Monthly Archives: February 2018

15 Things Even We Didn’t Know About Las Vegas Hotel Housekeeping

Housekeeping is an often-overlooked but critical part of any Las Vegas hotel visit. We asked an industry insider about these unsung employees, and learned some truly fascinating things about the folks who clean up after us during our Sin City escapades.

Here, then are 15 things even we didn’t know about housekeeping at Las Vegas hotels.

1. A Las Vegas hotel housekeeper cleans an average of just 16 rooms in a typical eight-hour shift. For comparison purposes: MGM Grand has 5,124 rooms.

2. Housekeepers are called “Guest Room Attendants” or GRAs for short.

Hotel facial tissues

Bonus fact: Housekeepers know your tissues need to be swapped out by the color of the tissues. When they turn color, the box is low.

3. Most Las Vegas casinos pay housekeepers $15-17 an hour.

4. Although their meals are free (in EDRs, or employee dining rooms), most housekeepers don’t eat during their shift for fear of not meeting their daily quota of “turned” rooms.

5. Our industry expert says hotel guests don’t tip like they used to, but most housekeepers get anywhere from $20-100 in gratuities during a typical shift. It’s estimated only about 40 percent of hotel guests leave a tip for housekeepers.

6. In time share hotels, housekeepers aren’t unionized and are paid a “piece rate,” a set rate for each room according to the room size.

7. Housekeeping is typically the largest and most costly department at a hotel.

Hotel courtesy fold

Housekeepers (sorry, GRAs) call this a “courtesy fold.”

8. Major hotels have 24-hour housekeeping and rooms are cleaned non-stop to accommodate late check-outs and early morning check-ins.

9. While housekeepers do general cleaning tasks, there are “bio teams” that specialize in vomit, blood and other bodily fluids. Bio teams are specially trained, but things like suicides and people who die by natural causes are done by outside vendors. It happens more often than you think.

10. Sex toys and porn are often left behind in rooms. Most hotels have “Lost and Found” policies, and found items are held for 30 days. If the items aren’t claimed, they go to the finder, unless it’s a sensitive item like cell phones or laptops. It’s estimated about 2% of hotel rooms have lost items in them.

Las Vegas sex aids

Toys for adults. Use your imagination.

11. When cash is left in a room, anything under $100-200 goes to the housekeeper who finds it. Anything more than that goes to a special fund. Cash found in public areas or the casino goes to the hotel.

12. Recreational marijuana became legal in Las Vegas on Jan. 1, 2017. This has led to a headache for housekeepers and hotels. Getting the odor of weed out of Las Vegas hotel rooms has become a huge challenge. It takes a lot of time, sprays and ionizers, and in Las Vegas, time is money.

Las Vegas weed

Bro, take your hippie lettuce outside. And, no, we did not know “hippie lettuce” is slang for marijuana until three minutes ago.

13. Housekeepers know lots and lots of secrets. One of the more intriguing is that there are celebrities who visit Las Vegas frequently and are known for their tastes in, well, the scatalogical. Our expert says these celebrities tend to be generous tippers because of the mess they create.

14. Housekeeping room assignments are doled out by seniority, and some of the prime sections can have the same housekeeper for decades. If a housekeeper encounters a “Do Not Disturb” sign, she (they’re mostly female) has to keep coming back to the room until it’s cleaned. About seven percent of a hotel’s rooms aren’t cleaned on a given day because of “refusals” or “Do not disturb” signs. Housekeepers must hit their quota, and being re-assigned another room can be an ordeal. So, if you’ve ever thought, “Let’s give them a break, no service today,” you’re actually making life harder on the housekeeper, not easier.

15. Motorized housekeeping carts weigh about 500 pounds.

These tidbits about housekeeping helped give us a new appreciation for the hard-working folks who do this physically demanding job. Take time to thank the housekeeping staff at your Las Vegas hotel, and tips—two or three bucks each day works—are always welcome.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 73: The Latest in Vegas WTF

Despite a quarter million downloads under our belt, we’re still not sure you should listen to our podcast. Fair warning.

If you do, you’ll hear news and opinions and quite possibly things that will get us sued. The things we do for you.

In this episode, we share our experiences at three new downtown restaurants: Eureka on Fremont East (pictured below), Flock & Fowl at the Ogden and Good Pie at Pawn Plaza.

Eureka

Eureka’s management informed us we couldn’t take photos inside the restaurant. Eureka’s management can suck it.

We round up all the latest scoop about Steve Wynn and his mind-boggling fall from grace in recent weeks, including news about what Wynn Resorts projects are likely to move forward (Wynn Paradise Park, but without a hotel) and which could be shelved.

We’ve also got exclusives about Lucky Dragon and SLS Las Vegas. Somebody has to. Have exclusives. In case that wasn’t clear.

This lowly podcast has all the skinny you need to stay in the loop about what’s opening when (The Drew Las Vegas), who’s building what (MSG Sphere) and what else is coming down the pike (upgrades to the Fremont Street Experience).

MSG Sphere

Mark our words, the MSG Sphere is going to put somebody’s eye out.

The Vital Vegas Podcast has “vital” right in the title, so kick back, push the play button and long for a simpler time when broadcasters had to actually know something about broadcasting.

SLS Buyer Alex Meruelo Could Also Acquire Lucky Dragon

You want scoop, you’ve got it. We’re hearing Alex Meruelo, buyer of SLS Las Vegas, is working on a deal to acquire the ailing Lucky Dragon.

A source shares that Meruelo goes before gaming next week related the SLS sale, but is expected to also express his intention to buy the Lucky Dragon.

Lucky Dragon

The potential of SLS and Lucky Dragon being owned by the same company opens up some fascinating possibilities.

Lucky Dragon closed its casino and restaurants in Jan. 2018, and was supposed to go on the auction block on Feb. 6, but the auction was pushed back to Feb. 22, 2018.

That new date could very well have been impacted by discussions between Lucky Dragon, its lenders and Meruelo Group.

In an interesting twist, it was the closure of Lucky Dragon that apparently shook loose the stalled sale of SLS.

SLS Las Vegas

Dibs on this guy. Again.

The sale of SLS has been a tad bumpy, with investor lawsuits flying and the powerful Culinary Union taking jabs at Alex Meruelo because he might oust the union as a cost-saving measure.

In SLS news, a source with direct access to SLS insiders says the rebranded resort is likely to be called Grand Sahara.

It’s believed all the existing SLS restaurants will be out when the new ownership takes over, with an eye toward mirroring amenities of Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.

There’s more to come, so stay tuned, a saying we fully acknowledge is now about as relevant as “bee’s knees” and “cat’s pajamas.”

Longtime Vegas Resident, Performer Marty Allen Dies at 95

As a comedian, Marty Allen saw it all and did it all. Now, he’s yucking it up in the great beyond.

Allen, a longtime Las Vegas resident and frequent performer, has died at 95.

We bumped into Marty Allen often here in Vegas, as he stayed active until very recently. His distinctive eyes and hair made him impossible to miss.

Marty Allen

Marty Allen used a custom cane fashioned from a baseball bat. Here, he attends an event on Fremont Street to honor veterans in Nov. 2015.

To many, Marty Allen was best-known as half of the comedy team of Allen & Rossi.

Which probably sounds like we’re speaking in tongues to millennials, but trust us, he was very popular.

Marty Allen’s career spanned decades, starting in the 1950s.

One of Marty Allen’s claims to fame was he appeared 44 times on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Allen later became a staple on game shows like “Password” and “Hollywood Squares.”

Most importantly, though, Marty Allen performed on the Las Vegas Strip on a regular basis for a good portion of his life. Here’s a look at some of his shtick.

We honestly have no idea why Marty Allen’s passing has struck such a nerve with us. Maybe it’s because he chose Las Vegas as his favorite place to live and work. Maybe it’s because of his mischievous comedic persona.

Maybe it’s because Marty Allen was one of the few remaining performers from an era when comedians took laughter seriously. He worked clean, and his comedy had heart.

As we like to say, Marty Allen drank deeply from the dribble glass of life, and we will not look upon his like again.

Fontainebleau Will Be The Drew Las Vegas, Strip’s First JW Marriott

The abandoned Fontainebleau project has been given another shot at success, this time with the name The Drew Las Vegas.

Yes, The Drew.

We had the same reaction, but it will presumably have a casino, so we’ll cut them some slack.

Fontainebleau wrap

Fontainebleau will now be named after the past tense of “draw.”

Developers say The Drew will open in 2020, a partnership between real estate firm Witkoff and Marriott International.

Construction was halted on Fontainebleau in 2009 due to the economic downturn, and because Las Vegas occasionally needs failures to make its successes all the more impressive. The building was about 70% complete when work stopped, and Fontainebleau has been a running gag ever since.

Fontainebleau

No, really, this is the last time we’ll share this.

As we were the first to report, Fontainebleau was sold in August 2017 for $600 million to Witkoff and another real estate firm, New Valley.

The resort is located across from Circus Circus, next to the former Riviera casino, currently a parking lot.

Riviera demolition

Yep, that former Riviera. The Drew Las Vegas will be at left.

On a somber note, The Drew Las Vegas appears to be named after Andrew Witkoff, the son of real estate mogul Steven Witkoff. Andrew “Drew” Witkoff died of an OxyContin overdose in 2011. Read more. Bit of a buzzkill there, not going to lie.

Moving on.

The Drew Las Vegas will have 4,000 rooms and 500,000 square feet of convention and meeting space.

Plans for The Drew also include entertainment, nightlife, retail and dining venues, including an aspirational 20 restaurant options.

The Drew will mark the debut of Marriott’s high-end “Edition” brand in Las Vegas, whatever that might be.

Marriott’s massive customer database, estimated at about 100 million members, is likely to be key to the resort’s success.

Fontainebleau wrap

The Drew will be the tallest building in Las Vegas, excluding the Stratosphere.

Also involved in The Drew project will be John Unwin, who previously helped open the Cosmopolitan. Interestingly, Cosmopolitan is currently part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. We also don’t know what that means.

The Drew Las Vegas joins a number of major projects happening on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, including Resorts World, All Net Resort and Arena, Wynn Paradise Park, the Sphere from Las Vegas Sands Corp., an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center and others.

We’re excited to see The Drew Las Vegas become a thing! Having a powerhouse like Marriott onboard certainly doesn’t hurt its chances.

Uninspired names we can get used to, hulking eyesores, not so much.

Guy Creates Las Vegas Race for Friends and It’s Amazing

Everyone needs a friend like Gabe Sinna.

Sinna recently celebrated a birthday, and decided to invite some friends to join him in Las Vegas for the festivities.

Lots of people have done that. But Gabe Sinna isn’t everybody.

After months of planning, Sinna created an ingenious game for his friends to play, inspired by the hit travel competition on CBS, “The Amazing Race.” And his game has raised the bar for Las Vegas scavenger hunts forever.

Amazing Gabe

Trust us, the word “amazing” isn’t used lightly here.

See, just about everyone has a friend who’s a planner. But Gabe Sinna is more than that. He’s a savant. He’s a genius. He’s a freak.

And we’re not just saying that because Sinna dove deeply into the recesses of this very Las Vegas blog for nuggets to inform his “Amazing Gabe” race.

Amazing Gabe

Gabe and the better half of the teams competing in the “Amazing Gabe” race.

While Sinna orchestrated an entire Las Vegas trip for his friends, we tagged along on the part that featured downtown. Not only do we work downtown (in marketing at Fremont Street Experience), the area is home to some of our favorite places in Las Vegas.

Sinna did extensive research about downtown before creating his race, then built his “race” using elements of “The Amazing Race,” including “Detours” and “Roadblocks.” He even used artwork inspired by the show. Told you he’s a freak.

Amazing Gabe

This is the photo caption where we don’t mention how much free time Gabe clearly has.

At the beginning of each leg of the race, Sinna distributed clues (“Route Info.”) and his friends, all couples, got to explore downtown in a fun, unique way.

It should be noted Sinna’s friends are also sort of freaks, as they made matching T-shirts with Sinna’s face on them for each team.

Amazing Gabe

Gabe’s friends weren’t messing around. It’s a little thing called “bragging rights.”

The “Amazing Gabe” race included a carefully-curated list of things to do downtown:

  • Take a photo with the gold nugget replica at Golden Nugget
  • Get a pic with a million bucks at Binion’s
  • Try a scorpion shot at Nacho Daddy
  • Visit Banger Brewing
  • Ride the SlotZilla zipline
  • Visit Golden Gate
  • Rub Buddha’s belly at The Cal
  • See the Berlin Wall at Main Street Station
  • Ride the Downtown Loop to the Gold & Silver Pawn shop
  • Take in the Neon Museum
  • Grab a dog at American Coney Island at The D

The downtown race culminated at Pizza Rock, of course. Did we not mention Sinna reads this blog?

Gabe Sinna’s friends are apparently fellow Las Vegas aficionados, because they navigated his clues with relative ease. (It was determined later the Internet may have made some of the clues too easy to solve. Thanks a lot, blogs!)

Amazing Gabe

Everyone got to express their feelings about Communism at the Berlin Wall display inside the restroom at Main Street Station.

Ultimately, the red team won.

Amazing Gabe Las Vegas

Congrats, Joe and Angie. You’re Internet famous. Not redeemable for cash.

As mentioned, the downtown “race” was just part of the fun. Sinna created a nearly 20-page, spiral-bound booklet for his friends.

The booklet included, among other things, his friend’s favorite drinks.

Amazing Gabe

This is what we meant when we said, “Everyone needs a friend like Gabe.”

There were also agendas for other days of their trip, shuttle schedules, maps of The Strip and downtown and a page for his friends to note which Vegas casinos they’d visited.

One of our favorite parts of his booklet was devoted to a photo hunt. Sinna created an extensive list of Las Vegas-themed photo ideas, including images of:

  • Bachelorette with a sash
  • Slot win of more than $50
  • Any celebrity (yes, a photo with this blog qualified)
  • A doppelganger
  • Guy with a mullet
  • Bike cop
  • Tasteful side boob
  • Pink flamingo
  • Vegas sunset
  • Neon sign
  • Party pit dancer
  • In line at White Castle
  • Any Elvis
  • Showgirl with feathers
  • Guy named Don (I.D. required)
  • David statue at Caesars Palace
  • Pay phone
  • Night club line
  • Kissing at the Bellagio fountains

Now, that’s a Las Vegas photo hunt right there.

Amazing Gabe

What happens in Vegas goes into the Cloud.

Sinna’s booklet also included another scavenger hunt list with items like “business card from a pit boss,” “slot ticket worth .01 (exactly),” “show ticket stub,” “deck of casino cards” and “trifecta of porn cards (brunette, blonde and redhead).”

While we love Las Vegas a lot, we bow before the love Gabe Sinna clearly has for this town. Seriously. His name even has “sin” in it.

Thanks to Gabe for letting us tag along on several legs of the “Amazing Gabe” race! We were truly impressed with his knowledge of Vegas, as well as his organizational ability, as it’s well-known we are personally bereft of the planning gene.

Amazing Gabe

We are not a heights person, but for some, winning prevails over woozy.

If you’ve done anything even remotely as creative as Gabe for a Las Vegas visit, we’d love to hear about it. We won’t hold our breath.

Amazing Gabe

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