Category Archives: Las Vegas WTF

Caesars Entertainment Preps to Launch Paid Parking

Paid parking has become the new normal at Las Vegas resorts, and one of the Strip’s biggest players, Caesars Entertainment, is ready to expand its paid parking program to include guests who self-park.

We hit The Strip to check on the progress of the paid parking roll-out expected to kick in sometime in March 2017. Caesars Entertainment already charges for valet parking at most of its Strip resorts.

Flamingo Las Vegas paid parking

Up first, Flamingo. The parking machines are encased in plywood. Let’s keep it that way!

While we were on a quest to visit every Caesars casino that will have paid parking, we did make the occasional stop to imbibe, a word which comes from Latin, meaning “if you can feel your face, you’re doing it wrong.”

At Flamingo, we had a lovely dinner at Carlos’n Charlie’s, including one of our favorite dishes in town, the Parmesan & Swiss Chicken. We played a bit of blackjack, and couldn’t help but snap a pic of two newlyweds at a nearby table.

Casino newlyweds

Congrats to the lovebirds. Oh, and both of the newlyweds were women. Las Vegas loves everyone’s love equally.

Next, we bopped next door to the Linq hotel, and again, paid parking machines are in place.

Linq paid parking

The machines at Linq are at the top of a steep incline, so that’s sure to be interesting.

Our Parade of WTF isn’t done yet. Right next door is Harrah’s Las Vegas, where a familiar theme is beginning to unspool. If you can unspool a theme. Just play along.

Harrah's paid parking

Harrah’s appears to have the most machines of any Caesars resort. If this keeps up, Las Vegas is going to experience a plywood and yellow paint shortage.

Next, we zip across the street to Caesars Palace, recently named “Las Vegas Resort With the Most Topless Women Carved From Marble.” We were going to say “David Wang,” but not everyone knows there’s a replica of Michelangelo’s David at Caesars Palace.

Back to the parking thing.

Caesars Palace paid parking

Caesars Palace is lagging a bit. We’re cool with that. Take your sweet time.

Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s share a parking structure, so we got a two-fer.

Paris Bally's paid parking

We totally predicted the plywood shortage.

Part of the pitch with paid parking has been it will help upgrade the various parking garages. That appears to already be happening at Paris and Bally’s. The parking structure already has a lighting system to let guests know which spaces are available (green) or not (red, please try and keep up).

Paris Bally's parking

You’re paying for the availability indicators, so enjoy! Bonus: The Availability Indicators would make a great band name.

While Caesars Entertainment has said the self-parking at Rio Las Vegas will remain free, we decided to have a look, anyway. And, boy, we’re so glad we did. As expected, there were no paid parking machines to be found at Rio. Inside, however, we found gold.

Rio Kiss Mini Golf Car

This awesome Kiss Mini Golf Car is right on the casino floor at Rio. Curious if they had to pay to park there.

While the car is cool, we found something even cooler. It’s so Vegas, it’s ridiculous. Apparently, guests have been getting creative with their selfies, so Kiss Mini Golf had to take the necessary actions to deter such behavior.

Wait for it.

Rio Kiss Mini Golf Car

So Kiss. So Vegas. So awkward.

Time to swing by Planet Hollywood. There was no trace of parking machines at Planet Hollywood, and presumably the hotel won’t be charging for parking because the structure is owned and managed by Miracle Mile Shops, not Caesars Entertainment. We take our good news where we can get it!

That’s about it. When Caesars Entertainment rolls out its paid parking program in full, it will mark the end of an era in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts started the trend when it instituted paid parking across its half of The Strip.

Visit Caesars Entertainment’s Web site for all the paid parking details.

It’s important to note you can still park free at both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment resorts, but you have to get their respective credit cards. Having the card bumps you up to a qualifying tier in their player loyalty clubs. Get details about MGM Resorts’ program here.

The big casino companies seem determined to ride out their paid parking plans, despite rumors of fallout inside the casinos. Retail shops at some MGM Resorts casinos have reported drops of as much as 30% in business since paid parking was implemented.

We recently shared an MGM Grand insider’s observation that front line employees (from valets to cocktail waitresses and bartenders) have taken a major hit in tips, a decrease of 30% to 50%, according to our source. Read more.

Still, stock prices continue to rise, so it’s likely paid parking is here to stay. (Although, given recent bumps in the road, the jury’s still out.) Paid parking is also coming to Cosmopolitan, Wynn and Encore. While paid parking may seem to make business sense short-term, there’s a growing feeling the decision to charge for parking may have unforeseen consequences, including a change in the perception of Las Vegas itself.

Update (2/11/17): Caesars Entertainment has also announced it will raise resort fees at 10 Strip resorts.

One blog’s opinion: This really is the worst possible time to learn we can’t sit on the tongue.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Jay Leno, Brad Garrett Taping on Fremont Street Accompanied by Drama

Comedians Jay Leno and Brad Garrett were spotted on Fremont Street taping an episode of CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage.”

Jay Leno Fremont Street

Jay Leno hosted “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” from 1992 to 2009. He pretty much had to because the show had his name in it.

The duo drew quite a crowd on Jan. 27, 2017, as they interacted playfully with fans and showed off a vintage car, Brad Garrett’s 1948 Chrysler Town and Country.

Jay Leno's Garage

We have no idea if this is a 1948 Chrysler Town and Country. We are a blog, not a gearhead. Assuming those are still a thing.

The “Garage” segment was taped largely on Las Vegas Boulevard, just outside Hennessey’s Tavern and the Heart Attack Grill.

What you won’t read anywhere else is the behind-the-scenes drama that happened prior to the shoot on Fremont Street.

Jay Leno Brad Garrett

In the sequence, Jay Leno prodded the crowd to express their disdain for Brad Garrett putting a modern engine in his classic car. We expect this is very amusing to car people.

Originally, the sequence was supposed to feature the Heart Attack Grill restaurant in nearby Neonopolis.

The restaurant is known for its indulgent, high calorie food and quirky culture. For example, all customers are required to don hospital gowns before dining. Women dressed as “Naughty Nurses” spank customers who are unable to finish their meal, and one of the nurses, Lorren “Lola” Cackowski, is a little person.

heart_attack_can2

According to a rep of Heart Attack Grill, after a month of planning for the taping inside the restaurant, the production company (Original Productions) sent a message saying, “Jay let us know he doesn’t want to partake in any of the theatrics with nurses, little people or spanking.”

The owner of Heart Attack Grill insisted the shoot include the “theatrics” (although he concedes the spankings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea), so the deal was off. The plug was pulled and the shoot took place exclusively on the street.

Jay Leno

Someone should get to the bottom of whether Jay Leno has a problem with hospital gowns, spankings, little people or all three.

In any event, Las Vegas will feature prominently in an upcoming episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, and now you know the story behind the story. Or perhaps not behind so much as the story sidled up next to the story. Or maybe the story wedged like a thong in the donk of the story.

Enjoy more exclusive photos of Jay Leno and Brad Garrett in Las Vegas as we mull this over and get back to you on the whole metaphor thing.

Jay Leno and Brad Garrett On Fremont Street

[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage1.jpg]76630
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage2.jpg]60370
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage3.jpg]54470
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage4.jpg]50590
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage5.jpg]47460
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage6.jpg]44580
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage7.jpg]42330
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage8.jpg]40010
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage9.jpg]37860
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage10.jpg]35840
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage11.jpg]33980
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage12.jpg]32090
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage13.jpg]30480
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage14.jpg]29010
[img src=http://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/jay-leno-and-brad-garrett-on-fremont-street/thumbs/thumbs_jay_leno_garage15.jpg]27670
Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Las Vegas Eccentric Lonnie Hammargren Bares All on “Hoarders”

Lonnie Hammargren is a bit of a Las Vegas legend.

The former Las Vegas Lt. Governor has spent his life collecting curiosities, displaying thousands of objects in three adjoining houses in a residential Las Vegas neighborhood.

Lonnie Hammargren

The indefatigable Lonnie Hammargren.

Each year, Lonnie Hammargren and his wife Sandy open up their home(s) to the public on Nevada Day, showcasing about 10,000 pieces of memorabilia, much of it related to Las
Vegas.

Hammargren Hoarders

Lonnie Hammargren’s collection of stuff spans three homes and a lifetime.

This blog is an avid collector of things, so we’ve always sort of admired Lonnie Hammargren for his commitment to the acquisition of stuff.

Now, we don’t know how to feel. The premiere episode of the ninth season of reality series “Hoarders” featured Lonnie and Sandy Hammargren, and it turns out trouble’s afoot in the “Hammargren Home of Nevada History.”

Lonnie Hammargren Hoarders

What could possibly go wrong?

“I estimate I’ve spent about $10 million on things I’ve collected,” says Lonnie Hammargren on the show. “It wasn’t a lot for me at the time. Like Frank Sinatra, I did it my way.”

For many years, Hammargren could afford his passion for collecting, as he was the first first neurosurgeon in Nevada.

Things have changed, however. During the “Hoarders” episode, it’s revealed Lonnie and Sandy Hammargren are $750,000 in debt.

Hammargren Hoarders

We feel you, Lonnie.

The episode highlights the growing conflict between the Hammargrens, with Sandy stating, “Lonnie has spent an enormous amount of money on his collections. I’m done with it. We’ve acquired a lot of debt and now it’s time to start selling things so that we can live off it.”

“I don’t have the money to continue paying my mortgage, says Lonnie Hammargren. “If I don’t pay the mortgage, I could lose my house.”

As is the “Hoarders” way, experts are brought in to assess the situation. On the case are a clinical psychologist specializing in hoarding disorder, Dr. David Tolin, and an “Extreme Cleaning Expert,” Matt Paxton.

Hoarders Las Vegas

Time for some “Hoarders” realness.

Tolin pulls no punches, saying, “Rich hoarding and poor hoarding can look very different, but they’re both still hoarding.”

Tolin continues, “Lonnie really wants people to notice him and he wants people to like him. There definitely is an element of Las Vegas culture. I also get a sense that behind that, there’s a little bit of a fear there. Maybe I will die and be forgotten. And I get a sense that terrifies him.”

Sandy Hammargren

If they gave awards for patience, Sandy Hammargren would have a house full of trophies rather than Nevada memorabilia.

The awkwardness continues as the experts try to convince Lonnie Hammargren it’s time to sell off some of his prized possessions. Or at the very least some he doesn’t prize.

Hammargren resists until the psychologist points out how much his wife is suffering, and asks, “What would you sacrifice for your wife’s happiness?” Lonnie Hammargren answers, “Anything.”

Of his 10,000 items, Lonnie Hammargren agrees to sell 27.

“Hoarders” brings in a familiar face to help with the process of estimating the value of Hammargren’s things, Mark Hall-Patton. Hall-Patton (pictured below, at right), of course, is a regular on another reality series, “Pawn Stars.”

Hoarders Hammargren

In the realm of nonverbal communication, folded arms don’t scream, “This is going really well!”

It becomes clear quickly Lonnie Hammargren’s view of the world is a special one. Then again, this is the man who has a tomb with a sarcophagus in his garage where he plans to be entombed.

Hammargren tomb

Lonnie Hammargren with his tomb.

At auction, the 27 items bring a soul-crushing $4,112.

Hoarders Hammargren

You thought we were kidding? This is an actual “Hoarders” title card.

The cringeworthiness peaks when Hammargren states he’ll use the proceeds of the auction not to pay his mortgage, but to publish his life story.

The psychologist adds, “Unless Lonnie really wakes up to his wife’s suffering, unless he really makes a decision to change things, I don’t know if things are going to get any better.”

Unlike so many episodes of “Hoarders,” this one doesn’t have a happy ending. Lonnie Hammargren remains an enigma, seemingly oblivious to the distinction between a collector and a hoarder. We’re actually not too clear about that ourselves.

Hoarders Hammargren

A typical day for Lonnie Hammargren includes organizing artifacts, cataloging new acquisitions and not getting any.

Ultimately, the experts packed it up. Dr. David Tolin summed things up by saying, “At the end of the day, Lonnie wants to be left alone, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

After watching “Hoarders,” we’re not sure how to feel about the Lonnie and Sandy Hammargren saga. The emotions range from admiration to pity and concern.

Is Lonnie Hammargren a dreamer of big dreams or painfully out of touch with reality? We’re thinking he’s a little bit of both.

Hoarders Lonnie Hammargren

Hang in there, Lonnie. Nobody ever became legendary by paying a mortgage.

During the “Hoarders” episode, he says, “I want to be a spectacle. Mohammad Ali was a spectacle. Jesus was a spectacle.”

One of the experts says, “I don’t think Lonnie is able to let go. Lonnie doesn’t really own his things. They own him.”

You can watch the entire episode of “Hoarders” online, and we’d love to hear what you think.

On thing is for certain. It took courage for the Hammargrens to air their drama on “Hoarders.”

Financial woes aside, many in Las Vegas would be devastated to see Lonnie Hammargren’s collection sold off.

We truly hope there’s a way for Lonnie Hammargren to fulfill his financial obligations without having to dismantle his legacy.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Park People at The Park Make for Irresistible Selfie Bait

The Park, a restaurant row between Monte Carlo and New York-New York on the Las Vegas Strip, has become a hub for public art.

Upping the selfie ante, The Park is currently playing host to Park People, a series of life-sized human figures fashioned entirely from Lego bricks.

Park People Las Vegas

“Lego” comes from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” or “play well.” A good fit for Las Vegas, actually.

The Park People series was created by Nathan Sawaya, and is said to “explore the conceptual and expressive potential of process driven forms of the human body.”

So, yeah, Lego people.

Here’s a little video we slapped together, mainly because video is the new reading. Or something.

httpvh://www.www.youtube.com/watch?v=_edlmJ_NG-0
More Lego people, please!

Park People Las Vegas

Dude, it’s Vegas. You might want to pick up some sunscreen.

Sawaya holds an intriguing distinction—he is said to own more Lego bricks than any other individual, with two million bricks in each of his two studios (one in L.A. and another in New York).

Park People Lego art

Yeah, he’s nude, but at least he’d modest.

During our recent visit, guests were cozying up to the  nine interactive figures, providing a memorable moment in Las Vegas for tourists and, as an added perk, great buzz for The Park.

Park People Lego art

Watch the hands.

According to the news release about Park People, the Lego figures are “situated curiously” on “elegant” wooden benches. There’s a reason “elegant” is in quotation marks. Mostly because they’re just benches.

Park People artwork

The plural of Lego is Lego.

Each Lego sculpture can take two to three weeks to build, and each Lego block must be glued into place.

Park People Lego

Pretty sure somebody’s going to be hearing from Blue Man Group’s lawyers.

The Park People exhibit ends Dec. 30, 2016, so if you’d like to see these Lego sculptures, you’d better step on it.

Because Lego. “Step on it.”

We’ll wait.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Two Things on The Strip Making Us Smile Right Now

It’s the little things that count, and two wee things on The Strip are making us smile right now.

For months, we’ve publicly bemoaned the tacky Dick’s Last Resort sign on the front of Excalibur.

Dick's Last Resort

We don’t have enough palms or faces.

Well, miracles never cease in Las Vegas, because the Dickish sign has been removed.

The now-blank space used to play host to a Merlin statue, but if rumors about a rebrand of Excalibur turn out to be true, he won’t be back. We’d rather see nothing than something nauseating up there.

Excalibur facade

Merlin the magician has (wait for it) disappeared.

Next, we’ve also spent months whining about the state of the pink elephant at the Diamond Inn Motel, very near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and across from Mandalay Bay.

Las Vegas pink elephant

Somebody looks like they’ve been rode hard and put up wet. Which is possibly a horse thing, but whatever.

Well, the owners of the motel finally ponied up for a repair, and the pink elephant is back to being ready for its roadside attraction close-up.

Pink elephant

Back in the pink! (Millennial translation: The pink elephant is lit.)

Las Vegas is full of surprises! And shrimp. But mostly that first thing.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Venetian Sticks It to Players with Triple Zero Sands Roulette

It appears all bets are off when it comes to casinos coming up with clever ways to increase profits. Venetian Las Vegas recently introduced Sands Roulette, a game almost identical to traditional roulette, but with an insidious twist, a triple zero.

Most roulette tables in the U.S. have a zero and double zero. Those games have a house advantage of 5.2%. Not the worst game in a casino, but fairly hefty when compared to games like blackjack and baccarat.

Occasionally, you can find a European roulette table, with just a zero, and the house edge
dips down to 2.7%. In Las Vegas, those tables tend to be reserved for high rollers.

Sands Roulette at Venetian, with 0-00-000, means there are more ways for a player to lose,
and the house advantage jumps up to 7.7% (7.69% to be exact, but let’s not get bogged
down in details).

We’d love to show you a photo of the Sands Roulette table layout, but photography is
strictly forbidden at live tables in the Venetian. Therefore, we aren’t able to share the
photo below.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

Sadly, this isn’t Photoshopped. It actually exists.

Yes, the bean counters are at it again.

While a 2.5% increase in the house edge may not seem like a lot at first glance, it
amounts to a huge windfall for the casino over the course of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of spins.

The frustrating part about this particular revenue enhancement strategy is it’s
implemented in a way that seems underhanded. You won’t see a triple zero on the table, but
rather the triple zero is represented with an “S” and the Sands logo. The Venetian is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Sands Roulette intentionally takes advantage of less experienced players. One Venetian
staffer even said, aloud, “Tourists and conventioneers don’t really care.”

That opinion seemed to be confirmed by the fact the Sands Roulette table (there’s only one
in the casino at this point) was packed during our visit.

That same floor person admitted, “We try new table games for 90 days and evaluate the
results. If it tanks, it’ll go away.” Good to know, although much like 6-to-5 blackjack
(for many years, the game payed 3-to-2), sometimes such “innovations” never go away.

The Venetian staffer followed up with something rather ominous. He said, “If it increases
the drop, they’ll probably try adding another space.”

We’ll let that particular brand of WTF sink in for a moment.

Triple zero Sands Roulette

Sorry, we can’t show you this photo, either. Our hands are tied!

That’s right. Not only is the Venetian exploring new ways to stick it to us, they’re open to upping the ante. Let’s do this until we see what the pain point is, they seem to be saying.

Deep breaths.

Look, we don’t begrudge casinos the ability to increase profits. They’re doing it with paid parking and reduced liquor pour sizes and comp drink monitoring systems.

But is it too much to ask to not muck with a timeless, iconic casino table game? Seriously, WWJBS? (What would James Bond say?)

As mentioned, there’s currently only one triple zero table at Venetian, and we’re not
aware of any others in Las Vegas. It would surprise no one if triple zero games started
popping up at competing casinos in the very near future.

The Sands Roulette table had a $10 minimum, while all the other roulette tables had a $15 limit. One could make the argument the triple zero is a “surcharge” for the “lower” table minimum. Or not.

Will the average Las Vegas visitor realize they’re being dinged when they play the triple
zero Sands Roulette? Will knowing about it keep them from playing? We suspect not. Recreational gamblers don’t obsess over things like odds. These are the same folks playing the Big Six wheel, with one of the biggest house edges in a casino (as much as 24%, the mind reels).

Taken alone, Sands Roulette’s triple zero at Venetian Las Vegas isn’t the end of the world. But it does feel like another symbol of how casinos seem to be jeopardizing long-term trust and loyalty for short-term gain. With each new fee or detrimental change to a game, casinos run the risk of damaging the public perception of Las Vegas as a value-driven destination.

The opining about this state of affairs isn’t limited to us, of course. Our friend Sam Novak at VegasBright.com has a few thoughts well worth a look.

Ultimately, we decide what games succeed or fail. So, choose wisely.

Thanks to Marc Meltzer of EdgeVegas.com and the eagle-eyed folks at the Wizard of Vegas
forum for tipping us off to the unfortunate existence of Sands Roulette at Venetian Las Vegas.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone