of non-gaming activities in Las Vegas. Even though the new hotel will have a casino, it's clear the focus will be on dining, shopping, and the lagoon attraction. Wynn Paradise Park would fit right in with the new outdoor spaces on the Strip - Caesars Entertainment's The Linq and MGM's The Park.

Each one of these features a main attraction to bring people in - the High Roller wheel at The Linq, T-Mobile Arena at The Park, and now the lagoon at Paradise Park.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Five50 Pizza at Aria Review

During my recent stay at Aria Las Vegas I had a chance to eat at one of the casual dining restaurants on property - Five50 Pizza.

We'll get to the pizza in a minute, but the star of this show was the Mozzarella Bar "cheese board" appetizer. You can choose from a selection of meats and cheeses which are served to you on a wooden cutting board. Served with flat-bread from the wood-fired oven, olives, house pickles, mustard, fruit, and nuts.

We ordered the Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, Burrata, and Prosciutto. I would seriously go back to Five50 just to sample more of these meats and cheeses. Really good.


The pizza was good as well, but I didn't like it as much as my wife did. I thought it was pretty comparable to most other wood-fired pizza I've experienced. You can choose from a menu of pre-made concoctions, or build your own toppings. We built our own with mushrooms, olives, and tomatoes if I remember correctly.


Five50 also offers a take-out counter, which is very convenient considering its location near the poker room and sportsbook.

Overall Five50 is a great casual option at Aria, especially considering most of the other dining options on property are on the upper end of the pricing scale.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wynn Considering Golf Course Development

Siegfried and Roy are the unlikely source of a rumor presented in a Norm Clarke article claiming that Wynn Resorts has plans to build a boutique hotel on their golf course.

The 1000 room hotel would have a 40 acre lake and convention space. It kind of sounds similar to the Wynn Palace development in Macau which will be opening later in 2016.

The development of Wynn's golf course has been a topic of discussion for a long time. In the mid-2000's it seemed like expansion onto the golf course was almost a certainty. The recession killed the project and Macau took over Wynn's attention.

Now with Macau struggling a bit the golf course idea seems to be in vogue again. I question if Wynn Resorts as a company really needs to do this though. Wynn already has the nicest hotel in Vegas which attracts plenty of high rollers. Is there even more room on the high end for a boutique hotel like this?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

MGM Talks About Upcoming Projects

MGM Resorts International reported earnings earlier today, along with hosting an earnings conference call.

Usually MGM reveals some breaking news during these conference calls, but not so much today. Instead the focus was on topics already known to the public, including:

- The upcoming opening of the new T-Mobile Arena and The Park.

- MGM Growth Properties, the company's upcoming REIT conversion.

- The progress of new properties at MGM Cotai and MGM National Harbor.

Also discussed was MGM's infamous Profit Growth Plan. This initiative designed to cut costs and raise prices resulted in MGM's decision to charge for parking. The Profit Growth Plan is hated by in-the-know Vegas customers, and judging by MGM's stock price (down 8.32% today) the plan isn't rewarding shareholders either (yet).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wynn Boston Opening Late 2018

Wynn Resorts reported fourth quarter and full year 2015 earnings results earlier today. The results were down from last year due to continued weakness in the Macau market, and lower gaming in Las Vegas.

Despite the lower earnings Steve Wynn seemed fairly positive on the company's earnings conference call. He said Las Vegas results so far in 2016 have been strong, calling it "Apple pie shaped" - whatever that means.

Steve Wynn has been personally buying a good amount of Wynn Resorts stock lately. He gave a fairly extensive list of why he's buying the stock citing "latent" Las Vegas assets, namely a new shopping esplanade which will replace the old Ferarri showroom.

Wynn revealed the projected opening date for the Everett / Boston project. The resort will fully break ground in April 2016 and be completed 30 months from then - in late fall 2018.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Aria Deluxe King Room Review

I had a chance to stay at Aria Las Vegas recently. Normally this fine hotel would be out of my price range, but on this particular weekend it didn't seem to be that much more expensive than some of the other joints on the Strip - so I figured I'd give it a shot.



I booked a deluxe king room through the M life website, which was easy enough. Prior to my arrival I received numerous emails offering me online check-in, but I was travelling at the time so I didn't take advantage of that option.



I arrived to the hotel at 9:30 pm and after a long walk from the parking garage I found there was hardly any line at the check-in desk. Five minutes later I had my room key and was on my way.



My first impression of the room was the size. It's 520 square feet which I believe is about 100 square feet larger than most classic sized Las Vegas hotel rooms. Definitely a good sized room and bigger than I was expecting.



One of the things I had heard about Aria was that the beds are supposed to be really good. It didn't disappoint. This was a super comfortable bed causing me to sleep a lot - something I don't usually do that much in Las Vegas.



Before staying at Aria I was concerned about the long walk to the Strip through Crystals. It's slightly annoying to be that far offset from the Strip, but it wasn't too bad. Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Cosmo, and Planet Hollywood are all easily accessible by foot or tram. Overall I found the property to be very walk-able and easy to get around.



One of the things I like about Aria is that it's one of the nicest hotels in Las Vegas, but also provides a good value. It's a great option if you want to step up to a nicer room but don't want to pay Wynn or Bellagio prices.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Tropicana to Improve Anemic Results

New Tropicana owners Penn National Gaming reported their fourth quarter 2015 earnings yesterday. During the earnings conference call several minutes were devoted to talking about Tropicana and what the company will be doing to improve "anemic" gaming results at the property.

Several of the initiatives revolve around bringing Penn's regional gambling customers to Las Vegas and having them stay at play at Tropicana. In an era where other companies are forgetting about gamblers, it seems like Penn National knows where its bread is buttered and is ready to welcome gamblers into their newly acquired property.

Penn National COO Jay Snowden talked about Tropicana on the earnings conference call:

"We made significant progress on continuing to improve the overall gaming experience by upgrading the slot and table game offerings at Tropicana Las Vegas in the fourth quarter. We continue to right-size the cost structure of course, and prepare for our second quarter launch of the Marquee Rewards program at Tropicana Las Vegas. So, I don't think it's a surprise to anyone - our current gaming business volumes are still anemic at this point but we anticipate some real acceleration in the second half of the year once our regional database customers start to fill those hotel rooms."

"Now conversely the non-gaming trends at the Tropicana like the rest of the Strip operators in the fourth quarter were very strong. We're forecasting some strength year-over-year in our group convention business. Occupancy rates, ADR all look encouraging in the first quarter of 2016 as well - so no doubt we're benefiting from the rising tide effect in Las Vegas until we get everything else where it needs to be from an offering perspective at Tropicana."

"When we acquired this property close to 50% of the business was coming from wholesale or online travel agency bookings - that's down now closer to 40%. We envision taking that down to as close to zero as we can. 10-15% is probably the sweet spot for some weekday softness periods, but we're going to be looking to move that business aside as we bring our database customers in and still have plenty of room for the other 50% plus of the rooms to go towards strong cash ADR's of group business, convention business, transient customers. That's what we're seeing strength in right now - we've got plenty of rooms to accommodate those customers as well as our gaming customers."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Las Vegas Sands Fourth Quarter 2015 Results

Las Vegas Sands reported fourth quarter and full year 2015 earnings results earlier today. The weak Asia market continued to weigh on results, with full year consolidated casino revenue down 25%.

In Las Vegas at the company's Venetian and Palazzo properties gaming revenue was flat in the fourth quarter. Non-gaming on the other hand was very strong again with rooms up 25% and food and beverage up 20%.

Sands reiterated the decision to raise the quarterly dividend by 10.8% from 65 to 72 cents per share starting in 2016. I said it before, but it's impressive the company is able to raise the dividend in the face of weaker Macau gaming revenue.

On the earnings conference call CEO Sheldon Adelson talked about the prospects of expanding to other markets, mentioning Northern New Jersey, Atlanta, Texas, Brazil, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand among others as possibilities.

There was also some interesting chatter on the conference call that Wynn Palace might get delayed again, although this is obviously speculation. We'll have to keep an eye on the upcoming Wynn Resorts earnings results for more detail about that.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Self check-in Kiosks at Caesars Properties

A recent LA Times article pointed out that several Caesars Entertainment properties have introduced self-check-in kiosks at their Las Vegas hotels.

The article praises the kiosks as a fast way to get into your room after a long day of traveling.

While this is a good point, and I generally enjoy using self-service kiosks (Alamo is my car rental agency of choice partially because they have kiosks) I'm a little wary of kiosks at hotels.

When you're in Las Vegas there are so many different room type options to choose from. Being able to schmooze the front desk agent (often with a $20 bill) can be your key to getting a better room.

With a kiosk I'm guessing your options will be limited. The kiosk will probably offer you an upgrade, but it will likely cost you much more than a single $20 bill. Also if you have a specific request or area of the hotel that you prefer - a kiosk might be less accommodating than an actual person.

We'll have to see if these kiosks catch on to the point of replacing front desk clerks entirely. That seems like a possible scenario, but I think the person-to-person interaction of a live desk clerk will still be an available option for the foreseeable future.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Giada at The Cromwell Review

It was New Year's Eve and my wife and I were looking for a quick bite to eat for lunch. We were around center Strip and things were starting to get crowded. We decided to see if we could get a table at Giada.

Somewhat surprisingly the restaurant was fairly empty, and we were seated immediately by one of the attractive hostesses. As an aside, every staff member at the restaurant was good looking.



My wife had the Lemon Pesto Grilled Cheese with heirloom tomatoes, which she enjoyed greatly.

I had the Lobster Hash with marble potatoes, Nueske’s bacon, lobster meat, peppers, tomato, onion confit with sunny side up eggs and toast. It was good, but I would have liked more lobster for the $34 price tag.



The service was great and the view of the Strip was nice even from our table, which was not that close to the window. Located on the second floor, I found Giada to be a good place to take in a meal away from the hustle and bustle of the Strip.

Friday, January 15, 2016

MGM Parking Garage and Valet Fees Introduced

In a story first reported by Vegas Tripping back in October, MGM Resorts International today officially announced they will be charging "modest" parking fees at most of their Las Vegas properties.

The MGM Resorts press release announcing the fee is pretty vague, largely because the plans probably aren't finalized yet. It states "An overnight guest utilizing a self-park facility will pay $10 or less."

If I stay 5 nights does that mean I pay $10 or $50?

Free valet service will be going away as well, a move that pretty much had to happen to avoid abuse now that self parking isn't going to be free.

From what I can gather hotel guests will not be exempt from the parking fees, which is absolutely ludicrous considering they are already paying a resort fee that can top $35 a night.

As part of the new parking initiatives MGM will also be building an additional garage on the Excalibur property which will serve the new T-Mobile Arena. An arena parking garage has been called for by locals since day one, but I'm guessing they didn't know it would come with extra parking fees.

Las Vegas locals might actually be the biggest loser in all of this. According to the press release, "Las Vegas locals will be given a grace period for free parking after the program starts and can maintain their free-parking status by enrolling and earning privileges through M life."

Yep, pretty much a slap in the face to locals. Come sign up for our loyalty program and gamble and we might throw you a bone with free parking. Yuck.

The question now - will other hotels copy MGM's lead and start charging for parking, or will they see it as an opportunity to steal some of MGM's customer base by keeping parking free forever? I think it will be the latter.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Encore Player's Club

One of the narratives in Las Vegas news lately has been the premise that young people don't gamble. This has led to casinos trying different things to try to get young people interested in gambling.

Skill based slot machines are going to be hitting the floor in 2016. I think skill based machines are exciting and have lots of potential, but only time will tell if they actually catch on.

Another thing casinos are doing is to combine the casino with the nightclub. Last year The Palazzo introduced the Lavo Casino Club which essentially added a few table games to the restaurant and nightclub.

More recently Encore has introduced the Player's Club. This area off the casino floor is essentially a lounge with casino games alongside non-casino games such as pool and bar shuffleboard. Vital Vegas has posted a few photos of the Player's Club.

I think it's a good idea. If young people won't go to the casino, why not bring the casino to them. Someone might not want to seek out a casino gaming experience, but might play if a game is presented to them in a more relaxed environment.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

T-Mobile Arena

The new Las Vegas Arena will officially be named T-Mobile Arena.

MGM Resorts International announced the new name in a press release, and T-Mobile tweeted about the new name.

T-Mobile customers will benefit from the naming rights deal, as they will have a VIP venue entrance at every event. They will also be eligible for ticket pre-sales, VIP experiences, and seat upgrade opportunities for select events.

Prior to the naming rights announcements there were rumors that T-Mobile would be the namesake. Those rumors turned out to be correct. I had also heard that Coca-Cola was in the discussion for naming rights.

While the arena now has a name, the new name for Monte Carlo has not been announced yet. This is a little surprising because MGM CEO Jim Murren told us to expect an announcement before the end of the year.

Well it's 2016 and we still haven't heard much aside from a Robin Leach rumor that hot NYC restaurants NoMad and 11 Madison Park will be coming.

The New York connection further points to earlier speculation that the new name for Monte Carlo will be New York related - possibly something like "Park Avenue" or "Central Park." I've also heard people talk about "Brooklyn" being a possible name for the property.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Hyde at Las Vegas Arena

Las Vegas Arena will be getting a nightclub, as it has been announced that Hyde will be opening an 18,000 square foot space overlooking the arena.

A nightclub inside an arena at first seems like an "Only in Las Vegas" thing, but it's not. Hyde already has arena locations at Staples Center in Los Angeles, and at American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Hyde already has a location in Las Vegas - at Bellagio overlooking the fountains. Parent company SBE was involved in the development of SLS Las Vegas before selling off its stake last year.

Even before this nightclub was announced it appeared that the Las Vegas Arena would be one of the most hospitable arenas in the world. You can be sure that if you attend an event at this arena you won't go hungry or thirsty - assuming you're willing to pay.