Category Archives: Las Vegas Shopping

What’s Next: Gift Shop at Excalibur Rolls Out Surge Pricing

It seems like we’re often the bearer of bad news, but somebody has to do it.

A guest of Excalibur has informed us the resort’s 24/7 gift and sundry shop is now using surge pricing. We stopped by to confirm, and it’s true.

Surge pricing, of course, is most closely associated with Uber, the rideshare service. At times when demand is highest, Uber bumps up their prices.

We’ve shared some Las Vegas restaurants and bars use surge pricing, but we’ve never heard about it happening at a hotel gift shop.

Excalibur 24/7 store

The last time we were at 24/7, we were admiring the tiaras. No, really.

There are virtually no prices on the items in Excalibur’s 24/7 sundry shop, including on things like toothpaste, sunscreen, bottled water, Pepto and snacks.

Guests are only informed of prices when they check out. Surprise!

We asked a cashier, “How do customers know how much things cost?” She replied, “They ask me and I tell them.”

No, really.

surge pricing Las Vegas

Enjoy gambling? That’s what you’re doing when you purchase these items, because you have no idea what they cost until check-out.

Employees at the store communicated to one customer prices are based upon demand, specifically, hotel occupancy. The higher the occupancy, the higher the prices.

From what we can tell, this reeks of bean counters (commonly referred to as “consultants”) and MGM 2020. MGM Resorts owns Excalibur, by the way.

MGM 2020 is a massive cost-saving initiative. The plan is supposed to save the company $200 million by 2020 and another $100 million by 2021. Dozens of top executives have left the company, and hundreds of managers and directors were recently laid off, with 1,000 more to be let go in the weeks to come. Read more.

We’ve also shared machines will be replacing service bartenders as part of MGM 2020.

MGM Resorts has been scrutinizing every aspect of its business to increase profits, and we suspect they’ve done market research showing tourists don’t particularly care if their sundry store dental floss is $3 or $4 when they’re on vacation. If they don’t seem to care, why commit yourself to the lower price when demand goes up? (Related: If people still play triple zero roulette, why not make it even more of a thing?)

Excalibur

Has anyone ever actually seen a sundry?

While incredibly annoying, we can’t really fault MGM Resorts for trying to increase revenue and profit, but there’s just something that seems wrong about surge pricing.

It feels like being nickel-and-dimed.

Resort convenience stores have always been a bit of a price gouge, and it compounds the frustration not knowing what you’ll be paying until you check out.

We’ve been beating the drum that visitor perceptions about nickel-and-diming are changing visitation patterns, and in combination with increased competition across the country, Las Vegas casinos are suffering.

It’s unknown if other gift shops at other MGM casinos will being implementing surge pricing (hint: they will).

Update (5/20/19): We’re hearing surge pricing is now common at resort gift shops both at MGM Resorts hotels and Caesars Entertainment. Two hotels mentioned specifically were Flamingo and Rio.

In Vegas at the moment, analytics drive everything. MGM Resorts has said MGM 2020 will include “key investments in technology” which will “lay the groundwork for the company’s digital transformation to drive revenue growth.”

Excalibur surge pricing

The name of this store could be 27/4 or 274, you just don’t know. Visual metaphors for the win!

Surge pricing is all about collecting data and determining what the market will bear, then adjusting prices based upon demand. “Dynamic pricing” is how MGM Resorts referred to this pricing in an earnings call.

It may be smart business, but it’s likely to be perceived as just another way Las Vegas is squeezing every penny from visitors.

There are glimmers of hope, of course. Wynn and Encore recently announced they’re rolling back paid parking (no validation needed). Other Las Vegas resorts are offering room packages that drop dreaded resort fees.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you find yourself in a casino gift shop with surge pricing, let us know.

Wynn Plaza Shopping Complex Opens Sans Hoopla

After months of keeping us in suspense, Wynn Las Vegas has opened its Wynn Plaza shopping promenade with virtually no fanfare.

The 70,000-square-foot Wynn Plaza made its under-the-radar debut on Oct. 11, 2018.

It’s a beauty.

Wynn Plaza

Wynn Plaza has been teasing us for months, now we finally get to be all up inside it.

Wynn Plaza boasts a new must-see piece of artwork, Smiling King Bear by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel.

Smiling King Bear is 16 feet tall and is done in the artist’s signature prismatic style, which is definitely something we didn’t just copy and paste from a news release.

Wynn Plaza

Do not try this at home. We just told you the thing is 16 feet tall.

While Wynn Plaza is slated to have about 25 tenants, it’s worth noting the shopping center opened with about half that number. We trust that’s the reason for months of delays, and the aforementioned lack of flair around the mall launch.

Remember, Wynn Plaza is part of Wynn Las Vegas.

Back in the day, the former CEO would’ve not only insisted all the stores be in place when the mall opened, he’d have arranged for fireworks or a parade or something over-the top to mark the occasion.

Back when Steve Wynn opened Mirage, there was an erupting volcano.

When he opened Bellagio, there were dancing fountains.

When he opened Wynn Las Vegas, the whole world was watching.

But times have changed. Steve Wynn is no longer at the helm of Wynn Las Vegas due to a cavalcade of sexual misconduct allegations, and not only that, Wynn Plaza isn’t even the sole owner of Wynn Las Vegas.

Wynn Resorts sold half (49.9%) the ownership of Wynn Plaza (and other retail space at Wynn and Encore) to Crown Acquisitions in late 2016.

Wynn Plaza

Vegas is so cool, even our shopping malls are a feast for the eyes.

Does the co-ownership or half occupancy explain why there was no celebration around the opening of Wynn Plaza? Who knows. We’re not even entirely sure we care. It’s shopping.

Still, we love shiny new things in Las Vegas, and Wynn Plaza is certainly that.

Wynn Plaza

There’s even a nod to the Parasol Up and Parasol Down bars inside Wynn. We have no idea if it’s a nod, but using the word “nod” serves to make us sound smarter.

Beyond the multi-colored bear, there’s another piece of high-profile art at the other end of the mall, Arrows and Flower Neon Sign by Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh.

Takashi Murakami is known, of course, for revitalizing traditional narratives of transcendence and enlightenment. The Internet, it seems, has a lifesaving news release for every occasion.

Wynn Plaza

Three million bucks! With that, you could get upwards of six handbags at Wynn Plaza.

The security guard said the artwork is valued at $3 million. We are clearly in the wrong line of work.

Did we mention it moves?


There are currently two dining options at Wynn Plaza, the highly-regarded Cipriani and Urth Caffe.

Wynn Plaza

Urth Caffe is a top, Cipriani is a bottom.

We can’t wait to give Cipriani restaurant and bar a try, not only because of the warm, welcoming decor, but also because they didn’t kick us out for taking photos of the place.

Wynn Plaza Cipriani

There’s a lot to love about Cipriani, and we didn’t even look at a menu.

Urth Caffe looks appealing as well, and not just because it has a metric ass-ton of desserts on display.

Wynn Plaza

Urth is described as a “European-style coffee shop,” which we assume means it doesn’t shave its legs.

We weren’t kidding about the desserts.

Wynn Plaza

When you’re wealthy, you can just order the calories to not adhere to your thighs.

Wynn Plaza has a number of luxury brands, approximately zero of which we’re the target audience of. To make things even more awkward, no one that shops at Wynn Plaza would ever end a sentence with a preposition.

Wynn Plaza also has an indoor cycling center, SoulCycle. Which is just sort of weird. Partially because it’s in a mall. But also because it sounds like people may voluntarily exercise.

The folks at Wynn Plaza have obviously taken a lot of time and care in both designing the space (credit for that goes to longtime Steve Wynn collaborator Roger Thomas) and selecting tenants.

Here’s an interview with the Wynn Las Vegas retail guy.

While we’re not a shopping person (we own a total of one blazer), we suspect affluent shoppers will appreciate the stunning design of Wynn Plaza as well as the brands offered, a number of which are new to Las Vegas.

Wynn Plaza

It’s not that Celine, but the brand confusion could work in the store’s favor.

Despite the fact half of the stores aren’t open yet, things should pick up moving into the holiday season, and Wynn Plaza is well worth a stop.

Eventually, people are going to notice if you only have one blazer.

Wynn Plaza

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Wynn Resorts Rights a Wrong, Rolls Back Paid Parking

Few saw it coming, but Wynn Resorts has bucked a trend by announcing it will give free parking to its hotel guests, as well as a way for us commoners to get free parking, too.

Your first question, of course: Las Vegas hotels make their own guests pay for parking?

Well, yes. Where have you been?

Currently, Wynn and Encore charge guests for self-park and valet, a trend that’s become the norm in Las Vegas, just as it is in other cities.

Self-park rates run $7 for the first 1-2 hours, $12 for 2-4 hours and $15 up to 24 hours. Valet charges currently run from $18 (up to two hours), to $27 for 24 hours.

Starting July 1, 2018, that all changes.

Wynn Encore

Wynn Resorts could use some positive buzz right about now. Free parking is a great place to start.

Guests of Wynn and Encore will be able to self-park or valet for free. Remember when free parking was a thing in Las Vegas?

Free parking for hotel guests will be included in their $39 resort fee. Wynn Resorts assures customers the resort fee won’t be increased to accommodate the new policy.

Don’t get us started about resort fees. That’s a fight for another day.

But wait, there’s more.

Non-hotel guests will also be able to park free, albeit with validation. Guests will be validated upon receipt of a $50 spend at Wynn or Encore.

That minimum can be spent at all the retail stores, restaurants, shows, nightclubs and lounges at either of the resorts.

Players will be pleased to hear even money spent gambling counts toward the $50 minimum spend to get free parking. The company hasn’t release details about how that will work, but we trust they’ll figure it out.

Wynn parasols

Sorry, gazing at the pretty things won’t get your parking validated. Buy a couple of drinks, though, and you’re good.

This change in paid parking policy is a pretty big deal in Las Vegas. Paid parking is an ongoing source of frustration for visitors, and many believe is has caused a shift in public perception of Las Vegas as a value destination.

We are one of those people.

So, what’s the motivation behind Wynn Resorts’ move?

Well, there’s the official answer, referred to as “horseshit” in public relations parlance.

Maurice Wooden, President of Wynn Las Vegas, said, “We have come to believe that charging additional parking fees is counter to the personalized service we provide. This new policy directly reflects the way we know our guests want and deserve to be treated.”

So, it suddenly dawned on them guests don’t like having to pay for parking? Right.

Wynn $5,000 machine

This machine at Wynn is $5,000 per spin. You’re covered on the parking.

Wynn Resorts has at least three reasons to change its paid parking policies.

First, its restaurants, shows and retail stores have taken a hit since paid parking was instituted. And it’s not just happening at Wynn and Encore, but at casinos all across Las Vegas.

Restaurants don’t receive the financial benefits of paid parking, at all, so they’re being hurt with nothing to show for it.

Increasingly, restaurants, shows and retail stores are letting their casino overlords know they’re suffering, and it appears Wynn Resorts is listening.

Second, it’s Wynn Resorts, so there’s an undeniable public image component.

Generously setting aside parking fees can’t hurt during a time when Wynn Resorts is trying to restore its tarnished reputation following the Steve Wynn sexual misconduct scandal.

Wynn Resorts is throwing everyone a bone. Which, come to think of it, is what got Steve Wynn in all that trouble in the first place.

We’ll wait.

Wynn funny chip

Oh, like we’d do a story about Wynn without including this chip. Do you know this blog at all?

Third, follow the money.

Wynn’s neighbors, Venetian and Palazzo, still offer free parking. That means many customers park at these competing casinos and walk to Wynn and Encore.

One of the cardinal rules of Las Vegas casinos: Don’t send customers to a competitor. Guests may intend to pass through Palazzo to gamble and dine at Wynn, but there are lots of distractions along the way.

So, the bottom line is Venetian and Palazzo deserve props for holding strong on free parking. If they’d rolled out paid parking, it’s unlikely Wynn Resorts would be changing its policies.

Palazzo

We all owe you a beer, Palazzo.

Along those same lines, let’s not forget another neighbor with free parking: Fashion Show Mall. You can bet there’s a collective sigh of relief at retail outlets inside Wynn and Encore right about now.

We can only hope the new parking program at Wynn and Encore is an acknowledgment by casinos that paid parking is an unnecessary annoyance to customers.

Paid parking is a short-sighted revenue play that hurts brands and, ultimately, Las Vegas.

Let’s hope the other big casino companies in Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts (which started this whole paid parking mess), see the light, too.

Las Vegas North Premium Outlets to Charge for Parking

Yes, we even break Las Vegas shopping mall news.

The Las Vegas North Premium Outlets mall will begin charging for parking on March 27, 2018.

Las Vegas North Outlet Malls paid parking

Remember guys, don’t tell your significant other you hate shopping. Tell them you’re taking a stand against paid parking policies!

The move follows in the footsteps of Las Vegas casinos, despite people actually being interested in casinos.

Here’s a letter from the mall’s management company, Simon Property Group, that spells out some of the details of the new paid parking policies at Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

North Premium Outlets Las Vegas paid parking

Tenants be like, “How is this helping me, again?”

Nevada residents will continue to park free, as will employees of the mall and tour buses.

The cost of parking will be flat $5.

The 40-acre Las Vegas North Premium Outlets has about 175 designer and name-brand outlet stores. The mall touts the fact the stores offer savings of 25% to 65% off. Notable outlets include Coach, Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Tory Burch and others.

The mall opened in August 2003.

For better or worse, the dam has broken in Las Vegas when it comes to paid parking. And, by that, we mean “worse,” of course.

It’s likely Las Vegas North Premium Outlets is testing the waters with its new paid parking policy, with an eye toward evaluating the impact on tenants.

We continue to hold out hope that if businesses are negatively impacted by charging for parking, they’ll roll those fees back.

We’re delusional like that.

Everything You Need to Know About the $100 Million Kind Heaven at Linq Promenade

Caesars Entertainment, Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell and other collaborators have announced an ambitious, $100 million project for the Linq promenade on the Las Vegas Strip, Kind Heaven.

Since we know how you like to skim, we’re going to cut through the WTF and sum the project up in a way its development team and other publications have not: In English.

Kind Heaven is an Asian-themed walk-through attraction with music festival roots.

Don’t say we never did anything for you.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Prediction: Best-selling item in the Kind Heaven gift shop will be mosquito repellent.

Yes, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the essence of Kind Heaven. The details range from breathtakingly original to laughably absurd.

Kind Heaven is a little bit theme park, a little bit interactive theater, all wildly original for Las Vegas, and the entire concept is based upon a dream. More on that in a moment.

The intention is for Kind Heaven to be a unique experience, and from what’s been shared, it could actually end up being just that. It could also be a colossal disaster, which is part of what makes it so exciting.

Let’s dive into this whimsically weird attraction set to open in 2019 in Las Vegas.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Kind Heaven’s logo features a number of symbols, all of which have growths which should probably be looked at by a physician.

The project is being put together by a powerhouse team of creative minds and Caesars Entertainment. That may have come out wrong.

Aside from Perry Farrell (founder of the Lollapalooza music festival), there’s also Cary Granat, co-founder and CEO of Immersive Artistry. Granat is also the former CEO of Walden Media (which produced the “Chronicles of Narnia” film series) and was formerly the president of Miramax.

Also on the team is visual effects pioneer, Ed Jones. Jones was involved with blockbuster films like “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Indiana Jones” and “E.T.” He’s the president of Immersive Artistry.

So, there are some creative minds at work on the Kind Heaven project.

The driving force, though, is Perry Farrell. He’s the one whose dream inspired Kind Heaven.

Farrell says that in his dream, he “descended upon an imaginary city from the sky and watched a girl pickpocket someone who was passed out on the street.”

It takes a true visionary to have a dream and say, “That’s a $100 million idea right there!”

Whores book cover

Let us introduce you to Perry Farrell, the man once voted “Least Likely to Ever Work With Caesars Entertainment, Ever.”

From there, back in 2014, Farrell tried to develop an “EDM-driven immersive theatrical production” called “Kind Heaven.” That show, which was intended for Las Vegas, never became a reality, but the Kind Heaven dream apparently lived on. Read more in Rolling Stone.

The specifics of Kind Heaven aren’t easy to pin down, but that’s probably because its developers haven’t quite sorted everything out yet.

What we do know is Kind Heaven will be located at the Linq promenade shopping center. The pedestrian mall is anchored by the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the High Roller. And In N Out.

Kind Heaven will cover a whopping 100,000 square feet of space with 40 food stations and bars. Hint: That’s a lot.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Bonus points if your first thought was “Blade Runner”!

Kind Heaven will “transport visitors to Southeast Asia” via a “virtual train” and is set to feature holographic special effects, streetscapes and holy temples in Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Hong Kong.

According to Cary Granat, the venue will feature music from 130 artists on five stages. Hey, we said it’s whimsical.

Farrell will curate the “audio soundscape” for Kind Heaven, because why would you ever want to just call something what it is? This is art, that’s why.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

When “Jubilee” opened in Las Vegas, there was a worldwide rhinestone shortage. With Kind Heaven, look forward to a worldwide monk robe shortage.

Kind Heaven will be family-friendly by day and adults-only at night. According to Farrell, the adults-only part will presumably include “street walkers, nightclubs and sake bombs.”

We’ll see how much of that makes it through Caesars Entertainment’s notoriously stifling review and approval process.

Perry Farrell has provided some of the most vivid (and confounding) descriptions of the attraction.

He told Billboard, “You’re basically walking through a 90-minute show routed in mythology and original content. When you’re within the complex, you’re free to roam around and discover hidden alleyways, visit nightclubs and eat from Hong Kong-style street food vendors. There will be improvisational actors, musicians, acrobats and comedians, combining elements of sensuality and espionage into an experience that will be a first of its kind.”

Think Fremont Street Experience, but rather than downtown’s casino “theme,” an Asian one.

No, really.

Live musical performances on multiple stages (three on Fremont Street, five at Kind Heaven), street performers, bars and restaurants, roaming and exploring, sensuality and immersion.

Oh, and let’s not forget, ziplines. Caesars Entertainment announced its Fly Linq project back in November 2017.

You think we’re kidding about Fremont Street being the inspiration for Kind Heaven? They even included a vagrant in their rendering!

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Not happening. Unlike Fremont Street, Linq promenade is private property.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and worked in marketing at Caesars Entertainment as well back in the day. Our opinions are obviously our own, and God, we feel old.

Here are some other notable features of the Kind Heaven attraction:

googie Kind Heaven is specifically intended to appeal to Millennials.

googie It will be cashless. Our first experience with a similar cashless system was at Rock in Rio USA, the music festival held at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds across from SLS Las Vegas. Event organizers love RFID wristband payment systems because they help avoid employee theft and there’s a windfall from the “breakage.” Read more.

googie The attraction will accept digital currencies like Bitcoin.

googie It will feature “wearable tech.”

googie The exact location of Kind Heaven isn’t entirely clear at this juncture, but it’s likely to span the space between Flamingo and the Linq hotel.

googie The attraction will be open to people of all ages from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., close for three hours and re-open for those 21 and older.

googie The venue will have a “Dynamo” stage with a capacity of 1,000 people for concerts.

googie Objects inside the attraction will have RFID tags, and everything will be for sale. Well, almost everything. Farrell says, “Everything that you see, except for my wife, is for sale.”

Kind Heaven Las Vegas bar

Fun game! See if you can spot the drama. Answer below.

googie There may be holographic porn. Farrell says he’d like to have a holographic porn of himself. We are not making this up. Read more.

googie The venue will feature virtual monkeys that wrestle each other, robotic chickens and 20-foot snake. Guests will presumably be able to wager on the matches.

googie It will take 18 months of construction.

googie Kind Heaven will create 200 construction jobs.

googie The attraction will employ 670, exclusive of the holographic monkeys.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

“Honey, she’s a friend from work!”

There have been conflicting reports about how many stories Kind Heaven will take up, ranging from three to five to seven.

Specifics of three levels of Kind Heaven have been shared, though.

Level one is a night market. On this level, at a bar called The Dispensary, guests will be able to order feelings. That is absolutely not a typo. We trust one of the feelings will be “WTF?”

Level two is The Forest, with lost temples and cities, tree houses and lush vegetation. Millennials love their vegetation lush.

Level three is The Sanctuary. This level will be above the Vortex (that colorful, tornado shaped structure at Linq hotel). This area is likely to feature EDM.

And more drama!

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Matt Goss’ girlfriend is not pleased.

And while we’re on the subject, Matt Goss is everywhere at Kind Heaven. Remember that rendering of “The Forest”?

Kind Heaven

The one thing we know for sure about Kind Heaven is Matt Goss is getting a lot of tail.

Yep, Matt Goss and friends.

Kind Heaven

There’s a small chance this isn’t actually Matt Goss. Would it kill you to just play along, or at least pretend you know who Matt Goss is?

As we’re taking a closer look at the Kind Heaven renderings, we would like to also point out there’s more drama lurking in the forest image.

Kind Heaven Linq

You were so busy worrying about Matt Goss, you didn’t notice this situation developing nearby.

And don’t get us started about what else is going on in The Forest!

The jealous confrontation in the bar has apparently resulted in the scorned woman having her leg amputated!

Kind Heaven Linq

When they said there would be danger at Kind Heaven, they weren’t kidding.

That just about covers what we know about Kind Heaven, and we’re exhausted.

So, can a $100 million, Asian-themed attraction based upon a dream thrive on the Las Vegas Strip? We hope so.

Doesn’t Disneyland feels like a dream made real? Come to think of it, doesn’t Las Vegas?

We’ve heard convincing arguments from industry insiders saying Kind Heaven is set to be the biggest game-changing success in the history of Las Vegas. We’ve heard equally compelling arguments Kind Heaven will be the biggest flop in the history of Las Vegas.

Here’s what we think.

Casinos are scrambling to draw the next generation of Las Vegas visitors. Skill-based slot machines, cornhole and eSports are feeble, fruitless attempts at doing so.

With Kind Heaven, Caesars Entertainment is being bold and Las Vegas was built on audacity.

Here’s hoping the dream that is Kind Heaven pays off, because when bold wagers come through in Las Vegas, we all win.

Flamingo Closes Go Sexy Adult Novelty Boutique

It was one of the sexiest stores at a hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, but the Go Sexy boutique at Flamingo has closed.

News of the closure was sudden, and while the shop was scheduled to close on Jan. 26, 2018, it
closed two days early.

Go Sexy was home to a popular photo op featuring one entrance of the store adorned with a giant pair of legs. The Go Sexy legs even made it onto our list of offbeat Las Vegas ops.

Sex store Las Vegas

It was sort of a thing.

The Go Sexy store had a dizzying array of adult merchandise.

At one time, Go Sexy got into a pickle with Clark Co. for unknowingly violating a code that prohibited the sale of sex toys. The issue was resolved, and the shop offered a range of devices and novelty items visitors seemed to love.

Go Sexy

Flamingo guests now have to go elsewhere to get their party supplies.

Because of its reputation as an adult playground, sex toys are popular with Las Vegas visitors. Guests tend to follow the “What happens here, stays here” philosophy, leaving their toys behind when they go back home.

Housekeepers collect the sex toys and keep them in bins devoted to the items.

Go Sexy legs at Flamingo

The good stuff was hidden in the back.

While Go Sexy had a certain following, retail rents can be high on The Strip, so it was time to pull the plug. Or remove the batteries.

Word is a new store concept will open in the Go Sexy space in early Feb. 2018.