Monthly Archives: September 2018

11 Amazing Things to Love About Las Vegas

It’s time to celebrate some things we love about Las Vegas!

There’s a lot to love about Sin City, including all its various forms of sin, but these are a few that leapt to mind immediately. Note: We were going to say “leaped,” but “leapt” just sounds fancier.

Share what you love about Las Vegas in the comments.

1. Bellagio Fountains

Leave this off any top 10 list of things to love and you have to forfeit your Las Vegas card. These traffic-stopping dancing fountains, set to iconic music, have enthralled visitors for years, and we hope the dancing never stops.

Bellagio fountain

The Bellagio fountains use four types of nozzles: Oarsmen, shooters, super shooters and extreme shooters. Extreme shooters send water up to 460 feet high.

2. Sexiest Shopping Mall, Ever

Yes, the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace is a shopping mall, but man alive, what a mall it is.

Forum Shops

The Forum Shops at Caesars is the highest grossing mall in the U.S.

3. Strip Clubs

Hey, we waited until number three before getting to some actual sin! Dancers travel from around the world to perform in Las Vegas strip clubs, providing a quantity and quality of entertainment unparalleled in the known universe. Make sure to brush up on your strip club slang.

Pole dancer

Fun fact: Strippers make more when they’re ovulating.

4. Bigass Slot Machine Jackpots

Las Vegas remains the undisputed king of life-changing slot jackpots, and the hits just keep on coming. A player recently won $1.4 million at Cosmopolitan on Wheel of Fortune. We’re pretty sure it was one of the machines we were playing a week earlier. Not bitter at all. Another lucky bastard won $1.3 million at the Cosmo a month earlier. In June, a woman won $1.4 million at Golden Gate.

Megabucks

The biggest Megabucks jackpot in Vegas history was $39,710,826.36, won at Excalibur.

5. OMG the Food, Though

There are so many award-winning restaurants in Las Vegas, they need to invent more awards. There’s something to suit just about any craving, and even if you visited a Las Vegas restaurant every day, it would take a decade to visit them all. Oh, and don’t even get us started about the desserts.

Joe's bone-in filet

This bone-in filet at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab is the second best thing we’ve ever had our mouth on.

6. Highest Concentration of Cirque Shows Anywhere

Cirque du Soleil has been in Las Vegas so long, it’s easy to take for granted the sheer variety and quality of these outsized theatrical spectacles. Have trouble keeping all the Las Vegas Cirque shows straight? We’ve got this with our One-Minute Guide to All the Cirque Shows in Las Vegas.

Ka Cirque du Soleil

If you see “Ka” at MGM Grand, don’t miss this photo op.

7. Venetian Eye Candy

So many Las Vegas resorts feature stunning architecture, it’s difficult to single one out, but we will, anyway. A stroll through the Venetian provides so much eye candy you’re likely to leave with diabetes. In a good way.

Venetian

Venetian is gorgeous, inside and out.

8. Fremont Street Experience Light Shows

It’s easy to take the free nightly light shows at Fremont Street Experience for granted, but they are a must-do. The hourly shows are free and feature bands like The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Green Day and others. The canopy will soon get a $32 million upgrade, so expect a whole new level of “What the hell did I just see?” Fun fact: The canopy’s LED brightness will go from 700 nits to 5,000 nits, whatever those might actually be.

9. The Hooch

Do you know this blog at all? Of course the hooch is on our list! Las Vegas is known for its destination drinking, and there’s no place on Earth with the sheer variety or quantity of alcoholic beverages on tap. Literally. Make sure to check out all our completely consensual panty-dropper cocktails.

Pineapple Express cocktail

And they claim you can’t have a crush on an inanimate object.

10. Neon You Want to Dry Hump

Our love affair with neon will never fade, and while lots of casinos are opted for LEDs, there’s still plenty of gorgeous neon in Las Vegas. If you’re pining for even more neon, here’s a bonus thing to love about Las Vegas: “Brilliant” at the Neon Museum, where classic signs spring back to life with the assistance of projection mapping technology.

Flamingo neon

Not for actual licking. Did we really need to tell you that, weirdo?

11. Vegas People

There’s a lot to love about Las Vegas, but ultimately it’s all about the people. It’s about the incredible people who work here and make our vacations possible. It’s about the strangers who become lifelong friends. It’s about the seemingly inexhaustible supply of colorful characters. Las Vegas is the magnet and we’re all wearing iron thongs. Or something.

Beer bottles

Vegas friends are the best kind of friends. Other than rich, forgetful friends, of course.

So, let’s hear more about the things you love about Las Vegas.

Casinos Sending Surveys to Figure Out Why You’re So Annoyed With Vegas

The world’s two biggest casino companies, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, are sending surveys to customers to determine why they’re displeased with Las Vegas and visiting less often.

We know why, but don’t want to ruin the suspense.

The surveys are telling in both their timing and substance.

Here’s a section of the survey from Caesars Entertainment, sent to us by Darrell V.

Caesars survey

Spoiler alert: Darrell sort of nailed it.

The timing? Casino earnings and stock values are down significantly, and many believe the situation’s going from bad to worse.

The substance? “Where the hell have you been?”

Other questions in the surveys try to get at why travel patterns have changed.

Caesars survey

Just a hunch, but the “unreasonable resort fees” thing probably gets a consistent ranking of “WTF.”

In another section of the survey, the company asks what would have to happen to get a guest back.

Caesars survey

Surveys are important because not every business involves interaction with customers every day. Every single day.

We got a weird feeling when we read that survey question. It sort of triggered memories of ex-girlfriends asking what they’d have to do in order to get back together.

The problem is when you’re at that point, it’s too late. You weren’t vibing, cues were missed and it’s nearly impossible to recapture that spark.

But that’s what Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are trying to do, apparently.

Park MGM, an MGM Resorts casino, sent out a similar survey, as did other casinos in the MGM Resorts family. Thanks to Brent E. for passing it along to us.

In it, the company flat-out asks if the customer thinks Las Vegas is changing for better or worse.

Park MGM survey

Better late than never on the surveys, probably.

These surveys are remarkable in that 1) the companies seem to be aware visitor perceptions are changing, 2) it’s taken them so long to become aware of that fact.

See, people who interact with Vegas visitors have known for some time they’re visiting less often.

While there are a number of reasons for this, there’s one we hear over and over again: “Las Vegas is nickel-and-diming us, and we’re not going to take it any more.”

Even devoted fans of Las Vegas cite a litany of fees and irksome business practices they say is causing them to visit less often.

Resort fees.

Parking fees.

CNF fees.

Venue fees.

Convenience fees.

Processing fees.

Wait for it.

Tap water fees.

The list is seemingly endless. And don’t get us started about drink monitoring and swapping out liquor brands for knock-offs.

Dick's Last Resort water charge

We are not making this up. Thanks to Sam N. for sending his our way.

Until recently, casino companies barely acknowledged nickel-and-diming could be a factor in revenue and occupancy declines, despite an avalanche of concern we see every day on social media.

It seems the casinos weren’t listening.

Well, they’re listening now.

As we said, there are a number of reasons Vegas seems to be at a crossroads.

For example, there’s something called “commoditization.” It’s defined as “the process by which goods that have economic value and are distinguishable in terms of attributes (uniqueness or brand) end up becoming simple commodities in the eyes of the market or consumers.” You
go, Wikipedia.

In human terms, it means legal gambling is everywhere now, rather than Las Vegas having a virtual monopoly.

The irony of all this is Las Vegas is in a slump when the overall economy is booming. You can bet this is an ongoing source of frustration and embarrassment among casino executives.

Las Vegas CNF fee

Concession fees are some of our least favorite, ever. It’s a fee for literally nothing.

What’s the solution?

First, listen.

Casino companies shouldn’t need surveys to understand what’s frustrating their customers. Their customers are online all day every day, not to mention in their casinos, sharing their concerns.

Second, provide value.

This is a tricky one, because in may ways, Las Vegas provides incredible value. Compare the cost of a hotel room in Las Vegas to those in other cities, and the contrast is dramatic.

Despite that, the value isn’t the focus for visitors or what they remember or share with friends. It’s their anger about resort fees, the exact opposite of value.

Vegas is in the middle of an image crisis.

It’s also suffering from a comparison to itself. Specifically, a comparison to its past self, the one where gambling paid for everything so everything appeared to be cheap or free.

Now, casinos have to get smart about how they make money.

They have to roll back paid parking. They have to get rid of resort fees, or at least stop calling them that and just include them in the cost of a room. They have to dump triple zero roulette and 6-to-5 blackjack.

Triple zero roulette

It’s not fun and it’s not funny.

Casinos can’t stop there. They have to wrangle their restaurant and show partners and insist they stop jacking up nonsense convenience fees and moronic CNF charges. Why? Because they’re a reflection on the casinos and Las Vegas itself.

And as great as Las Vegas is, people will stop coming. Many tell us they already have.

Visitors are willing to pay for great experiences, but they won’t tolerate feeling ripped off. They demand value, and Las Vegas has to make a concerted, coordinated, committed effort to provide it again.

Update (9/27/18): Strip gambling revenue was down more than 12% year-over-year in August 2018. It was down in July as well. Trust us, they’re listening.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 86: So Much Vegas You’ll Need Expandable Waist Pants

It’s time to gorge on a virtual buffet of Las Vegas news, insider scoop and reckless excogitation, whatever that might actually be.

In this episode, we share the latest about confirmation of our story about Chick-fil-A coming to Planet Hollywood, who bought Mandarin Oriental, a shake-up at Windows Theater inside Bally’s and what Planet Hollywood has in store when Criss Angel moves in.

Criss Angel casino chip

Criss Angel is on the move again!

We also talk Block 16 Food Hall at Cosmopolitan, Lucky Dragon’s upcoming closure, that time Blue Man Group sued “Opium” for using a black light and some significant WTF as Dick’s Last Resort at Excalibur institutes a charge for tap water.

Fill your plate with the latest about Life is Beautiful, Ballsfest, Bellagio’s fall display, Hussong’s Mexican Cantina and Golden Gate’s new high limit room.

Ballsfest

It’s all about branding. Learn more.

But wait, there’s more.

We’ll get you up to speed on all the Vegas action, including Mac King’s contract extension, the new Electra lounge at Palazzo, Linq’s new sports book, downtown’s new cannabis museum, Golden Steer’s 60th birthday, the Westin’s sale for an ungodly amount of money, Las Vegas Review-Journal’s paywall and a new world record for twerking.

This podcast is a free way to keep birth and death from slapping together, so take a listen.

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina Knows How to Throw a Party

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina in Mandalay Place doesn’t tend to get a lot of ink, but it’s a go-to for many Vegas visitors looking for memorable food and drinks in a festive atmosphere.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

A great night out you’ll partially remember begins here.

While we’d heard of Hussong’s, we weren’t entirely sure what to make of the name, but we we fairly sure “Hussong” isn’t Mexican.

In fact, the founder of the original Hussong’s was John Hussong, a German. Hussong’s original cantina, in Ensenada dates back to 1892.

The Las Vegas Hussong’s opened in 2010 and has been putting livers to the test ever since.

Hussong's Cantina Mandalay Place

You’ll need to know this word in Spanish, “resaca.” You’re welcome.

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina’s claim to fame is it was allegedly where the margarita was invented, in 1941.

Nobody’s actually sure who made the first margarita, but we were damned well going to have one no matter who invented it.

Here’s the original margarita at Hussong’s.

Hussong's Cantina Las Vegas

It’s believed the margarita was based upon a popular Prohibition drink called the Daisy. Margarita is Spanish for “daisy.”

Naturally, there are quite a few variations of the margarita available. We’d like to say we remember the names, but margaritas.

There’s a small chance this is the Raspberita.

Hussong's

Ever see happiness in a glass? You have now.

An undeniable hit is the Bulldog. There’s not only a margarita of some sort involved, but also an inverted bottle of beer.

Even if you weren’t in the mood for a fiesta before you arrived at Hussong’s, the Bulldog is guaranteed to manhandle your maracas. Or something.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

Consider your Vegas vacation underway.

The frosty libations are certainly a big draw at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, but the restaurant’s “sing-along rock ‘n’ roll Mariachi band” tends to steal the show.

While we are famously not a loud, live music person, the energy of the performers is infectious so we’ll give Hussong’s a pass.

Hussong's Las Vegas

This bigass guitar is called a “guitarron.” Please remember that as it will increase your appreciation of a joke coming up.

The mariachi band roams from table to table, lingering at tables with bachelorettes, of course. The band plays an eclectic mix of tunes, many of which are funny takes on pop hits. Lots of places in Vegas tout their “interactive” entertainment, but the mariachi band at Hussong’s actually delivers.

Hussong's

Trumpets began as signaling devices in battle or hunting and only later were used as musical instruments. Because you can never have too much information you’ll never, ever need.

The food at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, described as “authentic Baja cuisine” is consistently satisfying.

We started out with a taco threesome. Hey, it’s Vegas.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina

Taco can mean wedge, plug ramrod, short or even billiard cue. It can also mean “those things we stuff into our face when we have the drunchies.”

Also tasty was the carne asada, Spanish for “At this point, we were so drunk, we’d have enjoyed a bite of a guitarron.

Told you you’d need to know what.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

The carne asada is a skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, mainly because you can’t not have fun if you say “chimichurri.”

See the full Hussong’s Mexican Cantina menu online.

Topping off the meal was the delicious fried ice cream.

There are nearly as many origin stories of fried ice cream as their are for margaritas, so let’s just say friend ice cream was invented by Saint Charles Borromeo, patron saint of big thighs.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

There are few things in life that cannot be improved by frying.

If you’re looking for a tranquil, low-key evening out in Las Vegas, Hussong’s Mexican Cantina isn’t it.

But if you’re looking for strong drinks, filling fare at a decent price and a raucous good time, include Hussong’s at Mandalay Bay part in your Las Vegas escapades.

Bellagio Conservatory’s Fall Display Raises the Bar, Again

It’s not officially fall unless the Bellagio has unveiled its fall display, and that it has.

The fall 2018 display is called “Falling Asleep,” although, we can’t imagine why.

Bellagio Conservatory

Always stunning, rarely cheesy, the Bellagio Conservatory is one of our favorite places to get our fill of whimsy.

Bellagio has pulled out all the stops for its latest free feast for the eyes.

The exhibit was inspired by “the mythology of the goddess of harvest.”

The slumbering goddess is 38 feet tall and 28 feet long. She is fashioned from natural materials like hydrangeas and oak leaves.

In Greek mythology, the goddess of the harvest is Demeter. It’s also an answer to the question, “What’s a fundamental unit of length in the metric system?”

Oh, like you’re even reading this blog post at this point. You’re just here for the photos.

Bellagio Conservatory

Harvest goddess’ eye make-up is on fleek.

The fall, sorry “harvest,” display at Bellagio runs through Nov. 24, 2018, then it’s on to the Conservatory’s popular holiday extravaganza, Dec. 1 to Jan. 6, 2018.

Bellagio maintains an impressive 120 people on its horticulture staff and they were all kept busy with the fall display.

Bellagio Conservatory

Grammable AF.

The fall exhibit boasts foxes frolicking with acorns. It’s a fun game trying to decide which is a genetic mutation, the foxes or the acorns.

Bellagio Conservatory

Frolic while you can, foxes, for soon you will be replaced with polar bears wearing Coca-Cola branded winter wear.

Here’s one of their mutant fox friends.

Bellagio Conservatory

Somebody clearly got the memo about keeping to the “Falling Asleep” theme.

The exhibit also features two 10-foot-tall tigers, each covered with more than 290 pounds of seeds.

Bellagio always has its eye on Asian guests (who are often very enthusiastic gamblers), so it’s likely the inclusion of foxes and tigers in the fall display isn’t a coincidence.

There’s a famous Chinese idiom, “a fox exploits a tiger’s might,” which tells the tale of a fox about to be devoured by a tiger. The fox convinces the tiger to follow him around to show what a bigshot he is, and everyone runs away. The tiger is duly impressed and lets the fox live, never realizing people were fleeing from him, not the fox. The fox had just assumed the tiger’s majesty.

We’re fairly sure the horticulturalists at Bellagio would say, “Bro, you’re reading way too much into this.”

Bellagio Conservatory

Least favorite Conservatory exhibit of Siegfried and Roy, ever.

Bellagio’s latest effort brings back a crowd favorite, the enchanted talking tree.

Yes, it’s actually fairly creepy, but we’re going with “crowd favorite” just in case Bellagio sees our story and wants to share it.

Bellagio Conservatory

The Bellagio Conservatory literally has every wavelength of light in the visible spectrum.

The eyes of the enchanted tree move, and you’d swear they have somebody behind the scenes making the eyes follow you.

Bellagio Conservatory

The enchanted tree has the ability to peer into your soul. Actual results may vary.

There are photo ops everywhere at the Bellagio Conservatory, including larger-than-life peacocks, dragon flies and autumnal leaves.

Bellagio Conservatory

Random dragonflies? Nope, in China they’re a good luck charm associated with prosperity.

It’s interesting to note photos of the fall exhibit on Bellagio’s Web site don’t actually reflect what’s in the exhibit. The photos show two massive peacocks where the sleeping goddess is.

We suspect the peacocks asked for more money, and poof, mulch.

Bellagio Conservatory

Bellagio Conservatory nerds will note they’ve cleverly repurposed last year’s peacock tails in this year’s display.

Bellagio has truly outdone itself this time, and the Conservatory remains one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas other than watching women in short skirts on a windy day.

Oh, crap, this is so not getting shared by Bellagio.

Bellagio Conservatory

Everywhere you look there are things you’ve never seen before. Take that, every other free attraction in the world.

Just one more look at this beautiful fall odyssey.

Bellagio Conservatory

Just see it for yourself, already.

The Bellagio Conservatory is a must-do every time you’re here, because it’s the most Las Vegas thing you can do that doesn’t involve dice or sequins.

Twerking World Record Broken in Las Vegas

Oh, like we weren’t going to share this news.

According to a news release, adult film star Juelz Ventura broke the world record for twerking at the Crazy Horse 3 strip club in Las Vegas on Sep. 16, 2018.

The standing record was two hours and one minute, but Ventura twerked for an impressive two hours and 30 minutes to snag the record.

Juelz Ventura

Some days, it’s more fun to have a blog than others. Thanks to Crazy Horse 3 for the photo of Juelz Ventura. 

The release from Crazy Horse 3 said the “Guinness World Record” for twerking was confirmed by “official timekeepers.”

As far as we can tell, they weren’t Guinness World Record timekeepers, but a couple of really happy guys with stop watches. It’s a tough job, but somebooty’s got to do it.

In fact, we questioned whether there’s a Guinness World Record for twerking at all. We were delighted to discover there is. The previous record was held by Austrian Elena Sofie Sterlini.

Yes, there’s some video of Juelz Ventura’s effort, but this blog it too classy to show it. We are not, however, too classy to provide a link.

The record sounds legit, although we’ll be curious to see if the Guinness World Record folks agree all of Ventura’s moves qualify as “twerking.”

Merriam-Webster defines twerking as “sexually suggestive dancing characterized by rapid, repeated hip thrusts and shaking of the buttocks especially while squatting.”

Yes, prude, “twerking” is in Merriam-Webster.

From what we can tell from repeated viewings of the Ventura video, for research purposes only, a good portion of her moves were clearly twerking. However, there was a fair amount of merely “shaking her moneymaker” as well.

We’re rooting for an official stamp of approval from Guinness World Records so Juelz Ventura can bring this important record back to American soil where it belongs.

No matter how this story shakes out, we’ll be monitoring the situation closely because Las Vegas news like this only comes along once in a blue moon.

We’ll wait.