Category Archives: Las Vegas Hotels

Palace Station Has a Brand New Erection

There’s been a flurry of activity at Palace Station in recent months, including the demolition of the crime scene that sent multiple murderer O.J. Simpson to the slammer.

While demolition is fun to watch, it’s even more fun to see new things rise from the rubble. Palace Station now boasts a new structure, and we’ve got the pics.

Palace Station construction

We are a big fan of new.

The new structure is adjacent to Palace Station’s new porte cochere. We asked what the new structure is, but got no official response.

Chatting up Palace Station staff, we hear blueprints refer to the building as a “fight arena,” but a more likely use will be for convention space.

Palace Station construction

No photos of the construction site are permitted, so unfortunately we can’t show you this.

Upgrades at Palace Station are being done in phases. The first phase included remodeling the casino’s facade (and removing the train theming), adding a new bingo room and other enhancements.

Next, guests will see a new buffet, additional work on the casino and potentially a new 27-story, 606 room hotel tower. There will also be a new movie theater, bowling alley, two restaurants and upgraded pool area.

Red Rock Resorts (Station Casinos) says it will spend about $70 million on all the upgrades.

Palace Station construction

Palace Station demolished its rundown motel buildings, about 447 rooms, to make room for less suck.

Palace Station is located just off the Las Vegas Strip, on Sahara Ave. Or, as we like to describe it, “mere feet from Chick-fil-A.”

Palace Station’s main clientele is Las Vegas locals, especially Asian players. Lucky Dragon has tried to cannibalize Palace Station’s customer base (ditto Gold Coast), with little success.

Red Rock Resorts is no doubt aware of its competition in the marketplace, and is making the financial investment needed to give customers new offerings to keep them coming back for more.

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Caesars Palace Security Breaches Reveal Hell’s Kitchen Progress, Fountain Mystery

Up for a couple of security breaches at Caesars Palace? We’ve got this.

The transformation of the former Serendipity 3 into Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen restaurant is well under way at Caesars Palace.

Hell's Kitchen restaurant

At the moment, it’s less Hell’s Kitchen and more “Who in the hell is going to clean this up?”

Caesars Entertainment is clearly sparing no expense on the new Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, as demolition work has stripped the building down to its steel beams.

Hell's Kitchen restaurant

We didn’t even have time to say “Dibs on the Tiffany lamp!”

The extensive demolition provides the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant designers, Jeffrey Beers International, a virtual “tabula rasa” where they can re-invent the venue unencumbered by the restraints of the previous space. Yes, we’re drunk.

Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen is expected to open by Dec. 1, 2017, and will be the celebrity chef’s fifth restaurant in Las Vegas.

Hell's Kitchen restaurant

Work your magic, Las Vegas construction elves.

While we’re excited to see further progress at Hell’s Kitchen, we were even more excited to get a peek behind the construction wall around the iconic Caesars Palace fountains nearby.

A peek over the wall shows an outcropping of pillar-shaped additions to the fountains, and we honestly have no idea what they are.

Caesars Palace fountains

Not gonna lie, we’re hyperventilating right now.

It appears the famous statue in the fountains is still standing, but the Winged Victory of Samothrace replica is now in the company of more than a dozen mysterious metal poles jutting up from the bone-dry fountain.

Caesars Palace fountains

We love a good mystery, but we’d like having this mystery solved even more.

The metallic protrusions, wrapped in packing material, rest upon a framework that sits at what will be water level when (or perhaps if) the fountains are filled again.

Is it temporary? Is it permanent? Is it related to Hell’s Kitchen restaurant? Are we looking at the next iteration of the Caesars Palace fountain experience, one of the best Las Vegas photo ops, ever? Will there be lights? Lasers? Fire? Are these questions getting annoying yet?

Caesars Palace fountains

Oh, like we weren’t going to dig up a “before” photo. Do you know this blog at all?

Remember, you saw it here first, whatever the hell it might actually be. We’d love to hear your guesses!

Update (9/11/17): Our friends at Eater Vegas say it’s a “temporary Samsung Galaxy Studio” being built over the fountain, where customers will be able to pick up orders and try the company’s products. When the “exhibit” closes, the fountains will return to their original state, and we’ll all need a Silkwood shower because, seriously, is nothing sacred?

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New York-New York’s Roller Coaster Set to Be a VR Coaster

Virtual reality seems to be taking over Las Vegas, and the iconic roller coaster at New York-New York is rumored to be converting to a VR Coaster soon.

Virtual reality roller coasters, or VR Coasters, have been in existence since 2015, and there are currently about 20 operating at theme parks throughout the U.S.

On VR Coasters, riders don virtual reality headsets, and animations inside the headsets are synchronized to the movements of the real world roller coaster.

New York-New York VR coaster

Hold onto your virtual moobs.

The conversion of the Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York to a VR Coaster is a brilliant business move. It provides a unique experience, it encourages those who have ridden the coaster before to do it again, and it also gives the resort an opportunity to bump up the ticket price to enhance the bottom line.

At the moment, tickets for the Big Apple Coaster are a very reasonable $15.

Once the coaster becomes a virtual reality roller coaster, the price could be bumped up to $25 or more. Multiply that $10 increase over the approximately 1.4 million customers each year, and New York-New York and its parent company, MGM Resorts, are in for a windfall.

Here’s a look at a promotional video for VR Coasters, although, from what we hear, there’s no video that can really show the exhilaration guests experience on a VR-equipped ride.

There’s been no official announcement yet, but our philosophy is if it’s in a news release, it’s too damned late.™

Word is New York-New York is partnering with a German company to bring the VR Coaster experience to the Strip resort.

We haven’t ferreted out the name of the company yet, but a company called VR Coaster seems a likely candidate. They got the VR Coaster ball rolling, and describe themselves as “pioneers of the augmented thrill ride.”

New York-New York casino

You’re so pretty.

While can be some perils with VR Coasters, mostly related to motion sickness when VR units are out of sync with the movement of the ride, a VR Coaster at New York-New York has virtually limitless potential.

We are not a roller coaster person (mainly because we tend to be a motion sickness and terrified-of-heights person), but give us an animation that includes some stunning Las Vegas effects or a Las Vegas-themed adventure, and we’d be all over it.

From what we understand, the VR feature on the New York-New York roller coaster will be an optional element, and guests can still ride the coaster in the traditional manner.

To be clear, the Big Apple coaster isn’t going anywhere! The ride will just be “enhanced” to include the virtual reality capability, also known as an “upsell.”

Our inside scoop about the New York-New York’s coaster becoming a VR Coaster follows on the heels of another virtual reality-related announcement, which we reported nearly two months before it came out in a news release, of course.

The first multi-player, free-roam VR experience in Las Vegas is set to open at Level Up inside MGM Grand on Sep. 8, 2017.

Up to eight players will navigate a 2,000-square-foot arena and play one of three, 30-minute experiences at a cost of about $50 a pop.

Here’s a look at what it’s like to get your VR nerd on.

The three VR experiences are Zombie Survival (blast zombies, already), Singularity (blast rogue robits, already) and Engineerium (solve physics-based puzzles, already).

The new VR experience at Level Up, from a company called Zero Latency, seems to be a response to a failed attempt to get approval for its arena-style gaming area (from a company called Interblock) that was supposed to “revolutionize the casino player culture.” We are not making this up.

Level Up has struggled since it opened at the end of 2016, but a virtual reality arena could give it a much-needed boost.

Level Up MGM Grand

MGM Grand’s Level Up hasn’t found a foothold yet, but it may just find a virtual one.

Other VR experiments have been showing up around Las Vegas, including a VR lounge at Alto Bar at Caesars Palace, and we even spotted a virtual reality kiosk at Harmon Corner.

There’s also a VR Adventures location at the Linq promenade.

VR Adventures Linq

Warning: Virtual reality headsets do not prevent pregnancy, but they do prevent sex, which is sort of the same thing.

At one point, there were rumblings about a “virtual reality theme park” coming to town, but we haven’t heard anything more about it. Don’t hold your breath.

Virtual reality seems a good fit for Las Vegas, as the city constantly strives to evolve its entertainment offerings. There’s even been talk of strip clubs integrating virtual reality.

In a way, Las Vegas is a city built on virtual reality, or at least an alternate one.

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Fontainebleau Las Vegas Sold for $600 Million Clams

As we first shared on Aug. 21, 2017, it’s now been officially announced Fontainebleau Las Vegas has been sold for $600 million.

The abandoned project was sold by bajillionaire Carl Icahn to two real estate firms, Witkoff, a “global real estate development and investment firm,” and New Valley, an investment company.

A rep from Witkoff said the purchase marks his company’s foray into “the supply-constrained and fundamentally strong Las Vegas market,” which makes it sound so much more sexy than it really is.

Fontainebleau

Aw, man, this might be our last chance to use this photo. Oh, well.

In a news release, Steve Witkoff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Witkoff, said, “2755 Las Vegas Boulevard South is one of the best physical assets in the country, which is one of the reasons we were attracted to it. Furthermore, the resort is ideally located on the Las Vegas Strip, directly across from the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is in the midst of a $1.4 billion expansion and renovation. At the basis, we acquired a well-designed, structurally sound integrated resort at a significant discount to both replacement cost and the implied public market valuations of comparable Las Vegas Strip resorts.”

Witkoff continued, “Las Vegas is one of the strongest lodging markets in the country given its highly favorable dynamics. RevPAR and EBITDA growth continue to accelerate and there has been no new supply since 2010.”

RevPAR is “revenue per available room,” and EBITDA is “earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization,” a measure of a company’s operating performance.

During the economic downturn, Carl Icahn purchased Fontainebleau, pronounced “fountain blue,” for $150 million ($148 million, to be precise).

We are no math expert, but that means Icahn made $450 millionish on the deal. Or roughly double what he’s carrying in his pants pockets right now. (Realistically, though, there are costs associated with maintaining even an empty building, so his actual profit on the deal was less.)

Fontainebleau wrap

At the moment, Fontainebleau is less shimmer, more meh.

Specific plans for the former Fontainebleu Las Vegas haven’t been articulated yet, but it’s likely it will be rebranded and open as a hotel or (fingers crossed) shimmering “new” hotel-casino.

It’s been suggested this won’t happen for at least 2-3 years, so manage those expectations.

Deep thanks to our tipster who helped us break this story before the rest of the world.

We remain giddy about this news, and look forward to seeing what’s ahead for Fontainebleau, the tallest non-Stratosphere building in Las Vegas and a monument to WTF.

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Golden Gate Casino Unveils Multi-Million Dollar Expansion

Downtown’s Golden Gate has revealed an expansion that nearly doubles the size of its casino floor, including the addition of about 100 new slot machines.

Golden Gate’s expansion encompasses the space formerly occupied by the La Bayou casino and an alley. You’ll want to see our “before” photos of the construction, of course.

Golden Gate casino

Three’s nothing quite like that new slot machine smell.

The centerpiece of the multi-million dollar expansion is a 24-foot tall fountain of TVs around a spiral chandelier.

Golden Gate expansion

Universal remote, much?

The TV fountain is made all the more dramatic by 468 mirrors lining a arced wall that frames the decorative piece. Yes, we asked. And, yes, we know we have issues.

The tower of televisions sits just inside a brand new entrance to the Golden Gate.

The Golden Gate’s expansion includes a new loyalty club desk.

Golden Gate loyalty desk

The loyalty desk was previously tucked away near the hotel’s registration desk. Now, it’s front and center. By the way, 1906 is the year the hotel opened, originally as Hotel Nevada. Technically, the Miller Hotel. Long story.

The previous loyalty club desk has vanished through some kind of Las Vegas magic.

Golden Gate casino

“Las Vegas magic” is, technically, redundant.

Golden Gate’s interior design was done by Dez Motif, the architecture by Moser Architecture Studio.

The Golden Gate took the opportunity during its expansion to entirely replace and upgrade its sound system throughout the existing casino.

A good deal of the expansion won’t be readily visible to guests. On the casino’s second floor, a new beer distribution room is a sight to behold.

Golden Gate beer room

Golden Gate’s new beer chilling room distributes suds to the casino’s Prohibition Bar, as well as the casino’s outdoor bars, now with the help of gravity.

Still in the works is an upgraded outdoor bar, One Bar. When completed, the bar will be 20 feet longer. Translation: More slushy drinks for us.

Golden Gate casino

You can never have too much bar. It’s Vegas.

While the new casino area at Golden Gate made its debut on Aug. 25, 2017, the expansion’s official opening takes place Sep. 1, 2017, with the requisite hoopla.

Golden Gate has done a great job of creating a new space that feels modern (so many TVs), but which stays true to its old-school roots (dark wood and marble).

When you check it out, let us know what you think. We’ll be at the end of Prohibition Bar, not noticing the dancing dealers. At all.

Golden Gate Expansion Reveal

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Fontainebleau Las Vegas is Finally Sold, Source Says Official Announcement Imminent

We have the best sources, ever, and our inside guy has confirmed the abandoned Fontainebleau Las Vegas has finally been sold.

Note: Our story was officially confirmed on Aug. 29, 2017. Fontainebleau was sold for $600 million. See below for more.

After months of repeated false rumors about the sale, we hear an official announcement of the Fontainebleau sale is expected soon.

Not “within 60 days” soon this time, but actually soon. Several days from now soon. Oh, just go with it.

Our source claims the purchase is a done deal, and the parties involved are “finalizing the financing package and operational details.”

Information about the buyer is light on details, but signs point to the buyer being a “sizable Eastern real estate investment company.” Our source adds the buyer is also “very politically connected.”

Fontainebleau wrap

Yeah, the wrap doesn’t help so much.

Carl Icahn is the current owner of Fontainebleau (pronounced “fountain blue”).

Icahn purchased the bankrupt project in January 2010 for $150 million. The bajillionaire was looking to sell it for $650 million, and he may just have gotten his asking price.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas was previously listed by a Las Vegas-cased commercial real estate firm, CBRE Las Vegas, but that’s no longer the case, according to a company rep.

Bolstering the rumor Fontainebleau has been sold, CBRE says the company submitted the property to “the purported buyer” during their listing, “but he wasn’t in the market at that time.”

Recent buzz about Fontainebleau has centered mainly around the building getting a wrap to help cover up its hulking awfulness. The sale of Fontainebleau Las Vegas sets the stage for the buyer to complete the project and pump some new life into the north end of The Strip.

Fontainebleau

We pretty much do stories about Fontainebleau just to share this photo we made.

There have been other intriguing rumors associated with the sale of Fontainebleau Las Vegas as well.

Our friend on Twitter, Adam S., shares that the fate of Fontainebleau could be intertwined with that of SLS Las Vegas. The SLS was recently sold, and it’s believed the new owners of SLS could buy out the existing Starwood/Marriott deal to take back control of its luxury tower, currently branded as W Las Vegas.

That scenario could position Starwood/Marriott to be involved with Fontainebleau.

When we floated the idea the buyer could be Barry Sternlicht and his Starwood Capital Group, a key source said “no,” but suggested it’s another “New York buyer.”

No matter how things unfold, it’s a great relief to hear there’s finally some movement at Fontainebleau Las Vegas.

Downtown Grand

Fun fact. These escalators at Downtown Grand were purchased for a song when Fontainebleau tanked.

It should be noted, though, not everyone will be thrilled with the prospect of the Fontainebleau sale.

Our tipster, an hospitality industry insider, points out many in Las Vegas resort circles feel like Las Vegas doesn’t need an influx of room, convention, restaurant and nightclub inventory.

After the sale, even MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren says it’ll be between two-and-a-half and three years before the Fountainebleau could open.

Thankfully, as a blog, we need not be concerned with things like ADRs (average daily rates). We’re excited The Strip may soon rid itself of an eyesore, and we may very well get a shiny new resort wherein we can eat, drink and cavort.

If rumors of a sale are true, our hope is Fontainebleau Las Vegas will soon play host to a metric hell-ton of cavorts.

Updated (8/29/17): Our story has been confirmed by multiple media outlets. Fontainebleau has been sold for $600 million to two real estate investment firms, The Witkoff Group and New Valley. Read more.

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