Category Archives: Las Vegas WTF

MGM Resorts Confirms Return of Paid Parking

MGM Resorts has officially confirmed our scoop, paid parking returns to the company’s Las Vegas resorts starting June 1, 2021.

A statement from MGM Resorts said, “Service and business needs blah blah focused on expanding our amenities blah blah blah demand blah blah.”

In layperson’s terms: Paid parking sucks, MGM Resorts started this crap in the first place, and it’s back to sucking again on June 1.

Paid parking

Don’t shoot the messenger.

On the bright side, the start of paid parking in Las Vegas inspired one of our most viral stories, ever.

Also on the bright side, parking has been free for months at MGM Resorts casinos in Las Vegas.

Caesars Entertainment restored paid parking on Oct. 30, 2020.

MGM Resorts hotels in Las Vegas include Bellagio, Park MGM, NoMad, New York-New York, Aria, Vdara, Mirage, MGM Grand, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay and Delano.

Fun fact: You’re probably saying Delano wrong.

There’s actually a lot of bright side here, but the bright side isn’t as funny.

Las Vegas Monopoly

Still holds up, sadly.

First, parking will remain free for locals, for the first three hours of their visit.

Second, we never paid for parking at MGM Resorts casinos because we got their M Life MasterCard credit card (no annual fee). The credit card bumps you up to Pearl status in the company’s loyalty club, and Pearl status members (and higher) get free parking.

Caesars has a similar deal with its credit card, but that one requires $5,000 in spend per year.

Third, valet parking is coming back to Aria, Vdara, Bellagio and MGM Grand on May 25, and all other MGM Resorts casinos on June 1.

MGM paid parking

Don’t panic. We use terms like “tho” ironically, to give the appearance of relevance.

It’s no coincidence paid parking is coming back to MGM Resorts casinos right around the time the Stanley Cup playoffs commence. That’s the hockey one. Las Vegas has a team now, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Thanks a lot, sports!

The return of paid parking was inevitable, unfortunately.

Caesars Entertainment made the move largely to prevent some of the trouble happening inside its garages and casinos. They earned some brownie points for donating parking revenue proceeds to charity. MGM Resorts has made no such promises.

While the two biggest players on The Strip have paid parking, there are still a number of resorts that have free parking.

The casinos on The Strip with free parking include: Tropicana, TI, Venetian and Palazzo, Casino Royale, Circus Circus, Cosmopolitan, Wynn and Encore and The Strat.

Yes, The Strat is on The Strip. Don’t get us started.

Planet Hollywood and Miracle Mile Shops have always had free parking, but we’ve scooped the local news yet again by sharing that era will soon come to an end soon enough.

Linq paid parking

We prefer our parking machines inoperable, thanks.

Free parking was fun while it lasted, but as MGM Resorts has confirmed, paid parking in Las Vegas is here to stay.

Here’s hoping these folks use some of those parking fees to spruce up their self-parking garages. Caesars Entertainment is the worst culprit, with several of its parking structures looking like toxic waste sites. Looking at you, Flamingo.

Parking is often a Las Vegas visitor’s initial interaction with a Las Vegas resort, and getting dinged for parking isn’t a great first impression. We get that charging for parking is a business reality, but it contributes to the perception of Las Vegas as moving away from value to nickel-and-diming.

That perception, along with increased competition across the country, are going to present unprecedented challenges for Sin City following the post-pandemic bump in visitation.

How do we know? Our crystal ball isn’t just for paid parking scoop and casino sales. Ignore its predictions at your peril.

Cafe Americano at Paris Sticks It to Guests With “RRF” Fee

We’ve long reported about the various WTF fees in Las Vegas restaurants and other venues.

The tradition of nickel-and-diming continues with a dubious fee at Cafe Americano restaurant at Paris Las Vegas.

Cafe Americano fee

On the bright side, “Dubious Fees” would make a great band name.

This time, it’s an “RRF” charge.

No explanation. Just shut up and pay it, already.

Here’s this crappy new charge in action.

RRF charge

Same suck, different name.

Although the restaurant doesn’t explain it on the bill, on its menu or Web site, “RRF” stands for “Restaurant Regulation Fee.”

The purpose is to presumably offset losses related to the pandemic.

Our take: It’s a shameless money grab and it sucks.

It’s worth noting such fees are voluntary. Guests can and should ask for the charge to be removed. Better yet, they should take their business elsewhere.

The fact is most tourists fail to even notice the charge, or aren’t willing to take time out of their vacation to protest the charge.

Restaurants rely on people not noticing, which is part of what makes the practice so shady.

For some reason, we thought Las Vegas businesses might lay off the idiotic charges for a bit following the challenges posed by the pandemic. Instead, it seems some establishments are using COVID-19 as cover for gouging.

The perception of Las Vegas as a value destination was fading even prior to the pandemic, and we railed often about how short-sighted business decisions were going to hurt Las Vegas in the long run.

We even created a fake ad on behalf of Las Vegas, a wishlist of things Vegas needs to do in order to lure customers back.

make Vegas a value

Still waiting.

Let’s just say not everyone has signed on.

Instead, we get new ways to screwing their customers, as if $28 Double Cheese Bacon Burgers weren’t generating enough profit already.

The only way such irksome charges go away is if we fight the good fight. Speak to a manager. Tell them you aren’t paying it. Let management know you’re going to post this fee in social media so others know to avoid the place.

It goes without saying customers shouldn’t punish their sever for these annoying fees. They don’t make the rules, so tip generously, as always.

Thanks to @LVVinny for giving us the heads up about this crappy new charge at Cafe Americano at Paris.

Yes, restaurants and other businesses have had a rough go of it for the past year. We all want to help. This isn’t the way. Restaurants need to dump nuisance charges once and for all, or Las Vegas will continue to lose visitors as it has for the last several years, exacerbated by increased  competition across the country.

Cafe Americano isn’t the only restaurant at Paris with questionable fees. Read more about the CNF charge at Hexx and Beer Park.

We’ll keep beating this drum until they listen. In the meantime, caveat emptor. Better yet, try another Latin phrase: “Te futueo et caballum tuum, Cafe Americano.” Seriously.

Roughly Half of Las Vegas Strip Escalators Are Out of Service

In an informal audit of escalators on the Las Vegas Strip, about half are currently out of service.

The reaction of most Las Vegas visitors to this shocking news is, “You’re using ‘shocking’ wrong.”

In other words, it’s par for the course. But worse. So, under par. Significantly subpar.

Strip broken escalator

At one intersection, Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd., we found virtually all the escalators down.

A friend of our blog, @JamesinLasVegas, wanders The Strip a lot and gives us tons of updates on the state of, well, everything.

On a recent evening, he visited 60 elevators attached to 13 pedestrian bridges on The Strip.

Of the 60 elevators monitored, 27 were broken or not functioning.

That’s a 45 percent disappointment rate, exceeding even sexual intercourse with this blog, and that’s saying something.

Private escalators (those maintained by casinos) weren’t included in these unscientific, but reliable, results.

Vegas escalators out of service

Please keep the “We all need more exercise!” nonsense to a minimum, thanks.

Responsibility for maintaining these escalators falls to Clark County, wherein Las Vegas resides.

While the large number of broken elevators on The Strip has been a running gag for some time, the current escalator situation seems even worse.

There are lots of reasons escalators can be out of order, including vandalism and routine maintenance. We couldn’t find any evidence of those during a recent excursion.

Another reason officials give for escalator downtime is “exposure to the elements.” We trust “elements” refers to rain, which Las Vegas gets one afternoon a year or whatever.

Broken escalators are a downer.

It’s unclear why so many escalators are down right now, but we trust the pandemic provides a convenient excuse.

If anything, you’d think the dip in tourism over the past year would’ve resulted in escalators  getting much less wear and tear, so they’d be in better working order. That’s a nope.

While the Mitch Hedberg observation, “An escalator can never break, it can only become stairs,” is amusing, it’s less funny to visitors who get to schlep up the stairs of shame between the broken escalators.

Vegas broken escalators

You know the Schlep of Shame of which we speak.

The situation is even worse for those with physical challenges who encounter both a broken escalator and its accompanying elevator.

We get it. There are never enough resources, but broken escalators degrade the Las Vegas experience.

Army of the Dead Vegas

Fun fact: Las Vegas Strip escalators are currently in the same state of disrepair as depicted in a new Netflix movie, “Army of the Dead.” During a zombie apocalypse.

We’re hopeful Clark County can up its escalator repair game as visitors flood back to Las Vegas.

Our town has a long way to go in recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Getting our Strip escalators up and running would be a step in the right direction.

Update (4/26/21): It gets worse. Today, of 60 escalators on The Strip, 11 are functioning. We are not kidding.

Cringe of the Day: Mandalay Bay Events Center Renamed Michelob Ultra Arena

How tough are times at Mandalay Bay? Naming rights bad.

The 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center has been renamed Michelob Ultra Arena.

Our reaction to this news is akin to being on a Las Vegas vacation and realizing you forgot your razor, so you have to groom your nether regions with Biore strips. While submerged in salt water. But worse.

Mandalay arena

We definitely need a shorthand way of saying Michelob Ultra Arena. We’re going with “meh.”

Financial details of the multi-year naming rights deal haven’t been made public, but whatever Mandalay Bay (and its owner, MGM Resorts) made from the deal, it isn’t enough.

Beyond the fundamental awkwardness of forcing customers to refer to a venue by a product name, it’s technically “Michelob ULTRA Arena,” as if the person doing the naming was experiencing some sort of seizure.

While everyone in the media is just regurgitating the news release about this deal, nobody’s really asking if it makes sense for anyone involved.

Everyone’s too busy cutting and pasting this quote from Chuck Bowling, Mandalay Bay’s President and COO: “We’re pleased to welcome Anheuser-Busch, a company we have great admiration for, as our naming rights partner at Mandalay Bay.”

Yes, Chuck Bowling admires Anheuser-Busch. Seriously, bro, raise the bar for who gets your admiration. It’s a beer company. You admire their deep pockets. That’s probably more lust than admiration, but news releases need quotes, so there you have it.

It’s also probably wise not to invest all your admiration in a beer with an average consumer score of 1.88 out of 5.

Anyway, the fact is naming rights deals are a huge waste of money for the companies gullible enough to pay for them.

There’s simply no correlation between such sponsorship deals and people consuming one’s product.

We defy you to find anyone who has has ever flown on Allegiant or signed up for T-Mobile because the names of those companies are on our stadium and arena.

Naming rights are ego-driven, plain and simple.

They’re a money grab by venues who definitely aren’t going to tell sponsors their investment is being flushed. Read more.

So, Mandalay Bay gets some revenue while customers are annoyed and the brand is diminished.

It’s yet another example of a company going for short-term gain while sacrificing long-term goodwill.

The bottom line: Mandalay Bay wasn’t doing particularly well prior to the pandemic, so there’s no way they’d turn down free money now if somebody’s foolish enough to throw it at them.

Linq Shrinks Strength of Drinks, .75 Ounce Pour Is New Normal

Here’s a fun game: Say “Linq shrinks strength of drinks” five times fast. Know what’s not fun? When casinos downsize their liquor pour size to save a few pennies.

Linq resort has done just that. The Strip casino has lowered its standard liquor pour to .75 ounces, according to a confidential internal communication.

Hey, this is Vital Vegas. Are there really any “confidential internal communications”?

Here’s today’s gut punch, or what the kids love to call “Another Vital Vegas Exclusive and Such.”

Linq smaller pour

Never fear, your libation watchdog is here.

You read that right. It’s weak. Just like your drinks at Linq from here on out.

Drinkers know the standard pour for cocktails in most establishments is 1.25 to 1.5 ounces.

In fact, there was a huge kerfuffle when we broke the news MGM Resorts had reduced its shot size from 1.5 ounces to 1.25 ounces back in 2016.

And by “reduced,” of course, we mean “improving the customer experience by offering a consistent product.” No, really, that was MGM Resorts’ response to our story back in the day. And they said it with a straight face.

Who would’ve imagined 1.5 ounces would be considered a “long pour” one day?

We anticipate a similar sentiment from Linq Hotel + Experience (the resort’s official name) and its owner Caesars Entertainment, but a .75-ounce pour seems much tougher to defend. It’s possible they’ll go the “this was communicated to staff in error” route (rogue beverage managers are everywhere in Las Vegas), but it’s possible Caesars won’t address this matter at all.

We reached out for comment from Caesars, but haven’t received a response. It’s worth noting we can’t recall ever having gotten a response to any Caesars Entertainment inquiry since about 2013, when we had the audacity to Tweet that then-Planet Hollywood headliner Britney Spears lip syncs.

Eldorado Resorts recently took the reins of Caesars Entertainment, so perhaps while they’re reviewing short-sighted policies like giving customers a thimble of liquor in their drinks, they can also take a closer at the company’s P.R. practices. Just saying.

Linq cocktail WTF

Situations like this are pretty much why “WTF” was invented.

The Linq’s new .75 ounce pour mandate is doubly concerning because this reduced pour applies not just to comped (free) drinks, according to the management memo, but also those
drinks customers pay for.

Casinos sometimes play a little fast and loose with comped drinks, including swapping the premium liquor a customer orders with a generic brand. But they tend to follow stricter guidelines with drinks people pay for.

Despite the downsizing of the standard pour at Linq, we trust the prices will remain unchanged.

The memo makes it clear if you want a “double,” or two .75-ounce portions, you’ll be dinged twice. For slightly more liquor than a traditional pour.

Our source said this puts the price of a double at Linq in the neighborhood of $32.

This move to reduce pour sizes would be baffling at any time, but seems especially misguided now.

We walked through Linq recently, and there were virtually no customers. Entire swaths of table games have been removed and replaced with slot machines. Such moves make some sense given low demand (table games involve much higher labor costs), but even if these changes are temporary, you’d think casinos would want to draw customers, not repel them with weak drinks.

Linq problems

Bonus points if you spot the carpet from the 10 minutes when Linq was The Quad.

The plot, like your cocktail, thins further as one wonders whether this new .75 ounce standard pour policy will be limited to Linq.

We’ve done this long enough to know big casino companies often test the waters before rolling out new procedures across all their locations.

Back in the day, Mirage tried drink ticket vouchers at one video poker bar. Today, drink monitoring is everywhere.

While Las Vegas has been distracted (understatement of the year) by the pandemic, it’s clear some of the town’s pre-COVID challenges persist.

Visitation in Las Vegas was already flat prior to the pandemic. This was mainly due to legalized gambling across the country, but it was also related to the increasingly widespread view Las Vegas has become a place where nickel-and-diming isn’t just an annoyance, it’s standard practice.

The perception problem has never been addressed, and policies like the one at Linq aren’t helping, they’re likely to make the issue worse just as people are thinking about travel to Las Vegas again.

To put this in layperson terms, “Have they lost their damn minds?”

Las Vegas visitors are looking for more value, not 40% less. Because that’s what it means to reduce a pour from 1.25 ounces to .75 ounces. Talk about a buzzkill.

Casinos that scrutinize their bottom lines at the expense of customer experiences had better get their act together. Otherwise, when visitors do flood back to Las Vegas, some casinos are going to find they’ve stepped over dollars to pick up dimes.

New Bleutech Project Rendering Arouses Interest

If you’ve ever wondered whether the Bleutech Park project is a complete joke, you’re not alone, and now it’s been confirmed.

The self-deluded scam artists behind the whimsical and absolutely-not-happening project have released a rendering that may even suggest they’re in on the joke. Emphasis on “may.”

Here’s a look at Bleutech’s high-rise building.

Bleutech tower schlong

Insert your favorite “erection” joke here. We’re hung over.

In response to the rendering, the Internet did what it does best. Here’s one of our favorite jabs. Another Tweet suggests the rooftop could use a fountain.

Bleutech followed up on this schlong-awaited reveal with a cross-section touting the fact the project’s alleged building will feature “33-plus levels of casino.” Bleutech clearly doesn’t appear to have a firm grasp on anything, much less what a casino is.

Bleutech just the tip

Here’s a closer look at just the tip. Hey, we aren’t that hung over.

Despite the fact Bleutech appears to have zero financing for its make-believe, $7.5 billion project, the company has continued to churn out baffling Tweets for months.

This Tweet contained one of the most phallic objects, ever, and we know a thing or two about that as we are pretty much 14 years old and wrote this blog post: Eight Memorable Phallic Objects in Las Vegas.

To Bleutech’s credit, the Tweet did contain the words “thrust” and “fluid,” so it’s possible the gag (ahem) is intentional, but given the history of the company’s social media (humorless, in addition to being clueless), we think not.

Here, Bleutech, let us help. In the words of our generation, “Schwing.”

Bleutech Vegas penis

How are we supposed to satirize things that are already absurd?

We happily called out Bleutech for being a scam back when it was announced in August 2019. The company’s news release broke all known records for bullshit, which is saying something in Las Vegas.

The announcement was quickly followed by confirmation one of the developers, Janet LeGrand, has a history of “scheming to defraud.”

Shortly after that, the communications consultant for Bleutech sued the company for stiffing him. Pun intended.

Honestly, Bleutech’s Tweets are hysterical, and a master class in meaningless jargon, random emojis and masturbatory hashtags. But those renderings!

Bleutech Vegas WTF

Seriously, Bleutech needs a wellness check.

Although amusing, the company’s social media posts are also sad, as it’s entirely possible they actually believe their project is happening. Ever.

They’ve even managed to dupe some big name partners who appear to have no clue what they’ve gotten into. Same goes for media outlets who apparently aren’t fans of “asking questions” or “having half a brain.” Sigh.

In Bleutech’s fantasy world, anything’s possible, so we await future revelations, throbbing with anticipation.