Caesars Palace recently unveiled its new Alto Bar, replacing the decade-old Seahorse Lounge.
Replacing the Seahorse Lounge at Caesars was especially good news for the seahorses. Let’s just say they went through a lot of seahorses.
Alto Bar is the result of a multi-million-dollar renovation, and the bar is located adjacent to Omnia Nightclub and Searsucker, a restaurant you never hear anything about, which is always a good sign.
Officials haven’t said what inspired the name “Alto,” but recent bar names (Vista, Apostrophe and Fizz) have intentionally steered clear of the resort’s Roman Empire theme.
Alto Bar is the biggest bar at a resort with lots of great bars.
Booths throughout Alto have adorable TV screens because god forbid you go 15 minutes without access to sports.
There are six people on staff just to keep track of all the remotes.
The bar has 18 video poker machines. The machine we played was looser than our sister, but your results may vary. With the machines. Our sister is pretty much a sure thing.
The cocktail menu features wildly overpriced drinks, and by that we mean sort of typical prices at Strip resorts these days. Remember, you’re not just paying for a drink, you’re paying for an experience!
We don’t know what all those symbols mean. We are a Las Vegas blog, not an Egyptologist.
We had the expertly-prepared Alto Margarita. Hey, $16 is the new $8, but it was delicious. The margarita features Caesars Select Patrón Reposado tequila, Cointreau liqueur, agave nectar, lime juice and a floater of Grand Marnie, whatever that might actually be.
In awesome news, video poker players can get the signature drinks comped when they play (drinks up to $16). This baby definitely qualifies as a panty-dropper cocktail.
There’s a small selection of draft beer ($9), bottled beer ($8), wine and non-alcoholic offerings.
There are also snacks, including mixed nuts ($7), classic ketel chips ($7) and a “Chef’s Selection” of meats, cheeses and heath breads. Psst, it’s not about the snacks.
The best thing about Alto Bar at the moment is the virtual reality lounge!
The adjoining Oculus Virtual Reality Lounge is easily overlooked and a complete and utter blast.
Oculus Touch, owned by Facebook, uses a pair of tracked hand controllers that give you the feeling the virtual hands are your own. It’s freaky and addictive. Sorry, it’s fire. Or possibly lit. We have trouble keeping up.
If you haven’t tried VR yet, now’s the time, and not just because it’s free. Although, that certainly doesn’t hurt. (Ads for the Virtual Reality Lounge say it’s free with the purchase of a cocktail, but tell them we sent you and they’ll probably let it slide.)
Basically, VR requires that you don a goofy headset and wear two hand controllers. Motion sensors track the movement of your body and create a virtual interaction with your surroundings.
The VR lounge at Alto Bar offers several demos, including The Unspoken, The Climb, VR Sports Challenge and Bullet Train.
We’d say virtual reality is the best thing, ever, but we’ve been with actual women. Yes, plural, thanks to a little something called red wine.
The VR lounge won’t be there forever, so take full advantage before March 28, 2017.
Alto Bar is open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m and 24 hours Friday through Sunday.
Caesars doesn’t seem to be heavily promoting the VR lounge, so that means more playtime for you.
The virtual reality lounge operates from 4:00 p.m. to midnight during the week and stays open until 1:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Guests must be 21 or older to use the virtual reality system.
Kudos to Caesars for giving guests some added value at Alto Bar. Virtual reality is mesmerizing, and once you’re in, you’ll never want to stop. Trust us on this one!
When you’re at Caesars, check out the swanky new carpet. It definitely doesn’t steer clear of the Roman theme.
Expect to see more VR cropping up at Las Vegas casinos. There’s a new VR Adventures shop at Linq promenade, and MGM Grand has been promoting its “Ka” show with virtual reality stations in its lobby.
It’s only a matter of time before there’s a virtual reality strip club in Las Vegas. Not that anyone would be interested in something like that. At all. Especially not this Las Vegas blog. Ever. Probably.
In the grand scheme of things, Las Vegas hasn’t been around that long. It has managed to cover a lot of ground when it comes to the names of its casinos, though.
Casinos are bought, sold, rebranded, imploded and rebuilt. Along the way, they often change names.
Here, then, are a hastily slapped-together batch of Las Vegas casinos formerly named something else. And in some cases, several something elses.
1. Planet Hollywood Was Tally Ho
That’s right, Planet Hollywood was originally the Tally Ho. After that, the hotel was called King’s Crown, then the more familiar Aladdin Resort & Casino. Are we having fun yet, we asked, rhetorically?
We get the weird feeling we mainly wrote this blog post to show off some of our casino photos.
2. Westgate Was the International
The hotel we now know as Westgate opened in 1969 as the International Hotel. For years, it was known as the Las Vegas Hilton. For a minute, it was LVH, or Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Hey, naming things is hard.
We were there the day the LVH’s letters came down and the Westgate sign went up.
3. SLS Las Vegas Was Sahara
SLS Las Vegas is a relatively recent development. For nearly 60 years, 1952 to 2011, it was the Sahara Hotel and Casino. You’ll never guess which we like more, “hotel” or “casino.”
Some days we sort of miss the Sahara’s fancy porte-cochere.
4. Harrah’s Was Holiday Casino
Never heard of Holiday Casino? Well, you’re in good company. The Holiday Casino came to be in 1973, thanks to Shelby and Claudine Williams, former owners of a classic Vegas casino, the Silver Slipper. Harrah’s got its name in 1992.
The Holiday casino had a riverboat theme, while Harrah’s has a Mardi Gras theme. Someday, we hope to do a story about themes that were formerly other themes.
5. MGM Grand Was Marina Hotel
What’s now on big-ass hotel, MGM Grand, got its start as the Marina Hotel and Casino. The Marina opened in 1975. Later, the hotel was called the MGM-Marina Hotel. The Marina closed in 1990, but still exists as the west wing of the MGM Grand.
MGM Grand is the largest hotel in the United States. If you slept in all 5,044 of the rooms at MGM Grand, all in one night, you would have both multiple restraining orders and severe chafing.
6. The D Was Sundance Hotel
Lots of folks know downtown’s D Las Vegas was previously a casino called Fitzgerald’s. Before that, though, it was the Sundance Hotel. The Sundance opened in 1980 on land owned by a mobster named Moe Dalitz. Later, Sundance became The Fitz, and eventually it was owned by Don Barden, the first African-American casino owner in Las Vegas.
How weird is it we appear to have never taken a photo of the exterior of Fitzgerald’s, but we somehow have a photo of the carpet?
7. Stratosphere Was Vegas World
Las Vegas eccentric Bob Stupak whipped up the idea of the Stratosphere as an addition to his Vegas World casino. At first, he wanted the Strat to look like the Eiffel Tower, but the site was too narrow. While impressive, the Stratosphere was designed to be much taller. The FAA got their undies in a bunch, so the height was decreased to its current 1,149 feet.
You sort of can’t miss it.
8. Bally’s Was MGM Grand
Stay with us, now. The site where Bally’s sits was, at first, Three Coins Motel. Then, it was the Bonanza Hotel and Casino and later, New Bonanza Hotel and Casino. MGM Grand opened on the site in 1973. The hotel was sold to Bally Manufacturing in 1986, hence the name. It’s now owned by Caesars Entertainment.
Bally’s, back when it had some bling.
9. Cromwell Was Barbary Coast
Caesars Entertainment owns the Cromwell, too. Way back when, a place called Empey’s Desert Villa sat on the land. In 1979, Barbary Coast came to be, it later became Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon. Before the Cromwell name was finalized, the casino was going to be called Gansevoort. That name was tanked when regulators discovered connections between a Gansevoort Hotels investor, Arik Kislin, and the Russian mob. Good times.
Barbary Coast cleaned up real nice.
10. The Linq Hotel & Casino Was Flamingo Capri Motel
That’s right. At its inception, what’s now the Linq was the Flamingo Capri. In time, the resort became the Imperial Palace. It was named The Quad from 2012 to 2014. Funny story, mainly involving the word “oopsie.”
The Linq swallowed the former O’Sheas. O’Sheas was originally called, well, O’Sheas. One less thing to memorize.
11. Golden Gate Was Hotel Nevada
Golden Gate, in downtown Las Vegas, is about as far back as Vegas goes. Its address is One Fremont Street, in fact. In 1906, it opened as Hotel Nevada, then became Sal Sagev Hotel and Casino. That’s Las Vegas spelled backwards. Told you naming things is hard. It got the name Golden Gate in 1955.
Warned you about the showing off thing.
12. Casino Royale Was Nob Hill
Technically, the casino’s current name is Best Western Plus Casino Royale. Say that five times fast. From 1979-1992, the place was called Nob Hill. It closed in 1990, and Casino Royale opened in 1992, becoming a favorite Strip destination for value-seeking low rollers.
Casino Royale isn’t your typical Strip casino. The words “White Castle” spring to mind.
13. Delano Was THEhotel
God, how we despise that affectation, THEhotel. Mandalay Bay’s sister hotel isn’t technically a “casino,” but we sure weren’t going to create a list with just 14 things on it, so there you have it.
It seems like they were screaming the wrong part.
14. Downtown Grand Was Lady Luck
Downtown Grand was, at first, the Lady Luck Hotel & Casino. Against all odds, Downtown Grand opened on Oct. 27, 2013.
We were there as Lady Luck transformed into Downtown Grand. We have clearly been around.
15. Hooters Casino Hotel Was Howard Johnson Hotel
If there were an award for “Casinos Previously Named Something Else,” Hooters would need a bigger mantle. What began as Howard Johnson Hotel eventually became Paradise Hotel, 20th Century, the Treasury, Pacifica and Polynesian. At the end of that run, it was renamed Hotel San Remo, and that one stuck, at least for awhile (1989 to 2006).
The Hooters rewards club is called Rewards Club. Told you naming things is hard.
Sin City’s collection of casinos previously called something else continues to grow. Sometime in 2017, for example, Monte Carlo will be called Park MGM. The now-closed Las Vegas Club will get a new name, too.
Serious fans of Las Vegas have to keep on their toes. Or have access to the Internet. Whichever.
There’s a new way to satisfy your cravings for sweets on the Las Vegas Strip, Milk Bar at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
Milk Bar opened amidst quite a bit of hoopla, but as with too many things in Vegas, the reality veers a bit from the hype.
We popped in to Milk Bar to give it a taste.
Bon Appétit named Milk Bar “One of the Most Exciting Bakeries in the Country.” Yet another reason we probably shouldn’t trust the French.
Milk Bar is the brain child of owner and noted chef, Christina Tosi. And by “noted,” of course, we mean we also have never heard of her.
Milk Bar is part of a chain, with seven other locations in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Toronto, which we’re relatively sure is in another country.
Milk Bar seats three people, so everything is grab-and-go. Like your sister.
Milk Bar is touted as being a “playful, approachable spin on familiar home-style desserts and savory snacks using quality ingredients and locally sourced dairy.”
Because if there’s one thing on your mind when you’re eating fattening treats, it’s where the milk came from.
Here’s a look at the Milk Bar menu.
Nothing says party like a six-inch cake for $56.
We tried a few of the items on the Milk Bar menu, and we can assure you they were all perfectly adequate. Please feel free to use that on your advertising, Milk Bar.
We dove headlong into the soft serve ice cream, and while adorable, it wasn’t anything spectacular. Here’s a look at the Fruity Cereal Milk soft serve with cornflake crunch.
“Soft Serve” was our nickname in college. Long story.
Milk Bar serves four different flavors of soft serve, the aforementioned Fruity Cereal Milk, Cereal Milk, Crack Pie and Sweet Potato Pie.
The stand also offers “MilkQuakes.” They’re basically Dairy Queen Blizzards, but at a Las Vegas Strip price (an absurd $10).
We tried the Birthday Cake MilkQuake. Again, nothing to write home about, but then again, nobody has actually written home since 2004. MilkQuakes flavors include Strawberry & Corn, Crack Pie, Bkfst (sic) and Sweet Potato Pie.
Milk Bar’s McFlurry was McCeptable.
Milk Bar also serves alcohol-infused “Fancy Shakes,” like the Cereal Milk White Russian, Fancy Fruity Shake and Fancy Chocolate Malt Cake Shake. We’re fairly sure we’ll be back to try one, or all, of those. Because fancy.
At this point, we figured we’d make a Hail Mary to ensure we found something to love, so we tried a cookie. Yes, they’re $3, but certainly a venue known for its desserts would make a killer cookie.
The closest thing we could find to a chocolate chip cookie was the Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie, and it was spectacularly meh.
We have tried every known cookie in Las Vegas and this was certainly one of those.
What the cookies lacked in succulence it more than make up for by having a metric hell-ton of ingredients.
Say that five times, fast.
Milk Bar is located on the second level of Cosmopolitan and is open 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily. This information is especially useful if you’re a time traveler.
If you give Milk Bar a try, we’d love to hear what you think, even if you disagree with our infallible opinion.
When in doubt, merch.
We suspect Milk Bar would fare well anywhere else, but its competition in Las Vegas has set a ridiculously high (wait for it) bar.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) recently sent out a news release where it excitedly announced the unveiling of a new parking lot. No, really.
The LVCVA’s new Diamond Lot, of course, is better known to Las Vegas fans as the site of the former Riviera casino.
This is what the lot looked like in May 2016.
Riviera resort, just before it went on an aggressive weight loss program.
Months of work and a dozen dismantled and imploded buildings later, here’s a look at what “progress” has wrought.
It wasn’t paradise, but it’s definitely been paved to put up a parking lot.
Yep, it’s a parking lot all right. A parking lot with 3,100 spaces, to be specific.
The new lot is more than just a parking lot, of course. It’s also an outdoor exhibition space, and part of a larger, much-needed expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Officials say the convention center expansion will “increase economic activity in our community.”
We get all that. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a few minutes to remember the Riv.
Downtown Las Vegas is playing host to the first self-driving, autonomous shuttle to be deployed on a public roadway in the U.S. And it’s adorable.
Driving is so 2014.
The autonomous shuttle will take guests up and down Fremont Street, between Flippin’ Good Burgers & Shakes and the Downtown Container Park for a couple of weeks. It’s free, and it’s fun.
If you’re not familiar with the Fremont East district, we’ve got this.
Here’s a video we shot of the driverless vehicle, including a couple of times when we foolishly jumped in front of the thing. Somebody had to.
The shuttle’s pilot program in downtown Las Vegas is a partnership between the City of Las Vegas and two companies, Navya (the tech company that developed the shuttle) and Keolis (a public transportation company that sounds like a character from “Lord of the Rings”).
The first of such self-driving shuttles debuted in the streets of Sion, Switzerland in 2015. This is much more exciting, because Las Vegas.
Clean, spacious and welcoming. So, the opposite of existing public transportation.
The shuttle is battery-operated and can carry about 15 people (four standing), and there’s an attendant from Navya onboard at all times. The vehicle’s top speed is 28 m.p.h., but operates at 15 m.p.h. So, yeah, sit back and enjoy the three minute ride.
Don’t worry about motion sickness on a self-driving shuttle, as that would require motion. We kid. There are occasionally sudden stops, so we recommend you make the trip sitting down.
The self-driving shuttles rely on advanced technology to work safely, including something called “LIDAR.” LIDAR stands for “Light Detection and Ranging,” although it would be much funnier if it stood for “the means through which your significant other can tell if you’re cheating on them.”
Pick-ups and drop-offs happen at these signs, which you’ll get to know intimately if you’re someone who texts while they walk.
The public will be able to ride the free shuttle through Jan. 20, 2017. It operates from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
One would hope the courtship between Navya and the City of Las Vegas will flourish to the point where driverless shuttles could zig-zag throughout downtown, perhaps even extending their reach to The Strip. This, of course, involves a significant investment in infrastructure, so it’ll never happen. Which thrills the pigeons no end.
More than a year after we first reported In-N-Out Burger was coming to the Las Vegas Strip, it has. The popular fast food restaurant opened for its first day of business at Linq promenade on Jan. 11, 2017.
The first non-California location of In-N-Out opened in Nevada in 1992. This one’s the prettier, though.
Just another burger joint in Las Vegas? Uh, no.
The popularity of In-N-Out is the stuff of legend in Sin City, with many visitors considering a stop at the restaurant an essential part of their vacation.
The first and only time you’ll ever see no line at In-N-Out.
Here’s a quick walk-through of the new In-N-Out at the Linq shopping district.
We’d wager the new In-N-Out Burger location will quickly become the chain’s most profitable, and we did our part during our first visit.
We let them put the fruit and vegetables on it for the photo. Yes, tomatoes are a fruit. Stop fact-checking our photo captions. You’re not our mom.
The staff was predictably young, friendly and impeccably groomed. In-N-Out gets great talent because, unlikely the majority of its fast food chain competition, it pays team members more than mandated minimum wage guidelines. Managers make in excess of $100,00 a year.
Many of the opening night staff members were employees of other out-of-state locations shipped in to assist with the restaurant’s Strip debut.
The food was just plain delicious, as always. Context: Every other burger in the neighborhood is $12, at least.
Yes, there’s a bit of a price bump compared to other locations in Las Vegas. Not too surprising given the primo location.
The Strip’s first In-N-Out is located by the mall’s fountains, between Flour & Barley restaurant and Sprinkles Cupcakes. When you’re ready for dessert, check out the cupcake ATM just a few feet away.
Thanks to the Linq for turning off the fountains so we could take a photo with a pretty reflection.
None of the food served at In-N-Out travels more than 500 miles to any restaurant location. Sorry, east coast, not happening.
The restaurant seats about 150 people inside, and a patio holds another 90 or so. In-N-Out Burger is going to need every seat it can get.
It’s no secret In-N-Out prints bible verses on some of its packaging. Chill out, it’s just a cup.
We don’t know who this John guy is, but he makes a kick-ass burger and fries.
In-N-Out’s hours of operation at Linq promenade are Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Are you listening, Chick-fil-A? Open on Sunday!
In-N-Out joins a host of great dining options at Linq promenade, and is sure to give them a run for their money.
It’s elevated fast food, with reasonable prices and flawless, friendly service, and the restaurant is sure to be a much-needed draw for the mid-Strip mall. It’s been estimated 20 million people walk by the Linq pedestrian mall every year, and now they have an even better reason to stay awhile.