Monthly Archives: October 2015

Vegas Embraces Halloween Spirit With Headless Hacienda Horseman

Las Vegas has a special place in its heart for Halloween, and downtown’s Hacienda horse and rider sign has gotten into the spirit of the season.

An uncanny neon fail has turned into a Halloween win, as the rider is currently “headless,” an inadvertent but timely homage to “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.

Las Vegas headless horseman

The Hacienda once had its own airline to fly in gamblers, Hacienda Airlines.

The Hacienda Hotel’s 40-foot-tall horse and rider was the very first restoration project of the Neon Museum.

The Hacienda Hotel was located at the south end of The Strip, where Mandalay Bay now stands. The Hacienda was demolished in 1996.

Little-known fact about the Hacienda: It was originally called Lady Luck, a name later used for a hotel-casino downtown, now known as Downtown Grand.

Seth Rogen Slams Donald Trump on Twitter for Exaggerating the Size of His Erection in Las Vegas

Republican Presidential candidate and acknowledged asshat Donald Trump got into a Twitter spat with actor Seth Rogan during the candidate’s recent visit to Las Vegas.

The Donald Tweeted from his Trump International Hotel, calling it the “tallest, most beautiful building in town.”

Seth Rogen Tweeted in response, “It’s the fourth tallest building you lying shit pile.”

Trump Rogen Tweets

We tend to prefer civil discourse over name-calling, but if the shoe fits.

Oh, Twitter, you never fail to entertain!

According to the Internet, which as everyone knows is never wrong about anything, the Stratosphere is the tallest building in Las Vegas at 1,149 feet.

The Strat is also the tallest observation tower in the United States. Because the Stratosphere is “not fully habitable,” though, it’s not considered a building, per se. We have no idea why, but we are a Las Vegas blog, not an architectural engineer.

The next tallest building is the Fountainebleu hotel (at 735 feet). That project crapped out in 2009, but for Rogen’s assertion to be true, it has to count.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

The Fontainebleau is an enduring monument to WTF.

Next up are The Palazzo (642 feet) and Encore (631 feet), followed by the fourth tallest building in Sin City, Trump International Hotel & Tower at 620 feet tall.

The Internet describes Trump International as the “tallest residential building” in Las Vegas, so perhaps that’s what Donald Trump meant.

While it may not be the tallest building in Las Vegas, few would dispute Trump’s hotel is beautiful. It’s dramatic and more than little phallic, with a gleaming, gold exterior.

Trump International Las Vegas

We’ve never been inside, because, well, no casino.

When (and if) the Resorts World resort is completed, it will trump all the other non-Stratosphere contenders for the title of tallest building in Las Vegas at 679 feet.

10 New Things You Might Want to Know About Linq Hotel and Promenade

There’s been a lot going on at the Linq Hotel (formerly the Quad) and its adjoining pedestrian promenade (formerly an alley). Let’s do a little catching up.

1. New Bar Coming to Blvd. Cocktail Space

The shuttered Blvd. Cocktail piano bar will soon be given new life. Fine Entertainment is expected to open up a bar featuring beer from around the world, all served in cans. Fine Entertainment is the same group behind PBR Rockbar at Planet Hollywood, Rockhouse at Venetian and Chayo Mexican Kitchen at the Linq. No word on when the new offering will open, as it hasn’t even been announced yet. (Update 12/11/15: It’s AmeriCAN.”)

Blvd. Cocktail Co.

It’s hard to go wrong with more beer and less piano.

2. New Executive Team for Promenade and High Roller

The Linq promenade continues to struggle, but there’s a glimmer of hope in the form of a new management team. Caesars has brought on Shaun Swanger as V.P. and General Manager of the promenade and High Roller Ferris wheel. Swanger has an extensive background in shopping center development and operations. Other new hires are a Managing Director of Sales for the High Roller, Ron Drake; G.M. of the Linq promenade, Tonia Chafetz (formerly of Tivoli Village, another struggling shopping center here in Vegas, but don’t hold it against her); G.M. of the High Roller Eric Eberhart; and Director of Marketing for the promenade and High Roller, Lindsay Sanna (we worked with her at Caesars, she was nice and was the one who first floated the name The Quad, but don’t hold it against her). It’s been frustrating to watch such a squandered opportunity at the Linq promenade, so here’s hoping some new blood shakes things up for the better.

Linq promenade

Please try and reach your full potential, Linq promenade.

3. Nook Cafe Opens

It opened under the radar (possibly for fear of it competing with restaurants on the promenade), but the Nook Cafe has opened inside the Linq Hotel in the former Betty’s Diner. There’s a quickie version, Nook Express, nearby. The Nook Cafe serves up salad, pizza, sandwiches and other standard cafe fare.

Linq hotel Nook Cafe

Slogan: “You’re tanked, what do you care if we’ve gotten a James Beard award or not?”

Here’s a look at the Nook Cafe menu, in all its “20% more than you’d like to pay” glory.

4. Vortex Level is Hosting Events

It’s a glorious, underutilized space, but the Linq’s vortex level has been seeing some action recently. Caesars has been looking for a partner to create a permanent venue, but no luck so far. Aside from the sweet light funnel experience (photo below), the area provides one of the best views on The Strip. There have been rumors a Playboy Club is coming to The Linq, and we’re hoping this will be the spot.

Linq Vortex elevators

You might say the Vortex is sort of a very public secret at the moment.

For today’s security breach, here’s the impressive light fixture atop the Linq hotel. It’s even cooler at night.

Linq Vortex

Concerts, events, weddings, square dances. Let’s make this a thing.

5. The Poker Room Lives

The poker room at at the Linq has been nomadic for some time now, closing and re-opening in different locations around the hotel. After being closed for six months, the poker room has yet another new home, near the southwest entrance, just across from the Flamingo.

Linq poker room

The poker room feels temporary (again), so don’t get emotionally attached.

6. Mat Franco Moves In

Magician Mat Franco recently opened his new show at the Linq hotel, “Mat Franco – Magic Reinvented Nightly.” We’ve heard exactly zero about it, despite a major showroom renovation to accommodate the “America’s Got Talent” winner. Come to find out, it wasn’t a huge gamble on the part of the Linq or Caesars Entertainment, as NBC paid for the lion’s share of the renovation, presumably so it could say one of its winners snagged a bigtime show on the Las Vegas Strip. The best review of the show we’ve heard so far was from another Strip magician, who said, “It wasn’t bad, but he’s not reinventing anything.” The Linq’s “Divas Las Vegas” show remains at the hotel, but comedy-juggler Jeff Civillico has moved to Flamingo Las Vegas.

Mat Franco Las Vegas

With all the reinventing going on, the U.S. Patent office must love Mat Franco.

7. Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips Is Out

We were so excited when it was announced celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay would be opening Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips at the Linq promenade. For months now, however, we’ve heard nothing about the restaurant and it appears the restaurant isn’t happening. It’s always possible the project could come back to life if the promenade turns around, but until then, we’ll have to made due with Ramsay’s three other Las Vegas eateries, two of which are excellent (Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris and BurGR at Planet Hollywood). Ah, what might have been.

Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips Las Vegas

Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips opening now would take an act of cod.

8. Flour & Barley Has Incredible Meatballs

So, it’s not exactly new, but it was new to us. While the pizza at this Italian restaurant wasn’t memorable, the meatballs sure were. They’re our favorites on The Strip, and there are a lot of great meatballs on The Strip (Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars comes in a close second). Our favorite meatballs in town are still the ones at Pizza Rock, but Flour & Barley’s are worth a try.

Flour & Barley meatballs

Loved them, even though there’s green stuff on them.

Flour & Barley has an open kitchen and the bar carries Captain and diet. And all was right with the world.

Flour & Barley Las Vegas

The folks that run Flour & Barley, Block 16 Hospitality, have strong pedigree. They also run Holstein’s at Cosmo and Public House, wherever that is, we were probably drunk there, too.

It’s worth noting the Linq promenade is making a big push to lure Las Vegas locals, so just about every restaurant and bar, including Flour & Barley, offers locals discounts (typically 15-20%) when you show a Nevada I.D.

9. Off the Strip Restaurant Unveils New Menu

To start, Off the Strip isn’t. It’s on The Strip, and it’s one of the best restaurants at the Linq promenade. The restaurant recently launched a new menu that features brunch dishes served from 5:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There are things like jumbo shrimp cocktails, pancakes, yogurt parfaits and chicken and waffles. The dinner menu has been updated, too, including a build-your-own burger option. We love the place, and we’d love to know what you think.

Off the Strip restaurant

The patio is lovely when it’s not 140 degrees out. So, basically, one week in November.

10. High Roller Finally Embraces Sex on the Wheel

Some time ago, we wrote a story providing tips for having sex on the High Roller observation wheel. It was far more popular than we ever anticipated. We intended it to be tongue-in-cheek, but now it’s clear even the folks at the High Roller are seeing the marketing opportunity of a “550-Foot High Club.” Check out this wrap touting the High Roller as a place to get some horizontal refreshment on the vertical. No, it’s not Photoshopped!

High Roller fun comes full circle

Saucy! The High Roller has finally figured out how to make back some of its erection costs on the back end.

That’s about it from the Linq Hotel and promenade. Yes, there have been more changes to the Linq than Terry Fator’s Facebook relationship status, but we love all the new, all the next and we definitely love all the WTF. So, keep it coming! If you get our drift.

Bellagio Conservatory Whips Out Its Impressive Autumnal Regalia

It’s fall, and the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens are once again resplendent with all things seasonally-appropriate and whimsical, including pumpkins, mythical and woodland creatures, ample foliage and a big-ass watermill.

Bellagio Conservatory fall 2015

Before we get too far, we should say Autumnal Regalia would not be a bad band name.

The Bellagio Conservatory will sport its fall display through Nov. 27, 2015. The annual holiday display opens Dec. 3 and runs through Jan. 2, 2016.

Bellagio Conservatory fall 2015

The bridge is much like a covered bridge you’d find in Vermont, but with fewer people in Birkenstocks.

Some of the elements of this year’s fall display will be familiar to frequent visitors to the Conservatory, but it’s a must-see nonetheless. And not just because it’s free. But in case there were any question, it’s free.

Bellagio autumn 2015

It’s getting whimsical up in here.

At the center of Bellagio’s fall display is the aforementioned 33-foot-long bridge. We love aforementioning. Somebody has to do it.

Bellagio Conservatory bridge

It’s intesting to note the bridge is 33 feet long because that number is considered mystical in Chaldean and Pythagorean numerology, whatever those might actually be.

There’s also a talking tree, which is only creepy for a minute and the kids seem to love it.

Bellagio talking tree

Feeling guilty about your cutting board right about now, aren’t you?

New additions to the autumnal display are three larger-than-life dandelions. At least we think they’re new. We were fairly tanked during our last autumnal visit.

Bellagio Gardens fall 2015

The dandelions range in height between 14 and 18 feet. The scientific name for dandelions is “Taraxacum,” which sounds dirtier than it really is.

As with all the displays at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, there’s an incredible attention to detail and an enviable amount of creativity.

There’s a wagon overflowing with pumpkins, scarecrows, bales of hay and various water features. One of the pumpkins weighs 1,000 pounds, evidence even pumpkins can’t resist a delicious Las Vegas buffet.

Bellagio Conservatory 2015

Autumn is often marked by melancholic reflection. Which confirms this blog is a band name-generating machine.

And, of course, there are lots of flowers.

Over the course of the fall exhibit, about 45,000 flowers will be used (about 7,500 a week), and let’s not forget the shrubs. The shrubs never get any of the glory, but there are 1,950 of them. Shrubs should seriously think about unionizing. As the watermill would say, “What goes around comes around.”

Bellagio Conservatory

This watermill just got aforementioned, hard.

The mythical tree creatures, called Ents, are especially indignant about the shrubs being taken for granted. You tell them, Treebeard-looking dude.

Bellagio Gardens Ent creature

Ent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “giant.” It’s annoying being forced to learn things, isn’t it?

Las Vegas visitors always look forward to seeing the latest display at the Bellagio Conservatory, and we rarely fail to miss one. While the there are signs Bellagio is starting to cut corners a bit (the polite term is “recycling”), the seasonal displays remain one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas.

Bellagio Conservatory  & Gardens

If it weren’t for the Bellagio Conservatory, residents of Las Vegas would honestly not know what season it is.

While we stopped by during the evening, it’s important to remember visits during the day and at night provide two very different experiences. So, do both. And gamble while you’re there. Autumnal regalia doesn’t come cheap, you know.

The Five Most Disappointing Things in Las Vegas Right Now

Las Vegas is epic in so many ways, but it’s not infallible. Here, then, are the five most
disappointing things in Las Vegas right now.

1. “Hoto” in the Shops at Crystals

MGM Resorts has a serious crush on Japan (and Japanese high rollers) at the moment, and that’s manifesting itself in interesting ways. Recently, the company hosted a kabuki show on the lake at Bellagio. Now, a work of art by a Japanese artist has found a home at the Shops at Crystals, part of CityCenter. Behold, “Hoto.”

Hoto art at Crystals

When we first saw Hoto (which translates as “treasure pagoda”) in person, we were overcome with emotion. That emotion was WTF.

Seriously, if you can look at this alleged work of art and think of anything other than it resembling a dildo for a giant robot, you’re infinitely more evolved than we are.

Hoto art Las Vegas

Hoto is inlaid with 3,827 LED numerical displays. Which, in a wild coincidence, is the exact number of ways we think this is stupid.

The giant robot dildo is the work of Tatsuo Miyajima and is said to represent “his belief every life is important as well as his hope for inter-connectedness across the globe creating peace and community.” All due respect, Tatsuo, but time for a new prescription.

Bonus WTF: Alert reader Chris R. notes Spanish-speaking visitors to Crystals may take offense at “Hoto.” “Joto,” pronounced similarly in Spanish, is a well-known slur for homosexuals.

2. “Starburst Light Spectacular” at Grand Bazaar Shops

Ever since the Grand Bazaar Shops opened at Bally’s, we’ve described it as looking like a rainbow fell into an industrial blender. And while the whole fiasco is disappointing, the grandest of disappointments at Grand Bazaar Shops is what’s been trumpeted as the Swarovski “starburst light spectacular.”

Those are the words of the Grand Bazaar Shops, not ours. Here’s the starburst in question.

Swarovski starburst

They’re doing “spectacle” wrong.

Initially, the starburst spectacular was called the “Swarovski Midnight Celebration.” In fact, though, the spectacular takes place at 9:00 p.m. But this is not the time to get bogged down by specifics!

Here, then, is the “Swarovski Starburst Light Spectacular” at Grand Bazaar Shops.

We would rather endure a rectal exam from Wolverine than watch this nonsense again. Just skip it and your Las Vegas visit will automatically be 80% less “meh.”

3. “Fall of Atlantis” in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

We had high hopes when the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace announced its “Fall of Atlantis” attraction was being renovated.

The renovation, unveiled in Dec. 2013, did little more than unnecessarily prolong the life of a cheesy marketing gimmick that should’ve been euthanized back in the ’90s.

Fall of Atlantis

Ever stub your toe in the middle of the night? This is less entertaining.

If you’re looking to cure your insomnia, watch “Fall of Atlantis,” below. Fair warning, though, it’s seven minutes of your life you’ll never get back.

That sound you hear is Walt Disney spinning in his grave.

4. “A Gift From the Earth” at Bellagio

The wooing of Japanese whales isn’t restricted to the aforementioned giant robot dildo. Oh, no, there’s also an awesome work of art outside Bellagio pandering to (sorry, catering to) the Japanese market. It’s called “A Gift From the Earth,” from Japanese sculptor Masatoshi Izumi.

The art installation is made up of large rocks representing wind, fire, water and land. But mostly land, because honestly, they’re four large rocks.

Bellagio Gift From the Earth

Somebody at Bellagio got punked.

The Bellagio says the stones were “meticulously hand-carved from basalt over the course of 18 months.”

We can tell you right now, the only one not disappointed by this display is artist Masatoshi Izumi, because he cashed what we can only assume was a sizable check for digging up four rocks and convincing people they’re art.

5. Sex With This Las Vegas Blog

Easily the biggest disappointment in Las Vegas at the moment.

Stopwatch three seconds

Somebody had to say it.

So, have you been disappointed in Las Vegas recently? We’d love to hear how. Drop us a line, Tweet at us or post a comment.