Category Archives: Las Vegas Hotels

Hard Rock Las Vegas Sale Finally Officially Confirmed

After months of us sounding like a crazy person, the sale of Hard Rock Las Vegas has been confirmed.

A news conference was held at the Hard Rock in conjunction with the long-awaited announcement. Watch it.

The Hard Rock was purchased by Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels in partnership with a group led by Juniper Capital Partners and Fengate Real Asset Investments along with their partners Dream, Cowie Capital Partners and other private investors.

The sale closed March 30, 2018.

Virgin Hotels

It’s about time you showed up!

In attendance at the news conference were Richard Branson (described as a “partner” in the deal), new CEO Richard “Boz” Bosworth, Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal and a number of young women dancing around in bikinis.

We first got wind of the Hard Rock sale back in March 2017, then reported the involvement of Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels earlier this year. We love when a plan comes together, no matter how long it takes.

Virgin Las Vegas

It’s officially official.

During the news conference, it was announced Hard Rock will continue to operate under its current name through 2018.

A major renovation of the resort will happen in 2019. Changes will be “phased in” according to Virgin Hotels, and the resort will officially become a Virgin Hotel in late 2019.

We’re pleased about this news as it allows us to share this rendering we made. Because chastity belts. And virgins.

Virgin Las Vegas rebrand

Hey, you keep something under wraps this long, we’re going to fill in the gaps.

“We’re going to spend hundreds of millions in transforming this property,” said Richard Bosworth of Bosworth Hospitality.

According to a news release, “The hotel will feature 1504 well-appointed Chambers, Grand Chamber Suites and Penthouse Suites; a 60,000 square foot, fully-renovated casino, multiple pools over five acres, world-class restaurants, lounges and bars, including new nightlife venues and the brand’s flagship space, the Commons Club, as well as numerous meeting and convention spaces.”

We trust “chambers” are like rooms, only more “Virginy.”

Here’s more about the sale of Hard Rock Las Vegas and its transition to Virgin Hotel.

At the news conference, as if it needed asking, one reporter asked, “Why Las Vegas?” Richard Branson said, “Virgin’s all about fun, entertainment and not taking ourselves too seriously.”

Richard Branson passed on giving specifics of the cost of Hard Rock.

While Branson didn’t get into details about the sale at the news conference, when asked about rebranding the hotel’s entertainment venues, he said, “The Joint’s got a fun name.”

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas will continue to have a casino, thankfully. A gaming partner will be announced at a later time, per Virgen Hotels CEO Raul Leal.

As for the Hard Rock’s memorabilia, it’s staying.

Richard Branson has been quoted as saying, “You’re not going to walk into slot machines the moment you walk into a Virgin Hotel like you do the Hard Rock, but we’ll be tasteful, fun, and we’ll get the right balance there. I come from the rock ‘n’ roll business, and the memorabilia is something that fortunately comes with the hotel. So it’s incredible for me to suddenly have this collection of wonderful rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.”

Hard Rock Las Vegas

Dibs on this sign.

It’s been a tough slog for the Hard Rock recently, and this sale will breathe some much-needed new life into the resort.

Richard Branson said, “It’s been allowed to get a bit tired over the years, but it’s got fantastic staff and that’s the absolute key.”

Virgin Hotels is an intriguing brand that’s been described as “disruptive,” and Las Vegas loves disruption as much as we do.

It was fun while it lasted, Hard Rock, and welcome to Las Vegas, Virgin Hotels.

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Wynn Boston Harbor to Rebrand as Encore Boston Harbor

We have a long-standing policy of not writing stories about places other than Las Vegas, but scoop is scoop.

Word is Steve Wynn’s name will be stripped from the Wynn Boston Harbor project.

The $2.4 billion resort will be rebranded Encore Boston Harbor, according to a reliable source.

Encore Boston Harbor

We’ve never said Wynn Resorts doesn’t make pretty things.

Reportedly, promotional videos and other marketing materials for Encore Boston Harbor are already in the works.

Wynn Resorts executives have confirmed a rebrand is coming, but have not yet officially said the resort will be Encore Boston Harbor. That’s why you have us.

The change of course with Encore Boston Harbor follows an avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn who recently stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts. Wynn has also been accused of rape.

Wynn sold all his stock in the company as well. Yeah, it’s big deal.

Why are we expending precious keystrokes on a resort that’s not even in Las Vegas, making it 95% less interesting?

Well, here’s why: Wynn Resorts clearly understands its brand has been tainted by the Steve Wynn scandal and is making moves to control the damage.

We say there’s a very real chance Wynn Las Vegas will also rebrand as the fallout continues. Wynn executives claim otherwise, but it’s becoming increasingly clear some executives at Wynn Resorts are full of what industry insiders refer to as “horse manure.”

Another shift in branding is the Wynn Paradise Park project, which is currently being referred to as just Paradise Park.

The latest word is Paradise Park will be completed before whatever Wynn West turns out to be, a flip from previous reports.

The odds of the hotel announced for the former Alon site has a roughly zero percent chance of being called by its original name, Wynn West.

We were the first to report the Alon site sale, as well as the fact a new resort would be built on the site. Oh, like we weren’t going to mention that.

Alon site

Here’s the former Alon site today. There’s a bit of work to be done.

Wynn Resorts finds itself in a maelstrom at the moment. The only imaginable way Wynn stays on the side of Wynn Las Vegas is if Steve Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, takes the reins and there’s a purge of the company’s board.

Rumors inside Wynn Resorts abound that this scenario is possible if not probable. Elaine Wynn has a 9.26% stake in the company.

It’s time to come clean and hold those who covered up decades of bad behavior accountable. Read more about the Steve Wynn allegations and enjoy your Silkwood shower.

Update (3/30/18): The Boston Herald confirmed Wynn Resorts has registered multiple domain names based upon Encore Boston Harbor.

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Here’s What’s Really Happening at Resorts World

Resorts World. It’s an enigma.

The Asian-themed resort from Genting Group is being built on the bones of the abandoned Echelon Place project.

Resorts World broke ground on May 5, 2015. Since then, progress on the bajillion-dollar resort has been agonizingly slow.

Here’s a look at Resorts World today.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World seems to be perpetually preparing for something to happen.

Oh, yes, there are cranes.

They showed up in late 2017, creating a warmth in our loin we had not experienced in some time given the repeated delays in construction of the $4 billion, 3,000-room hotel-casino.

The arrival of the cranes at Resorts World followed on the heels of hoopla about a construction manager being hired, as well as word Genting had finalized $400 million in contracts with vendors.

Anticipation was at an all-time high that Resorts World would actually be a thing.

Then came months and months of not a whole lot.

Resorts World has said publicly there are 400 workers on the site now.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It was on the Internet, it must be true.

From our observations, Resorts World either has a counting problem or a lying problem. Since casinos never lie, we’ll just assume the official Resorts World abacus is in the shop.

Here’s a look at the Resorts World site.

Four hundred constructions workers? The over/under was about a dozen during our most recent visit.

Resorts World claimed it would have 1,000 construction workers on-site by early 2018. Yeah, not so much.

Unless the construction workers at Resorts World are wearing cloaks of invisibility, it appears the only thing Resorts World is building at the moment is an exemplary record of horseshittery.

Still, there are some symbolic things happening at Resorts World. Beyond the crane theater, that is.

For the most part, those things are orange.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It’s happening at a sloth’s pace, but Resorts World appears to be increasing the size of its erection.

We are not a construction expert, but it appears concrete is being poured at various parts of the Resorts World hotel tower.

Here’s another orange thing.

Resorts World Las Vegas

This is undeniably a thing.

And let’s not forget this orange thing on the Strip-facing wall of the structure.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Most concrete mixes reach 70% of specified compressive strength after seven days, whatever that might actually mean.

Update (3/28/18): A rep of Forming Concepts, Inc. has informed us those orange things are the company’s “formwork,” specifically, “elevator core forms and shear wall lifters.” The forms represent 39 truckloads of equipment. We look forward to learning more!

Another area of progress is what’s been described as a “swatch” on the exterior of the Resorts World tower. We should know because we’re the one who described it that way. You can see it on the lower left of the photo above.

The “swatch” is a test of what the exterior of the hotel could look like, we assume.

Here’s how it looked in July 2017.

Resorts World Las Vegas

We got really excited about this at the time.

Now, here’s what the exterior samples looked like in Sep. 2017.

Resorts World Las Vegas

This reflective version of the exterior would’ve been very helpful for shaving.

Here’s what the exterior test looks like today.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Yes, we have issues, we’re not saying we don’t have issues.

Somebody’s taking a lot of time considering materials and color combinations to determine what Resorts World will ultimately look like.

As we’re rooting for Resorts World to become a reality, we’re going to go with “slow and steady wins the race” as Genting’s construction philosophy.

An alternative philosophy might be, “We’re not opening until we’re sure this puppy is going to make a profit.”

Resorts World Las Vegas

Hey, the crane guy wants to feel like he’s doing something, so just play along.

Resorts World sits at the north end of The Strip, so it could very well be waiting for the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, the opening of The Drew (formerly Fountainebleau), the opening of Paradise Park (formerly Wynn Paradise Park), a renovation for The Strat (formerly Stratosphere), a new direction for SLS Las Vegas (formerly Sahara) and the sale of Lucky Dragon (formerly not in bankruptcy).

That’s right, it could very well be Resorts World is biding its time until there’s critical mass at the north end of The Strip. That’s what we’d do.

If we were building a $4 billion Las Vegas resort. With all our mountains of blog money.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Baby steps are still steps.

Ultimately, progress is progress, even if it isn’t readily discernible to the naked eye.

Here’s hoping “slow and steady” gives way to “a metric hell-ton of construction activity” in the months to come.

We can’t bear any more heartbreak at the former home of our beloved Stardust.

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Stratosphere to Get $140 Million in Renovations, Will Call Itself “The Strat” Like the Rest of Us

The new owners of Stratosphere, Golden Entertainment, plan to invest $140 million in upgrades to the Las Vegas resort over the next three years.

In the process, Stratosphere will start calling itself by the name most of us do, The Strat.

Stratosphere

You sort of can’t miss it.

Golden Entertainment purchased Stratosphere and several other casinos (including two Arizona Charlie’s locations in Vegas) in Oct. 2017.

As part of the Strat renovation, nearly half its rooms (1,100 or so) will be refreshed, the casino floor will be upgraded and a new loyalty program will be rolled out.

Plans are for additional restaurants to come online, too, and the Top of the World restaurant will also be revamped.

Stratosphere

This is easily one of the best views in Las Vegas, which is saying something because we’ve been to strip clubs.

The resort will also get a new gastro-brewery near its sports book, as well as a new steakhouse and a bar “appealing to a younger demographic.”

The Strat will also embrace youth culture with a new casino space called Adrenaline.

There are also plans for a noodle bar (in Las Vegas, it’s the law) and Starbucks (again, the law) and food hall concept.

Renovations and additions will be done in phases to help avoid disruption. In the casino world, of course, “disruption” is a code word for “interruption in revenue generation.”

Included in the first phase of the renovations will be dramatic changes to the Stratosphere’s signage. Plans submitted to the City of Las Vegas show about 20 new additions to Stratosphere’s exterior.

Strat signage

It’s going to be a good year for Yesco.

In renderings, all the signage shows the use of “The Strat,” rather than the full name of the resort.

Here’s a look at the observation tower’s main marquee.

Stratosphere signage

In all the renderings, we could find no use of “Stratosphere” on the exterior of the building. Clean break.

Fun fact: That same marquee got a facelift in Feb. 2016.

The Strat marquee

We have officially taken a photo of everything.

Stratosphere reps haven’t confirmed whether the signage is indicative of a complete rebrand, per se, but we’d wager yep.

The Strat signage

Like a number of attractions in Las Vegas, the thrill rides at Stratosphere are suffering a bit at the moment. Get your act together, Millennials.

Here’s a look at additional upgrades coming to The Strat’s hotel tower.

See? “The Strat” just flows better, don’t you think?

The Strat signage

The “stratos” in “Stratosphere” comes from the Latin “stratus,” meaning “a spreading out.” Seems like a buffet relaunch opportunity right there.

Plans are also in the works for LED strip lighting to raise the visibility of the Strat’s hotel.

Strat signage renovation

We like our Vegas glowy.

The plans for upgraded lighting and signage are pretty slick, although we can never fully get onboard with plans to replace neon with LEDs. We’re sentimental like that.

Of course, there are always a few dissenting opinions when anything new is proposed, but expect the signage upgrades to happen in the next few months.

We quite enjoy our visits to the Stratosphere, especially the happy hour at its 107 SkyLounge, formerly Level 107 Lounge.

The substantial investment by Golden Entertainment shows they are optimistic about activity on the north end of The Strip, including the sale of SLS, the purchase of Fontainebleau, slow but steady work at Resort World and expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Strat logo

Finally, a casino rebrand that will take zero getting used to.

We love new things, so we look forward to seeing what The Strat has in store in addition to its impressive erection.

Oh, like you didn’t see that coming.

Or that.

Do you know this blog at all?

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15 Things Even We Didn’t Know About Las Vegas Hotel Housekeeping

Housekeeping is an often-overlooked but critical part of any Las Vegas hotel visit. We asked an industry insider about these unsung employees, and learned some truly fascinating things about the folks who clean up after us during our Sin City escapades.

Here, then are 15 things even we didn’t know about housekeeping at Las Vegas hotels.

1. A Las Vegas hotel housekeeper cleans an average of just 16 rooms in a typical eight-hour shift. For comparison purposes: MGM Grand has 5,124 rooms.

2. Housekeepers are called “Guest Room Attendants” or GRAs for short.

Hotel facial tissues

Bonus fact: Housekeepers know your tissues need to be swapped out by the color of the tissues. When they turn color, the box is low.

3. Most Las Vegas casinos pay housekeepers $15-17 an hour.

4. Although their meals are free (in EDRs, or employee dining rooms), most housekeepers don’t eat during their shift for fear of not meeting their daily quota of “turned” rooms.

5. Our industry expert says hotel guests don’t tip like they used to, but most housekeepers get anywhere from $20-100 in gratuities during a typical shift. It’s estimated only about 40 percent of hotel guests leave a tip for housekeepers.

6. In time share hotels, housekeepers aren’t unionized and are paid a “piece rate,” a set rate for each room according to the room size.

7. Housekeeping is typically the largest and most costly department at a hotel.

Hotel courtesy fold

Housekeepers (sorry, GRAs) call this a “courtesy fold.”

8. Major hotels have 24-hour housekeeping and rooms are cleaned non-stop to accommodate late check-outs and early morning check-ins.

9. While housekeepers do general cleaning tasks, there are “bio teams” that specialize in vomit, blood and other bodily fluids. Bio teams are specially trained, but things like suicides and people who die by natural causes are done by outside vendors. It happens more often than you think.

10. Sex toys and porn are often left behind in rooms. Most hotels have “Lost and Found” policies, and found items are held for 30 days. If the items aren’t claimed, they go to the finder, unless it’s a sensitive item like cell phones or laptops. It’s estimated about 2% of hotel rooms have lost items in them.

Las Vegas sex aids

Toys for adults. Use your imagination.

11. When cash is left in a room, anything under $100-200 goes to the housekeeper who finds it. Anything more than that goes to a special fund. Cash found in public areas or the casino goes to the hotel.

12. Recreational marijuana became legal in Las Vegas on Jan. 1, 2017. This has led to a headache for housekeepers and hotels. Getting the odor of weed out of Las Vegas hotel rooms has become a huge challenge. It takes a lot of time, sprays and ionizers, and in Las Vegas, time is money.

Las Vegas weed

Bro, take your hippie lettuce outside. And, no, we did not know “hippie lettuce” is slang for marijuana until three minutes ago.

13. Housekeepers know lots and lots of secrets. One of the more intriguing is that there are celebrities who visit Las Vegas frequently and are known for their tastes in, well, the scatalogical. Our expert says these celebrities tend to be generous tippers because of the mess they create.

14. Housekeeping room assignments are doled out by seniority, and some of the prime sections can have the same housekeeper for decades. If a housekeeper encounters a “Do Not Disturb” sign, she (they’re mostly female) has to keep coming back to the room until it’s cleaned. About seven percent of a hotel’s rooms aren’t cleaned on a given day because of “refusals” or “Do not disturb” signs. Housekeepers must hit their quota, and being re-assigned another room can be an ordeal. So, if you’ve ever thought, “Let’s give them a break, no service today,” you’re actually making life harder on the housekeeper, not easier.

15. Motorized housekeeping carts weigh about 500 pounds.

These tidbits about housekeeping helped give us a new appreciation for the hard-working folks who do this physically demanding job. Take time to thank the housekeeping staff at your Las Vegas hotel, and tips—two or three bucks each day works—are always welcome.

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Fontainebleau Will Be The Drew Las Vegas, Strip’s First JW Marriott

The abandoned Fontainebleau project has been given another shot at success, this time with the name The Drew Las Vegas.

Yes, The Drew.

We had the same reaction, but it will presumably have a casino, so we’ll cut them some slack.

Fontainebleau wrap

Fontainebleau will now be named after the past tense of “draw.”

Developers say The Drew will open in 2020, a partnership between real estate firm Witkoff and Marriott International.

Construction was halted on Fontainebleau in 2009 due to the economic downturn, and because Las Vegas occasionally needs failures to make its successes all the more impressive. The building was about 70% complete when work stopped, and Fontainebleau has been a running gag ever since.

Fontainebleau

No, really, this is the last time we’ll share this.

As we were the first to report, Fontainebleau was sold in August 2017 for $600 million to Witkoff and another real estate firm, New Valley.

The resort is located across from Circus Circus, next to the former Riviera casino, currently a parking lot.

Riviera demolition

Yep, that former Riviera. The Drew Las Vegas will be at left.

On a somber note, The Drew Las Vegas appears to be named after Andrew Witkoff, the son of real estate mogul Steven Witkoff. Andrew “Drew” Witkoff died of an OxyContin overdose in 2011. Read more. Bit of a buzzkill there, not going to lie.

Moving on.

The Drew Las Vegas will have 4,000 rooms and 500,000 square feet of convention and meeting space.

Plans for The Drew also include entertainment, nightlife, retail and dining venues, including an aspirational 20 restaurant options.

The Drew will mark the debut of Marriott’s high-end “Edition” brand in Las Vegas, whatever that might be.

Marriott’s massive customer database, estimated at about 100 million members, is likely to be key to the resort’s success.

Fontainebleau wrap

The Drew will be the tallest building in Las Vegas, excluding the Stratosphere.

Also involved in The Drew project will be John Unwin, who previously helped open the Cosmopolitan. Interestingly, Cosmopolitan is currently part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. We also don’t know what that means.

The Drew Las Vegas joins a number of major projects happening on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, including Resorts World, All Net Resort and Arena, Wynn Paradise Park, the Sphere from Las Vegas Sands Corp., an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center and others.

We’re excited to see The Drew Las Vegas become a thing! Having a powerhouse like Marriott onboard certainly doesn’t hurt its chances.

Uninspired names we can get used to, hulking eyesores, not so much.

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