Monthly Archives: April 2016

Derek Stevens Buys Glitter Gulch, Mermaids and La Bayou

Downtown casino mogul Derek Stevens, with his brother Greg Stevens, has purchased three iconic downtown haunts: Glitter Gulch, Mermaids and La Bayou. The Stevens brothers currently own The D, Golden Gate and 18 Fremont (the temporary name of the former Las Vegas Club).

The three venues are of strategic importance to the Stevens brothers’ growing empire on Fremont Street and beyond (the pair also own the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center). La Bayou is next to Golden Gate, while Glitter Gulch and Mermaids are adjacent to what was the Las Vegas Club.

It’s expected Glitter Gulch, Mermaids and La Bayou will close in roughly 60 days, on June 27, 2016.

Employees of the three businesses, owned by Steve Burnstine (Granite Gaming Group), have been informed of the change in ownership.

Glitter Gulch

Glitter Gulch was once a term that referred to all of Fremont Street. It’s in good hands.

Acquisition of these three venues could have some interesting implications for the Golden Gate and Las Vegas Club project.

Having the La Bayou space, in addition to an alleyway between it and the Golden Gate (the oldest casino in Las Vegas), could allow an expansion of both the Golden Gate’s casino, but potentially could provide space for a hotel expansion.

Vegas Vickie

Glitter Gulch is home to Vegas Vickie, sometimes erroneously referred to as “Sassy Sally.” And, yes, they’re real. Weirdo.

The purchase of Glitter Gulch and Mermaids changes the potential scope and design of 18 Fremont (the closed Las Vegas Club) dramatically.

No specific details of the expansion plans are available at the moment, but rest assured Derek Stevens has big things in store for this entire section of Fremont Street.

All the venues involved in the purchase have long and colorful histories.

For example, La Bayou opened as the Las Vegas Coffee Club and in 1920 became the Northern Club. The Northern Club received the very first Nevada gaming license.

La Bayou

La Bayou has been one of the biggest suppliers of Mardi Gras beads and brain freezes in Las Vegas for many years.

Glitter Gulch and Mermaids have some of the most distinctive neon signage in Las Vegas, including the aforementioned Vegas Vickie, the companion sign to Vegas Vic. They were married at one point. Long story.

The glorious Golden Goose sign sits above the Glitter Gulch strip club as well.

Glitter Gulch

While the fate of the Golden Goose sign is unknown, Vegas Vickie is likely to be featured prominently in whatever the Las Vegas Club becomes. Specifically, a resort likely to give Golden Nugget a run for its money.

A new name for the former Las Vegas Club has yet to be announced, but the planned resort is likely to cost $100 million or more.

Hear more about 18 Fremont in our interview with Derek Stevens. On our podcast. Which you probably didn’t even know existed. Rude.

Mermaids fried Oreos

Yes, the deep fried Oreos will be missed, but trust us, the purchase of Mermaids is the best possible thing that could happen to your lifespan.

Fans of the daiquiris at La Bayou and the deep fried Oreos at Mermaids may bemoan the change of ownership, but big picture, the purchase of Glitter Gulch, Mermaids and La Bayou is a giant stride forward for Fremont Street and the surrounding businesses. (We know of which we speak, we work at Fremont Street Experience as our day job.)

Mermaids

Some of these Mermaids machines will be updated and placed in the expanded Golden Gate or new 18 Fremont (formerly Las Vegas Club). The new casino will have 1,300 machines, or about the number in Golden Gate and The D combined.

Derek Stevens famously purchased the Las Vegas Club, at least in part, to kill off a potential CVS pharmacy, and he similarly is taking out two somewhat seedy “grind joints” and easily the most communicable strip club in Las Vegas. Stevens also purchased downtown’s Bridger Building.

We look forward to learning more about what’s in store, and you’ll know when we do!

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Golden Nugget Serves Up Eight Bar Cocktail Crawl at an Irresistible Price

If you’ve ever needed an excuse to explore the bars at Golden Nugget, now you have an enticing one.

The downtown casino offers what it calls a “Sip & Stroll,” which includes eight cocktails at
different Golden Nugget bars and restaurants.

Golden Nugget bar crawl

Fear ye not, for while the libations are vast in number, thou art a master libator.

The price of the “Tour de Hooch” is $40, which works out to roughly $5 per cocktail (we are a
Las Vegas blog, not an abacus). Most of the drinks included in the stroll typically cost $10-15 a pop, so the cost savings are significant.

Now, while this blog was up for sacrificing its liver to complete the crawl in a single evening, lightweights will opt to spread out the crawl over two or more days, or do the crawl with a
friend and share the bounty of booze.

First, we hit Bar 46, a fairly new bar that straddles the casino and Fremont Street promenade. The drink was a Maker’s Mark Manhattan.

Maker's Mark Manhattan

This Manhattan is made with bourbon and sweet vermouth. Vermouth is either dry or sweet, presumably because somebody drunk on vermouth thought those were opposites.

Let’s say right up front that doing the “Sip & Stroll” without making friends with your various bartenders means you’re not getting the most out of your forty bucks.

This is Jesus. Yes, our first drink of the evening was made by Jesus.

Golden Nugget bartender

Bourbon is a kind of whiskey. It prefers to be called “bourbon” because in Vegas everyone uses a stage name.

Next up, it was a Peach Bellini at Grotto Italian restaurant.

Given there are several restaurant bars included in the “Sip & Stroll,” there’s some strategy to the order in which you imbibe. Do you want snacks along the way or a full-on meal? That was a rhetorical question, by the way. It’s strange how you answered it in your head. And now it’s even weirder that you’re noticing that voice in your head. It never stops. And if you think about it, a blog actually changes what the voice in your head is saying. See? Now, the voice is saying what we want it to say. Rest assured, however, we will only use this power for good. Probably. Why don’t you slip out of those undies while you gaze upon what turned out to be our favorite panty-dropper of the evening.

Peach Bellini

A Peach Bellini cocktail is made with sparkling wine and peach juice. And, if you schmooze the bartender, love.

The Peach Bellini at Grotto ended up being our favorite of the entire “Sip & Stroll,” but we’ve got a long way to do, so pace yourself.

Next, we hit the bar at Red Sushi for sake. Apparently, it is bad luck to drink sake alone. Thankfully, we refer to ourself in the first person plural, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Sake

“Fermented rice” just sounds so sexy, doesn’t it?

 

If you think about it, Golden Nugget’s “Sip & Stroll” is more than just a bar crawl. It’s a world crawl. The Manhattan was invented in (wait for it) Manhattan. The Bellini comes from Italy. Sake comes from Japan. The little coupons are like your passport, but instead of jet lag, you get a hangover!

Enough ruminating, let’s get back to the intoxicating.

Ice Bar is a stand-alone lobby bar near the hotel’s registration desk. Ice Bar provides a great view of the hotel’s shark tank and scantily clad dealers at the pool’s table games. Please stay focused.

Ice Bar’s cocktail was the easiest to make of all the featured drinks: A Sapphire Martini. The recipe? One part Bombay Sapphire gin, one part more Bombay Sapphire gin and one part glass. And possibly olives.

Sapphire gin martini

Bro. Everyone knows two olives are bad luck. It’s Vegas!

As we are not a gin drinker, the Sapphire Martini was our least favorite of the cocktails. However, having taken our own advice, we got to know the bartender and persuaded him to make up for his olive gaff by improving the drink immeasurably with sweet and sour and a little soda water. All was forgiven!

It was about time to have dinner, but not before another cocktail, a simple glass of Champagne at Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse. The restaurant’s prix fixe menu is highly recommended. It’s not on the menu, but you can find it online if you know where to click. Typically, at the end of that last sentence.

Vic & Anthony's Golden Nugget

See, Efrain? We weren’t kidding when we said you’d be Internet famous.

It was time to peregrinate (a fancy form of staggering) to Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar for a margarita and grub.

Cadillac Mexican margarita

Margaritas are most-often associated with tequila, salted rims and people making asses of themselves.

We took advantage of the stop at Cadillac by ordering some tasty quesadillas. If you prefer not to have your face melted off, order them without the pico de gallo, teeming with what we can only assume were jalapeno peppers or possibly lava. Luckily, the margarita served as an effective cooling agent.

Quesadilla

Future promotion: “Munch & Stroll.” Or when the furry convention is in town: “Leg Hump & Stroll.” This is why we are a marketing genius.

Six drinks down, two more to go. Hey, we’re better at math than we thought.

It was time for Chart House’s contribution to the festivities, a Mango Mojito.

Mojito

Mojitos are Cuban, further advancing our belief the “Sip & Stroll” is a great way for one’s liver to see the world.

While at Chart House, don’t miss the aquarium. Although, that’s pretty much impossible given it’s the size of the actual Cuba.

Chart House aquarium

Chart House’s aquarium holds 75,000 gallons, so at this point in the bar crawl, we had that in common.

And, finally, we headed to Rush Lounge for the grand finale, a chocolate martini.

Chocolate martini

It’s believed the chocolate martini was invented by Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in 1955. It’s on the Internet, so it has to be true.

So much liquor, so little memory of so much of that liquor.

Still, the Golden Nugget’s “Sip & Stroll” is a fun idea and we’d love to see it catch on at other Las Vegas resorts. We’ll take a 50-70% discount on nature’s perfect food (cocktails) anytime!

Find out more about the “Sip & Stroll” bar crawl at Golden Nugget. “Sip & Stroll” tickets can be purchased at the hotel’s box office, front desk or in VIP Services, whatever that might actually be.

Full disclosure: Golden Nugget is a member hotel of the Fremont Street Experience where we currently work in marketing. Our opinions are our own, unless our girlfriend says otherwise.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 11: Inside a Las Vegas Brothel, Sheri’s Ranch

Many Las Vegas visitors are surprised to learn that prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas. That applies to the City of Las Vegas and Clark County, which includes the Las Vegas Strip.

Illegal.

That’s not the case throughout Nevada, however.

Sheri’s Ranch Resort & Spa (no really, it’s a resort, spa and brothel, not to mention bar and restaurant) is about the closest brothel to Las Vegas, so in this episode of the podcast we take a tour with Dena, the madam of Sheri’s Ranch, and Blithe, one of the women that works at the brothel, courtesanwise.

Sheri's Ranch Las Vegas Brothel

If you think Disneyland is “the happiest place on Earth,” you’re about to be schooled.

We go directly to the source to see what Sheri’s has to offer, and get the inside scoop on how the brothel business works, as well as passing along tips about how to get the most out of a brothel visit.

Yes, we even talk Las Vegas brothel prices. Bottom line: Everything’s negotiable!

Las Vegas brothel menu

Sheri’s Ranch provides a menu, just to get the creative juices flowing.

Find out more about Sheri’s Ranch brothel, the Official Brothel of the Vital Vegas Blog. (No money or services have been exchanged for this extraordinary, pointless honor.) No, it’s not technically a “Las Vegas brothel,” but you get the idea.

Also in this episode, we talk about a number of things a lot less interesting than brothels and prostitution, like Edge Steakhouse at Westgate, Donut Bar, Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” at Mirage, the new (and disappointing) Still bar and restaurant at Mirage, Golden Nugget’s “Sip & Stroll” cocktail crawl, as well as the life-altering vegan lasagna at Simply Pure inside the Downtown Container Park.

Take a listen and tell a friend. There’s a 65% chance this is our last podcast episode ever, so make the most of it.

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Red Rock Resort Celebrates Turning 10 With Fireworks We Droned the Hell Out Of

Popular off-Strip casino Red Rock Resort celebrated its tenth anniversary with a fireworks display on April 16, 2016.

Red Rock Resort fireworks

Parts of the movie “21” were shot at Red Rock. Red Rock’s fireworks were infinitely more entertaining than that film.

This blog, naturally, took to the sky for some exclusive video of the light and fireworks display, designed by Fireworks by Grucci.

It was an extravaganza worthy of Las Vegas, and we’re going to venture a guess it cost in the $50,000 range. (Red Rock declined a request for the exact cost.)

Red Rock Resort is about 10 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.

When Red Rock opened, in 2006, it was the most expensive locals casino ever built.

Useless fact: While Red Rock is unfamiliar to many Las Vegas visitors, it gained some national attention when it was announced the second season winner of “Hell’s Kitchen” would get a gig at the hotel as an Executive Chef. Heather West won, but never got her promised Executive Chef job. She ended up as Senior Chef at Terra Rossa, which later closed, and is now Salute restaurant. She currently works as head chef at Monterey Restaurant in Long Beach, New York. We do not use the word “useless” lightly.

Although it hasn’t been reported by the media, a guest at Red Rock during the fireworks show shared that a small fire was ignited by the pyrotechnics. Hotel security and other staff responded immediately and the fire was quickly extinguished.

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Life Cube Goes Up in Smoke, An Unforgettable Las Vegas Spectacle

We’ve taken our sweet time to do it, but we’re excited to share Life Cube, an art project that recently went up in flames in downtown Las Vegas.

What’s Life Cube? Thanks for asking. Your interest in all things Las Vegas has never been more evident than right this second.

This is Life Cube.

Life Cube burn Las Vegas

Some have said our photo of the Life Cube made them “google-eyed.” We have no idea what that means. If only there were a search engine where we could look such things up.

Like that shot? We do, too. In fact, we’re currently using it as our computer wallpaper. If you’d like to do the same, click here (size: 1920×1080). You’re welcome.

Let’s circle back to the beginning.

Life Cube is, or was, the brainchild of artist Scott Cohen. We chatted with him and he does a great job describing what Life Cube is (it’s been described as “a build-and-burn art installation”), as well as its inspiration.

Cohen says, “It’s a 24-by-24-foot structure. Artists are invited to paint and draw on it. This project was started based upon a belief I have. If you write down your goals, dreams, wishes and aspirations, the chance of them happening is much much greater. I thought of this idea and was inspired by a trip to Burning Man over 10 years ago. I said, ‘Someday, I’m going to come back an artist.’ Six years later, I came back and I created my first Life Cube.”

Life Cube

This was our first look at Life Cube, fresh from the womb. Or some analogy that even remotely means “this structure was just built.”

Soon after Life Cube was erected, artists and members of the community began decorating it. Here’s a look.

The process of decorating Life Cube took about two weeks, and the cube took on a life of its own, with its own “culture.”

Members of the community came to the site for yoga practice, to form drum circles, dance and take part in other activities like definitely not smoking weed.

Life Cube

Life Cube, after a couple of weeks of people wishing all over it.

Here’s a closer look at some of the art inside Life Cube.

Life Cube

One of the great things about art is its permanence. A sentiment you’ll find retroactively sarcastic in about three more seconds.

The Life Cube “exhibit” culminated in a fire ceremony where the structure was burned to the ground. And it was quite the party.

The Las Vegas Life Cube burn happened April 2, 2016, and took place in the “Llama lot” across from the now-closed Western Hotel.

Life Cube

This would be the “before” photo. Don’t rush it, pyro.

The burn festivities featured fire-spinners, musical performances, food vendors and Burning Man-style “art cars.”

Here’s some footage of the burn we captured with a drone. Having a drone is a dream-come-true for this blog, by the way. A dream. Come true. Coincidence?

Nevermind, let’s torch this sucker!

Cohen said it best, “It was a really wonderful thing to see thousands of wishes go up into the universe. It was really a spectacular sight.”

The burn ceremony drew a respectable throng, and Cohen hopes to “bring it [Life Cube] to cities not only across the nation, but throughout the world.”

Life Cube

The Life Cube burn was supervised by professional firepersons.

Before the Life Cube went up in smoke, we couldn’t resist contributing our own wishes, of course.

We had quite a few, but were assured by Cohen, “There’s no rule about multiple wishes.”

Our 10 Vital Vegas Life Cube Wishes

1. We wish people in Las Vegas casinos would stop leaning chairs against slot machines while they go to the restroom. Casinos aren’t elementary school, and there are no “savesies.”

2. We wish casinos would give us the brand of liquor we order, even when it’s a comp. And, no, they very often don’t.

3. We wish people would stop using DTLV as an abbreviation for “downtown Las Vegas.” “Downtown” is one word.

4. We wish casinos would have designated cigar areas, specifically, somewhere in Nebraska.

5. We wish Las Vegas drivers would learn to, you know, drive. It’s called the passing lane, not the driving lane.

Life Cube wishes

“You’ll never guess our wish.” ~Trees

6. We wish they’d figure out a way to avoid the turbulence when you fly into Las Vegas.

7. We wish businesses in Las Vegas would realize you don’t have to blast music 24-7. There are still people left who like to talk to each other.

8. We wish people wouldn’t sit at a full bar with video poker and not play video poker.

9. We wish people would stop bringing their children to Las Vegas. They’re doing it wrong.

10. We wish strippers would stop lying to themselves and admit they’re flirting with us because we’re super interesting.

None of our wishes have come true yet, but we’re cautiously optimistic.

Life Cube Las Vegas

All those people at the Life Cube burn and not a single one thought to bring marshmallows? What the hell?

Listen to our full interview with Scott Cohen in episode seven of the Vital Vegas Podcast.

Here’s the official Life Cube site, and please enjoy more photos of Life Cube Las Vegas 2016.

Life Cube 2016

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Red Rock Resort Preps for 10th Anniversary Hoopla

Red Rock Resort, a popular hotel-casino about 10 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary in a very big way.

The resort is putting together a Vegas-sized light and fireworks show on April 16, 2016 at 9:00 p.m., and we grabbed a peek at what the hotel is describing as a “spectacle in the sky.”

Red Rock Resort

How do you take security breaches to the next level? Get yourself a damned drone.

Red Rock Resort has been putting dozens of synchronized lights through their paces, giving a hint of the festivities to come.

Searchlight arrays have been installed on Red Rock’s parking garages, creating a grid of light that can be seen miles away. Here’s a drone’s-eye view of the lights to give a sense of the scale of what’s to come.

The fireworks on April 16 are being produced by Fireworks by Grucci, the company that puts on Sin City’s New Year’s Eve display.

Red Rock is one of the most appealing off-Strip casinos in Las Vegas, and many consider it the best neighborhood casino in Vegas. When it was built, its $1 billion price tag made it the most expensive casino resort ever built off the Las Vegas Strip.

It must be a great place to work, as 20% of those who work at Red Rock Resort have been there since it opened a decade ago.

One of the things that makes Red Rock Resort unique is it was one of the first casinos to have
natural light throughout its casino. Before that, casinos avoided having natural light or windows as it was believed players might notice the passage of time and leave. A remnant of this philosophy is the fact you won’t find clocks in casinos.

Red Rock Casino is one of this blog’s favorite off-Strip resorts, with a great dining, a fairly spectacular pool area, loose machines and friendly dealers.

Happy birthday and congrats to everyone at Red Rock Resort. And we’re not just kissing up to get a pools private poolside cabana and a cocktail served in a pineapple. Probably.

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