Category Archives: Las Vegas Hotels

Resorts World Drops Asian Theme, Pushes Back Opening Date to 2021

The long-awaited (understatement of the year) Resorts World rolled out some new renderings and moved back its opening date to summer of 2021.

In other words, Resorts World is set to open four years after its groundbreaking in May 2015.

Here’s a look at the latest iteration of Resorts World Las Vegas.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It’s about time Vegas got some new sparkly.

Please refer to that photo if anyone ever asks, “Hey, what does a $4.3 billion resort look like?”

It’s worth noting Cosmopolitan cost $4.18 billion.

Fluid budget and sliding open date aside, Resorts World is looking pretty slick and has released more information about its amenities.

Here’s a look at Resorts World’s pool complex.

Resorts World pool complex

There will be no shortage of breast strokes at Resorts World.

The pool complex will be a Vegas-sized 220,000-square-feet, including an 1,800-square-foot infinity pool. In the parlance of pool construction, that’s one big-ass pool complex.

Here are some other numbers of interest about Resorts World:

googie 110,000-square-foot casino
googie 5,000-seat theater
googie 70,000-square-feet of retail space
googie 350,000-square-feet of meeting and banquet space
googie 200,000-square-feet of restaurants and bars
googie 27,000-square-foot world-class spa
googie 14,000-square-foot race and sports book and live entertainment venue
googie 10,000-square-foot marquee
googie 50-foot diameter video globe

Because this blog is of the male persuasion, we perked up when we heard the side of the hotel’s west tower will have a 100,000-square-foot LED screen, making it one of the largest LED screens in the country.

Resorts World

We are confident enough in our masculinity to swoon at a video screen bigger than a football field. A football field is 57,600-square-feet.

There are some concerns about Resorts World, including that the resort says it will have a “75,000-square-foot nightclub and dayclub concept.”

That trajectory seems a holdover from a pre-Kaos era in Las Vegas. The nightlife business model has been described as broken, and not just by us. Listen to us talk about the state of Las Vegas nightclubs on KNPR.

The bigger concern, of course, is Resorts World is set to come online with a ton of supply (3,500 rooms) at a time of uncertainty about demand, as Las Vegas visitation is essentially flat and drive traffic from California has dropped significantly due to increased competition.

Lots of hopes are being pinned on the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center and Raider Stadium. It remains to be seen if those projects move the needle, and by how much.

Still, Resorts World is sparkly and we love new Las Vegas things.

Resorts World

So pretty, but if you’re headed to the hotel or casino, you’re in for a schlep.

The new Resorts World renderings serve to confirm why Wynn Resorts dropped its lawsuit asserting Resorts World was copying its “trade dress.”

Modesty precludes us from mentioning we were mentioned in that lawsuit, as well as the fact Resorts World has officially confirmed our story about smartly dropping the resort’s Asian theme.

You know we’ll be keeping an eye on Resorts World, and we can’t wait to take her for a test drive when she’s unveiled in 2021 or whenever.

New Sportsbook at The D Las Vegas Means Five Shows Are Done

Sports are a big deal, and a big draw, at The D. So, it’s not all that surprising to hear the downtown casino will turn its showroom into a proper sportsbook.

The closure of The D’s second floor showroom means its five resident shows will be out as of Jan. 5, 2020.

The D showroom

The curtain’s falling on The D’s showroom. Oh, like you didn’t see that coming.

The five shows closing at The D are: “Marriage Can Be Murder” (dinner show, never saw it), “Laughternoon” (entertaining, family-friendly show featuring Adam London), “Friends, The Musical Parody” (valiant effort, but forgettable), Jokesters Comedy Club (missed this one, too) and “Defending the Caveman” (the only show we’ve ever seen that was so bad, we walked out, then saw it another night with a different actor, just so we could walk out again).

“Marriage Can Be Murder” recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, with more than 6,000 performances under its belt. The dinner show originally opened at the Showboat Hotel & Casino.

The announcement of a new sportsbook at The D comes on the heels of a recent retooling of The D’s diminutive sportsbook not too far from the showroom. The unveil of that sportsbook happened in conjunction with a renovation of our home away from home, Vue Bar.

Vue Bar

Please don’t disturb us at Vue Bar. We already have carpal tunnel from all the autographs.

The showroom at The D never seemed an especially good fit for the casino. Downtown is much more about drinking and gambling than it is about theatrical productions.

Aside from the current crop, the only other show we can remember seeing in The D’s showroom was “Ja-Makin-Me-Laugh,” a show so awful it made “Defending the Caveman” look like “The Book of Mormon.”

Oh, and “Aussie Hunks” may have been there for a minute. Otherwise, we have no explanation for having taken this photo in 2015.

Aussie Hunks Las Vegas

Not to be mistaken for “Thunder From Down Under” or “Aussie Heat,” probably.

The new sportsbook at The D follows the recent launch of Circa Sports, a sports betting venture from brothers Derek and Greg Stevens.

The Stevens own The D, Golden Gate and the under-construction Circa Las Vegas resort. Circa is expected to open in Dec. 2020. (Note: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience as our day job. The D is a partner casino.)

We trust a couple of the shows displaced by the closure of The D’s showroom will find new homes. Hopefully, not all of them. Because life’s too short for entire shows centered around losing TV remotes and leaving the toilet seat up. All due respect to toilet seats.

11 Reasons You Need to Visit The Strat Again

There’s a lot more to love about The Strat since the last time you visited.

Golden Entertainment bought Stratosphere back in 2017, and a $140 million renovation and rebrand ensued. Now, Stratosphere is The Strat, which totally spoils the surprise of item number one on our list. Oh, well.

Please enjoy our hastily slapped-together list of wildly compelling reasons you need to go back to The Strat.

1. Stratosphere is The Strat

Stratosphere became The Strat in Feb. 2019. Lots of folks already called it The Strat, but the rebrand made it official. Golden Entertainment saved a ton of money by giving Stratosphere a streamlined name rather than having to start from scratch with an entirely new one.

Strat casino sign

The Strat’s official new name is The Strat Hotel, Casino and SkyPod. The “SkyPod” is just the tip. And, yes, some photo captions write themselves.

2. Sexy New Chips

Along with the resort’s new name came a roll-out of some fancy new casino chips. We love them, and yes, we understanding loving a casino chip is a little weird, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Worth noting: Your previously-issued Stratosphere chips expire on Dec. 9, 2019, so cash ’em if you got ’em.

Strat chips

We can only afford to collect the $1 chips. We are not an Adelson.

3. Sparkly Table Games Area

Golden put its money where its casino is with the unveil of a new casino table games area. We hit the new table games area on the day it opened, being the first person to roll the dice on a beautiful new craps table. Over the next 24 minutes, we personally contributed financially to the renovation of The Strat. Note: We’ve since made it back, and much more, on video poker.

Strat casino

Light blue is associated with health, tranquility, understanding and doubling down on blackjacks, or at least those first few things.

And adjoining section of the casino has a different look. We try not to play favorites.

Strat casino

The Strat has its groove back.

4. Enlightened Selfie Policy

While The Strat has a lot of great changes happening, this is one of our most beloved: You can take photos in the casino. Shocker, right? The Strat is one of the few casinos in town that has an actual clue when it comes to allowing guests to take selfies at the tables. It says so right on the felt, and it’s a huge step in Las Vegas casinos moving away from outdated policies that only serve to annoy customers. Bravo, bigtime, Strat.

Strat selfie

Common courtesy still applies, of course. No photos of guys with their mistresses.

5. Blvd. & Main Taphouse

We’ve been working our way through the menu at Strat’s new Blvd. & Main Taphouse restaurant and we’ve yet to have anything that wasn’t great. We look forward to tapping that again soon.

Strat Blvd. & Main

The fish and chips are consistently fleek. Stop rolling your eyes, we’re using “fleek” ironically.

6. View Lounge

We’re not entirely sure how the new View Lounge became one of our favorite places to play in all of Las Vegas, but it has. This casino bar and lounge not only looks great, but the machines feel loose, the bartenders are top notch (and visually appealing) and you can get anything on the Blvd. & Main menu at the bar. There’s honestly no reason to leave View Lounge, ever.

View Lounge Strat

Your video poker and hooch needs are handled: It’s View on The Strip (at The Strat) and Vue downtown (at The D).

7. Remix

As if one great casino bar and lounge weren’t enough, The Strat built two. Behold Remix.

Remix

You can never have too many casino bars. Or just bars, come to think of it.

Remix made its debut very recently and, again, the video poker machines feel generous and the drinks are far better than they have to be. The signature cocktails are well worth exploring, including this gorgeous purple thing called the Jumping Empress.

Remix

The sacrifices we make to bring you all the latest cocktail news.

8. Top of the World Revamp

The Top of the World restaurant at Strat has long been on the short list of must-do restaurants in Las Vegas. The restaurant recently got an overhaul, including an entirely new menu. Combined with the stunning views, and Messermeister steak knives (whatever those might be), Top of the World isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience, and it’s not to be missed.

Top of the World

Our photography is so good, we should start a blog of some sort.

9. “Celestia”

Simply put, “Celestia” is a Cirque-style show without the Cirque-style price (tickets start at a ridiculously low $29). This show, in a 30,000-square-foot tent, features dozens of acrobats and variety performers and bendy people. It also has the “Wheel of Death,” which is worth the price of admission on its own. The show has mercifully little clown, is unburdened by a plot and is a great night out for the whole family. Here’s the official Web site.

 

10. Free Parking

No, free parking isn’t new at The Strat, but it’s worth mentioning because, well, free parking.

Strat free parking

The Strat’s doing a lot right, and it starts and ends with free parking.

11. Make Sahara Mad

This reason to visit The Strat isn’t something new, it’s just something fun. See, Sahara has started positioning itself as one end of The Strip. They’re even using a new tagline, “The Strip starts here.” Hooey. The Strip isn’t based upon legal boundaries, it’s based upon what structures are depicted on keychains. The Strat is part of The Strip. So, when you visit The Strat, you’re sending a clear message to Sahara (formerly SLS) to get over itself. We love that.

Strat Las Vegas

Sorry, Sahara, The Strip begins (or ends) right here.

While our list covers our favorite new things, there are actually quite a few more.

The resort unveiled its “Elevate” room, a complete remodel of 311 rooms with new decor, furniture and amenities.

Strat also recently opened Strat Cafe & Wok, its 24-hour restaurant which replaced Roxy’s Diner.

Strat Cafe Wok

Roxy’s had singing. ‘Nuff said.

The Strat also has a shiny new sports book, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Also new is The Strat’s Link Lounge, named for Aristocrat’s “Link” game series, which will make fans of Lighting Link, Dragon Link and Liberty Link very happy.

We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention 108 Eats and 108 Drinks, two new venues on the hotel’s 108th floor. These spots are courtesy of chef James Trees, our culinary hero because of his Esther’s Kitchen downtown and Ada’s in Summerlin.

Oh, and we can’t forget the Strat’s sweet new carpeting. We probably should’ve done a top 20 list, but we are often both drunk, lazy or both.

Strat carpet

One for the casino carpet fetishists, and they are legion.

The bottom line: It’s time to visit The Strat again. Let us know what you think of all the upgrades and we’ll see you at The Strat.

MGM Resorts Sells Bellagio to Blackstone Group

MGM Resorts has sold the iconic Bellagio resort in Las Vegas to Blackstone Group (technically, Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust) for $4.2 billion.

The Bellagio sale is what’s called a “lease-back” deal.

While Blackstone owns Bellagio, MGM Resorts will continue to manage it and will pay Blackstone $245 million a year in what amounts to “rent.” MGM Resorts will get a 5% ownership stake in Bellagio as well.

Bellagio art

For $4.2 billion, you also get some sweet artwork.

The sale of Bellagio is believed to be the biggest sale in Las Vegas history.

There are a couple of questions most people seem to ask about the sale of Bellagio.

First question, why did MGM Resorts sell Bellagio?

Answer: It’s a lot of money. The sale will allow MGM Resorts to pay down some of its massive debt.

Second question, how will the sale affect the typical guest?

Answer: Not at all, really.

MGM Resorts announced the sale of Bellagio at around the same time it announced the sale of Circus Circus for $825 million to TI owner Phil Ruffin.

Circus Circus Lucky clown

MGM Resorts has sold off its pride and joy as well as its red-headed stepchild.

The sales of Bellagio and Circus Circus are expected to close by the end of 2019.

That’s a lot of change in Las Vegas casinoland in a relatively short period of time, but even more Las Vegas resorts are expected to change hands in the near future.

It’s been reported MGM Grand is also likely to sell (another leaseback), and MGM Resorts has also said it’s considering selling Aria and Vdara.

Strap in, there’s more to come.

Confirmed at Last, Rio Las Vegas Sold to Imperial Companies

Caesars Entertainment has officially announced the sale of Rio, finally.

Rio was purchased by a New York real estate group for $516.3 million. The deal is expected to be finalized in early 2020.

Rio

It’s about damn time.

The buyer is Imperial Companies, run by founding partners Eric Birnbaum and Michael Fascitelli.

Gosh, if only someone had known who the buyer was way back in April 2019.

Rio sale

Haters, please form a line to the right for the traditional eating of the crow.

While the Rio has finally sold, Caesars Entertainment will continue to operate the resort for at least two years. Imperial has the option to pay Caesars $7 million to extend the lease an additional year.

While Caesars operates Rio, it will pay $45 million a year in rent.

The announcement of the sale of Rio puts to rest some lingering questions such as the fate of the World Series of Poker. The popular event will be held at Rio in 2020, and 2021 is likely as well according to Seth Palansky, V.P. of Corporate Communications for the WSOP.

Caesars Entertainment will continue to own the rights to WSOP.

Rio Las Vegas sign

Please fix the neon, already.

At this juncture, it’s unclear what Imperial’s intentions are for Rio.

We do know the asking price for Rio at one time was more than a billion dollars, so Imperial got this fading casino at a relative bargain. That is, until you consider what it’s going to cost (possibly a billion-plus) to bring the Rio back up to snuff.

Rumors and speculation continue to swirl, and we’d share them, but at the moment we’re busy reveling in how badass we are for calling the Rio sale months before anyone else.

One more self-indulgent Tweet, please! (We took at lot of crap for this scoop, so let us have our moment.)

Rio sale

The Rio sale was announced on the last day of summer, Sep. 23, 2019. Boom.

More to come, and thanks to our amazing sources. You know who you are.

Four Las Vegas Casinos Get New Names

Change is the only constant in Las Vegas (other than world-class lap dances, allegedly), but lately the amount of change is startling.

Four casinos are getting new names: SLS Las Vegas, Hooters, Stratosphere and Hard Rock.

Here’s the quick overview of the name changes so you can impress your friends, should you ever get some.

SLS Las Vegas is Sahara

The classic Sahara is the Sahara all over again! The money pit that was SLS was purchased by bajillionaire Alex Meruelo back in April 2018.

Sahara Las Vegas

Everything old is new again.

Yes, we broke the news SLS was purchased and the fact it would be rebranded Sahara. You don’t have to make it about us all the time, you know.

Significant renovations have been happening at Sahara for months, and the name change officially happened June 27, 2019.

Sahara Las Vegas

The funky statue outside Sahara has been replaced temporarily by shrubbery.

Hooters is Oyo

The off-Strip Hooters hotel has had a slew of names. It was recently purchased, and will become Oyo Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.

Oyo Hotel & Casino

Hooters out, Oyo in.

Yes, we broke the Oyo story, too. Please stop obsessing over how great we are. It’s awkward.

Oyo Las Vegas chips

Calling all chip collectors. Just a figure of speech. Nobody has time to actually do that.

Oyo is known for its massive collection of budget hotels, so we don’t expect many changes to Hooters following the rebrand.

The Hooters restaurant won’t be sticking around, despite official statements. The restaurant will be moving to a Strip casino. The current frontrunner is one that rhymes with Schmopicana.

Oyo

“Oyo” presumably stands for “on your own.” Just play along, they’re new in town.

Stratosphere is The Strat

Yes, this qualifies as a name change, despite the fact many people called this iconic casino “The Strat” long before it became official.

Strat

Many have used “Strat” as shorthand for Stratosphere for awhile, now it’s official.

Golden Gaming purchased Stratosphere in Oct. 2017, and a number of renovations have happened leading up to the renaming in Feb. 2019.

Not only was the resort’s marquee was recently replaced, the casino rolled out some sweet new chips.

Strat

Strat splurged for Paulson Premium chips, which mainly serves to make it sound like we know what we’re talking about.

The changes at The Strat make it a must-visit, in our humble opinion, and there are more surprises in the works.

Strat

That’s right, selfies encouraged in the casino at Strat. Miracles never cease.

Among the changes at The Strat are decor changes in the casino.

Strat

Sky blue is a good fit at Strat because it’s the structure in Vegas that’s closest to it. The sky. Please keep up.

Hard Rock Becomes Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

In 2020, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas will transform into Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

The resort will close for eight months, starting after Super Bowl weekend 2020.

Hard Rock Casino Las Vegas

In 2020, Vegas gets its very first Virgin.

Yes, we shared that news first (not to mention the resort was being sold). Now, it’s just getting embarrassing.

The Hard Rock renovation will touch virtually every part of the resort, and the renderings so far have been sexy AF. Take a look.

Virgin hotel Las Vegas

New look, new feel, new mojo.

It’s expected Virgin Las Vegas will open between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, 2020.

Bonus Name Changes

If you haven’t visited Las Vegas in awhile, there are more name changes worth noting.

Monte Carlo is Park MGM

Monte Carlo was a visitor favorite for years, but the resort was officially rebranded to Park MGM in May 2018.

Park MGM

Please don’t make fun of the Park MGM logo. Folks on Fiverr have to make a living, too.

Mandarin Oriental is Waldorf Astoria

We probably shouldn’t include this on our list, because it doesn’t have a casino, but a name change is a name change. Mandarin Oriental became Waldorf Astoria in August 2018.

Thank you for not feeling obligated to mention we broke the news Mandarin Oriental would become Waldorf Astoria.

Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas

“Waldorf” comes from Walldorf, a town in Germany. “Astoria” comes from Astoria, Oregon. Don’t look now, but you accidentally learned something on the Internet.

Fontainebleau is The Drew

Honorary mention goes to a resort that never even opened, Fontainebleau. The abandoned project was purchased and renamed The Drew. Virtually nothing is happening with The Drew, so don’t get your hopes up.

Drew Las Vegas

“Nobody could have a lazier logo than Park MGM.” The Drew: “Hold our beer.”

That should bring you up to speed with the casino name game in Las Vegas.

Lots of casinos are rumored to be changing hands soon, so it’ll be fun to see if they’ll stick with the names they’ve got or switch things up. You’ll know when we do, and we claim to know everything.