Bellagio’s Harvest Display is a Feast for the Eyes

Bellagio’s Conservatory continues to be one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas, and the resort’s talented horticulturalists and designers have outdone themselves once again with their fall 2019 display.

Let’s dive into the gloriousness.

Bellagio Conservatory

The display has about 45,00 flowers. Yes, we counted to be sure because we take photo captions seriously.

Bellagio’s harvest display covers a lot of ground and has a distinctly Indian flair. That’s because the fall display was inspired by designer Ed Libby’s travels to India. We’re betting Ed took a metric hell-ton of photos, as did we.

Bellagio Conservatory

“Ha, ha,” the horticulturalists say to job applicants with a green thumb. “You’re going to need more thumbs.”

The display boasts a slew of animals including tigers, foxes, peacocks and elephants.

Bellagio Conservatory

In Hinduism, elephants are the living incarnation of Gahesha, an elephant-headed deity riding a mouse. Oh, like your religion isn’t a little wacky, too.

The tigers are 25 feet long, and are made from yellow lentils, red and black cargo rice and caraway seeds. Yes, we are an amateur horticulturalist. Which basically means we have some artificial flowers on our kitchen table. Just play along.

Bellagio Conservatory

Hoping Roy Horn doesn’t read blogs.

The tigers will be familiar to fans of the Bellagio Conservatory, but many of the elements are brand new.

We can’t forget the two Hanuman deities, or as we refer to them, “creepy monkeys with poor personal grooming.”

Bellagio Conservatory

Please send any hate mail to the Bellagio Conservatory. We didn’t make creepy monkeys, they did.

The display, named “Indian Summer,” is culturally diverse, including a floating princess with what appears to be a bladder control problem.

Bellagio Conservatory

Lost track. How many international incidents have we caused in this article so far?

There are surprises at every turn, and the entryway is especially gorgeous in this display. The entrance features floral arches 24 feet tall. They arches are rimmed by flames, representing the Indian custom of widows throwing themselves onto funeral pyres as a sign of devotion. Way to bring everyone down, Bellagio Conservatory.

Bellagio Conservatory fall 2019

Yes,  we’re drunk. Get your own blog if you don’t like it.

When you visit the Conservatory, make sure to look up.

There you’ll see chandeliers resembling “kalire,” ornaments worn by brides during Indian wedding ceremonies assuming the guy hasn’t screwed things up during his bachelor party. Um, hello, this is still Las Vegas.

Bellagio Conservatory

This kalire would make a badass jelly fish for the summer display in 2020.

The harvest display runs through Nov. 30, 2019, with the wildly popular holiday display running Dec. 7, 2019 to Jan. 4, 2020.

Learn more at the official Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden Web site located on the Internet. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

Bellagio Conservatory

Culturally insensitive jokes aside, just straight-up awesome, Bellagio flower wranglers.

We love the Bellagio Conservatory so much, an entire section of our site is devoted to it.

Enjoy more poorly focused images from our recent visit to the Bellagio Conservatory.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2019

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Plugs Pulled on Two Las Vegas Light Shows

Some highly-visible eye candy on the Las Vegas Strip is no more.

Without fanfare, the Vortex at Linq and Swarovski Starburst at Grand Bazaar Shops have been demolished.

Here’s a look at the Vortex back when it still had its groove.

Linq Vortex

Sadly, the Vortex never met its full potential.

The Vortex deck at Linq has been a spectacularly underutilized space given its prime location and stunning view of the Las Vegas Strip.

In recent weeks, work has been done on the Vortex level of Linq, and the digital light display has been dismantled.

Linq Vortex

We demand more shiny to take the place of the previous shiny.

The Vortex deck will be the new home of an ESPN production studio. The new studio is set to open in 2020.

Over at Bally’s, the Swarovski store at Grand Bazaar Shops is currently being demolished and the much-touted Swarovski Starburst light show is already gone.

Here’s what it looked like before it was taken down.

Swarovski starburst

Sorry if you missed it. Vegas moves fast.

The Swarovski Starburst was 14 feet in diameter and made up of 911 custom-cut Swarovski crystal spheres.

Here’s the Starburst light show prior to the demolition.

The Swarovski store at Grand Bazaar Shops closed more than a year ago, but only recently has been demolished.

Swarovski demolition

Oh, look, the mirror image of your garage. Maybe a little more time organizing and a little less time reading blogs.

The Swarovski shop had a tiny footprint (400 square feet), but the demolition crew has still managed to jam several pieces of equipment into the space.

Swarovski demolition

We love these pocket-sized excavators and would like one for our birthday, thanks.

At the site, we spotted tons of severed wires we can only assume controlled the lights in the Starburst.

Starburst wires

All dressed up and no star to burst.

While there’s been no announcement about what’s up next for this space, rest assured the Swarovski store wasn’t demolished in the hope the space would be monetized. It’s at Grand Bazaar Shops.

While the Vortex at Linq will be missed, we’re pretty sure nobody’s missing the Swarovski Starburst as it never lived up to the hype promised when it opened in 2015.

While these two attractions have gone dark, Las Vegas still has plenty of sparkle, and there’s always more in the works.

Binion’s Nails It With New Whiskey Licker Up

It’s been a busy few months at Binion’s Gambling Hall.

In July 2019, the downtown casino opened (technically re-opened) the historic Hotel Apache, with a modest 81 old-timey rooms. The original Hotel Apache opened in 1932.

Now, Binion’s has opened a new restaurant, bar and nightlife venue, Whiskey Licker Up. And, no, we honestly never thought we’d use the words “Binion’s” and “nightlife” in the same sentence.

Whiskey Licker Up

Yes, it’s open during the day, too, but “nightlife” just sounds sexier.

Whiskey Licker Up officially opened on Sep. 30, 2019, with some perfunctory hoopla, which is the best kind of hoopla in our humble opinion.

Where to begin? With the bar, naturally! Do you know this blog at all?

The centerpiece of Whiskey Licker Up is a sweet revolving bar. It was inspired by Carousel Bar, a hot spot in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

You’re familiar with New Orleans. It’s like Las Vegas, but stickier.

Whiskey Licker Up

Our newest happy place.

The revolving bar has variable speeds and rotates counter-clockwise. We talked to an engineer who said bars that rotate clockwise can cause people to feel woozy. We honestly have no idea what difference that would make, but we are a blog, not an engineer.

Here’s a look at the revolving bar during construction.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Heavy drinking precludes us from sharing any fun facts about the revolving bar, sorry.

The bar takes 15 minutes for a complete revolution.

Here’s a badass time lapse video of the revolving bar at Whiskey Licker Up.

It’s downtown, so the venue has a back-up bar, of course. This one doesn’t rotate, but the long pours are still in effect.

Whiskey Licker Up

Proof a person can have more than one happy place.

Video poker players will note that Whiskey Licker Up has none. Video poker, that is. You’ll survive. We were surprised about that, too, but the bars were built so they can accommodate video poker machines should they be installed in the future.

For now, it’s just food, hooch and a section of the restaurant that can be used as a dance floor.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Everyone asks where one can go to dance downtown. This will apparently be that.

The food we’ve tried has been delicious, including the wings, beef sliders and meatballs. The pork sliders were a disappointment, but the chicken tenders more than made up for them as they are some of the best we’ve had in Vegas.

Here’s a look at the meatballs.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

These meatballs are far better than they have to be.

The fact Binion’s gets meat right shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve have the hamburger in the Binion’s Cafe. It’s also one of the best in Las Vegas, possibly because they use meat trimmings from their steakhouse, and that often means your burger is made from filet mignon.

Here’s a look at the Whiskey Licker Up appetizer menu. Please don’t strain your eyes, click here or possibly here for a larger image of the full food menu.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Please don’t call them “tapas.” Downtown hates that pretentious crap.

The liquor is ample at Whiskey Licker Up, which probably wasn’t difficult to predict given “whiskey” is right in the name of the place.

The signature cocktails are $12 ($18 for a double), and there’s an extensive beer selection. Again, click here (for the cocktail and wine menu) and definitely here (for the beer menu).

Yes, they have Captain Morgan from the bottle. Don’t you ever think about anything else?

The original plan for Whiskey Licker Up was to have a mechanical bull, but apparently it was nixed. Instead, the venue features one of those new-fangled virtual reality machines. Isn’t it funny you never hear about things being old-fangled?

The VR machine is a four-seater. Here’s a look.

Whiskey Licker Up

If you start to freak out, just close your eyes. This isn’t rocket science.

The VR machine, the X World 360, has the option of 89 different rides. We, naturally, chose a mellow one. It was awesome, and we are not even a ride person, virtual or otherwise. Here’s more about the X World 360 if you’re into that kind of thing.

Rides are $15 a pop. The mellow rides last 7-9 minutes, the more intense ones last 3-4 minutes.

On the service front, Binion’s has wisely hired a bevy of model servers. They’re like your typical servers, but are younger, more attractive and less roboty.

The theme of Whiskey Licker Up is a little bit country, but without the bull, they have the flexibility to feature a variety of music styles. We suspect, though, country will be prominent when the rodeo is in town. There’s even a rodeo gate (slash advertisement) for photo ops.

Whiskey Licker Up

It’s hard to beat this bucking chute. Which sounds far more inappropriate than it really is.

Whiskey Licker Up is bigger than you’d think, and there’s tons of seating at tables, at the bars, on the outdoor balcony (enclosed by windows that can be rolled open) and in VIP booths.

Again, never expected to say “VIP booths” in a story about Binion’s, but we’re always open to surprises.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

No paper straws for the win.

One of the absolutely best things about Whiskey Licker Up, of course, is it’s at Binion’s, and Binion’s is an iconic part of Vegas history.

Part of that history has been exposed at the street entrance to Whiskey Licker Up. Guests go up a flight of stairs, and can see a wall of petrified wood that dates back to the Mint. It’s downright old-fangled.

The Mint was absorbed into Binion’s in 1988.

Vegas fanatics will enjoy the fact a portion of the Mint’s famous facade has been left exposed. Prepare yourself for engorgement, if you get our drift.

Whiskey Licker Up Mint

Swoon fodder. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad band name.

Preliminary hours are 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., except for Friday and Saturday, when the place will stay open until 4:00 a.m.

It’s gratifying to see Binion’s doing this new venue right. We’d love to see some video poker, but the prices are reasonable and the service is perky, so we expect to be back soon and often.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience and Binion’s is one of its member casinos. Opinions are our own.

Of course, we’ve got more photos of Whiskey Licker Up, so mosey on through them or whatever the kids are doing.

Whiskey Licker Up

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Golden Nugget Las Vegas Confirms Chick-fil-A is On the Way

Golden Nugget has confirmed it will soon boast a Chick-fil-A restaurant, the first in downtown Las Vegas.

The new Chick-fil-A was announced by Golden Nugget via social media.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

We love when a juicy rumor pans out! Emphasis on “juicy.”

While this item was news to the world, it wasn’t new to us, because we know things.

We also have access to the Internet.

We originally got wind of the new Chick-fil-A because of a job posting on LinkedIn a few months back.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

Great gig (average salary is $53,000), except for the “always having to be nice to everyone” thing.

Scant details have been announced about the Chick-fil-A at Golden Nugget, but we’ve got a few additional unconfirmed, ahem, nuggets to share.

Golden Nugget has said the new restaurant will open “this winter,” but we’ve heard Dec. 2, 2019 as the slated opening date.

The location, from what we understand, is the hotel’s Carson tower. We scouted the area in question, and employees said Chick-fil-A will move into the location currently occupied by a gift shop next to one of Golden Nugget’s two Starbucks. See more.

Golden Nugget

Out with the keychains, in with the waffle potato fries.

Employees claim the Essentials gift shop will move right next door.

If this location skinny pans out, it’ll be a surprisingly low profile spot for such a high profile restaurant. Carson tower is deep inside Golden Nugget, past its restaurant row, and about as far as you can get from all the foot traffic on Fremont Street.

Still, we predict this Chick-fil-A is going to print money, and having large numbers of chicken sandwich fans making their way through hundreds of slot machines is bound to be a boon for
Golden Nugget.

Golden Nugget has already gotten a start on creating visibility for its new offering. Specifically, this big-ass sign on Fremont.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

We are currently pre-salivating.

As with all Chick-fil-A announcements, there’s been some “hate chicken” chatter, but relatively little compared to when Chick-fil-A first came to Las Vegas in 2017.

Yes, we droned Chick-fil-A. We were excited, don’t judge.

Here’s some background on the Chick-fil-A controversy. Bottom line: We believe in the separation of church and chicken.

We honestly can’t wait to add Golden Nugget’s Chick-fil-A to our lunch rotation.

You can bet we’ll be watching this one closely! We would be remiss if we didn’t use this opportunity to remind you we were the first to share Chick-fil-A was coming to Planet Hollywood on The Strip.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and Golden Nugget is one of its member casinos. Opinions and snark are our own.

Confirmed at Last, Rio Las Vegas Sold to Imperial Companies

Caesars Entertainment has officially announced the sale of Rio, finally.

Rio was purchased by a New York real estate group for $516.3 million. The deal is expected to be finalized in early 2020.

Rio

It’s about damn time.

The buyer is Imperial Companies, run by founding partners Eric Birnbaum and Michael Fascitelli.

Gosh, if only someone had known who the buyer was way back in April 2019.

Rio sale

Haters, please form a line to the right for the traditional eating of the crow.

While the Rio has finally sold, Caesars Entertainment will continue to operate the resort for at least two years. Imperial has the option to pay Caesars $7 million to extend the lease an additional year.

While Caesars operates Rio, it will pay $45 million a year in rent.

The announcement of the sale of Rio puts to rest some lingering questions such as the fate of the World Series of Poker. The popular event will be held at Rio in 2020, and 2021 is likely as well according to Seth Palansky, V.P. of Corporate Communications for the WSOP.

Caesars Entertainment will continue to own the rights to WSOP.

Rio Las Vegas sign

Please fix the neon, already.

At this juncture, it’s unclear what Imperial’s intentions are for Rio.

We do know the asking price for Rio at one time was more than a billion dollars, so Imperial got this fading casino at a relative bargain. That is, until you consider what it’s going to cost (possibly a billion-plus) to bring the Rio back up to snuff.

Rumors and speculation continue to swirl, and we’d share them, but at the moment we’re busy reveling in how badass we are for calling the Rio sale months before anyone else.

One more self-indulgent Tweet, please! (We took at lot of crap for this scoop, so let us have our moment.)

Rio sale

The Rio sale was announced on the last day of summer, Sep. 23, 2019. Boom.

More to come, and thanks to our amazing sources. You know who you are.

Four Las Vegas Casinos Get New Names

Change is the only constant in Las Vegas (other than world-class lap dances, allegedly), but lately the amount of change is startling.

Four casinos are getting new names: SLS Las Vegas, Hooters, Stratosphere and Hard Rock.

Here’s the quick overview of the name changes so you can impress your friends, should you ever get some.

SLS Las Vegas is Sahara

The classic Sahara is the Sahara all over again! The money pit that was SLS was purchased by bajillionaire Alex Meruelo back in April 2018.

Sahara Las Vegas

Everything old is new again.

Yes, we broke the news SLS was purchased and the fact it would be rebranded Sahara. You don’t have to make it about us all the time, you know.

Significant renovations have been happening at Sahara for months, and the name change officially happened June 27, 2019.

Sahara Las Vegas

The funky statue outside Sahara has been replaced temporarily by shrubbery.

Hooters is Oyo

The off-Strip Hooters hotel has had a slew of names. It was recently purchased, and will become Oyo Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.

Oyo Hotel & Casino

Hooters out, Oyo in.

Yes, we broke the Oyo story, too. Please stop obsessing over how great we are. It’s awkward.

Oyo Las Vegas chips

Calling all chip collectors. Just a figure of speech. Nobody has time to actually do that.

Oyo is known for its massive collection of budget hotels, so we don’t expect many changes to Hooters following the rebrand.

The Hooters restaurant won’t be sticking around, despite official statements. The restaurant will be moving to a Strip casino. The current frontrunner is one that rhymes with Schmopicana.

Oyo

“Oyo” presumably stands for “on your own.” Just play along, they’re new in town.

Stratosphere is The Strat

Yes, this qualifies as a name change, despite the fact many people called this iconic casino “The Strat” long before it became official.

Strat

Many have used “Strat” as shorthand for Stratosphere for awhile, now it’s official.

Golden Gaming purchased Stratosphere in Oct. 2017, and a number of renovations have happened leading up to the renaming in Feb. 2019.

Not only was the resort’s marquee was recently replaced, the casino rolled out some sweet new chips.

Strat

Strat splurged for Paulson Premium chips, which mainly serves to make it sound like we know what we’re talking about.

The changes at The Strat make it a must-visit, in our humble opinion, and there are more surprises in the works.

Strat

That’s right, selfies encouraged in the casino at Strat. Miracles never cease.

Among the changes at The Strat are decor changes in the casino.

Strat

Sky blue is a good fit at Strat because it’s the structure in Vegas that’s closest to it. The sky. Please keep up.

Hard Rock Becomes Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

In 2020, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas will transform into Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

The resort will close for eight months, starting after Super Bowl weekend 2020.

Hard Rock Casino Las Vegas

In 2020, Vegas gets its very first Virgin.

Yes, we shared that news first (not to mention the resort was being sold). Now, it’s just getting embarrassing.

The Hard Rock renovation will touch virtually every part of the resort, and the renderings so far have been sexy AF. Take a look.

Virgin hotel Las Vegas

New look, new feel, new mojo.

It’s expected Virgin Las Vegas will open between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, 2020.

Bonus Name Changes

If you haven’t visited Las Vegas in awhile, there are more name changes worth noting.

Monte Carlo is Park MGM

Monte Carlo was a visitor favorite for years, but the resort was officially rebranded to Park MGM in May 2018.

Park MGM

Please don’t make fun of the Park MGM logo. Folks on Fiverr have to make a living, too.

Mandarin Oriental is Waldorf Astoria

We probably shouldn’t include this on our list, because it doesn’t have a casino, but a name change is a name change. Mandarin Oriental became Waldorf Astoria in August 2018.

Thank you for not feeling obligated to mention we broke the news Mandarin Oriental would become Waldorf Astoria.

Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas

“Waldorf” comes from Walldorf, a town in Germany. “Astoria” comes from Astoria, Oregon. Don’t look now, but you accidentally learned something on the Internet.

Fontainebleau is The Drew

Honorary mention goes to a resort that never even opened, Fontainebleau. The abandoned project was purchased and renamed The Drew. Virtually nothing is happening with The Drew, so don’t get your hopes up.

Drew Las Vegas

“Nobody could have a lazier logo than Park MGM.” The Drew: “Hold our beer.”

That should bring you up to speed with the casino name game in Las Vegas.

Lots of casinos are rumored to be changing hands soon, so it’ll be fun to see if they’ll stick with the names they’ve got or switch things up. You’ll know when we do, and we claim to know everything.