Category Archives: Vital Signs

Hooters Casino Hotel Sold to Company Nobody’s Ever Heard Of, Trinity Hotel Investors

Yet another Las Vegas hotel-casino is changing hands.

Riviera was recently sold to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and closed May 4, 2015. Tropicana is going to Penn National Gaming by the end of 2015.

Now, the entirely unremarkable Hooters Casino Hotel has been purchased by a company called Trinity Hotel Investors for $53.8 million.

The sale happened under the radar on May 1, 2015, a mere day after employees were informed of the purchase. Way to keep it classy, owner persons.

Hooters

Hooters Casino Hotel has 696 rooms, exactly none of which you’d stay in unless you lost a bet.

We first saw word of the sale on the excellent Stiffs and Georges blog, and it was later confirmed by the Las Vegas Sun.

Compared to other recent sales, Hooters was had for a song. Riviera sold for $182.5 million. The Trop cost $360 million. Hooters was so inexpensive at $53.8 million, it’s believed Vegas mogul Steve Wynn has roughly that amount of cash in his pocket right this very minute.

The new owners of Hooters are expected to rebrand it. Rumors are Holiday Inn will take over operation of the resort, but not under that name.

Hooters Casino Hotel, previously the San Remo, has been a financial cluster for some time now. In fact, several times, it’s nearly gone bust. Because you know damn well we weren’t going to do an entire story about Hooters without a “bust” joke.

Hooters

And Riviera is the one they’re going to blow up?

New ownership is a glimmer of hope for the only casino in Las Vegas known to have given this blog alcohol poisoning with its policy of swapping out a call liquor for some blasphemous, generic crap without informing us it was doing so. Asshats.

While for years we’ve been hoping Hooters would burn to the ground after a lightning strike, we’re cautiously optimistic a new owner could make something of the joint.

Hooters Las Vegas

Hooters opened as a Howard Johnson Hotel. Then is was the Paradise, the Polynesian Paradise and Treasure Hotel before becoming Hotel San Remo and eventually Hooters. Sign-makers love the place.

The stated “singular purpose” of Trinity Hotel Investors is “investing in and enhancing the value of hotel real estate.” They also tout their acumen at “identifying investment opportunities with strong risk-return profiles.”

So, yeah, we’re not holding our breath about the whole “making something of the joint.”

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Genting Group Breaks Ground on $4 Billion, Asian-Themed Resorts World Las Vegas

Las Vegas-watchers have grown a little jaded in recent years, given a string of high-profile projects which have made grand promises but faltered or failed to materialize at all.

Now, another massive project has broken ground and all eyes are on Genting Group and its sprawling Resorts World Las Vegas. Genting broke ground on Resorts World on May 5, 2015.

Resorts World Las Vegas

The completed Resorts World Las Vegas will be 21,847,314 square feet, mainly because that square footage just has a nice ring to it.

Genting Group was founded in 1965 and operates resorts in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the U.K, the Bahamas and the U.S. The company is also a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Let’s take a quick look the possible future of the Las Vegas Strip. It looks like Sin City’s ball is about to drop!

The Resorts World Las Vegas groundbreaking was accompanied by speakers speaking, politicians politicianing and Chinese lions lioning.

The groundbreaking hoopla was accompanied by renderings of Resorts World Las Vegas we haven’t seen before, including this one of the casino.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Happily, the Asian theme in the casino avoids being too on-the-nose or cheesy. For the win.

Resorts World will be built on the site of the former Stardust, this blog’s all-time favorite casino, and even the potential of a panda habitat (no, really) at Resorts World is unlikely to change that.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Because it’s Asian-themed! Look, we’re just spitballing here.

Resorts World is next to Circus Circus, but don’t hold that against it. Resorts World is being built on the site of the abandoned Echelon project.

Construction on Echelon was stopped in 2008 due to the economic downturn, not to mention a fair amount of what’s commonly called “bone-headedness.”

Resorts World Las Vegas

The current Resorts World Las Vegas site. In other words, the “before” shot.

If Resorts World becomes a reality (because, again, groundbreakings are the easy part), the expansive destination will feature 3,000 rooms in its first phase, as well as 3,500 table games and slots.

Here’s another view of the finished product.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Gorgeous pool area! Because if Las Vegas has too much of anything, it’s water.

The resort will also presumably boast an indoor water park, aquarium, outdoor amphitheater (lower right, above), Chinese gardens (below, possibly), a bowling alley, observation deck, a 4,000-seat theater and a Panda Express.

Just wanted to make sure you’re still paying attention.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Seriously, Genting, don’t screw around with us. Let’s make this happen, thanks.

Resorts World is slated to open in 2018.

Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn described that 2018 opening timeline “ambitious.” Then again, what would Steve Wynn know about building Las Vegas resorts?

Find out more on the official Resorts World Las Vegas site.

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Ten Things Downtown Grand Las Vegas is Doing Right

What a difference a month makes in Las Vegas.

Not long ago, we were reporting about the bleak situation at Downtown Grand, the former Lady Luck. Two restaurants closed and hours at others were shrinking, massive staffing cuts were being made department-wide and the hotel’s casino was pretty much on life support.

Those “adjustments” now appear to have been part of some master plan, because there have been a slew of recent changes, big and small, breathing new life into the struggling hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown Grand

Las Vegas is built on second chances. Well, it’s actually built on permeable sand and gravel, but that’s less romantic.

Here’s a list of 10 things Downtown Grand Las Vegas is finally doing right.

1. Improved Video Poker Pay Tables

If your casino has less-than-favorable video poker pay tables, words spreads quickly. The result is players stay away. In response to customer feedback, Downtown Grand has retooled its poker play tables to be comparable to other downtown casinos.

Thankfully for Downtown Grand, word spreads just as quickly when payouts are adjusted upwards. We’ve played more video poker at Downtown Grand in the last two weeks than we did the prior six months.

Furnace Bar

The Furnace Bar has become one of our favorite places to drink and play downtown. Emphasis on drink.

Thanks to the folks at Royal Flusher Vegas for letting us know about the pay table changes.

2. Fresh Blood

Sensing its days might be numbered at Downtown Grand, the casino’s management company, Fifth Street Gaming, did something dramatic. They wisely brought on some fresh blood.

The most significant acquisition was Anthony Bender, Downtown Grand’s director of casino marketing. Bender has held management roles at the Riviera and at Stratosphere owner American Casino & Entertainment Properties, both entities familiar with the delicate balance of appealing to both Vegas visitors and locals, just as Downtown Grand must do to thrive.

Downtown Grand Las Vegas

We don’t have photos of any of the new executives, so we’ll just share this lovely artwork at Downtown Grand.

In addition to Anthony Bender, the hotel also brought on a new chief financial officer (Marie Ramsey), a new casino financial analyst (Jeffrey Rabinowitz) and a new director of table games (Ken Mumby). All the hires were new positions according to Downtown Grand CEO Seth Schorr.

These new executives bring a diverse and expansive set of skills to Downtown Grand. Ken Mumby, for example, has 35 years of casino industry experience, and was most recently Vice President of Casino Operations for Planet Hollywood. Let’s see if these folks can shake things up!

3. Promotional Table Game Play

What’s most grabbed our attention recently at Downtown Grand is the aggressive marketing to casino players.

For example, while we have played a few times at Downtown Grand, we’re not what you’d call a whale. Still, each week in August, the hotel has offered us $25 in promotional chips for the casino’s table games. Not match play. Promotional play. That means you get $25 in promotional chips, every week, which you can play like real chips. If you win, you are paid in real chips. If you don’t, it costs nothing, there’s zero risk.

It’s difficult to overstate our love for these perks!

Downtown Grand chips

Promotional chips are our new BFFs. Bite it, match play.

We’ve never gotten a promotional offer like that from a casino, ever.

Sometimes we just play the promotional chips, win and cash out. Sometimes we play those chips, plus some additional cash. But no matter the result, it’s a blast, and we feel valued and appreciated as a customer. That engenders loyalty, and again, these promotional chips have gotten us into Downtown Grand more in the last few weeks than in the months prior.

This is a very good sign. It’s also a potentially expensive promotion for the casino, but if you’re going to kick-start a recovery, this is a bold way to do it.

4. Pot Roast at Triple George

The same folks that own Downtown Grand also own Triple George restaurant, just across the street. This welcoming restaurant does a lot of things well, but until recently, we’d never tried the pot roast. It was off-the-charts amazing, including meat so tender, you’ll think you’re French kissing a cloud.

What does this have to do with what Downtown Grand is doing right? Because dining is a huge part of what makes a Las Vegas resort work. Customers don’t have to gamble 24/7, but there should be enticements to stick around as long as possible.

The dining options at Downtown Grand are outstanding, and we’d put Triple George’s pot roast up against any dish in Las Vegas. That’s how you get people to visit, and stay. Be extraordinary.

Triple George

Yes, we considered proposing marriage to this pot roast, but it got a little weird.

Credit for this meat masterpiece goes to Downtown Grand’s assistant executive chef Todd Harrington, formerly of Central at Caesars Palace, who revamped the menu at all the hotel’s restaurants.

5. Art Bar Happy Hour

Art Bar is Downtown Grand’s lobby bar, and its marketing hook has been copious amounts of art on the bar’s ceiling. Why, we have no idea, especially when happy hour is really the selling point.

Art Bar’s happy hour is 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and features 50 percent off all food and drinks. This is an excellent deal, in a warm, mellow space. In fact, Art Bar was recently named “Best Bar to Chill” by the staff of Las Vegas Weekly.

We love the fact our Captain and diets run about three bucks, and the specialty cocktails are worth a try, too.

Mozart cocktail

The happy hour at Art Bar is helping to put the happy back in Downtown Grand.

6. The Commissary $1 Taco Deal

Yes, The Commissary’s hours have recently been pared back (currently 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays), but the sometimes-overlooked restaurant still has some fight in it.

The Commissary’s one-time $1 Tuesday taco deal has been extended to seven days a week. Get a chicken, brisket or bean-and-cheese street taco for just a buck.

We’ve only tried the chicken and brisket versions, but they’re stellar, and again, have kept us coming back, sometimes several times a week. After which we sometimes gamble. Starting to see a pattern here?

99-cent tacos

It took superhuman strength for us not to Photoshop a space between “every” and “day.”

7. Video Poker at Side Bar

Side Bar is what they now call the former Mob Bar, adjoining Triple George. For some reason, when Mob Bar moved down the street, the plug was pulled on all the video poker machines at Side Bar. Prior to Mob Bar’s departure, this was one of our favorite places to hang, eat, drink and play video poker.

The good news is video poker is back! Side Bar isn’t open all the time as far as we can tell, it’s mainly used as an overflow dining room for Triple George, but even if Side Bar is just a Friday and Saturday night thing, it’s a step in the right direction.

Side Bar Triple George

Let the good times roll, again.

8. Free Comedy

Free is good, and Downtown Grand continues to offer free comedy, called “Summer Comedy Club,” each Thursday.

Show’s start at 8:00 p.m., and the comics are “curated” by Bonkerz Comedy.

Check Downtown Grand’s official site for who’s scheduled to perform when.

Downtown Grand comedy

The best things in life are funny. Free is a close second, though.

9. Dollar Daze

A recent effort to help drum up business at Downtown Grand is the hotel’s Dollar Daze promotion. Cheap food and drink? Providing value to guests? It’s so crazy, it just might work!

Loyalty club members can get a cheeseburger at Stewart + Odgen (pronounced “Stewart Plus Ogden,” not “Stewart and Ogden,” we recently learned) or a specialty shot for $3.

For $2, get a pretzel or a bottle of domestic beer. For $1, get a kosher hot dog or a daiquiri at Ninth Island. Learn more.

Dollar Daze

Your amount of daze may vary.

These are solid deals, and tailored to value-oriented customers. Will they bring in high rollers? Maybe not, but deals like this are the bread-and-butter of casinos that appeal to local, repeat players.

10.  Get Lucky

Ultimately, there’s only so much Downtown Grand can do with marketing and promotions to refresh its image as a lucky place to play. That’s where Lady Luck steps in.

A slot player at Downtown Grand recently won a progressive for, wait for it, $1.2 million. To be exact, $1,212,863.16. See more.

Wisely, Downtown Grand has been promoting this big win like crazy. Giant jackpots are a gambler magnet, part of what keeps the Las Vegas dream alive. A casino can’t plan for a super-sized jackpot, of course, but it can certainly take advantage of the resulting buzz.

Downtown Grand

The winning machine. Different guy, though.

It’s obvious Downtown Grand is serious about making a long-awaited, much-needed course correction.

Are Downtown Grand and Fifth Street Gaming out of the woods? Not quite. The hotel’s location remains a challenge, but if these recent initiatives are any indication, talent and resources are being brought to bear on Downtown Grand’s challenges, and we look forward to seeing what’s next, especially if it results in one of the great comebacks in Las Vegas history.

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Failed Fontainebleau Las Vegas Project Partially Redeemed By Candid New Billboard

Yes, the failed, 68-floor Fontainebleau Las Vegas project is an ungodly eyesore.

Yes, Fontainebleau is a monument to the Great Recession and corporate hubris, whatever “hubris” might be.

And, yes, Fontainebleau is incredibly difficult to spell.

Fontainebleau is all those things, but there may be a bright side. Fontainebleau may actually have a sense of humor about itself.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

Can a failure on the scale of Fontainebleau Las Vegas be redeemed by a simple act of truth-telling? Probably not, but we needed a caption for this photo.

The future of this sad chapter in Las Vegas history is unclear, but for the moment, Fontainebleau Las Vegas has made us smile, and that will tide us over until they tear this monstrosity down, already.

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“Jubilee!” at Bally’s Las Vegas Responds to Harsh Reviews With New Mobile Billboards

“Jubilee!,” the classic showgirl show at Bally’s Las Vegas, has been getting some blistering reviews lately, with some suggesting it’s the “worst show they’ve ever seen, including in past lives.”

Abysmal ticket sales sparked a recent “re-imagining” of the show by alleged choreographer-to-the-stars, Frank Gatson Jr. The results, it seems, were not what the show’s producers had hoped.

It appears the folks at “Jubilee!” are tired of the public flogging by show-goers, so it’s launched a series of new mobile billboards in an attempt to fight back.

Jubilee

“Jubilee” comes from the Hebrew term” yobhel,” meaning “ram.” As in “Feel free to jubilee your lousy reviews up your tuchus.”

The ads are intended to address the public criticism of the show being “akin to a train wreck, except with train wrecks, at least you get some free hazardous waste.”

The impact of this bold ad campaign remains to be seen.

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