Monthly Archives: June 2016

Riviera Demolition Reaches Iconic Facade, Implosions Imminent

Demolition of a number of low-rise buildings has been happening at Riviera Las Vegas for some time.

Now, the destruction has reached the casino’s iconic facade on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Riviera Las Vegas demolition

Don’t cry because it’s over. Cry because you’re adorable with puffy eyes.

As multiple buildings at the Riv disappear before our eyes, the hotel’s two main towers are being prepared for separate implosions.

One’s essentially being wrapped in plastic due to an abundance of asbestos left over from a time when people thought asbestos enhanced virility. Or something.

Riviera Las Vegas demolition

When in Las Vegas, wrap it up. Which is an allusion to condom use, in case that was unclear.

The first tower is scheduled for implosion at 2:00 a.m. on June 14, 2016. The second tower will be taken down sometime in August.

Riviera Las Vegas demolition

The Monaco tower, at right, will be the first to go.

We did what we do and grabbed some drone footage of the Riviera site for posterity. Yes, it was 104-degrees out. The things we do for you.

The Riviera site is expected to be used for an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. That sensation you feel is a yawn coming on. It’ll pass.

Riviera Las Vegas demolition

Truth in advertising.

It’s downright jarring to see the front of the Riv being stripped away. As walls are torn away, you can see right into the former casino, the same casino featured in such classic films as “Casino” and “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” among others.

Soon, the Riviera will be featured in “Jason Bourne,” and we didn’t just mention that so you’ll check out our many stories on the subject.

Riviera casino demolition

This is quite probably your very last look inside the Riviera’s casino.

It’s a bittersweet time for longtime fans of Riviera. Rivera’s time had passed, and Las Vegas has an insatiable appetite for fresh stimulation, whether that’s convention center space, new casinos or lap dances. Especially that last thing. Las Vegas is no idiot.

Riviera Las Vegas demolition

Does two broken mirrors mean a total of 14 years of bad luck, or do bad luck streaks run concurrently? Yes, we actually think about this crap.

Break out your Kleenex and check out our gallery of the Riviera as it was on June 9, 2016.

Riviera Demolition Update: June 9, 2016

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Topgolf Las Vegas Will Make You Fall in Love With Vegas All Over Again

Simply put, the newly-opened Topgolf Las Vegas is the best thing to happen to Sin City since the invention of the stripper pole.

Honestly, when we first heard about this new venue, we discounted as being for golfers or
the sports-inclined. It didn’t take long to realize we are sometimes a complete bonehead.

Topgolf Las Vegas

Trust us, it’s not really about the golf.

Topgolf is everything you love about Las Vegas, without all the things you hate.

Sure, it has 108 hitting bays, but they’re just one of many appealing things about this new
offering at MGM Grand, and we can’t wait to share what we suspect may become your new
favorite place to eat, drink, play and swim in Las Vegas.

Here’s some sweet drone footage of Topgolf Las Vegas from the air.

We did an exhaustive walk-through of every inch of Topgolf, and the Director of Marketing
for Topgolf Las Vegas, Dennis LaFontaine, was kind enough to show us around and answer lots
of awkward questions.

First, though, a quick overview of what’s in store. Bottom line: It’s epic. You probably
want more details, though. We’ve got this.

Topgolf is just off The Strip, just to the east of MGM Grand. (The address is 4627 Koval
Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89109, if you’re into the map thing.) The Topgolf chain has about 25
locations, but Sin City’s is the flagship, with goodies exclusively available at the Las Vegas
location.

Topgolf Las Vegas

Told you it’s not really about the golf. Please try and keep up.

Beyond the aforementioned 108 climate-controlled hitting bays, Topgolf has four levels and
can accommodate about 3,000 people at one time. Topgolf has two pools, five bars, cabanas,
private meeting rooms and event spaces and there’s even a concert venue, The Yard.

There is no fee to get into Topgolf. That’s right, it’s like any bar or restaurant in town.
Stroll right in and even if you don’t care to golf, you can enjoy one of the bars or
restaurants, or make a sports bet or play video poker. You can just hang out. Told you it’s
awesome.

So, let’s take on this bad boy floor-by-floor, starting with the second floor because
that’s where guests end up when the enter the facility.

Some logistics: Parking at Topgolf is exclusively valet. At the moment, parking is free,
but it’s expected there will be a fee for parking soon. No date set. The good news is
Topgolf offers a free shuttle from nearby MGM Grand (there’s also a Topgolf lounge in the
hotel’s porte cochere). Paid parking is also available in the MGM Grand self-park garage,
and at Topgolf there’s a lane for rideshare drop-off, so you may want to take advantage of
those services.

Topgolf Las Vegas

You can’t miss it, and believe us when we say you won’t want to.

Once inside Topgolf, the first area you encounter is the lobby and reception area. Here,
you’re greeted by attractive young people from guest services. Young, attractive people are
recurring theme at Topgolf, so get used to it.

In the lobby you’ll also find the private event check-in desk, and we suspect Topgolf is
going to host a metric hell-ton of private events.

Just off the lobby floor is an impressive, three-story chandelier with LEDs throughout. The
circles mimic the targets on the driving range, and the lights were inspired by golf balls
being hit into the targets. It’s very photogenic.

Topgolf Las Vegas chandelier

Topgolf does it all, including visual metaphors, baby!

While we don’t consider playing golf at Topgolf a must, we should say it’s an absolute
blast, and have little to no interest in golf. The usual kind, anyway.

Happily, Topgolf takes golf to another level, literally and figuratively.

Dennis LaFontaine said, “Imagine bowling, darts and golf, all rolled into one.” That’s
exactly what we were thinking. Imagine a visit to a bowling alley with friends, but it’s
golf instead of bowling. You get to schmooze with your friends, but there’s also an
activity, and add to that the fact there’s a competitive aspect, and you’ve got Topgolf’s
winning formula. Oh, and there’s a lot of hooch.

Topgolf Las Vegas

Topgolf Las Vegas is just like sports, but fun.

“Our balls have RFID chips in them,” says LaFontaine. “So, you plug your name into the
screen, as you would for bowling. The game tells you which target to shoot for. It’s all
based around accuracy. How many points you get depends upon how close you get to the flag
or pin. It makes it a fun, interactive environment.”

It’s not just fun, it’s highly addictive. When you hit a ball, a display in your bay shows
where your ball landed, if you hit the target and even where within the target your ball
fell. Points are assigned, distances are tallied. Your friends point and laugh. Good times.

Topgolf Las Vegas scoring

Thanks to these scorekeeping displays, one becomes emotionally invested in a big way.

Each hitting bay can accommodate 6-10 people.

LaFontaine adds, “It’s really for golfers and non-golfers alike. We provide the clubs, so
you don’t have to bring your own. About 23% of the people that come are avid golfers who
bring their own clubs.”

Topgolf Las Vegas

Topgolf is redefining clubbing in Las Vegas.™

The second level boasts a common area with social games like shuffleboard and cornhole, but
unlike with other venues in Las Vegas, it doesn’t feel forced. It’s just something else to
do with your friends.

The social games area is also Topgolf’s concert space, what LaFontaine describes as “the
heart of the building.”

Topgolf Las Vegas

This is the heart of Topgolf, mainly because people don’t really know what spleens do.

Above The Yard is a massive, 14 by 48-foot video screen which can be “chopped up” into 16
screens. Pretty much the Holy Grail for sports fans.

“There’s a retractable roof, so imagine watching your favorite band under the stars,” says
LaFontaine.

The Birdie Bar sits on the second floor, a 360-degree bar with an additional performance
area that can fit about 180 people. Birdie Bar has 15 video poker machines, operated by MGM
Resorts, and there are five more at another bar in the venue, for a total of 20 video poker
machines.

Topgolf Las Vegas

We’re 15% confident this is the Birdie Bar. Liquor is the opposite of note taking.

Moving on, let’s cruise down to the first floor. On the west side of the building, there’s
a traditional meeting space that backs up to eight hitting bays.

Nearby is The Riv Bar, an homage to the now-closed hotel-casino of the same name. The bar
sports a Life magazine cover from 1955 featuring the Riviera, and other flourishes that pay
homage to the classic hotel. Topgolf tried putting the bar from the Riviera into the space,
but it wouldn’t fit. We personally prefer a shiny new bar to a sticky, old one, but that
could just be us.

Topgolf Las Vegas Riv Bar

The Riv Bar is, as they say in discovery circles, “discoverable.”

It’s worth noting that families and children are welcome at Topgolf, but children can only
be on the first and second floors. The top two floors are reserved for those 21 and older.
And you thought we were exaggerating about how epic this place is.

Avid golfers tend to request bays on the first floor, despite the presence of ankle-biters,
as they want a more accurate read on their shots, says Dennis LaFontaine.

A unique feature of Topgolf Las Vegas is the collection of massive video screens at the far
end of the driving range. They’re an impressive 28 feet tall by 50 feet wide.

Topgolf Las Vegas

You should see the size of the remote!

There are a whopping 300-plus screens in the Togolf Las Vegas venue, and surprisingly, they
enhance the experience rather than serve as a distraction or annoyance.

On the east side of the first floor is the Calloway Fitting Studio, of interest to those
23% of guests who actually like golf. Golfers can try a simulator loaded up with every golf
course in the world, or get fitted for clubs. Which we don’t entirely understand given that
golf clubs are essentially glorified sticks.

Let’s get a move on to the third floor.

Before that, it might be valuable to see the entire Topgolf venue, so we did a “fly-
through” of the place. Enjoy.

On the third floor is another great bar, the Runway Bar & Lounge.

LaFontaine says of the Runway Bar, “The game of golf is very masculine, and our demographic
skews on the male side. We wanted to make sure that we had an area that has some softer
colors, with different types of fixtures and finishings.”

Topgolf bar

Liking this bar could mean we’re in touch with our feminine side. It could also mean they do strong pours at Topgolf. We’re good either way.

We’re fairly sure that male skewing is for the typical Topgolf location. In other cities,
75% of Topgolf guests are male. Here in Las Vegas, it seems like a pretty even mix of male
and female, reflecting the composition of Las Vegas visitors as a whole.

This is probably as good a time as any to mention Topgolf Las Vegas offers an exceptional value for
the price.

Hitting bays start at just $30. For a group of six people, that’s a mere $5 per hour per
person.

Topgolf Las Vegas

Twelve minutes at a craps table or two hours at Topgolf. You decide. Hint: They’re not mutually exclusive.

The prices of food and drink are also very reasonable, especially considering Topgolf is in
a great location and offers such a great variety of things to do.

Topgolf Las Vegas shrimp

The Crispy Rock Shrimp scores a double eagle with us, despite the fact we don’t entirely know what that is.

Feel free to just order random things from the food and drink menus. There’s not a bad choice in the bunch from what we could tell.

Topgolf

Those note taking skills sure would come in handy right about now.

Each of the upper levels provides a sweet balcony view of The Yard below.

There’s yet another 360-degree bar on the third floor that backs up to the first of two
pools. There’s swim-up seating at the bar. Glorious.

Nearby are 11 private cabanas. Those lucky enough to reserve cabanas get use of the pool
and hitting bays as part of their package.

Topgolf Las Vegas

Those chairs atop the water in the pool, though.

On the west end of level three is the Owner’s Suite, a large, open area that includes three
hitting bays.

At this point in our tour, we asked Dennis LaFontaine about the people absolutely blasting
shots beyond the targets, and whether people hit balls over the nets on the far end of the
driving range.

He assured, “The nets are 180 feet tall. We brought out some heavy hitters, some guys that
won longest ball contests, and we said ‘Hit it over the net.’ It’s 200 yards away. They
couldn’t do it, so we feel pretty confident our guests won’t be able to do it.”

Dennis LaFontaine is one of the smartest, nicest marketing guys we’ve ever met. Good for
you, Topgolf.

Topgolf Las Vegas

Shout-out to the Conservation of Angular Momentum principle that makes golf such a kick. Nerd.

We also asked about the business relationship between Topgolf and MGM Resorts. LaFontaine
explained, “It’s not a partnership, per se, but we’re leasing the land from MGM. We’ve both
identified the need to bring something new to the market. They really saw the potential
Topgolf would have in Las Vegas, so we teamed up. This is years in the making. It’s
something they’re proud of because it’s something new that will appeal to their hotel and
casino guests. It’s almost like a new amenity for them.” Too true.

Our hands are experiencing cramps from the typing, so it’s time to hit the fourth floor!

At one end of the fourth floor is the Chairman’s Suite. The Chairman of what, we have no
idea, but this space is prime real estate at Topgolf Las Vegas. The room holds about 40
people, has two hitting bays, a private bar, private showers and use of the pool. This is
where Drake hung out when he played hooky at the Billboard Awards.

Topgolf Las Vegas suite

It’s the ultimate man cave, assuming man caves have natural light, fresh air, a private bar and a virtually unlimited supply of fresh balls.

The pool on the fourth floor is quite the feat of engineering. It’s about 30 feet long and
3.5 feet deep. There are three cabanas for rent on the fourth floor, and only guests of the
cabanas and Chairman’s Suite get access to the upper pool.

There’s another convenient bar, the Rooftop Bar, with a dramatic view of The Strip. There’s
also another balcony for viewing concerts in The Yard, of course.

Topgolf Bar Las Vegas

We’ve already spent many hours at the Rooftop Bar. For, you know, research purposes.

As you get to the top floor, the topic of safety may come to mind, especially if you have a
heights thing as we do.

LaFontaine says safety is clearly a top priority at Topgolf Las Vegas. Nets extend from each hitting
bay to catch clubs and other objects that might get away from guests. We hinted about the
possibility of them catching guests as well, but it sounds like the watchful eyes of guest
services prevent such occurrences long before they happen.

As for the potential of getting whacked with a club, a thick, red line surrounds each tee,
and guests must stand behind the line unless it’s their turn to drive.

There are so many great things about Topgolf Las Vegas, we’re pretty sure we overlooked a
few.

Topgolf Las Vegas

We slidered the hell out of Topgolf. Yes, it’s now a verb.

Did we mention the hottie waitresses? Interestingly, Topgolf hired an astonishing 950
people. About 8,500 people applied. Our creepy assessment of the superficial aspects of Topgolf “associates” aside, the service at Topgolf is truly outstanding.

LaFontaine says, “All of our associates have ‘edgy spirit.’ We wanted to make sure that we
weren’t hiring the best bartender that could flair bottles. We wanted to hire someone that
has that edgy spirit and a good personality, and then teach them how to create drinks. It’s
a great culture in this place. You’ll watch and see associates passing each other high-
fiving each other. We call it ‘One Team.’ We truly are one team and one family here. That
translates to the service standards we give our guests.”

We personally witnessed staff members high-fiving. Voluntarily. That “edgy spirit” thing
makes a difference, believe it or not.

Fun fact: Edgy Spirit is this blog’s stripper name!

Topgolf Las Vegas

So much to love, all in one place.

That’s just the beginning of the surprises in store at Topgolf. We were surprised the
prices were so reasonable. We were surprised how fun the golf was. We were definitely
surprised by the quality of the food. (Credit for that lies with Executive Chef Chris
Vaughn and Topgolf’s culinary team.)

Find the various Topgolf Las Vegas menus (Tee Line, Cabanas, Events and Bottle Service) on the official site.

Whether you’re into golf or not, Topgolf is an absolute must-do in Las Vegas, and that’s in a town we thought had maxed out on must-dos.

If you’d like to listen to our walk-through and interview with Dennis LaFontaine, check out episode 16 of the Vital Vegas Podcast.

Topgolf Las Vegas is open seven days a week: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Monday through Thursday; 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., Friday through Saturday; and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Let us know what you think of this first-rate new venue, and you’ll be the recipient of our undying devotion if you let them know we sent you.

Topgolf Las Vegas

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Top-Notch “Jersey Boys” to Close at Paris Las Vegas

The stand-out, Broadway-style musical, “Jersey Boys,” has announced it will close at Paris Las Vegas on Sep. 18, 2016.

The closure of “Jersey Boys” means Las Vegas will soon have approximately 37% less legit musical theater, reflecting a worldwide trend of people sort of wanting there to be less musical theater, even when it’s pretty good.

Jersey Boys Paris Las Vegas

Three months notice means you can still catch this show before it shutters. Get on that, already.

“Jersey Boys,” which features a fictionalized account of the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, closes after an impressive run of nearly 3,300 performances.

That’s 23 years in Las Vegas show years.

Jersey Boys Paris Las Vegas

The “boys” prior to “Jersey Boys” opening at Paris Las Vegas. Guys in Jersey totally dress like this, by the way.

“Jersey Boys” opened at Paris Las Vegas on March 6, 2012, with all the requisite hoopla. Prior to that, it played at Palazzo Las Vegas. The show made its Las Vegas debut in April 2008.

Here’s at look at the original cast when the show opened at Paris Las Vegas.

Jersey Boys Las Vegas

On March 21, 2013, “Jersey Boys” celebrated its fifth anniversary in Las Vegas. Four Seasons members Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli were on-hand, too.

What, you thought we were kidding about Franki Valli taking part?

Frankie Valli

Yes, the actual Frankie Valli. And, yes, he’s still alive.

Ticket sales for “Jersey Boys” have flagged in recent months, despite being a stand-out among shows on the Las Vegas Strip. Ultimately, it’s just run its course after eight years.

Caesars Entertainment, which owns Paris Las Vegas, hasn’t announced what’s next for the hotel’s Le Theatre des Arts, other than the fact it will soon have fewer of Le Four Seasons.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 17: Benny Binion Speaks and a Metric Ass-Ton of Las Vegas News

It’s our final episode of Season One of the self-acclaimed Vital Vegas Podcast, and we’ve got a cavalcade of fairly useless news, information and WTF for your aural cavities.

For starters, we hear from a Las Vegas legend, Benny Binion. Inspired by the book “Blood Aces, The Wild Ride of Benny Binion,” we slap together a monologue covering Benny Binion’s early days and rise to power.

Blood Aces

We’re fairly sure our depiction of Benny Binion is going to result in a lawsuit, which would be just awful were it not for the fact we have a bailiff fetish.

We also cover all the latest Las Vegas news, including the Monte Carlo rebrand, the start of paid parking at MGM Resorts, the asshats who defaced the Seven Magic Mountains sculpture, Sheldon Adelson’s move to complete the stalled St. Regis tower, plus a slew of Las Vegas drama surrounding David Copperfield, Jan Rouven, Gregory Popovich, comedian Vinnie Favorito and “Chumlee” of “Pawn Stars.”

This week’s listicle is a keeper, literally: 10 Cheapskate Las Vegas Keepsakes. And, no, we’re not entirely sure people still use the word “cheapskate.”

It’s everything you want in a Las Vegas podcast and much, much less, so take a listen.

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Three Surprising Things That Will Change the Way You Las Vegas Forever

There are lots of changes happening in Las Vegas, some of which will change your experience
in a big way.

Here, we’ll take a look at three changes that could fundamentally alter how you park, drink
and eat in Las Vegas.

1. Paid Parking at Las Vegas Casinos

Free parking has long been a perk of playing at Las Vegas casinos, but no more. Starting
June 6, 2016, the practice of giving guests free parking will change for good.

Las Vegas paid parking

There’s always something new happening in Las Vegas, and up to this point, we’ve said that as a good thing.

MGM Resorts is doing at its Las Vegas destinations what all Las Vegas hotel-casinos have
wanted to do for ages. From here on out, you’ll pay for the privilege of visiting their
resorts. Surprise!

Here’s how parking fees break out.

Short-Term Visitors
If you’re visiting an MGM Resorts hotel for a short period of time, have no fear. Your first hour in self-parking is free.

We should probably list off the hotels in the MGM Resorts family: Monte Carlo, Luxor, Excalibur, Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano, Mirage and New York-New York. We tend to blog while drunk, so that may not be a complete list. You always have Google.

Moving on.

Parking Las Vegas

Parking fees, in part, will go toward enhancements like lights that let guests know if spaces are available (green light) or not (red). It’s an imperfect science.

Registered Hotel Guests
If you’re a registered hotel guest, your parking fee gives you in-and-out privileges across all MGM Resorts in Las Vegas. Your parking fee can be “conveniently charged to your room bill,” a phrase which has given us fits of giggles ever since we first read it.

Loyalty Club Members
Certain members of the company’s player loyalty club program, M Life Rewards, will get parking gratis. Self-parking is free for Pearl, Gold, Platinum and Noir tier members. Valet is free for Gold, Platinum and Noir members. Players club members can just scan their player’s club card to get in and out, you don’t need a ticket.

Paid parking Las Vegas

Sin City’s newest “one-armed bandits.”

Nevada Residents
Locals gets a sweet deal, at least until the end of 2016. Nevada residents can self-park up to 24 hours free until Dec. 29, 2016.

So, then, how much does parking cost at MGM Resorts hotels? We’ll different prices apply to different hotels, actually. Here’s a look.

Fees for Parking at Monte Carlo, Luxor, Excalibur

  • Self-Parking
    0-60 minutes, free
    1-4 hours, $5
    4-24 hours, $8
  • Valet
    0-4 hours, $8
    4-24, $13

Fees for Parking at New York-New York, Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano, Mirage

  • Self-Parking
    0-60 free
    1-4 hours, $7
    4-24, $10
  • Valet
    0-4, $13
    4-24, $18

The fee for a lost ticket is $30, which could actually end up being a bargain depending upon how long you park.

You can get all this information on the official MGM Resorts parking information page, too.

Paid parking Las Vegas

MGM Resorts partnered with SP+ to manage the 40,000 parking spaces at its 12 Las Vegas resorts. “SP” stands for “Sucker Punch,” and that’s the story we’re sticking to.

Other Las Vegas casinos are taking a wait-and-see approach to paid parking, but we have
little doubt that by 2017 everyone else on The Strip will be onboard and paid parking will
be universal. We recently predicted paid parking will be rolled out at Caesars
Entertainment resorts (pretty much the other half of resorts on the Las Vegas Strip) by Jan. 1, 2017.

Remember, change is the only constant in Las Vegas, for better or worse. And speaking of
worse, that leads us to the drinking part.

2. Skinny Pours at Resort Bars

Not to pick on MGM Resorts, but at the moment they’re the company most focused on cost-
cutting measures, and this one’s a doozy.

It hasn’t been reported in any news outlet we’re aware of, but MGM Resorts has quietly
begun shrinking the pour in its cocktails.

Specifically, the amount of liquor in a “standard pour” (a shot) in mixed drinks at MGM Resorts casinos has always been 1.5 ounces. Now, a top-down mandate requires pours be 1.25 ounces, or 17% less.

Surprise!

Also of interest, and perhaps not so surprising, is the fact comped drinks have less liquor than cocktails you pay for. Comped mixed drink shots are one ounce, while paid-for drinks get the 1.25-ounce pour.

shot_glass_las_vegas

Some people say “more is less.” Some people are idiots.

While that doesn’t sound like a lot, when multiplied out by the thousands of drinks served
at casinos across Las Vegas, it adds up to a substantial amount of liquor and, by
extension, cost savings.

This change has gone virtually unnoticed, a fact partially explained by the fact the
company did extensive blind taste testing to see if diminishing the pour quantity would be
noticed by customers. It was decided most people couldn’t tell the difference, so the new
guideline was rolled out across all MGM Resorts casinos in the city.

Margarita

Expect to see lots of “pour systems,” used to control liquor costs, rolling out in Vegas casinos. Word has it MGM Resorts is testing bartender-free cocktail dispensers in Mississippi to avoid union troubles.

MGM Resorts isn’t the only company tightening its grip in the hooch, of course.

We’ve long chronicled the ways casinos are monitoring gambling in relation to free drinks, including the use of slot machine vouchers and other buzz-killing systems, as well as the insidious practice of substituting liquor brands for comped drinks.

Feel like you’re not getting that same buzz when you’re in Vegas? There’s a very good
reason. Paying for parking is certainly a pain, but cutting back on our inebriation level
gets us downright cranky.

Update (6/7/16): A rep from MGM Resorts sent a response to our story about the smaller pour size, stating:

“We did analysis last year across our resorts and across Las Vegas. We found that bars and restaurants at MGM resorts were not dispensing liquor in mixed drinks at uniform levels. We also did search across Las Vegas and found the standard liquor pour is 1.25 ounces at most Las Vegas resorts. As a result, we took steps in 2015 to standardize the beverage process to assure each customer receives an accurate and consistent measure of liquor in each mixed drink.”

MGM Resorts

You say “inaccurate and misleading” like it’s a bad thing!

“Our view is that universal spirits and pour size among our properties has improved the guest experience by offering a consistent product. Bartenders prepare drinks more efficiently and consistently by maximizing the use of free pour jiggers and bar guns. By also aligning these procedures we also make training and transfers between resorts efficient and more available for employees seeking to advance their careers.”

No, really.

MGM Resorts statement

Just bask in it for a minute.

MGM Resorts added: “We expected no negative comments from our customers and have received none.”

Here’s what we learned: 1) MGM Resorts actually made its pours smaller in 2015, not recently. 2) Less liquor in drinks improves the guest experience. 3) The decision to make pours smaller was made, in part, to help bartenders advance their careers. 4) “Universal Spirits” would make a great band name.

Thanks to Gina Lazara and Channel 13 here in Las Vegas for covering this story. (Note: This blog isn’t the one that first reported MGM Resorts would begin charging for parking.)

3. Surge Pricing at Restaurants

Here’s a relatively new practice that’s equally ingenious and frustrating.

In more and more cases, Las Vegas restaurants post menus online that don’t include prices. It’s not a huge deal until you understand the reason.

The newest tactic used by restaurants, especially those at large resorts on the Las Vegas
Strip, is to change their prices depending upon demand. Surge pricing, as it’s commonly
called in the ridesharing world. Surprise!

That’s right. A given restaurant on a Tuesday might charge $14.50 for chicken parm. That
exact same dish, during a busier period, such as on a Saturday, could be priced at $17.50.

Chicken Parmesan

Is nothing sacred?

Because of the transient nature of a tourist-based clientele, restaurants are relying on
the fact guests will only visit once during any given stay and not notice the inflated pricing. Some Las Vegas bars have used surge pricing for cocktails for some time, and now food is subject to the same WTF.

There are teams of analysts behind the scenes calculating how to adjust pricing to make
the most of fluctuations in demand, and juggling cost and pricing to extract the most profit
possible given a host of variables.

You might say that in some cases, the bean-counters are literally counting beans, then
deciding how much to charge for them given increases and decreases in demand. It’s good
business, but doesn’t give us a good feeling.

Las Vegas couple dining

It’s easy to be carefree when you’re a model.

So, knowing such changes are going on, it means we need to stay even more vigilant as
guests of Las Vegas casinos and restaurants. And parking garages.

The more we know about how things work, the better prepared we’ll be to protect our
bankrolls and patronize the establishments we feel are giving us a fair shake.

We’d love to hear your reaction to these new trends, as well as any tips and tricks for
getting the biggest bang for your bucks in Las Vegas!

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Monte Carlo to Rebrand as Park MGM, Boutique Hotel 32 to Become NoMad Las Vegas

The wait is finally over. MGM Resorts has officially announced the Monte Carlo rebrand we first shared back in February 2015. Monte Carlo will soon become Park MGM, and the Monte Carlo’s hotel-within-a-hotel, Hotel 32, will become NoMad Hotel.

Park MGM Resort

Oh, relax. It’s a work in progress.

MGM Resorts will partner with New York-based Sydell Group for the project expected to cost $450 million.

The project will include renovated hotel guest rooms, new bar and restaurant offerings, and will are intended to dovetail into The Park, a new restaurant district between New York-New York and the former Monte Carlo.

Yeah, this is going to take some getting used to, but it’s an exciting time on the Las Vegas Strip.

Park MGM Las Vegas resort

It’s a great time to be flora in Las Vegas.

Here’s how the two hotel experiences break out.

First Park MGM. The concept is intended to “target a younger, well-traveled” customer looking for “unique experiences and innovative design.” Translation: Those pesky Millennials are finally getting their own hotel.

The 2,700-room Park MGM will keep some of Monte Carlo’s European design influences.

Here’s some news release words about Park MGM: “Working with talented British designer Martin Brudnizki, Sydell Group and MGM will transform the resort’s public areas with a beautiful and casually elegant design. Clean lines will define the architecture of each space, combined with classically inspired European furnishings and a robust art program, which is core to both companies’ design philosophies.”

Park MGM will feature a new Eataly marketplace with “cafes, to-go counters and full-service restaurants interspersed with high-quality products from sustainable Italian and local producers.”

Eataly’s stated target audience is “everyone,” so that’s pretty much us. Not-too-fancy Italian food ahead! Read more about Eataly.

Eataly

If “alti cibi” were translated into English, it would mean “high quality food.” If “eat” and “Italy” had a baby out of wedlock, its name would be Eataly.

The other hotel, NoMad Las Vegas, will feature the random capitalization of a letter in the middle of the word “Nomad.” We kid. No, but really.

NoMad replaces the Monte Carlo’s existing boutique hotel, Hotel 32. Which most people didn’t exactly know exists. Hotels-within-hotels are quite the thing in Las Vegas, actually. For example, there’s the Four Seasons hotel inside Mandalay Bay and Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace.

The original NoMad hotel opened in 2012 in New York. NoMad Las Vegas will provide a “distinctive luxury experience,” with 292 guestrooms and suites.

NoMad Las Vegas will have its own dedicated drop-off, lobby and swimming pool.

Monte Carlo Las Vegas

Farewell, old girl. She really hates being called that, by the way.

The design of the new NoMad Las Vegas will be a collaboration between Sydell Group and French designer Jacques Garcia, who also designed Parisian hotels such as Royal Monceau and Hôtel Costes, which must be very impressive hotels to those who have actually heard of them.

Here’s more about the NoMad Hotel in New York.

Construction of Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas will start in late 2016 and be completed in late 2018. Get more details.

On a personal note, we would like to thank MGM Resorts for sharing the new name of the Monte Carlo in honor of our upcoming birthday.

MGM Park Las Vegas

We are not making this up. We Tweeted this less than 24 hours before the rebrand announcement was made.

Beyond giving us a great birthday gift, we’d also like to thank MGM Resorts for bringing so many great new things to the Las Vegas Strip, including the T-Mobile Arena and The Park.

While new things tend to cost a bit more than the older things, Las Vegas never fails to deliver surprises, and we can’t wait to see what the new Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas have in store.

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