The California has been going through a rough patch recently, but that hasn’t kept the downtown casino from sprucing up in honor of the arrival of a new neighbor, Circa Las Vegas.
The Cal is in the process of an exterior rejuvenation, so allow our boots on the ground to keep you in the loop on what’s up. Full disclosure: It’s impossible to find a comfortable pair of boots, so we don’t wear them. We love you, but not enough to suffer foot discomfort.
The Cal got a renovation inside in 2016, now the titivation moves outside. You’re welcome for the new word.
The California has gone “full Hawaiian” with its floral motif.
The Cal, of course, relies heavily on guests from Hawaii. Which sort of ties into the aforementioned “rough patch.” Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have resulted in downtown Las Vegas revenues dropping 71 percent from the third quarter of 2019. Read more.
Another Boyd Gaming casino, Main Street, has yet to reopen.
But back to the happy colors!
When you get a shiny new neighbor, you have to up your game.
The Cal’s signature red has been refreshed, but some new colors have been added to the casino’s palette.
We’re getting a bit of a Baskin-Robbins logo vibe, but we’re hoping somebody leaves a comment on this post that reminds us where we’ve seen this combination of orange, purple and pink.
For the record, Lappert’s at The Cal has excellent ice cream.
The new flair makes the building pop, and it’s very much a response to the Cal’s new neighbor, Circa. Circa Las Vegas opened on Oct. 28, 2020, and everyone in the neighborhood is primping.
For example, Plaza, just across the street from Circa, recently replaced 9,740 bulbs in its old-school porte cochere.
Plaza wants to make sure price-sensitive visitors to Circa know they’re a a short stroll away.
The Cal was starting to look a little long in the tooth, as it was built in 1975.
Artwork adoring the building has all been replaced. By “artwork,” of course, we mean “awkward attempts at art.”
One of the tile-based art pieces (pictured below) caught our eye back in 2013. We are so glad we captured it for posterity, as it’s been replaced by floriculture.
Don’t judge. These settlers are consenting adults.
The new paint job certainly brightens The Cal up, and longtime guests will appreciate the investment by Boyd.
Hang in there, Cal. Your Hawaiian fans will be back in force soon.
Virgin Las Vegas is still a few months away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dip our toes in the new resort’s pool.
Virgin released a slew of pupil-pleasing pool renderings, so let’s dive in.
That’s the last of the pool puns. We don’t want you to go off the deep end.
Virgin opens Jan. 15, 2021, and the casino has already done a great job of whetting our appetite for sun, fun and liver damage.
The Virgin pool complex will cover five acres, and it’s described as a “modern desert oasis.”
It’s a little bit traditional resort pool, a little bit dayclub and a little bit event lawn.
It’s also a little bit classy.
Some inside, some outside, some floaty thingies to rest your drinks on.
It’s probably on-brand for the Virgin renderings to be a tease. The pool won’t open until March 2021.
There’s a definite Mediterranean flair to Virgin’s planned pool area, and it will provide access to a number of new offerings at Virgin, including Olives restaurant, Casa Calavera and Kassi Beach Club.
There’s also Money, Baby, a sports-entertainment venue which will overlook the pool.
The future home of you sucking in your gut for hours on end.
A two-story Mykonos-themed dayclub will feature an open-air entertainment stage, offering elements of a music festival with the flexibility to present a variety of DJs. This would be even more impressive if we knew who Mykonos is.
Additional bars and a poolside restaurant will open in April 2021.
We fully expect to chillax here, if that’s still a thing.
The event lawn will host concerts and private events, and will be a “space for guests to engage in resort activations.”
If the hotel’s former pool party, Rehab, was known for anything, it was the “resort activations,” if you get our drift.
Personally, we haven’t experienced an activiation in quite some time, resort or otherwise.
You might say we’re a virgin all over again!
We hear Virgin still has lots of surprises in store, so we’ll keep a close eye on the progress of this new off-Strip offering.
Vegas Vickie’s back on Fremont and her hubby, Vegas Vic, is happier than a masochist in a cactus patch.
Circa provided all the hoopla befitting a Las Vegas casino opening celebration, and made sure to hit all the right notes, including a clever twist on a longtime Vegas tradition: The first craps roll.
Rather than inviting one Vegas heavy-hitter to roll the dice first, Circa’s owner Derek Stevens invited a gaggle of them.
Here are the folks around the Circa craps table for the first official dice roll: Ryan Growney, G.M. of South Point; Jonathan Jossel, CEO of Plaza; Scott Sibella, Pres. of Resorts World; Andy Abboud, V.P. at Las Vegas Sands; Chris Latil, Sr. V.P. of Golden Nugget; Terry Caudill, owner of Binion’s and Four Queens; Mike Nolan, G.M. of El Cortez; and Brendan Gaughan, grandson of Jackie Gaughan.
We’re definitely not the one who’s going to point out nobody from Boyd was there. That would be awkward.
Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel snagged the honor after a draw of cards (he got an ace), and the first roll at Circa was a six. That tidbit will win you a bar bet someday.
That’s some Vegas immortality right there.
After months of anticipation, guests finally got their first in-person look at the newest casino in Las Vegas.
Circa features what’s billed as the world’s largest sportsbook, the “country’s largest destination pool experience,” a bevy of new restaurants and lounges and Nevada’s longest bar, Mega Bar.
Here’s a quick look inside Circa.
The centerpiece of Circa is a refurbished Vegas Vickie. She looks amazing, after a three-year absence from Fremont Street, and her leg is kicking again.
Also getting some buzz is the return of the 99-cent shrimp cocktail, once so beloved at Golden Gate. Circa owners Derek and Greg Stevens also own Golden Gate (as well as The D), so it was a natural to serve up the popular treat at Circa.
There are some caveats. The 99-cent shrimp cocktail is only available from 3-5 a.m. at Saginaw’s. To get the 99-cent price, you have to purchase a meal at the restaurants.
Outside those hours, the shrimp cocktail is $11. Hey, casinos don’t subsidize restaurants anymore, so not really surprising. Anyway, it’s there for nostalgia lovers.
Die-hard Vegas fans won’t want to miss this throwback drunchies shrimpfest.
The prices overall at Circa’s restaurants provide a bit of sticker shock to downtown regulars. We trust those will be adjusted based upon demand.
In the meantime, we predict Plaza’s Pop-Up Pizza stand is going to be overwhelmed.
You know we were excited for Circa to open because we wore a tux. No, not a tuxedo T-shirt, an actual tux.
A highlight of our evening was being “tiered out.” Circa’s One loyalty club just introduced tiers, and we’re a Maverick, as if you didn’t already know that.
We didn’t need a loyalty club to confirm our Maverick status, but we’ll take it. Free parking!
It’s worth noting two of the tiers get free self-parking. Circa does not validate as The D and Golden Gate do.
Parking in Garage Mahal is $4 an hour, with a $15 daily max. (Note: Parking is $5 at Plaza next door.)
There’s one tier that hasn’t been announced yet. It’s invite only, so fancy.
We love the floor numbers at Garage Mahal.
Yes, we got closer. Do you know this blog at all?
The cars in the floor number sign are vacuum-sealed for freshness.
Overall, the opening of Circa was pretty much flawless, and it was great to see the enthusiasm for this new destination in downtown Las Vegas.
Downtown needed Circa, Vegas needed Circa, we all needed Circa.
Circa’s dancing dealer uniforms look amazing. Yes, we had a chaperone.
Amidst so much bad news, Circa is a ray of hope. Derek and Greg Stevens have really done it right and this shiny new adult playground surpasses all expectations.
While it hasn’t been publicly announced, our sources say Circa cost $1.156 billion, and it shows.
You’re not supposed to photograph a casino cage. We don’t live by society’s rules.
If you’ve got a few spare minutes, hear some exclusive scoop about how Circa became a reality from the resort’s owner, Derek Stevens.
Circa’s elevated experience, and prices, are a bridge between downtown and The Strip. There’s nothing gritty or seedy here. Circa is Strip-style gorgeous with a downtown vibe. It’s the best of both worlds.
From the jaw-dropping video screens in the sportsbook and pool complex to the dancing dealers and free pours, Circa isn’t just the dream of the Stevens brothers, it’s the dream of everyone who loves casinos and downtown.
Circa squeezes a lifetime of sports into every visit.
Circa is a dream made real, and you’re going to absolutely love it.
Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t possibly be jam-packed with any more WTF, Las Vegas Sands—owner of Venetian, Palazzo and the Sands Expo Convention Center—is reportedly exploring a sale of these beloved fixtures on the Las Vegas Strip.
According to Bloomberg, Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson is focusing on his true moneymaker, Asia, so he’s looking for a potential buyer for Venetian, Palazzo and the convention center.
The estimated asking price for these gems? About $6 billion.
We love certain kinds of change, but we’re not sure this is one of those.
Big picture, this makes a lot of sense for Sheldon Adelson, but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting.
We’re personally upset because Bloomberg reported this story before us, and we’ve broken the news of pretty much every Las Vegas casino sale in the last seven years. But it doesn’t always have to be about us. Probably.
It’s also upsetting because this potential sale says a lot. As Adelson looks to Macau and Singapore, he’s taking his eyes off Las Vegas.
Mr. Adelson, all due respect, but now may not be the best time to rock the boat.
It doesn’t take Sheldon Adelson’s keen foresight to see the convention business in Las Vegas isn’t coming back full force anytime soon, and that has been the bread and butter for Las Vegas Sands.
Las Vegas doesn’t really work without conventions, and things have been looking undeniably bleak due to the pandemic.
Adelson’s U.S. business only accounts for 15 percent of the company’s total revenue, so a sale won’t really move the needle for the bajillionaire one way or the other.
A sale could move the needle for fans of Venetian and Palazzo, however.
These hotels are reliably ranked two of the best in Las Vegas, and a change of ownership could mean a giant question mark for visitors.
Also a question mark is what happens to the MSG Sphere if Las Vegas Sands sells its casino and convention center.
Las Vegas Sands donated land for this new entertainment venue. So many questions.
Another aspect of a potential sale: Sheldon Adelson owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal. If he sells off his other business interests in Las Vegas, does he need to own a newspaper? Yes, there are still newspapers! Don’t be a smartass.
Another juicy question: If Sheldon Adelson sells off Venetian and Palazzo, what happens to his 12-plane whale delivery system and terminal at McCarran airport?
Bloomberg says the discussions of a sale are “very early” and the deal has not been finalized.
We’re actually a little unclear who might be in a position to buy these casinos at the moment.
While we love the drama of a casino sale (or two), we’re sort of secretly hoping Sheldon Adelson keeps “exploring” well into 2021 or beyond.
Circa Las Vegas, the first new downtown casino resort for decades, opens Oct. 28, 2020.
As usual, we couldn’t wait, so we’ve put together the biggest pre-opening photo gallery of Circa in existence.
Nearly done, but Vegas Vickie’s already a knock-out.
During our recent visits, we got the witness the resort putting the final touches on Circa (which is why you’ll see some ladders, exposed wires and plastic-covered tables in the pics).
We can’t thank Circa enough for letting us get an early look at this amazing new Las Vegas destination.
The bottom line: We loved every inch of the place. If you get our drift.
This isn’t even her best side.
We were literally breathless seeing Circa’s massive sportsbook for the first time, and we are not even a sports person.
Rumor has it the manufacturers of Circa’s sportsbook screen, upon seeing it for the first time, were equally stunned. And they made the thing!
Come get your swoon on, sports fans.
Circa’s restaurants were cranking out delicious food during an employee play date as bartenders and dancing dealers were put through their paces.
Thanks to Circa owner Derek Stevens, we were given the honor of being the first to share Circa’s chips (photo below).
The reveal of the chips was topped by Stevens’ “secret” project, the creation of casino plaques. He was giddy to share these beauties he describes as “highly desirable.”
One of each of Circa’s chips and plaques, please.
There was some truly unique and remarkable moments at the Circa play date, as Derek Stevens actually got to gamble at his own casino, a no-no for owners when actual money is being wagered.
Stevens tried his hand at video poker, roulette and craps.
Top casino tip: You don’t have to be a casino owner to get freebies. Always use your players card.
Fun fact: Stevens and his wife Nicole won $183,000 in pretend money at dice thanks to his wise choice to find a “virgin” shooter, his executive assistant, Yivi.
Circa is as beautiful as the renderings, and Circa has pretty much delivered on the hype, much of it ours. Yes, we’ve been a Circa cheerleader. That’s because beyond loving what we’ve seen and consumed so far, it’s objectively awesome. Circa is also the good news Las Vegas could use right now.
Let’s just say Circa isn’t “under-barred.”
The only asterisk is Circa’s much-touted “adults-only” status isn’t technically accurate. A contractual loophole means kids will be allowed into the resort’s steakhouse, Barry’s. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
The centerpiece of Circa features the long-awaited return of Vegas Vickie, an iconic Las Vegas neon sign which sat above the former Glitter Gulch strip club.
She is absolutely glorious, and Circa is making the most of this newly-refurbished blast from the past.
We are confident enough in our masculinity to admit seeing Vickie lit up for the first time was one of several times we started opening weeping during our initial visits to Circa. Ditto our first Captain Morgan and diet.
There’s far too much ground to cover in one blog post, so we’ll set you on your visual journey through Circa via our photo gallery.
There, you’ll get an inside peek at Circa’s special places (hello, high limit slot salon), its restaurants and menus, its artwork and its casino floors.
Want behind-the-scenes? You’ve got it. This is the hidden area where technicians can replace modules in the sportsbook’s video screen without the use of cranes.
We’ve made no effort to hide the fact we’re smitten. We love what Circa co-owners Derek and Greg Stevens (more from the latter on our next podcast episode) have done downtown and Circa is the crown jewel.
Big socially-distanced hugs to Circa for letting us share these work-in-progress, unretouched, plastic-wrapped, home stretch blemishes-and-all images.
Nothing beats that new felt smell!
Circa has already exceeded expectations and it hasn’t even opened yet! Say “hello” to our new home away from home, Circa Las Vegas.
Related: We get the question about how much Circa Las Vegas cost often. Since we’re the only one with the answer, here it is: While it’s never been officially announced or confirmed, our information is Circa resort cost $1.156 billion to build.
An employee says the lone remaining closed casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Cromwell, will reopen on Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Cromwell Hotel Las Vegas has been closed since March 18, 2020.
Welcome back, you boutique beauty, you.
The other Las Vegas casinos still closed due to the pandemic are: Palms, Rio, Main Street Station (Downtown), Fiesta Rancho (North Las Vegas), Texas Station (North Las Vegas), Fiesta Henderson (Henderson), Eldorado Casino (Henderson) and Eastside Cannery (Boulder Highway).
While Cromwell was closed, it played host to a reality TV show, “Love Island.” It’s worth noting we’re using the term “reality” very loosely here.
Cromwell is a beloved Vegas casino, with a player-friendly casino, the excellent Giada restaurant and the popular Drai’s Nightclub.
It’s unknown which of Cromwell’s venues will be back upon reopening.
Sexy AF. Formerly, the quasi-sexy Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and the old-school sexy Barbary Coast.
Midweek demand remains soft at Las Vegas hotels, but Cromwell only has 188 rooms, so it should fare relatively well upon reopening.
We’re thrilled for the employees of Cromwell, as it’s been a long period of uncertainty about the future of the resort.
We’ve heard several parties have explored a potential purchase of the casino at one of the most visible intersections in Las Vegas, the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard.