Category Archives: Las Vegas Bars

Tropicana Opens Swanky New Trago Lounge

Tropicana has opened its new Trago Lounge, and we had to swing by for cocktails, video poker, a live DJ and mostly that first thing.

“Trago,” of course, is the first person singular present indicative of “trazer” in Spanish. As if that weren’t obvious.

Trago Lounge Tropicana

Make sure to roll the “r” when you say Trago. It will make you seem worldly.

“Trago” means sip or swig. In Portugese, it means “to quaff.” And if that made you giggle, please grow up. It means “drink with enthusiasm.”

Nailed it on the name.

Trago will be open 24 hours a day, the way Mother Nature intended.

The new bar sits just off the casino floor, in the footprint of the former Tropicana Lounge (which closed Sep. 10, 2018), and the space has gotten quite the overhaul.

Trago Tropicana lounge

Trago’s exterior design is composed of 1,114 interlocking squares. Related: Admit it, you believed us for a minute. Um, hello, it’s a photo caption. On the Internet.

It’s a relatively small space by Las Vegas lounge standards, about 3,500-square-feet, and can accommodate 120 guests, which ups the intimacy factor.

Trago Lounge at Tropicana hits a lot of the right notes.

The vibe has a little touch of glamour, but without being pretentious.

The music level is refreshingly perfect. The night we visited, a Vegas fixture, Lydia Ansel, was doing DJ duty. Ansel is a classically trained violinist, and accompanies the music she’s playing. The violin is unobtrusive, and most guests weren’t even aware Ansel was playing live.

Trago Lydia Ansel violinist DJ

Some random anonymous dude just sent Lydia all those roses. Hint: It’s the violin.

We should probably get into the beverage aspect of the Trago Lounge before your head explodes.

The menu is fairly limited, but the drinks we tried were excellent. All are in the $16-18 range, which is the new normal for Strip casino lounges, so don’t freak out.

Trago Lounge Tropicana

The more you drink, the more interesting you become. To you, mainly.

A favorite was the Purple G&T (gin and tonic). We are not a gin or tonic person, but it was delicious.

It had Express gin, Italicus liqueur, fresh lime and Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic. Which is, apparently, a thing.

Trago Lounge

Young flowers should respect their elderflowers.

The Tropical Margarita was also top-notch, and should appeal to tourists looking for a drink that matches the hotel’s beachy theme.

The Tropical Margarita had Don Julio Blanco tequila, Contreau orange-flavoured triple sec liqueur, fresh lime, passion fruit and Red Bull Tropical Edition. Now, you know why we take photos of cocktail menus.

Trago Lounge cocktail

Party in a glass.

The drink menu also has “Bourbon and Whiskey” and “Scotch and Cognac” sections, as well as draft beer, craft bottle beer and wine.

Trago Lounge also offers bottle service for $250 a pop. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

Video poker fans will be happy to see the Trago bar lined with 22 machines, although we trust seasoned players will wince when they see the pay tables (6/5 Bonus Poker). Then again, seasoned video poker players wince at just about everything.

While Trago won’t comp signature drinks for video poker players, they do comp bottled beer and well drinks.

The pours are watched closely, so no free pours here.

We hear Trago will be getting an automated drink monitoring system, but at the moment, you can get a pretty steady supply of drinks if you’re playing at a reasonable pace.

A definite selling point: The servers, hostesses and bartenders are all very attractive, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Trago Lounge waitresses

Thanks for playing along, you two.

And while we’re on selling points: Tropicana still has free parking. Hang in there, Tropicana!

Plus, that glorious stained glass above the casino.

Tropicana stained glass

Glorious.

Trago Lounge is a refreshing addition to the offerings at Tropicana, and aims to appeal to a younger customer than has been typical at the Tropicana Lounge and resort overall.

It’s great to see Tropicana making moves, investing in new venues and making an effort to keep pace with other casinos in the neighborhood, while taking care not to rankle longtime customers, many of whom still regularly use the word “rankle.”

If you pop into Trago, let us know what you think.

Trago Lounge at Tropicana

[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana8.jpg]2110
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana1.jpg]2750
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana2.jpg]2020
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana3.jpg]1760
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana4.jpg]1930
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana5.jpg]2220
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana6.jpg]1580
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana9.jpg]1520
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana10.jpg]1330
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana13.jpg]1530
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana14.jpg]1770
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana11.jpg]1120
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana12.jpg]1020
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana7.jpg]1780

MGM Resorts to Replace Bartenders With Machines (No, Really)

Can we write a sensational headline, or what?

Thing is, we’re not kidding.

Several sources inside MGM Resorts have confirmed the company will soon roll out automated cocktail dispensing machines in its service bars (also called “well bars”) in Las Vegas and across the country.

That’s right. All those stories you’ve heard about humans being replaced with robots is sort of coming true, and its happening by the end of August 2019, according to our sources.

Smartender

Science meets drunken gambling benders.

MGM Resorts has quietly been testing automated cocktail machines at casinos in other markets (specifically, MGM Springfield in Massachusetts and MGM National Harbor in Maryland). Now, MGM Resorts is bringing those automated bartenders to Las Vegas.

As you may have heard, MGM Resorts is in the first phase of a massive cost-cutting initiative, MGM 2020. The goal is to save $300 million, with $100 million of that coming from savings on labor costs.

MGM 2020 is a “company-wide, business-optimization initiative aimed to leverage a more centralized organization to maximize profitability and, through key investments in technology, lay the groundwork for the company’s digital transformation to drive revenue growth.”

There’s nothing sexier than leveraging, if you ask us.

Dozens of top level MGM Resorts executives are expected to take “voluntary resignation” packages, saving the company millions.

Also in the crosshairs are jobs that can be done through automation and technology.

Lago cocktail

Insert gratuitous cocktail photo (a machine can’t make) here.

While everyone involved with the roll-out of drink dispensing machines have been sworn to secrecy (suck it, NDAs), we’ve heard from several employees they’re bracing for what could be the first wave of machines replacing jobs traditionally done by humans.

It’s no wonder Las Vegas unions dug their heels in during the recent contract negotiations. One of the sticking points: Automation.

It’s clear the union knew changes were coming and did their best to ensure employees losing their jobs would at least be treated fairly. Union leaders and members have said publicly they are “legitimately worried” about touchscreen beverage ordering systems.

It turns out they had good reason to be worried.

While we haven’t been able to confirm who’s making the beverage system coming to MGM Resorts casinos in Las Vegas (a reliable source says it’s a company called Easybar), we found one that illustrates what these machines can do, from a company called Smartender.

Take a look.

Brilliant, really.

Is it wrong we sort of want one for our house?

Basically, a server will put ice in a glass, hit a button, add a garnish and deliver the drink, all without the involvement of a bartender.

Here’s the Easybar teminal.

Easybar

We hear the Easybar cocktail station costs about $30,000, or roughly half what a human union bartender costs.

Here are some of the selling points of the Easybar self-service cocktail station.

Easybar

Seriously, get us one for our birthday.

To be fair, given all the benefits to a business, it would be hard to fault MGM Resorts for making this move.

Among the benefits of these machines: They reduce “overpours” and waste, they’re accurate within 1/20th of an ounce, drinks are recorded in a database and there’s “total accountability” because a company knows precisely who served what and how often.

Also, the company will assert, these machines provide guests a consistent experience across all venues. (At least that’s what they said when we caught them reducing their standard pour size back in 2016.)

MGM Resorts statement

Proof we’ve been annoying MGM Resorts since at least 2016.

So, how much should we freak out?

Unless we’re a service bartender, probably not much. (Actually, the way seniority works, service bartenders are pretty far up the food chain, bartenderwise. So, as they get displaced, they’ll bump others from their positions, and so on, down the line.)

These machines aren’t likely to replace your favorite casino bartender, though. These machines will be used in service bars, bars behind the scenes churning out thousands of drinks for players on the casino floor.

We should mention there are service bars in restaurants, too, and our sources say those bartenders will be phased out as well.

If you tend to freak out about technology in general, well, that autonomous ship has already sailed.

Any number of casino and hotel jobs have already been affected by technology. Gone are the days when casino employees lugged around massive bags of coins, thanks to TITO (ticket in, ticket out) technology.

Recently, hotels have made hotel check-in available through smartphones and kiosks, slashing the number of front desk agents. (Example: Staffing at the front desk of Park MGM has gone from about 15 agents to three following the implementation of check-in kiosks.)

In Vegas, robot room service is a thing. Robots have also taken some concierge jobs.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Robot bartenders at Tipsy Robot inside Planet Hollywood. They’re a hoot.

We hear, as part of MGM 2020, restaurant cashiers are likely to be a thing of the past at MGM Resorts casinos, too.

Some in the business estimate thousands of MGM Resorts employees will ultimately be affected by the MGM 2020 initiative.

Leveraging and optimizing come at a cost, of course.

You can bet MGM Resorts is looking at what’s happening at Caesars Entertainment and is highly motivated to avoid a similar scenario. (It’s looking more and more like Caesars Entertainment will be sold, or broken up and sold off in pieces.)

If you’re bored, watch us drop this scoop on KLAS, Channel 8 in Las Vegas.

There’s much more to come.

Update (3/6/19): Our story has been confirmed.

Binion’s Announces Whiskey Licker Up Venue and Boutique Hotel Apache

Binion’s Gambling Hall has announced two expansion projects: Whiskey Licker Up and Hotel Apache.

Whiskey Licker Up will be a full-service saloon with a rotating bar as its centerpiece.

The new bar and restaurant will be 6,500-square-feet and will be located on the southwest corner of Binion’s, just above the existing Whiskey Licker Bar.

The new venue will feature drinks, food, dancing, live entertainment and a mechanical bull.

Binion's Whiskey Licker Up Bar

A new place to get bucked in Las Vegas.

While the venue will play up the casino’s western theme, a variety of music will be available, based upon feedback from guests.

There’s already evidence of work being done for Whiskey Licker Up.

Binion's facade

Be gentle with that gorgeous neon, please.

The second floor of Binion’s, formerly The Mint, has been gutted to make way for the new venue.

Binion's Whiskey Licker Up

That entire back wall is going away so guests get a bird’s eye view of the circus that is Fremont Street.

Here’s another shot of the space, just because nobody else has them and that makes us look cool.

Binion's

A number of the venue’s design elements are built around structural features of the original casino. Yeah, we should’ve taken notes.

And speaking of The Mint, easily one of the best features of Whiskey Licker Up will be the integration of an original wall from The Mint, complete with petrified wood.

Binion's Mint

These stairs will give guests easy access to the venue via a new entrance off Fremont.

Here’s a look at the location of what will be the entrance to the upstairs bar and restaurant and mechanical bullery.

Binion's

A new entrance will help guests avoid having to navigate their way to Whiskey Licker Up via the casino.

Whiskey Licker Up will overlook Fremont Street Experience’s 1st Street stage.

Here’s the view from the balcony, likely to become a go-to spot for people-watching. This will all be seating, with arena-style levels so everyone can enjoy the views.

Binion's new bar

See more photos from behind the facade in our photo gallery thingy.

In anticipation of your question, yes, the new venue will mean a loss of some drop-dead gorgeous neon, but there’s a matching facade on the east side of Binion’s, so don’t have a freak-out.

Binion's facade

No pain, no gain. You’ll survive.

Construction of Whiskey Licker Up will be completed by the summer 2019.

The second expansion project is the opening of a boutique hotel, Hotel Apache.

The concept was inspired by the colorful history of the casino. The original Hotel Apache opened on the site in 1932.

Benny Binion purchased the Apache Hotel (and Eldorado Club) in 1951, and re-opened them as Binion’s Horseshoe. The rest is history. History we don’t have time to research because we are busy playing Wheel of Fortune, so cut us a break.

During our eight seconds of research, we did determine the hotel at Binion’s closed in 2009. You’re welcome.

Hotel Apache will have a modest 81 rooms, decked out with old-timey decor.

Hotel Apache Binion's

Hotel Apache, where every day is Throwback Thursday.

A unique element of the Hotel Apache project is it will play up rumors of the hotel tower being haunted. Ghost hunters and true believers will have the opportunity to explore a hotel owners claim has a “long history of eerie occurrences.”

Trust us, there are a lot of people who are really, really into this.

As with the new saloon, it’s expected Hotel Apache will be open this summer.

We know how you are: No word yet about whether Hotel Apache will have a resort fee, but its sister hotel, Four Queens, doesn’t have them, so fingers crossed.

The new offerings at Binion’s follow on the heels of a number of projects slated for downtown, including the new Circa Las Vegas resort (on the site of the former Las Vegas Club), as well as new hotel towers at Fremont casino and Downtown Grand.

Binion’s has always been one of our favorite Las Vegas casinos, with some of the best dining (try the BBQ) and drinking (generous pours) values in town, and we can’t wait to check out the new saloon and hotel.

But especially the saloon. Do you know this blog at all?

Whiskey Licker Up Vegas

This rendering is a lot like the other one, but we will never let a rendering fail to fulfill its destiny of being on this blog.

Begrudging props to VegasChanges.com for ferreting out some of the Binion’s news prior to the official announcement.

Full disclosure: Binion’s is a partner casino of Fremont Street Experience for whom we do digital marketing. Our opinions are our own.

If you’re into historic Vegas architecture, check out the Nevada Preservation Foundation. They have an event coming up that includes a “backstage tour” of Binion’s, The Mint and Hotel Apache.

Whiskey Licker Up and Hotel Apache at Binion's

[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade1.jpg]5560
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade2.jpg]4870
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade3.jpg]5110
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade4.jpg]4640
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade5.jpg]4120
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade6.jpg]4290
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade7.jpg]4020
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade8.jpg]3860
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_interior_tiles1.jpg]4140
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_mint_wall.jpg]3930
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction1.jpg]3570
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction2.jpg]3420
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction3.jpg]3640
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction4.jpg]3480
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction5.jpg]3320
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction6.jpg]3200
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction7.jpg]3310
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction8.jpg]3650
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction9.jpg]3210
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction10.jpg]2970
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction11.jpg]2930
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up_construction12.jpg]3270
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up1.jpg]3310
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_whiskey_licker_up2.jpg]3590
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_hotel_apache_room1.jpg]4860
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_hotel_apache_room2.jpg]5840
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_hotel_apache_room3.jpg]5130
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_hotel_apache_room4.jpg]5400
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_hotel_apache_room5.jpg]4910
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/whiskey-licker-up-and-hotel-apache-at-binions/thumbs/thumbs_binions_facade9.jpg]4740

Stratosphere Confirms Rebrand to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod

Confirming a story we first shared nearly a year ago, Stratosphere has officially announced it will be rebranded to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod.

We’ll give you a minute on the whole “Skypod” thing.

Strat Las Vegas

Out with the old, in with the thing we’ve been calling it for some time now.

While people have been calling Stratosphere “The Strat” for some time, the whole “Skypod” thing could take some getting used to.

While a news release from Golden Entertainment, owners of The Strat, says the resort will “begin its transition to The Strat” on Feb. 3, 2019, the rebrand has actually been underway for some time.

Although, the changes have been subtle.

Like the massive “Strat” in the hotel’s revamped porte cochere.

Strat casino

The Strat telegraphed its rebrand a little.

Golden Entertainment bought Stratosphere in late 2017. Renovations of the hotel-casino began in mid-2018.

One of the more visible changes was the replacement of the casino’s high limit slot room with a Starbucks.

That’s a strong statement, either about the state of The Strat’s casino or the direction of Las Vegas casinos. Let’s just go with it being a statement about coffee.

Strat Starbucks

We don’t get it, but we’ve literally never had coffee. It’s funky.

In Nov. 2018, Strat closed its Roxy’s Diner, replacing it with the Strat Cafe and Wok.

Roxy’s went from annoying (servers sang ’50s songs) to bland, but at least an effort was made to change up the dining offerings.

Strat Cafe

Everything in Las Vegas should pretty much have “Wok” slapped on the end of it.

Here’s a peek inside the Strat Cafe.

Strat Cafe

De-theming is a thing.

A nice addition to the Strat’s restaurant line-up is the addition of 108 Eats on the hotel’s Observation Deck.

108 Eats Strat

Nothing fancy, but guaranteed to hit the spot.

We stopped by right away because the grab-and-go restaurant is from the same chef behind downtown’s Esther’s Kitchen. 108 Eats doesn’t disappoint. The sandwiches and paninis are top-notch.

We also just like saying the word “panini.”

108 Eats Strat

So much better than it has to be.

There’s also a Froot Loops ice cream. That tastes exactly like Froot Loops. Well worth a visit when you’re checking out the view from the hotel’s 108th floor.

Don’t forget: There’s a fee to visit the Observation Deck, but just tell them you’re going to the lounge. You’ll want to take advantage of the happy hour, anyway, but your elevator ride will be free.

There’s more on tap at Stratosphere.

The Strat Stratosphere

At the moment, The Strat is straddling its current and future name.

The resort will introduce Blvd. & Main Taphouse in 2019. Here’s a rendering.

Blvd. and Main Tavern Strat

We trust “Blvd.” refers to Las Vegas Blvd. “Main” refers to Main Street. Strat is at the intersection of these streets. Hey, this isn’t rocket science.

Here’s another Blvd. & Main Tavern rendering, because you can never have too many renderings.

Blvd. & Main Tavern

We’re going to put that whole “you can never have too many renderings” thing to the test.

All right, just one more.

Blvd. & Main Tavern Strat

We love new.

Also in the mix will be a new View Lounge overlooking the casino floor and a fully remodeled race and sports book, which construction walls are already teasing.

Strat casino

Are we the only one who thinks this “Rising Soon” tagline is a little awkward given The Strat is the most prominent phallic object in Las Vegas?

Here’s a look at what’s the come at the race and sports book at The Strat.

Race and Sports Book Strat

Nice photo bomb, golf dude.

Here’s a rendering for the View Lounge.

View Lounge Strat

The rendering person at The Strat has been really busy.

Blvd. & Main Taphouse and View Lounge will be located on the northwest corner of the casino, basically at the bottom of the escalators as you enter from the self-parking garage.

Oh, and parking is still free at The Strat.

Another new addition will be 108 Drinks, a sister venue to 108 Eats. Rendering alert!

108 Drinks Strat

We were voting for 108 Dranks, but this will do.

Also in the works is a Links Lounge, a partnership with Aristocrat Technologies.

The lounge will offer Aristocrat’s popular “Link” slot machine series, including Lighting Link, Dragon Link and Liberty Link.

Strat Easter egg

Here’s a fun Easter egg. All the custom videos featuring The Strat contain something gold in honor of the resort owner, Golden Entertainment. We thought it was a faulty pixel. Hey, we can’t be right about everything.

Also new in 2019 will be a new loyalty program, True Rewards. The Strat will be the first Golden Entertainment venue to roll out the new program.

True Rewards will also be available at 130 venues operated by Golden, including about 60 PT’s pubs and several casinos in Las Vegas (Arizona Charlie’s), Laughlin (Aquarius, Colorado Belle, Edgewater), Pahrump and Maryland. Learn more.

True Rewards Strat

These adorable tier names, though!

So, about the “Skypod” in The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod.

It’s a little unclear why Strat would need to carve off the top of its tower with a different brand, but given the financial success of its thrill rides, it makes sense to try and make the most of those offerings.

Translation: The thrill rides at Strat print money.

In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the thrill rides at Strat make more than its casino, just as the restaurants at SLS make more than its gambling operation.

The “Skypod” refers to anything at the top of the Strat’s tower, including the revolving Top of the World restaurant (a must-do in Vegas), 107 SkyLounge and the thrill rides: Sky Jump, Big Shot, Insanity and X-Scream.

107 SkyLounge

There are happy hours, then there’s this happy hour.

We’ve heard rumblings of other thrill rides in the works for the Strat, but there have been no official confirmations to-date.

Buzz about The Strat’s name change has ranged from “We already call it that” to “When I hear ‘pod’ I think of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers'” to “The guitar people aren’t going to be happy abou this.”

“Strat” is a common way to refer to Fender Stratocaster guitars, of course.

We added you to Wikipedia’s disambiguation page, Strat. You’re welcome.

Strat resort Las Vegas

The Strat uses all caps in its new name. Please don’t. It will just encourage them.

Props to The Strat for its refresh. We’re always up for new things to see and do, and look forward to seeing what’s next.

We’ll be by to get a Strat-branded chip for our collection, too.

Here’s the latest from The Strat, including even more renderings!

Update (2/3/19): Tipster Jim C. shares Fellini’s Ristorante Italiano will close at The Strat in April 2019. No word about what might replace it.

Fellini's Stratosphere

Arrivederci, Fellini’s.

Hard Rock Rolls Out Painless Drink Voucher System

The first time we ever saw a voucher system for free drinks on a video poker machine, we had a minor meltdown.

That was at Mirage, back in 2015.

Then Caesars Entertainment made a splash when it rolled out drink monitoring to all its casino bars.

We still had sort of a meltdown, but we learned some deep breathing exercises and started asking questions.

Let’s just say we’ve done a 180 since 2015, largely due to understanding more about why drink monitoring systems are necessary and how, surprisingly, they help players.

This knowledge came in handy when we learned Hard Rock casino has implemented drink monitoring in all its casino bars. (Thanks to Lisa H. for the tip!)

Here’s a look at the new message guests see when they sit at a video poker machine at Hard Rock.

Hard Rock drink vouchers

What once gave us palpitations now elicits a “La-dee-dah.” Don’t judge. We used to musical theater.

No meltdown. Either we’re mellowing, or we’re starting to get a clue. You decide, because we’re drunk on comped drinks.

See, drink monitoring accomplishes a lot for casinos.

One, it cuts costs. Gone are the days when players would slip a dollar in a video poker machine and try to drink free all night. These systems assure players are actually playing, which is part of the deal to get drinks for “free.”

That’s the way it’s always been in Las Vegas, by the way, the monitoring was just never automated before.

Two, it takes the drink monitoring burden away from bartenders. Their reaction to drink monitoring systems has evolved much as ours has over the last couple of years, by the way. It’s no fun being a gatekeeper.

Three, drink monitoring systems prevent over-serving. The default in Las Vegas now seems to be players can earn about three free drinks per hour with continuous play. That’s how it works at Hard Rock, too.

So, what do these systems do for players?

One of the best benefits is monitoring systems keep freeloaders from taking up seats where you want to play. You know, to gamble. Which is sort of the point of having video poker at casino bars in the first place. They’re for gamblers.

Also, drink monitoring systems like the voucher system at Hard Rock take much of the mystery out of how much you have to play and at what betting level before you’ve earned more free hooch. You know where you stand.

The message on the machine at Hard Rock makes it clear. You put in $20, you get your first free drink. Then, just make $1 (or more) bets continuously, and you’ll get a steady supply.

By the time we were done at Hard Rock, we had more vouchers than we could actually redeem. We also won $60.

It was yet another reminder why Las Vegas is the best place on Earth.

Hard Rock drink vouchers

If you ever let a drink voucher go unredeemed, you’re doing Vegas wrong.

Some other small print at Hard Rock: The drink vouchers are only good for 12 hours, the vouchers aren’t transferable and the “beverage selection is limited.” They’ll have what you want unless you’re a snooty 60-year-old bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami person.

And, no, we don’t actually know what that is, but you get our point.

So, has Vegas changed in recent years? Yes.

Would we prefer to get free booze anytime, anywhere? Sure.

Are drinking monitoring systems coming to all the slots on Las Vegas casino floors? You bet.

But drink monitoring systems like the ones at Hard Rock or Caesars resorts or Westgate don’t even make the top three of our “Most Bothersome Things About Vegas Casinos” list.

That would be, in no particular order: 1) No plastic straws, 2) paid parking and 3) swapping out the liquor brand we order with a knock-off and lying about it.

By the way, parking at Hard Rock (soon to be Virgin Hotel Las Vegas) is free. Plus, they poured our Captain Morgan from a bottle and even included straws without our having to ask.

Man, alive, we love this town.

Plug Pulled on Tao Group Nightclub and Restaurant at Palms

Boom. We did not see this one coming.

Seemingly out of the blue, Tao Group and Red Rock Resorts announced they’re bailing on plans for a massive nightclub and restaurant at the off-Strip Palms.

The companies made the announcement in a joint statement. (Las Vegas translation: They have to play nice in public.)

Here’s the entire statement, as there’s not a lot of other information about this sudden change of course at Palms.

“Red Rock Resorts, Inc. and Tao Group announced today that they have jointly agreed to terminate the agreements previously entered into by the parties in connection with the dayclub/nightclub and a restaurant that are scheduled to open around the end of the first quarter in 2019 at the Palms Casino Resort. The terms of the agreements are confidential, but no payment will be required of either party under the agreements.”

Palms

This marquee came down as part of the Palms overhaul, probably in an attempt to make us openly weep.

Crazy, right?

Palms has been trumpeting its partnership with Tao Group for some time now, and a substantial investment has already been made in the nightclub space.

The 29,000-square-foot nightclub will presumably move forward at Palms, just without Tao Group as a partner.

Tao was also slated to bring its Vandal restaurant brand to Palms. The original Vandal has been a trendy smash in New York City, and was highly-anticipated in Las Vegas.

Tao Group

It’s pronounced “dow,” no matter how many people insist upon mispronouncing it.

So, that’s all the hard news about this turn of events. The rest is mostly conjecture, and our usual sources are being tight-lipped about the divorce between Palms and Tao, although it’s fairly obvious it was due to “irreconcilable differences.”

There’s a chance Tao got cold feet. Palms is in the midst of a $620 million makeover, and Tao was going to play a significant part.

But Palms already has a nightclub, Apex Social Club. Sources tell us Apex has struggled since opening in the former Ghost Bar space. Reports are mixed about the hotel’s new steakhouse, Scotch 80 Prime.

Did Tao Group lose faith in the new “From Dust to Gold” direction of Palms? See more.

Palms dust to gold

Wasn’t this the plot of a James Bond movie?

Tao Group, of course, sold a majority interest to Madison Square Garden in 2017 for about $180 million. The Madison Square Garden Company has gained a higher profile in Las Vegas with the development of the Sphere at Venetian.

Is there a chance Las Vegas Sands, owner of the Venetian, wasn’t thrilled with Tao Group (and by extension, it’s Sphere partner) playing in somebody else’s sandbox?

There have also been rumblings related to Tao’s Marquee nightclub at Cosmopolitan (rumors it would close have been denied by Cosmopolitan and Tao reps) and Tao Beach at Venetian (we’ve heard its planned expansion was stalled until news of the Palms deal fell through).

We’ll keep poking around to see what we can dig up about what we’re sure is some juicy drama!

Unknown bar Palms

The new Unknown bar at Palms recently joined our list of offbeat Vegas photo ops.

At the moment, it seems Red Rock Resorts and Palms are in need of a dayclub/nightclub partner.

On the restaurant side, there’s no time to cry over spilled hot pretzel steak tartare, whatever that might be. Bottom line: There are tons of exciting new restaurant offerings in the works at Palms.

New concepts on the way include restaurants from Michael Symon (BBQ), Marc Vetri (Italian) and Bobby Flay (seafood). We’re literally getting hungry typing that sentence.

There’s also a new buffet, AYCE (All You Can Eat), a new cafe (Lucky Penny) and a new noodle bar (Send Noodles).

That’s just for starters. Check out our list of 22 New or Renovated Things Coming to Palms.