Monthly Archives: March 2016

All Signs Point to Park Hyatt Las Vegas as New Name of Monte Carlo

MGM Resorts has had its hands full with the upcoming launch of The Park and T-Mobile Arena, so there’s been no recent news about Monte Carlo’s new name or rebrand, a rebrand this blog was the first to report more than a year ago.

It’s entirely possible, though, Monte Carlo’s new name has been right under our noses all along: Park Hyatt Las Vegas.

Park Hyatt Las Vegas

If it’s on the Internet, it must be happening.

As you may know, The Park is a new pedestrian promenade between Monte Carlo and New York-New York at the center of the Las Vegas Strip. The Park goes from Las Vegas Boulevard to the new arena, and will feature bars, restaurants, live entertainment and a large, naked woman dancing.

The Park opens April 4, 2016. Anticipate hoopla.

Also in the works is a 5,000-seat theater at Monte Carlo.

MGM Resorts reps have confirmed the official name of the Monte Carlo’s theater will be The Park Theater. It seems unlikely The Park Theater would exist in a hotel that didn’t have “Park” in its name.

Monte Carlo theater

A rendering of The Park Theater before it was The Park Theater.

When we inquired about the new name for Monte Carlo, MGM Resorts reps said there’s no date set for an announcement, but details will be unveiled “when the company is ready.”

Well, let’s see if we can piece together some clues and move that timeline up a bit!

First, “Park” is everywhere in and around The Park and The Park Theater. But “Park Resort” would be a rather generic name, so we have to dig a bit deeper.

See, since 2013, MGM Resorts and Hyatt Hotels have had an existing relationship, with members of Hyatt’s loyalty program getting access to rooms at MGM Resorts hotels in Las Vegas, gaining points for non-gambling purchases at MGM Resorts hotels and other perks.

Monte Carlo is a prized member of the Hyatt Gold Passport program, with the hotel featured on the Hyatt Web site.

Fun fact: Hyatt was originally slated to manage the Cosmopolitan, but the deal fell through.

Here’s an “Aha!” moment when you follow the bread crumbs: One of Hyatt’s high-end brands is Park Hyatt.

Park Hyatt Las Vegas

Got a better guess? We’d love to hear it!

All the sleuthing and guessing and conjecture and it’s been sitting right there: Monte Carlo could be heading for a rebrand as Park Hyatt Las Vegas.

Hyatt has other brands, but none would dovetail as perfectly with The Park. (For example, Grand Hyatt would cause confusion with MGM Grand, just across the street.)

Park Hyatt Las Vegas would fit perfectly with the existing collection of Park Hyatt hotels around the world, and would finally give Hyatt the high-profile presence on the Las Vegas Strip it’s been seeking for some time.

Rebranding Monte Carlo with an existing brand solves myriad challenges for MGM Resorts, and would explain a confounding lack of fresh trademark filingsthe brand already exists.

It remains to be seen when or if our suspicions turn out to be true, but for the moment, the smart money is on Park Hyatt Las Vegas as the new name of Monte Carlo.

Update (4/5/16): A source at MGM Resorts says it won’t be Park Hyatt, so the frontrunners are Park Place Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and The Park Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Although, Caesars Entertainment (MGM Resorts’ biggest competitor in Las Vegas) used to be called Park Place Entertainment. Which leaves us The Park, which is awfully bland. So, we’re back to nobody knowing anything. An announcement of the new name of Monte Carlo is expected June 2016.

Beware the Deceptive CNF Charge at Beer Park, Hexx Kitchen at Paris Las Vegas and Others

The Budweiser Beer Park has opened and Paris Las Vegas, but we’ll never be back.

Why? The new restaurant and bar is the latest Las Vegas venue to ding customers with the deplorable CNF charge, also known as the “Concession and Franchise Fee.”

Beer Park Paris Las Vegas

A perfectly good rooftop bar ruined by WTF.

The CNF charge is also in effect at Beer Park’s downstairs neighbor, Hexx Kitchen & Bar.

The CNF charge gouges customers 4.7% on every check. Most customers don’t even know about the charge until they get their bill.

Essentially, the “Concession and Franchise Fee” is like a resort fee, but unlike with resort fees, you get absolutely nothing for your money. At all. Whatsoever.

Beer Park Paris Las Vegas

Remember the name so you can remember to forget to go there.

This disgusting charge means if Beer Park served a liquid cure for cancer served from vaginas made of gold, delivered by dolphins, we would never, ever go there again. And we are a big fan of dolphins. And vaginas, come to think of it.

We’d love to be able to talk about the Beer Park space, the social games it provides (like pool and cornhole), the selection of beer, the food menu. But the CNF charge sends us into such a rage, we honestly don’t care about any of that. Gratuitous, slimy, devious charges negate any positives, plain and simple.

Beer Park's CNF fee, like it's pool tables, requires lots of balls.

Beer Park’s CNF charge, like it’s pool tables, requires lots of balls.

Why do we call the CNF charge “devious”? Because, as we mentioned, the vast majority of customers are unaware of the charge until it’s too late.

Here’s a look at the Beer Park menu. The giant red arrow isn’t on the actual menu, although that would be a step in the right direction.

Beer Park Las Vegas menu

Beer Park reserves the right to have a blatant disregard for honorable business practices.

Oh, yes, there’s a mention of the 4.7% CNF charge but in microprint, at the end of a blurb about the dangers of eating undercooked food.

Las Vegas CNF charge

It would be funny if it weren’t so infuriating.

This has “deceptive business practice” written all over it.

So, you know what? Screw you, Beer Park, and we’re going to do everything in our power to keep people away from your despicable den of deception. We’re so worked up, we’re breaking out in alliteration.

Same goes for you, Hexx.

Hexx Kitchen CNF charge

No one has ever been able to provide a legitimate reason for this fee, but it’s always entertaining when they try.

It’s worth noting the “Concession fee” also applies to retail items purchased at Hexx. Thanks to @pbechervaise on Twitter for that tidbit.

Beer Park and Hexx aren’t the first Las Vegas establishments to screw guests over with these hidden charges. (Thanks to reader Jon Nichols for alerting us to the CNF charge at Beer Park, by the way.)

Also guilty of this shameless, shameful money grab are Cabo Wabo Cantina at Planet Hollywood and Rhumbar at Mirage. Read more.

Update (2/28/18): We’re pleased to report Señor Frog’s at TI has discontinued its CNF charge. The venue still charges a live entertainment tax during periods where there’s, you know, live entertainment.

The only good news about this fee, if there is any, is unlike with other fees (such as paid parking), we have the power to do something about it.

The solution to the growing problem of CNF charges is easy: Don’t go to these places. Run, don’t walk, to establishments that appreciate you and your patronage.

What can you do if you’re presented with a bill that includes a CNF charge you didn’t know about? Refuse to pay it. Talk to a manager, demand the charge be reversed and raise holy hell. Tell everyone you know to stay away. E-mail. Tweet. Comment on Facebook. Rant. Rail. Fight back.

Let these venues know we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it in the cornhole anymore.

Here’s a list of restaurants and bars that have a CNF (concession fee) in Las Vegas:

  • Cabo Wabo Cantina at Planet Hollywood
  • Hexx at Paris Las Vegas
  • Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas
  • Alexxa’s Bar at Paris Las Vegas
  • Chayo Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar at Linq Promenade
  • Flights at Miracle Mile Shops (“service charge”)
  • Blondie’s at Miracle Mile Shops (“Food/Non-Alc Tax”)
  • Light Nightclub and Daylight Beachclub at Mandalay Bay (“service fee”)
  • Encore Beach Club and XS nightclub at Encore (“service fee”)

Update (5/6/18): It seems guests are having some success disputing this charge. From Candice in our blog comments, “Just ate at Hexx last night and noticed the CNF charge and asked the waitress about it. She gave a strange explanation then said she could remove it if we wanted, uh, yeah, please remove, and she did!” Fight the power

Update (6/28/19): Rhumbar at Mirage was on our CNF charge list for a long time, but we hear management has been taken over by MGM Resorts, and customers no longer get the CNF charge.

Udpate (7/19/19): Hexx and Beer Park have raised their CNF charges from 4.7% to 4.85%. We are not making this up.

CNF charge Las Vegas

Adding injury to WTF, note the menu design. A rubber band covers up the CNF charge. Seriously shady.

Update (10/25/19): MGM Resorts says it discontinued service fees on drinks in Sep. 2019.

Update (11/7/19): The L.A. Times did a great story about CNF charges and fees, and not just because we were featured in the story. Shockingly, a rep for Hexx and Alexxa’s boldly told the publication, “Should a guest be uncomfortable with the surcharge, our policy is to explain it and, if appropriate, remove it.” So, as we’ve said for some time, if you’re “uncomfortable” with these asinine CNF and other fees, have them removed.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 8: Why We Flippin’ Love Las Vegas

Oh, yes, it’s episode eight of the Vital Vegas Podcast. Miracles happen!

This week, we share a recent downtown gambling streak that included a $1,000 Wheel of Fortune jackpot. Keeping the dream alive, baby.

Vital Vegas Podcast

It’s the podcast your mother would warn you about if she actually knew what a podcast was.

This week’s “Listicle of the Week” is “10 Things We Flippin’ Love About Las Vegas.” Not only that, in this week’s episode, we invented the “nested listicle,” which we’d trademark if we weren’t so very, very busy.

10 Things We Flippin’ Love About Las Vegas

1. The 24/7. It’s actually annoying in other cities because things actually close. Sometimes at 8:00 p.m. “Last call”? What’s that?

2. The service and friendliness. Las Vegas is a service-driven town and it shows. Everyone, from bathroom attendants to valets to the hookers, are outgoing, funny and personable. And here’s the shocker, it’s not just to get a tip. They’re often just that way.

3. The gambling and vibe in a casino. Casinos are adrenaline factories. Gambling is one of the greatest forms of entertainment ever conceived and there’s more of that in Las Vegas than the rest of the world combined.

4. The cocktails. Comped or not, mixology is king in Las Vegas. Just about every bar has at least one signature cocktail that’s a new experience, and has the potential to be the best cocktail you’ve ever had.

5. Vegas jobs. There are so many fascinating jobs you can only get in Las Vegas. Here’s that “nested listicle”™ we were talking about!

  1. “I give out free cheeseburgers and hold up letters at a dayclub.”
  2. “I change the bulbs on a giant beam of light that comes out of a pyramid.”
  3. “I’m a surly leprechaun.”
  4. “I swim with sharks to clean their tank.”
  5. “I teach people how to shoot machine guns.”
  6. “I paint Cleopatra’s boobs, a lot.”
  7. “I paint myself blue and play PVC pipes.”
  8. “I row people around in canals and sing to them.”
  9. “I ride down a waterslide in a bikini and land in a giant blender.”
  10. “I wheel Mariah Carey around when her feet hurt.”

6. The hotties. They’re everywhere! Pools, nightclubs, Chippendales. And the best part is many will have sex with you. Even the ones that won’t will make you think they will, and that’s almost as good.

cocktail waitresses

Cocktail waitresses account for approximately 23% of the hotties in Las Vegas.

7. The things you can’t see or do anywhere else, and a lot of those things are free. You’ve seen the lists. Las Vegas is filled with unique experiences and attractions, and even if they exist somewhere else, Las Vegas does them so well, it’s like they’re one-of-a-kind.

8. The food, of course! Las Vegas has all your favorite things, times 100. From buffets to gourmet restaurants from celebrity chefs, the bar is so high, but Las Vegas keeps topping itself. If you’ve been coming to Las Vegas for any amount of time, chances are many of your most memorable dining experiences, of your entire life, have happened in Las Vegas. That’s why your mom doesn’t like that you visit Las Vegas so much. She’s jealous.

9. The hotels and hotel rooms. Think of the best hotel in your town, and Las Vegas has 20 or more of those. They’re clean and modern and often luxurious. From the amenities to the design, they’re just better than everywhere else. All due respect, everywhere else.

High roller suite

Some of our hotel bathrooms are bigger than entire apartments in other cities.

10. The new friends. The players at a craps table, people in the bar, the folks you meet at the pool, everyone is in Las Vegas to have fun. People are unleashing the best version of themselves. They’re dropping the pretense, letting loose. You’re interacting with them when they’re having the best time of their life. Las Vegas sets the stage for meeting new people, making friends (and even hooking up, which is always best with a friend).

We learn more about the scorpion shot at Nacho Daddy, too, straight from one of the restaurant’s bartenders, Courtney.

Scorpion shot

We recommend ordering your scorpion shot with a “YIKES!” chaser.

The Vegas lovefest continues with a breakdown of the sad end to the High Roller sex arrest story, a “Real World: Go Big or Go Home” update, scoop about Jan Rouven, the closure of Ku Noodle at SLS Las Vegas, Wayne Newton’s new show and more.

In our “This Week in Las Vegas History” segment, yes, we have segments, we talk about how world-class whackjob Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn on March 27, 1967.

We also answer a listener question about Fremont casino’s Filament Bar.

Don’t miss this installment of the Vital Vegas Podcast! It’s our most heartfelt and awkward episode yet.

Las Vegas Mystery Solved: How to Get Into the Downtown Cocktail Room

It’s a Las Vegas mystery as old as time. Well, actually, it’s been mystery since early 2007, but just play along.

Downtown Cocktail Room has become a popular hangout for those in the know about downtown, but the entrance to the place can be surprisingly elusive.

Downtown Cocktail Room

Understated would be one word for the Downtown Cocktail Room.

That’s because the bar’s doors don’t have handles or signs or a giant red arrow instructing guests how to enter.

We’ve got this.

Here’s a short video to assist you in finding your way into the Downtown Cocktail Room, made all the more amusing by the fact our first attempt to push the door was sort of a fail.

Downtown Cocktail Room is located just across Las Vegas Boulevard from Hennessey’s Tavern, and sits next to the Inspire theater at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street.

Downtown Cocktail Room just unleashed its spring cocktail menu, so you’ll want to take a gander.

El Cortez and Ellis Island Make It Easy to Turn Spare Change Into Real Money, Fee-Free

The need to turn in one’s spare change for “real money” might not come up too frequently, but when it does, it’s nice to know there are still Las Vegas casinos that make exchanging coins for paper money easy.

Downtown’s El Cortez is one of those Las Vegas casinos. This casino on Fremont East still has coin-operated slots, but the cage won’t accept pennies or dimes for paper currency.

The casino does, however, have a convenient way to turn your coins into spendable cash.

El Cortez coins change sorter

The change sorting machine at El Cortez symbolizes what humankind can achieve if we’re able to take our eyes off the Kardashians for a damn second.

The machine sits pretty close to the main casino cage, just outside the casino’s intimate high limit slots area.

The machine takes a variety of coins, sorting them at high speed. If you’re a nerd for mechanical devices, you’ll find this one mesmerizing.

Here’s a look at the change sorter in action.

Granted, it’s possible we have far too much free time.

Once the coins are sorted and counted, the machine spits out a slip that can be cashed at the casino cage.

The best part? There’s no fee or commission.

This is a great casino amenity at El Cortez, and little touches like this are a great perk to build and maintain customer loyalty. A change sorting machine turns pocket change into cash that a guest can gamble with, so it’s a win-win.

El Cortez

Yes, wet coins are a concern. It’s downtown.

We went in search of casinos that take coins after the disappointment of learning one of our regular haunts, Suncoast, discontinued offering the service. (After all, why would you want to give players another reason to visit?)

We’ve also learned Ellis Island, just off The Strip, exchanges coins without a fee.

Not only that, if you exchange your coins for casino play, they’ll give you 110% of the value of your coins. To take advantage of the 110% deal, you need to be a member of the Ellis Island player loyalty club. Learn more.

Ellis Island coin exchange promotion

Shout-out to our fellow OCD sufferers. Staring at the 110%. Temples throbbing. Hands shaking. Lower lip trembling. Just let it go.

If you know of other casinos that exchange coins without a fee, we’d love to hear about them.

“What’s On” Las Vegas Magazine Folds

Longtime Las Vegas tourist guide “What’s On” magazine has folded.

According to the magazine’s Facebook page, the publication has been a “Sin City resource for 60 years.”

What's On magazine

The realm of Las Vegas tourist publications is a dog-eat-dog world, a cliche nobody actually knows the meaning of, least of all dogs.

The plug has been unceremoniously pulled on the magazine’s Web site, and posts have stopped on the publication’s Facebook page (most recent post was Feb. 3) and Twitter account (most recent post was Mar. 13, 2016).

The company behind “What’s On” hasn’t disappeared entirely, as the firm produces an in-house publication for Westgate Las Vegas.

There are rumors the next iteration of “What’s On” will be an online-only effort, but we’ve yet to hear anything official from representatives of “What’s On.”