Category Archives: Las Vegas WTF

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.

News Release About The Drew Contains Glorious Amounts of WTF

It’s been so quiet at The Drew, formerly the Fontainebleau, we were delighted to see a news release from the resort’s owner, Witkoff Group.

Our delight didn’t last long, because we actually read the release. Cue the tsunami of WTF.

Tsunami of WTF, we should mention, was our band name in high school.

So, it seems Witkoff wanted to announce it has hired a design architect, Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Which seems dangerously close to math, but we’ll let it slide this time.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro is apparently a well-known firm, despite the fact they seem to have misplaced their comma. (Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio are two different people.)

The firm has been tasked with “realizing a fresh vision for the next integrated resort on the north Strip’s emerging luxury corridor.”

So much to unpack, and we’re one sentence in.

First, as we mentioned, The Drew is the former Fontainebleau. Fontainebleau was about 70% complete when it was abandoned in 2009 due to dipshittery.

“Fresh,” then, is a relative term here.

Fontainebleau wrap

The wrap doesn’t really help.

“Emerging luxury corridor” may be stretching it a bit. This is the north Strip. Circus Circus is the hotel’s closest neighbor, with SLS a third of a mile north. Resorts World is emerging, slowly, but that hardly qualifies as a corridor.

Given the area’s string of bad luck (Alon, Wynn West, All Net Resort), “crushing disappointment corridor” might be a more fitting label.

This is where the news release gets epic.

Charles Renfro, lead designer of the Drew, adds, “The team’s design approach was inspired by the multiple ecologies of Las Vegas itself—the dynamic and rugged beauty of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas’ early adoption of modern architecture, and the city’s enthusiastic embrace of spectacle. The Drew will weave these seemingly contradictory conditions into a new quixotic environment.”

Apparently, the Mojave Desert is teeming with peyote!

But wait, there’s more.

“We are incredibly excited about being part of the Las Vegas landscape. Robust demand drivers continue to create an imbalance of hotel inventory supply and demand. The Drew is poised to not only capitalize on this imbalance, but also offer visitors a new marquee luxury resort with a distinctive, compelling concept. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our team and our partners,” shared Steven Witkoff.

We really missed the boat by not naming our band Robust Demand Drivers.

Witkoff

We’re just sharing the logo. You’re on your own with the snark.

All due respect, but Mr. Witkoff clearly doesn’t place much value on clue-having as he seems to believe demand is outpacing hotel inventory in Las Vegas. Las Vegas visitation is down, bro.

If there’s an imbalance, it’s that there’s too much room inventory, which is likely one of the reasons The Drew’s opening has been pushed back two years.

This little gem was tucked neatly at the end of the news release: “With a confirmed opening date in the second quarter of 2022, Drew Las Vegas has also kicked off its sales efforts to group customers. The initial response to the 3,780-room resort has been overwhelmingly positive as groups look for new ideas and a fresh perspective.”

“Confirmed”! Because if you say it in a news release, it has to be true.

There’s so much off-the-wall in this announcement, it’s hard to keep track of it all.

The reality is this project doesn’t have financing in place. That’s because you can’t really get financing unless you have an architect as part of the pre-planning and budget process, and Witkoff just hired this one.

Two years after Fontainebleau was purchased.

Two years.

To hire an architect.

The first thing on a developer’s to-do list.

A story in Bloomberg says, “By delaying, Witkoff will have more certainty about his construction budget.”

Like we said, you can’t get financing unless you know what the budget is.

Fontainebleau wrap

There’s no great angle. We’ve tried.

The thing they didn’t mention in the release is it’s likely this isn’t the first architect Witkoff has hired for The Drew. We’re thinking the first firm drew up some plans, ran some numbers and they didn’t make the cut, so don’t let the door hit you on the way out, architects.

Also not in the release are the specifics of challenges related to giving a makeover to an abandoned building exposed to the elements for years.

The latest cost estimate for making The Drew a thing is $3.1 billion. With a “b.”

Never fear, though. Witkoff says Goldman Sachs Group and Deutsche Bank have been hired to raise additional capital. It’s complicated.

Remember, Las Vegas was built on optimism and whimsy! The Drew seems to have an ample supply of both.

The truth is while we’re more skeptical than ever The Drew will become a reality (we’ve heard the property may still be flipped), we’re rooting for it to succeed.

From the day we broke the story of Fontainebleau being sold, we were onboard for something, anything being done with the hulking blue eyesore.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

We are obligated to share this fake billboard whenever we talk about this place.

There’s a chance in a few years Las Vegas visitation could warrant thousands of rooms coming online. There’s no denying Drew’s proximity to the Las Vegas Convention Center, with its $935 million expansion, could make it more desirable to investors.

We can’t wait to hear from Steven Witkoff when The Drew, with it’s unfortunate name, opens. “Suck it,” Steven Witkoff will say, and we will feel ashamed for ever having doubted him and his comma-challenged architectural firm.

For now, we’ll watch and wait and wonder at how such smart, rich people can read and approve news releases that make them seem so, well, rich.

Ten Confusing Things About Las Vegas, Unconfused

It’s been awhile since we took some time to unconfuse some confusing Las Vegas things, so this would be a feeble attempt at doing just that.

We’ll call this installment, “What’s in a name?”

See, naming things is hard, so often different venues in Vegas have bafflingly similar names. In other cases, a name might just be misleading. You’ll see what we mean.

1. Grand Bazaar vs. Bazaar Meat

Bazaar Meat is a steakhouse at SLS Las Vegas. The Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s are sort of an outdoor flea market. You can’t miss Grand Bazaar Shops, as they appear to have been decorated by someone who accidentally dropped a Pantone color guide into a blender.

Grand Bazaar Shops

No, they actually intended it to look that way.

2. Parlor Lounge vs. Parlour Bar

If you’re looking for Parlor Lounge, head to Mirage. If it’s Parlour Bar you seek, make your way downtown to El Cortez.

El Cortez Las Vegas

No, we don’t have a photo of the lounge. Do we look like we’ve visited every lounge in Las Vegas? Don’t answer that.

3. Guy vs. Guy

Confusing names aren’t just limited to places. There are two well-known Guys in Las Vegas: Guy Savoy and Guy Fieri. It’s easy to tell them apart, of course. Guy Savoy pronounces his name “ghee,” while the other once said, “I wanna be the ambassador to Chimichanga Flavor Town.” ‘Nuff said.

Guy Fieri

We could either show you a photo of Guy Fieri or hostesses at his restaurant. Thought so.

4. Mr. Chow vs. Chow

Mr. Chow is a restaurant at Caesars Palace. Chow was also a downtown restaurant. That Chow closed in Sep. 2017 to daily customers, focusing on catering instead.

Chow

“Chow” is derived from the term “chow chow,” making this possibly the most useless photo caption, ever.

5. Nobu vs. Nobu vs. Nobu

There’s a Nobu restaurant at Caesars Palace, and it’s on the ground level of Nobu Hotel. Nobu Hotel is inside Caesars Palace (they call such arrangements boutique hotels, just as Four Seasons is part of Mandalay Bay). But those aren’t the only Nobus in Las Vegas. There’s another Nobu at Hard Rock casino. Hard Rock will soon be a Virgin Hotel, which will definitely not be confusing to anyone.

Nobu Matsuhisa

The Nobu in question, Nobu Matsuhisa.

6. Trevi vs. Trevi

Inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, there’s a restaurant called Trevi. It’s near a beautiful fountain. Which isn’t a replica of the Trevi fountain, although many people think it is. Nope. The Trevi fountain replica is outside the Forum Shops. Just to keep guests on their toes.

Trevi fountain Las Vegas

The Trevi fountain is nowhere near Trevi restaurant. There will be a quiz.

7. Le Cirque vs. Cirque

There’s a successful restaurant at Bellagio called Le Cirque. It has no affiliation to Cirque du Soleil, which has a variety of productions in Las Vegas.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

You totally thought “Le Reve” was a Cirque show, admit it.

8. Plaza Bar vs. Plaza

If a friend said they’d meet you at the Plaza Bar, you’d of course make a beeline to the Plaza casino downtown. Well, you’d be screwed. That’s because the Plaza Bar isn’t at the Plaza. It’s at Westgate. Formerly LVH, formerly Las Vegas Hilton, formerly the International. Phew. We need to sit down for a minute.

Westgate Las Vegas

Westgate, the timeshare salesperson of Las Vegas hotels.

9. Royal Rewards vs. Royal Players Club

Yep, two casinos have loyalty clubs named “Royal.” There’s Royal Rewards at the Plaza and Royal Players Club at Four Queens.

Plaza loyalty club

Try to use your Plaza players card at Four Queens and you’re royally screwed.

10. Palazzo vs. Palazzo Suites

You’ve probably heard of the Palazzo hotel. It’s the counterpart to Venetian. What you may not know is Rio has suites of the same name, Palazzo Villa suites. Why on Earth would that ever confuse anyone?

Palazzo

It’s important not to mistakes suites at Palazzo with the Palazzo suites at Rio.

We hope this has helped you remove some of the plex from Sin City’s sometimes perplexing names. We’d love to hear it if other bemusing befuddlements befall you.

And, yes, we use alliteration as a crutch when we can’t think of a clever way to wrap things up. Like you read this far, anyway.

Wynn Resorts Sues Resorts World for Being a Copycat

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to Resorts World, the lawyers for Wynn Resorts are having none of it.

Wynn Resorts has filed a federal lawsuit against Resorts World claiming its under construction hotel infringes on Wynn’s trademarked design.

Oh, the glorious drama!

Here’s a look at the current state of Resorts World, the $4 billion Asian-themed casino being built across the street from Wynn Las Vegas.

Resorts World

Just when you’re starting to take flight, somebody tries to clip your wings. Or something.

Here’s a closer look at Resorts World.

Resorts World

Lawyer up, Resorts World.

Below is the Wynn hotel, for comparison purposes, in case you’ve been living under a rock.

Concave facade, check.

Curved, bronze glass, check.

Horizontal banding between the lines of glass panes, check.

Wynn Las Vegas

This design has been used by Wynn not only in Las Vegas, but also Macau, Boston and 14 feet away at Encore.

Wynn’s lawyers make a convincing case that the similarities between the buildings (the technical name is “trade dress”) could cause customer confusion and constitutes unfair competition.

The Wynn Resorts lawsuit contains five counts: 1) Federal trade dress infringement, 2) unfair competition and false designation of origin, 3) federal trademark dilution, 4) state trademark dilution and 5) Chocula.

We were just making sure you were paying attention. The fifth count is state trademark dilution and copyright infringement.

This, by the way, is why lawyers are paid so much. They have to read crap like that all day.

Through the miracle of the Interwebs, you can just read the lawsuit yourself.

If you do take time to read the lawsuit, please note this very blog somehow got a shout-out as an exhibit. Because, of course, we have to make everything about us.

Wynn sues Resorts World

Not only were we mentioned, we were also called out for a typo. Rude.

Here’s our article referenced in the lawsuit. You’d be surprised how little traffic a site gets from a link in a lawsuit. Just saying. And if you can’t get enough of us, check out this news segment on Channel 8 in Las Vegas.

So, this has all the makings of a good, old-fashioned Las Vegas feud.

Which is odd, because we’d heard from Wynn Las Vegas employees the similarities between the buildings has been the source of chatter inside Wynn for some time, and company executives appeared to be taking it in stride.

At an employee town hall in mid-November, Wynn leadership was asked about the Resorts World design, and it was shared top executives of Wynn and Resorts World are fairly cozy. Wynn Resorts leadership revealed, reportedly in a light-hearted way, the fact Resorts World executives were open about “copying” the design of Wynn Las Vegas because they admire it.

As it turns out, they may have admired it a bit too much.

While Resorts World is only partially complete, from what we’ve seen over the construction wall, millions of dollars in glass has already been purchased and delivered to the site.

Resorts World

You can see tons of windows ready for installation in the foreground.

If Wynn Resorts prevails, changing course at Resorts World would be massively expensive. And should they be forced to send back all that window glass, just imagine the restocking charges.

Fun fact: The window manufacturer shown on the product at Resorts World is Enclos, the same company that made the windows for Wynn and Encore. Check it out.

The Wynn Resorts lawsuit is anything but a slam dunk, however.

We’re no lawyer, but if we were fighting this lawsuit, the first thing we’d do is share the most recent rendering of Resorts World (see below).

The finished product looks less like Wynn and Encore, making Wynn’s lawsuit a bit more wobbly. Which may not be the exact legal term, but you get our drift.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Our bullet-proof Resorts World defense: “Chill, bro, we’re not done yet.”

It’s worth noting Resorts World has changed quite a bit since its early renderings.

Resorts World rendering

Resorts World sort of took a turn for the Wynn somewhere along the way.

We’re thinking Wynn’s window manufacturing company had a clearance sale, and Resorts World saw a bargain it just couldn’t resist.

It’s unknown how the Wynn Resorts infringement lawsuit will affect Resort World’s opening date. Resorts World has already had numerous delays.

The LVCVA says Resorts World is unlikely to open until 2021, even without its legal woes.

Wynn West Resorts World

We Tweeted this two weeks before Wynn’s legal action. We pride ourself on being an endless source of lawsuit exhibits.

While we enjoy the occasional casino one-upmanship, we also tend to like when neighbors play nicely together.

Let’s hope Wynn Las Vegas and Resorts World can resolve the lookalike issue amicably and move forward with some friendly competition and the mutual goal of lifting all the boats on the north end of The Strip, already.

Update (1/28/19): The lawsuit between Wynn Resorts and Resorts World has been resolved in the most boring way possible. Ultimately, the suit was a shot across the bow to ensure Resorts World’s design veered sufficiently from the Wynn/Encore look. Here’s the joint statement about the settlement.

Resorts World rendering

Our 15 minutes of trade dress lawsuit fame are, apparently, over.

This Was Easily Our Weirdest Vegas Celebrity Sighting, Ever

We’ve bumped into tons of celebrities in Las Vegas, but this two-fer was a doozy. (Or, for the Millennials, a “humdinger.”)

We were doing lunch at Triple George, downtown, and saw an odd couple enter the restaurant.

The more diminutive of the two caught our eye first, but his companion looked very familiar as well.

The pair of diners were none other than two TV legends: Felix Silla and Gil Gerard, both featured in TV’s “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”

Gil Gerard Felix Silla

It’s been nearly 40 years since they worked together in “Buck Rogers,” and it’s great to see these two are still pals.

“Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” a sci-fi TV series that ran from 1979 to 1981. The pilot for the show was released as a feature film as well.

Gerard, now 75, starred as “Buck” Rogers and also appeared in nearly 400 TV commercials.

Depending upon your level of nerd, you may also be impressed to learn Gil Gerard voiced the character of Megatronus in 2015’s “Transformers: Robots in Disguise.”

Felix Silla, 81, co-starred with Gerard in “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” as a robot named Twiki.

Twiki Buck Rogers

Twiki and Buck Rogers can attest to the fact everyone points at things in the 25th century.

Silla was even better known for playing the character of Cousin Itt on the original “The Addams Family.”

Silla has at various times played Las Vegas venues with his group, The Original Harmonica Band.

Just in case you haven’t hit your maximum nerd yet, bask in the fact Felix Silla not only did the voice of Mortimer Goth in the videogame “The Sims 2,” he also played an Ewok in “Return of the Jedi.”

Both Gerard and Silla were gracious about having their photo taken, and when we mentioned they seem to have a lot of fans, Silla said, “Yes we do.”

We didn’t get to ask why the men were in Las Vegas, or why they were having lunch at Triple George that day. We just enjoyed our brush with TV history. Only in Vegas!

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.