Monthly Archives: November 2020

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas May Delay Opening (Again)

Damn it. It looks like Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will delay its opening, again.

The resort, formerly Hard Rock Las Vegas, was set to open Jan. 15, 2021, but Richard Bosworth, President and CEO of the casino’s owner, JC Hospitality, has informed employees they may have to push that date back due to concerning predictions by health agencies and recent directives from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak.

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas pool

We are currently experiencing an epic level of bummed about another delay in the opening of Virgin Las Vegas.

In an internal memo, Bosworth said, “While the current restrictions put forth by the Governor are only scheduled for three weeks, there could be an extension if there is no improvement in the COVID-19 crisis. Either way, a slowdown in county services and the inability to have gatherings with over 50 attendees will likely impact many of our pre-opening activities.

The missive continues a wee more ominously, “Additionally, we have learned today through both the CDC and John Hopkins University that the next surge is projected to occur in early January, right in the middle of our scheduled launch. It is very difficult to know if this prediction is accurate, but it could be extremely disruptive to our opening.”

In his communication, Bosworth touches upon some harsh realities of opening in mid-January.

“We are closely following hotel bookings for January,” the memo says. “With unprecedented low occupancy projections for Las Vegas, it is unclear that if we did open as scheduled, there would be enough business to support scheduling even 50% of our staff.”

Richard Bosworth

Our heart goes out to you and the team, Boz. Yes, he said we can call him that.

Bosworth says the final decision has yet to be made, but given the circumstances, it seems prudent to wait a bit rather than opening and being crushed by capacity limits and ongoing travel restrictions.

No new potential opening date for Virgin Las Vegas has been shared.

Bosworth says to staffers, “Making the decision to delay is very painful for all of us. As I have stated before, we want to start ringing our cash registers and for all of you to start earning a great living. While I am not able to determine a new opening date at this time, it could be three weeks or more beyond the original date of January 15th.”

It appears our collective suck won’t end with the end of 2020.

Bar at Commons Club

We really, really wanted to have a drink here in January.

This new casino resort is shaping up to be a sweet new offering (including an enticing collection of bars and restaurants), and while it’s disappointing to hear we probably won’t be able to get inside this Virgin in mid-January, it’s something to look forward to, and we could all use more things to look forward to.

Wynn’s Red Card Loyalty Club Set for Rebrand as Wynn Rewards

Wynn Resorts says it will roll out a revamp of its loyalty club program on Dec. 21, 2020.

The casino’s Red Card will now be called Wynn Rewards.

Details are scant about how the rebranded loyalty club will differ from the existing one.

It seems the overhauled Wynn Rewards will have tiers, but we thought the Red Card already had tiers. We clearly don’t get out enough.

Wynn Rewards

Casino loyalty clubs in one sentence: Play more, get more stuff.

A teaser on the Twitters says, “The Rewards will be worth the wait. Red Card will soon become Wynn Rewards with more ways to earn Five-Star resort experiences, more rewards and more benefits.”

It’s likely the change to its loyalty club was sparked by challenges related to the company’s Encore Boston Harbor.

Results at that casino were hugely disappointing, even prior to the pandemic, and company leaders admitted it was due, in part, to the company’s lack of experience with regional casinos.

“High-frequency” markets, where locals visit often, are a very different animal than Wynn’s business in Las Vegas.

Encore Boston Harbor lost $34.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. The resort opened at a cost of $2.6 billion. Yeah, it’s awkward.

The fact is Wynn Resorts hasn’t had to market all that much before. Wynn and Encore are world-class destinations, and that “Five-Star” reputation does a lot of the heavy lifting on the marketing side.

Marketing Wynn and Encore is like marketing the iPhone. People just sort of show up.

Now, Wynn Resorts is rolling up its sleeves and getting into the grind of attracting grinders, discerning locals who need more perks to attract their gambling dollars.

The company has already reduced table minimums, made parking free and added more value-oriented fare at Encore Boston Harbor.

It’s worth noting parking at Wynn and Encore is free, too, and we wouldn’t get mad if these casinos reduced table minimums here, too.

More details about the new loyalty club program are expected on Dec. 1, 2020, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled. Which is a really creepy way of saying “be on alert,” but just go with it.

Donny Osmond Returns to The Strip With Solo Show at Harrah’s Las Vegas

The better half of the former Donny & Marie show is returning to the Las Vegas Strip.

Donny Osmond will do a solo, presumably “multi-year,” residency at Harrah’s Las Vegas starting Aug. 31, 2021.

Donny Osmond

He’s awesome. He’s back. And he’s not drinking coffee or tea.

The Donny & Marie show ran at Flamingo for 11 years, closing on Nov. 16, 2019.

Their show was remarkable for a number of reasons, including the fact the sibling’s original contract was for just six weeks.

Their well-reviewed Flamingo residency was very lucrative. The Osmonds reportedly each earned $1.6 million a year base salary, plus 40% of the box office gross.

While Donny and Marie Osmond made bank during their Flamingo residency, there were ongoing rumors of friction between them. Donny should totally name his next album “Rumors of Friction.”

Donny Las Vegas

Even at Flamingo, the writing was on the wall.

The pair barely performed together onstage, and rarely spoke offstage. Guests who paid for meet-and-greet photos got either Donny or Marie, not both.

As tensions grew, it was clear the duo wanted out, but the money was just too good to bail.

However, all awkward things must come to and end.

Apparently, Harrah’s (owned by Caesars Entertainment) and Donny Osmond are confident there’s still high demand for his talents as a solo artist, and we agree.

Donny Osmond Harrah's

Donny Osmond is one of the few performers who looks better before they’re Photoshopped.

While the banter between Donny and Marie Osmond was a highlight of their show, we’re pretty sure Donny can hold his own and his fans are both legion and extraordinarily passionate.

Osmond has lived an extraordinary life, with 33 gold records to his name. He’s currently working on his 63rd album.

The only lowlights we can see of Donny’s life are: 1) He had to do a residency with Marie, and 2) He and his wife have never had oral sex. (At least that’s what he told Howard Stern.)

Even if Donny Osmond had done nothing else in his professional career, he did this.

The outtakes are even better. Behold the moment when Donny Osmond went from American cultural icon to whatever is even better than being an American cultural icon.

This is just one of the reasons Donny needed to go out on his own in Las Vegas.

He’s genuine and likable and talented and hilarious.

Plus, he won season nine of “Dancing With the Stars.”

Donny Osmond

However cool you think Donny Osmond might be in person, he’s cooler than that.

Tickets for Donny’s show at Harrah’s start at $65, with a bump for VIP meet-and-greet packages. Finally, a meet-and-greet that’s worth the price.

Big props to Donny for his divorce from Marie, and we can’t wait to see what Donny’s got up the sleeve of his technicolor dreamcoat!

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 117: Circa Movers and Shakers, Vegas Gets Weirder and More

You’ll be thrilled and mortified to hear we’ve changed our “every few months” podcasting schedule to “whenever we feel like it,” so get ready for our latest cochleafest.

Related: How is there not a Cochleafest? Seriously.

This marks the second episode where we get all up inside Circa, the newest Las Vegas casino that opened Oct. 28, 2020.

This time, we get interviews from a slew of the people responsible for making Circa a reality, including Jeff Victor, Vice President of Operations for the new resort. Victor was instrumental in the return of Vegas Vickie to Circa, and was the former President of Fremont Street Experience. As an added bonus, David Rosborough, who also holds the title of Vice President of Operations, pops in for a quick word about Circa’s unique culture.

Jeff Victor Circa

Fun fact: While he was President of Fremont Street Experience President, Jeff Victor presided over a renewal ceremony for Vegas Vic and Vegas Vickie.

But wait, there’s more. We also have exclusive interviews with all the players involved in Circa’s five restaurants.

That’s right, we’ve got the teams behind 8 East, Barry’s Downtown Prime, Saginaw’s Deli, Victory Burger & Wings and Project BBQ.

8 East Circa

We were never a pork belly person, but we bao before 8 East at Circa, the best new Las Vegas restaurant of 2020.

Damn right, you’ll get our takes on all these new offerings, because we are physically incapable of not opining. Get used to it.

We’ll also do a check-in with Ross Mollison, producer of “Absinthe,” as the show navigates these challenging times.

Speaking of challenges, we’ve got the latest on the recent mandates from Governor Steve Sisolak, including venues (including casinos) being restricted to 25% occupancy.

Heads up: For the next three weeks, reservations are required at Las Vegas restaurants. Hey, who needs a vaccine when we’ve got Open Table?

Naturally, we’ve got a metric ass-ton of Las Vegas news, including the skinny about the opening of Tailgate Social at Palace Station, Lucky’s departure from O’Sheas, Donny Osmond’s solo residency at Harrah’s, the cancellation of New Year’s Eve fireworks on The Strip, Shakira’s new light show at Fremont Street Experience and more.

To round out our ode to Circa, our “Listicle of the Week” is “11 Things You Have to Do at Circa,” at least six of which involve Vegas Vickie.

Vegas Vickie

Not just a photo op at Circa, the photo op at Circa.

While you don’t have to listen to our podcast, we promise if you do, 1) you’ll never experience male pattern baldness, 2) an angel will get its wings, 3) guaranteed handpay the next time you visit Las Vegas, even if you don’t play a slot machine.

Actual results may vary.

Here’s the latest drivel, so have at it.

Terry Fator Returns to The Strip for Limited Run at New York-New York

The theater’s not even cold from the announcement “Zumanity” won’t be back, and ventriloquist Terry Fator already has plans to move in.

Fator will bring his new show, “Who’s the Dummy Now?,” to New York-New York for a limited engagement starting Nov. 26, 2020. The show is slated to run through Dec. 31, 2020.

It’s an odd twist Terry Fator would return to a casino owned by MGM Resorts, as he was unceremoniously given the boot by Mirage for lagging ticket sales.

He started at Mirage in March 2009. Prior to that, he did a one-year stint at the Hilton.

Terry Fator

Early ventriloquism was used to manifest spirits. Now, it’s mostly used to remind us there are still people who seem to find ventriloquism entertaining.

We got ahold of an internal communication saying Mirage was exercising its right to end the show because the average occupancy of the show was less than 75 percent of the seating capacity for a consecutive 12-month period.

While details of his deal with New York-New York haven’t been released, it sounds like this is a a space rental deal, referred to in the business a “four-walling.”

Fator, of course, made his move to Vegas after winning the second season of “America’s Got Talent.”

Terry Fator has lived a fairly colorful life offstage, some of it including controversy related to his romantic life. For example, he proposed to one of his wives, Angie, onstage in front of his then-wife, Taylor.

Fator joins a small group of shows returning to their theaters following the pandemic shutdown. Other shows include “Absinthe,” David Copperfield, Jabbawockeez, Carrot Top, Piff the Magic Dragon, “Fantasy,” The Australian Bee Gees, Tape Face, “X Country” and Thunder from Down Under, among others.

Fator will perform Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Tickets start at a pretty reasonable $34.95.

Vital Vegas Podcast Ep. 116: Circa Owners, Vegas Vickie’s Enhancements and More

It’s a celebratory installment of the podcast you probably didn’t even know exists!

In this episode, we continue our victory lap for the walloping we gave Sahara and its baseless lawsuit. We’re pretty sure the gloating will subside by episode 200, should that ever be a thing.

The big “get” in this episode, though, is a pair of interviews with the co-owners of the shiny new Circa Las Vegas.

Derek and Greg Stevens generously share exclusive details about their new downtown Las Vegas casino that’s generated lots of buzz since it opened Oct. 28, 2020.

Derek Stevens slot machine

Circa owner Derek Stevens got to play on his video poker machines during the casino’s employee play dates.

While we’ve had Derek Stevens on the podcast frequently, this is the first in-depth interview we’ve done with his brother Greg Stevens.

Greg Stevens takes us behind-the-scenes with insights into Circa’s innovative ventilation system, beer delivery technology and even the “science of water” used to amp up Circa’s pools.

Fun fact: Circa pumps CO2 into its pools. It helps make the water a little bluer and sparkly. It also aids in maintaining the pH balance.

Circa Greg Stevens

Co-owner Greg Stevens got the star treatment on opening night of Circa.

But wait, there’s more!

This first part of a Circa two-parter has an enlightening conversation with Rick Juleen, V.P. of Business Development for YESCO, the Las Vegas sign company tasked with restoring the iconic Vegas Vickie.

Vegas Vickie is the attention-grabbing centerpiece of Circa, and Juleen talks about how she was overhauled for her return to Fremont Street.

Vegas Vickie

Welcome back, you tall glass of noble gas, you.

We even got some serious scoop, confirmation of Vickie’s rumored “enhancements,” so check it out.

Our next episode will feature conversations with all the folks involved with Circa’s restaurants, as well as a chat with Jeff Victor and David Rosborough, two Vice Presidents of Circa, each of whom have been key figures in the development of this new downtown destination.

In an upcoming episode, we’ll also chat with Alice Little, the sex worker who is suing Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak for refusing to reopen Nevada’s brothels.

Yes, we understand you care more about hearing from a sex worker than Circa executives, but patience is a virtue, freak.

Here’s the latest episode of the Vital Vegas podcast!