Monthly Archives: April 2016

Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 13: The Luck Episode

Everybody wants to get lucky in Vegas, and we know how!

This episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast, lucky number 13, is all about luck.

Vital Vegas Podcast

The fear of the number 13 is called “triskaidekaphobia.” The fear of long words is “hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.”

First, we mine the science of luck in the book, “The Lucky Factor,” by Dr. Richard Wiseman.

As Wiseman says in his book, “Luck has the power to transform the improbable into the possible, to make the difference between life and death, reward and ruin, happiness and despair.”

This episode is full of actionable steps to make you a luckier person. No, really. Luck isn’t something that happens to us, we can make it happen.

We also talk about luck and superstition in Las Vegas casinos.

First, we share eight fascinating Chinese superstitions. Eight, by the way, is a lucky number for Chinese gamblers because in Mandarin Chinese “eight” sounds like the word for “prosperity.”

Elevator missing floors

In Chinese culture, the number four is unlucky, which is why hotels often skip floors in the 40s. In America, people often skip things in the 40s because of the baggage.

We also seek out lucky things you can rub for luck at Las Vegas casinos.

We round our luck episode with a meticulously-researched list of craps superstitions we slapped together at the last minute.

So, settle in while we fill your ear canals with some Las Vegas mojo.

Riviera Demolition Update: Because Drone

Yes, we did a recent post about the demolition under way at Riviera. But we have a drone. So, update!

Riviera Las Vegas demolition

Baby-sized bulldozers, sometimes called skidsteers, shove stuff out the windows. It’s quite the demolition party going on in there.

Here’s a peek from a better vantage point. Buildings are being tore up or gutted all across the Riviera site.

Consider this the “before” video.

It’s expected Riviera’s two main towers will be brought down in separate implosions later this year.

Las Vegas blows up things real good, despite the fact it’s been awhile since we had a legit implosion extravaganza. It’ll come back us, promise.

The Riv closed May 4, 2015 to make room for an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. That is, unless mysterious forces (Sheldon Adelson) get their way and divert resources away from the planned expansion to building a new sports stadium so the new convention space won’t compete with existing convention space (Sands Expo & Convention Center) offered by the aforementioned forces (Sheldon Adelson, again—please try and keep up).

Oh, Las Vegas.

Riviera demolition

A convention center being demolished to make room for convention space. Think of it as the Möbius strip of The Strip.

In either scenario, convention spaces and sports stadiums will always be less interesting than even a fading casino.

But it’s still Vegas, so we’ll keep you up-to-date on all the latest conventioning and sporting, assuming those are actual things.

Alon Resort Prospects Falter as Project is Pushed Back Another Six Months

The struggle is real at Alon. Those involved with the ambitious resort have been informed the project has been pushed back yet another six months because financing has failed to materialize.

Once slated to open in 2018, some now question whether Alon (pronounced AY-lon) will happen at all, despite it being backed by Australian billionaire James Packer. Packer’s plan to raise funds for the project by lowering his stake in the company haven’t come to fruition.

The cost of Alon is expected to be between $1.6 billion and $1.9 billion.

Alon Las Vegas

It might have been wiser to write that “2018” on a dry erase board.

Alon’s future is tenuous at best, seemingly contingent upon nebulous “improvements in the Malaysian markets.”

Alon’s inability to find financing first surfaced in December 2015, as investor interest in Alon was described as “diminishing.” Then, in March 2016, the project was put on hold “due to weakened American debt markets,” whatever those might actually be.

Beyond the financing challenges for the 1,100-room Alon, the project is now likely to face another—high-profile and very expensive executives jumping ship.

Alon Las Vegas

The immersive, game-changing Alon lot.

Alon has recruited a powerhouse team of operations and nightlife executives, but rumblings are a couple of key players will quietly depart the project as reality sinks in that Alon is years away, and that’s the optimistic scenario.

Alon’s executives include former Wynn Resorts executive Andrew Pascal, former SLS president Rob Oseland, Danielle Babilino (former Senior Vice President of Hotel Sales at Wynn Las Vegas) and Las Vegas nightlife “czar” Jesse Waits.

So far, the Alon team has been a united front, but movers-and-shakers of this caliber require movement to stay engaged. And shakement. If that’s a thing. Some of the key parties in the Alon project have been involved since mid-2014. That feels like a long time, but probably isn’t in Las Vegas resort years.

How Alon continues to afford the hefty salaries of its dream team remains a mystery.

For his part, James Packer and his Crown Resorts, can’t catch a break in Las Vegas. The company lost $250 million when its roughly 20 percent stake in the failed Fontainebleau “evaporated” in a chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Alon Las Vegas

Let’s get on with having less service, already!

Still, many of those involved with Alon remain undeterred and downright optimistic. Us, too, actually.

Alon resort is supposed to have a 26-story tower and a 17-story VIP tower, more than 27,000 square feet of casino space, a man-made lake, as well as what are likely to be some intriguing bar, restaurant and retail offerings. And possibly a game-changing nightclub.

Alon would also breathe some much-needed life into the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the plug’s been pulled on the partially-completed Lucky Dragon and the future is in doubt for another announced resort, the $4 billion Resorts World.

If built, Alon Las Vegas will sit on the former New Frontier site, across from Wynn Las Vegas.

Let’s go, Malaysian markets! We want us some Alon.

Edge Steakhouse at Westgate Delivers the Quintessential Las Vegas Steakhouse Experience

Las Vegas has some of the best steakhouses in the world, so it must be daunting opening a new one on the Las Vegas Strip.

Edge Steakhouse has managed to fly mostly under the radar since it opened mid-2015, but delivers everything you’d expect from a classic Las Vegas steakhouse.

Edge Steakhouse Westgate

Edge Steakhouse features Tuscan columns, one of the five orders of classical architecture, ensuring this is the most research we’ve ever done for a stupid photo caption.

The interior of Edge Steakhouse will be familiar to those who visited its previous incarnation, Burger Bistro. Burger Bistro closed around the same time as its adjoining restaurant, TJ’s Steakhouse. TJ’s Steakhouse was replaced by an Italian restaurant, Fresco Italiano.

There will be a quiz.

Edge Steakhouse Westgate

Edge has a bar area. The bar has liquor. You’re right, we needed to make up some time after researching that last photo caption.

Edge Steakhouse at Westgate Las Vegas is a the sister restaurant to the original of the same name at Westgate Park City in Utah.

The Vegas outpost does a great job of providing a mix of familiar, traditional offerings along with more surprising fare.

For example, one of our favorite dishes of the evening was the Silk Road Spicy Shrimp ($18) with spicy cream sauce and a sweet chile reduction.

Edge Steakhouse Las Vegas

This blog is neither a spicy food person nor a shrimp person, however we loved this dish. Las Vegas steakhouse magic!

Another killer offering was the chopped salad ($16). It has roughly 20 things in it, all of them fresh and in the perfect proportions, but the killer part was a truffle deviled egg.

If Edge Steakhouse sold plates of a dozen truffle deviled eggs, there would be a line out the door and down the block. Food for thought. Literally.

Edge Steakhouse Las Vegas chopped salad

We would give up our first born child for that truffle deviled egg. Assuming you’ll help us have a first born child, if you get our drift.

Another must-try is the Crab and Avocado Salad ($18). It has apples, Fresno chilis and Green Goddess dressing.

Edge Steakhouse Vegas

It’s also so pretty you may feel guilty eating it. You’ll get over it.

This seems a good juncture to dive headlong into the specialty cocktails! As if there’s ever a bad time to dive headlong into a cocktail. Do you know this blog at all?

You can’t go wrong with Edge’s Last Dame Standing cocktail ($16), with muddled strawberries, Gray Goose vodka and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Edge Steakhouse cocktail

Consider your panties dropped.

If you’re a Vegas steakhouse, you’d better do a solid filet mignon, and Edge doesn’t disappoint.

Edge Steakhouse

“Filet mignon” translates as “dainty fillet.” In Las Vegas, of course, we don’t judge. It can use whichever restroom it feels most comfortable using.

Also on the menu is Wagyu beef and Japanese A5 Wagyu, a distinction lost on us as we are not even remotely a food critic.

Japanese A5 Wagyu will run you $95 for six ounces (or $50 for three ounces), but it’s very popular with foodies, so just splurge and remember you’re in Las Vegas.

Edge Steakhouse Wagyu

Oh, just put it on your corporate credit card, already.

Edge has a bounty of sides, including our favorite, the Truffle Mac & Cheese ($12).

Edge Steakhouse mac and cheese

Shout-out to Gruyère cheese, whatever that might actually be. All due respect, Switzerland.

Edge Steakhouse rises to the occasion with an excellent Scottish Salmon ($30), with roasted fingerling potatoes, broccolini and tangerine gastrique. Bonus: Any of those things would make for an excellent band name.

Edge Steakhouse salmon

Salmon is one of the main exports of Scotland, along with rebellions and brogues.

Just in case your panties still require dropping, we’d highly recommend the Blueberry Thyme Lemonade ($16). It has Tito’s vodka, Limoncello (an Italian lemon liqueur), muddled blueberries and thyme.

Edge Steakhouse cocktail

Muddling is done with a muddler. Believe it or not, there are some things we don’t need to research.

See the full Edge Steakhouse menu at the restaurant’s official site.

For dessert, the crème brûlée is as good as you’d expect from a Las Vegas steakhouse. Edge advertises its desserts at “micro-desserts,” but they weren’t very micro, thankfully.

Edge Steakhouse creme brulee

The marks used above letters in words like “crème brûlée” are diacritical signs. We obviously have research issues.

Edge Steakhouse hits all the right notes, especially if you consider the fact it doesn’t have to be as good as it is. Seriously. Westgate caters to lots of convention-goers, and they’re going to eat at Edge Steakhouse no matter what. Captive audience.

Edge Steakhouse goes the extra mile and can count itself among the steakhouses that have made Las Vegas such a Meat Mecca. A phrase we should probably trademark, but we’d rather not cause an international incident.

Thanks to the folks at Edge Steakhouse for hosting our visit, and if you’ve tried it, we’d love to hear what you think.

Edge Steakhouse at Westgate Las Vegas

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 12: Derek Stevens, Chef Stacey Dougan and a List of the Top Las Vegas Lists

This week’s podcast episode is a highly professional production, brimming with Las Vegas gloriousness, and if you believe that, we’ve got a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge you might be interested in.

In episode 12 of the Vital Vegas Podcast, the last episode of season one (probably) we touch base with downtown casino mogul Derek Stevens, hot on the heels of his purchase of Mermaids, La Bayou (pictured below) and the Glitter Gulch strip club. Read our scoop.

La Bayou Las Vegas

The sale of La Bayou is a reminder the only constant in Las Vegas is, well, you know.

We also pop into the kitchen at Simply Pure, a vegan restaurant inside the Downtown Container Park, to chat with Chef Stacey Dougan about her life-altering vegan lasagna.

Simply Pure lasagna

If society weren’t so judgmental, we would be wedding to this lasagna right about now.

Also on the show, we slap together our top 10 Las Vegas top 10 lists. This blog loves it some meta.

Top 10 Las Vegas Top 10 Lists

1. 10 Best Things to Do in Las Vegas (or 10 Best Free Things to Do in Las Vegas)
2. Top 10 Steakhouses
3. 10 Best Burgers in Las Vegas
4. 10 Best Places to Get Pizza in Las Vegas
5. Top 10 Las Vegas Hotels
6. 10 Best Cocktails in Las Vegas
7. 10 Best Las Vegas Pools
8. 10 Las Vegas Deals
9. Top 10 Hottest Las Vegas Nightclubs
10. Top 10 Best Las Vegas Restaurants

Have other ideas? Comment accordingly.

We also answer listener questions, several of which we didn’t fabricate to make it sound like we know everything.

Oh, and we also drop some fun Las Vegas facts during the show. For example, did you know Excalibur was almost called “Castle Castle”? It’s true! One of the owners of Circus Circus in 1974, William Bennett, wanted to follow the lead of Circus Circus in naming Excalibur. Cooler heads prevailed, thankfully, and the rest is Las Vegas history. And don’t laugh, naming things is hard!

Listen in and join in the fun, especially if you define “fun” very, very loosely.


Demolition of Riviera Las Vegas Begins

Demolition of the Riviera has begun in earnest at the shuttered Las Vegas hotel-casino.

While specific dates for implosions of the Riviera’s two hotel towers have yet to be announced, it’s likely they’ll come down in June and August 2016.

In the meantime, about a dozen other low-rise buildings on the site will be demolished in a less dramatic fashion, with wrecking balls, excavators and bulldozers.

That process has already under way. Here’s a look at the hotel’s former convention center.

Riviera demolition

Work crews take giant bites out of Riviera’s convention center.

The Riviera closed May 4, 2015. The intended purpose of the site is to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Riviera demolition

Demolition crews were working on a weekend, so we figure the schedule must be ambitious.

While we were snapping pics of the destruction, we captured some video, too. We tried adding some upbeat music, but it’s still a little sad.

Demolition of the Riviera is expected to cost $44 million by the time the work is completed.

Although some of the hotel’s signs are being saved, in a few months the Riviera will be an empty lot. The site’s first post-demolition use, in early 2017, is expected to be as an outdoor exhibit space for the Con-Expo/ConAgg construction equipment trade show. We’re atingle with anticipation.

Riviera demolition

Can we just skip to the part where stuff gets blowed up?

The demolition of the Riviera is bittersweet for many Las Vegas fans. While it became run-down in recent years, for many it was one of the last remaining classic Las Vegas casinos, complete with lots of gorgeous neon.

Riviera demolition implosion

Riviera opened April 20, 1955. This photo was taken on April 23, 2016. Worst 61st birthday party, ever.

We’ll keep an eye on the old girl in the weeks to come.