Category Archives: Las Vegas Hotels

Lego Reveals Tweaked Las Vegas Set

Lego has unveiled its revamped Las Vegas set, including the replacement of Mandalay Bay following the shooting of Oct. 1, 2017.

A previous version of the Las Vegas Skyline Lego set (referred to as “Lego Architecture 21047 Las Vegas” by Lego aficionados) featured the Mandalay Bay as part of the skyline, but the set was redesigned to avoid sensitivities around the shooting.

Mandalay Bay has been replaced by Bellagio.

Lego Las Vegas set

If you thought stepping on a Lego was painful before, try stepping on the Stratosphere.

It’s worth noting the Bellagio is assembled using something Lego nerds call the SNOT technique. You might think that’s something we made up, but it’s SNOT.

We’ll wait.

SNOT stands for “Studs Not On Top.” And we are, apparently, 12.

The Las Vegas Lego set is expected to sell for about $40, with nearly 500 pieces.

The Las Vegas Lego set features the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, Luxor, Wynn, Stratosphere and Fremont Street Experience.

Lego Architecture Las Vegas

In our day job, we work at Fremont Street Experience, and we personally helped write a portion of the booklet that accompanies the set. Please, no autographs.

Images of the new Las Vegas Lego were shared by Brothers-Brick.com. Find a review of the new set at BrickArchitect.com. It got a “good” rating (three out of five). Ouch.

The set definitely would be better received if it included a miniature strip club. Just saying.

Here’s a look at the initial version of the set.

Lego Las Vegas architecture

Mandalay Bay and Bellagio are owned by the same company, MGM Resorts, so it’s a wash.

The replacement of Mandalay Bay for Bellagio is understandable, but the set feels out of whack. Presumably, rejiggering the design to put the hotels in their real-life order would’ve been too troublesome or expensive.

You can bet there was a heated debate at Lego about whether to replace Wynn Las Vegas following revelations about its former CEO, Steve Wynn. Making toys is a lot more complicated than you’d think.

The Las Vegas Skyline Lego set will be available in the U.S. on Sep. 1, 2018, and we’ll probably be among the first to buy it.

Because Las Vegas.

Resorts World Las Vegas Whips Out Yet Another Rendering

Resorts World Las Vegas has rolled out a new rendering, another in a series of teases from this under-construction resort on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

Here’s the latest from Resorts World.

Resorts World

Fun fact: Resorts World is slated to have 200 elevators and escalators. We are not making this up.

We’re pleased to report that construction of the Asian-themed resort seems to be accelerating in recent months, after sloth-like progress since its groundbreaking ceremony in May 2015.

It’s estimated Resorts World will cost around $4 billion, and its owner, Genting Group, is clearly killing time until there’s sufficient demand to fill the hotel’s planned 3,000-plus rooms.

Here’s our most recent photo of the construction. By our count, about a dozen floors have been added to the Resorts World hotel tower since early 2018.

Resorts World

Yes, they’re going with “Resorts World.” Invest $4 billion in a Vegas resort and you get to call it anything you’d like.

Genting still claims the massive resort will open in 2020, the same year the Raiders stadium will be completed, as well as an expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

It’s fun to compare the new Resorts World rendering to what might have been, Echelon Place. Here’s a look at Echelon, abandoned during the economic meltdown of 2008.

Echelon

Echelon was to be built on the site of the former Stardust. This is the point where we get a little weepy.

It seems more frequent updates about Resorts World may be in order now that there’s visible progress being made.

A recent story on KSNV News 3 in Las Vegas reports Resorts World claims 800 people are currently working at the resort site.

Genting says the two hotel towers are now “more than double their initial height” and workers on-site will increase six-fold in the first half of 2019.

A company rep stated 25 floors have been poured in one tower and 22 in another. Ultimately, the hotel will be 60 stories tall.

Genting further shared glass will arrive and be installed in fall 2018. Topping out of the towers will happen in fall 2019.

The company remains confident construction will be completed at the end of 2020. We predict Resorts World will blow right through that completion date. Experts agree.

We love new and shiny, and Resorts World is shaping up to be downright lustrous.

Golden Gate is Shaking Things Up Again

Golden Gate is back in action again with some dramatic changes and a new casino expansion.

We took a peek behind-the-scenes at what were, until recently, walled off areas of Golden Gate’s casino floor.

The casino’s floor is expanding into the space previously occupied by Du-Par’s restaurant.

Golden Gate expansion

The Du-Par’s kitchen was at left, counter and tables to the right. Yes, we all miss the pancakes. Bright side: Pancakes never gave anyone a jackpot.

Du-Par’s made an abrupt exit from Golden Gate when the restaurant’s owner got into hot water with the I.R.S. for tax evasion. There are no plans to have a restaurant at Golden Gate anytime soon.

The new floor space will accommodate an additional 50-60 slot machines, a significant number for a casino with a very small footprint.

Golden Gate

The door at back leads to Main Street, the one on the right to Fremont.

Here’s one more look at the work-in-progress. The area will be accessible to the public in a few days, and slot machines will be brought in within a week.

Golden Gate

Golden Gate regulars will notice another big change to the casino floor, a move of the casino cage.

It’s moved closer to the hotel’s registration desk and valet entrance. Don’t forget to check out the old-timey slot machines on display nearby.

Golden Gate

Due to strict rules about capturing images of casino cages, we are unable to share this photo, sorry.

Next up at Golden Gate, an expansion of the high limit room.

Currently, high limit is table games only, but with a move into the previous cage space, the high limit room will now include high limit slots.

Golden Gate

More room for high limit slots, or what we commonly refer to as our “retirement plan.”

Here’s a look at the current high limit room.

Our favorite part: The fringe on the walls was inspired by the fringe on the uniforms of the casino’s dancing dealers.

Golden Gate

This is the den we’d have if we were ambitious or even moderately successful.

The high limit room revamp is set to include some intriguing elements inspired (and necessitated) by the building’s original design features.

Here’s a look at the other side of the construction wall. Golden Gate’s original arches will play a part in the design of the new high limit room. Now you know.

Golden Gate arches

There’s a chance these arches were around when Golden Gate opened in 1906, but we aren’t sure. We are a blog, not that guy in the Amish hat on “Pawn Stars.”

The latest changes at Golden Gate follow on the heels of another recent, multi-million dollar expansion that integrated the former La Bayou casino space.

That expansion also included a new entrance, loyalty club desk and beer distribution room. Of course, we got photos. Do you know this blog at all?

Golden Gate has managed to do a lot with a little, and we hear there are still more surprises in the works.

Update (7/11/18): Golden Gate owner Derek Stevens has shared one of the “surprises,” a new sports book. We got a look at the space.

Golden Gate sportsbook

It’s not much to look at now, but give it a minute.

The future sports book space sits behind a temporary wall at the south side of the recent casino expansion into the former La Bayou space.

While we’re providing updates, here’s a look at the most recent casino expansion as slot machines were being installed.

Golden Gate

Not too shabby for a place that’s been around since 1906.

There’s more to come.

Update (7/12/18): We said there was more to come!

Here’s a look at the expanded Golden Gate casino, complete with shiny new slot machines.

Golden Gate expansion

The newest casino space in Las Vegas in the oldest casino in Las Vegas.

Oh, all right, just one more.

Golden Gate casino

Everyone loves that new slot machine smell.

See you at Golden Gate.

Resorts World Rolls Out New Rendering Complete With Sphere

Not to be outdone by the MSG Sphere, Resorts World shared a new rendering complete with an orb of its own.

Resorts World Las Vegas

A clear dome in 120-degree heat? Now, we know where Resorts World will be baking its Bao buns.

The $4 billion Resorts World is an Asian-themed resort being built on the Las Vegas Strip near Wynn Las Vegas.

The proximity to Wynn is relevant because, based upon the new rendering, some have noted similarities between the Resorts World design and that of Wynn and Encore.

The design of Resorts World has been refined since it broke ground in May 2015. The original opening date was, wait for it, 2016. Awkward.

Earlier renderings of Resorts World (see below) featured older Chinese architectural elements, but has been revamped to have a more modern feel.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World has become “more Shanghai than Beijing.” It goes without saying that, since we’re American, we are only pretending to know the difference between those two places.

Resorts World has taken its sweet time, presumably in no hurry to open a resort with 3,000 rooms before there’s more certainty about whether demand can accommodate such inventory.

Those watching the construction project closely have noted the addition of several floors to the hotel, but the pace of construction is still agonizingly slow for those of us who love shiny new things.

We got all up in Resorts World’s business recently, but 5-6 floors have been added since then.

Resorts World cranes

You go, Resorts World. This was taken in March 2018.

Here’s a segment on KLAS about Resorts World and other projects slated for 2020. Yes, we’re featured in the segment, but that’s not why we’re sharing it. Probably.

While 2020 seems optimistic for a Resorts World opening at this point, anything’s possible if the casino’s owner, Genting Group, opens the financial floodgates and uses those cranes for something other than show.

Update (7/2/18): Here’s a look at the progress at Resorts World.

Resorts World update

Hey, it’s not nothing.

And here’s a basic of comparison from Jan. 7, 2018.

Resorts World 2017

Slow but sure.

We’re seeing nine floors added in the first half of 2018. You go, Resorts World.

The Latest From Park MGM, Plus Bad News About the Future of Comped Drinks

It’s been awhile since we popped into the Park MGM. In fact, the last time we visited, it was Monte Carlo.

All that’s changed, because Monte Carlo is no more.

Park MGM

Park MGM might have less character than Monte Carlo, but we love that new hotel-casino smell.

That’s right. Monte Carlo, after two decades, is officially Park MGM, a member of the MGM Resorts family.

The company is investing $550 million in the rebrand.

While the hotel’s name has changed, the resort is still in transition, so we snapped some pics to keep you in the loop about what’s up. No thanks, necessary, although we are a big fan of foot rubs. Just saying.

Park MGM

Yes, you’re suppressing a yawn, but it gets better.

We’re pleased to report Park MGM isn’t in the rough shape we’d heard rumors about. The rebrand of Monte Carlo started in 2016, if you can believe that.

Business at the Strip resort has taken a huge hit because guests encountered extensive construction for months on end, with lots of venues closed and walled off, and word spread.

Now, though, things are starting to take shape at Park MGM, including the unveiling of new offerings like Juniper Cocktail Lounge and Money Line sports bar.

Let’s take a look at Park MGM, back to front.

The rebrand has included the build-out of a new reception area.

Park MGM

Vegas hotels have castle themes, circus themes, Egyptian themes and Venice themes. Park MGM is foliage themed.

Nearby, there’s a new restaurant and bar, Primrose.

Park MGM

Primrose comes from a Scottish word meaning “tree of the moor,” moor or less.

The hotel’s pool area has been completely done over. Now, there are three small pools, with lots of seats and umbrellas and people wishing they’d hit the treadmill a bit more often before their Las Vegas vacation.

Park MGM pools

The pool complex offers a number of ways to spend money, including reserved lounge chairs ($15), daybeds ($75), cabanas and Baja loungers ($15).

There’s a new high limit slots room, where we made sure to donate some of our disposable income.

Park MGM high limit

The high limit table games are awkwardly out on the casino floor nearby, but we suspect they’ll have a new home soon.

A very new addition to Park MGM is its new West Bar. It’s a fairly typical casino bar, with 19 video poker machines.

Park MGM bar

Only about half the seats at West Bar have video poker, presumably because guests aren’t gambling like they used to.

We played some video poker and were given comped (that’s Vegas for “complimentary”) drinks during our play. And, yes, they even poured Captain Morgan spiced rum from a bottle.

Yes, we’re touting the fact a casino bar 1) comps drinks, and 2) pours liquor from a bottle. You’ll see why in a minute.

Making our way through the casino, we got to see the new Juniper Cocktail Lounge. We’re pretty sure this was the same space as Monte Carlo’s Hit Lounge.

Juniper has a pretty swanky design, and features a number of video poker machines at the bar.

Park MGM Juniper Cocktail Lounge

Don’t try to read that sign or you’ll put an eye out.

As you might expect at a lounge called “Juniper,” there are a ton of gin-based cocktails on the menu. Gin gets its main flavor from juniper berries, a reminder how much you can learn while hanging out in Las Vegas cocktail lounges.

Most of the cocktails at Juniper Cocktail Lounge are in the $15-17 range.

We were dismayed to learn no drinks are comped (free) for those who play video poker at the bar. Hey, we warned you in the headline there would be bad news. There’s more to come.

Park MGM Juniper Lounge

We say either have video poker and comp drinks, or don’t have video poker. Otherwise, you’re just being annoying.

Closer to The Strip, there’s the new Money Line Sports Bar & Book.

Money Line Sports Bar & Book has a welcoming layout, with a pool table and a couple of mini bowling lanes.

Park MGM sports bar

When you bet on a “moneyline,” you’re betting on the outright winner of your favorite sportsball game.

The bar, of course, is lined with video poker machines.

As we started to play, we were informed (again), there were no comped drinks for video poker players. Not even a soda.

Park MGM sports bar

The Moneyline sports book and bar was almost entirely empty during our visit. On a Saturday night. Coincidence?

Our earlier dismay turned to annoyance as we realized this isn’t a fluke, but a trend, and not the good kind.

It seems MGM Resorts is taking a page from the Wynn Las Vegas playbook, as Wynn stopped comping drinks at its video poker bars some time ago.

This “trend” is troubling because while Wynn and Encore are just two hotels, MGM Resorts has a slew of them on The Strip. Don’t be surprised if this is a glimpse at things to come.

Denying video poker players comped drinks is getting some customer backlash, according to staff we spoke to, but whether this policy will spread remains to be seen.

Oh, well. We’re not going to let a misguided policy put a damper on our visit. Probably. We’ve got more exploring to do.

Much of the negative buzz about Park MGM has had to do with the temporary entrance from the Las Vegas Strip.

It’s fairly easy to see why.

Park MGM

Not optimal.

Again, these are growing pains, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

Let’s head out front. Who needs comped drinks when we’ve got a security breach to lighten our mood?

Here’s a look at the construction on the Strip side of Park MGM.

Park MGM

Former home of 800 Degrees Pizza, Blvd. Creamery, Yusho Japanese Grill and Sambalatte. Hey, they were all four years old, so time to go!

There are a ton more photos in the gallery, so hang out awhile.

Park MGM Las Vegas

Our first Park MGM security breach. You always remember your first.

This front structure is supposed to be Eataly, a “vibrant marketplace with cafes, to-go counters and sit-down restaurants from Mario Batali, the guy accused of sexual misconduct.”

We added that last part ourself.

This whole Eataly thing is complicated.

MGM Resorts says the $13 million project will continue despite explosive allegations against Mario Batali, but we’re thinking the company is probably looking for another partner for the venue.

Las Vegas Sands (owner of Venetian and Palazzo) recently pulled the plug on three Batali restaurants, despite his company’s claims Batali is no longer involved.

Set to close July 27, 2018, are B&B Ristorante and Otto at Venetian and CarneVino at Palazzo.

Park MGM Eataly

If you miss the Monte Carlo casino, we hear there’s another, less interesting one, in Europe somewhere.

MGM Resorts has been very public about its zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct, so they’re in an impossible position at the moment.

The space is looking pretty good, though, and here’s what it’s supposed to look like when it opens.

Park MGM resort rendering

They’re definitely trying to class up the joint. Just ask the former Diablo’s Cantina.

So, that’s our whirlwind tour of the new Park MGM, a work in progress.

While we’re not thrilled about the comped drink policy at Juniper Cocktail Lounge and Money Line sports bar, there’s a lot to like about Park MGM, including the staff.

Most members of the Monte Carlo staff have made the transition to Park MGM with their friendliness intact. They’re not shy about admitting there’s been some chaos during the rebrand, but they’re starting to see former Monte Carlo customers return.

The reality, though, is those Monte Carlo customers aren’t really the target customer of Park MGM. Park MGM has aspirations to attract younger, more affluent customers.

A prime example is Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar. While we’ve heard it’s good, it’s not really for the value-conscious.

Juniper seems more along the lines of Skyfall at Delano and Clique at Cosmopolitan than fans of the Hit Lounge.

Park MGM

Although it’s not on the sign, Park MGM will have a boutique hotel, NoMad. NoMad needs a better agent.

It’s odd to think of the Las Vegas Strip without Monte Carlo, but Las Vegas is always throwing something new against the wall to see if it will stick.

Enjoy more photos from our recent foray to Park MGM.

Update (7/3/18): We hear Moneyline sports bar and Juniper cocktail lounge have revisited their policies and now comp a limited selection of drinks for video poker players.

Park MGM Progress - June 2018

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Wynn Resorts Rights a Wrong, Rolls Back Paid Parking

Few saw it coming, but Wynn Resorts has bucked a trend by announcing it will give free parking to its hotel guests, as well as a way for us commoners to get free parking, too.

Your first question, of course: Las Vegas hotels make their own guests pay for parking?

Well, yes. Where have you been?

Currently, Wynn and Encore charge guests for self-park and valet, a trend that’s become the norm in Las Vegas, just as it is in other cities.

Self-park rates run $7 for the first 1-2 hours, $12 for 2-4 hours and $15 up to 24 hours. Valet charges currently run from $18 (up to two hours), to $27 for 24 hours.

Starting July 1, 2018, that all changes.

Wynn Encore

Wynn Resorts could use some positive buzz right about now. Free parking is a great place to start.

Guests of Wynn and Encore will be able to self-park or valet for free. Remember when free parking was a thing in Las Vegas?

Free parking for hotel guests will be included in their $39 resort fee. Wynn Resorts assures customers the resort fee won’t be increased to accommodate the new policy.

Don’t get us started about resort fees. That’s a fight for another day.

But wait, there’s more.

Non-hotel guests will also be able to park free, albeit with validation. Guests will be validated upon receipt of a $50 spend at Wynn or Encore.

That minimum can be spent at all the retail stores, restaurants, shows, nightclubs and lounges at either of the resorts.

Players will be pleased to hear even money spent gambling counts toward the $50 minimum spend to get free parking. The company hasn’t release details about how that will work, but we trust they’ll figure it out.

Wynn parasols

Sorry, gazing at the pretty things won’t get your parking validated. Buy a couple of drinks, though, and you’re good.

This change in paid parking policy is a pretty big deal in Las Vegas. Paid parking is an ongoing source of frustration for visitors, and many believe is has caused a shift in public perception of Las Vegas as a value destination.

We are one of those people.

So, what’s the motivation behind Wynn Resorts’ move?

Well, there’s the official answer,¬†referred to as “horseshit” in public relations parlance.

Maurice Wooden, President of Wynn Las Vegas, said, “We have come to believe that charging additional parking fees is counter to the personalized service we provide. This new policy directly reflects the way we know our guests want and deserve to be treated.”

So, it suddenly dawned on them guests don’t like having to pay for parking? Right.

Wynn $5,000 machine

This machine at Wynn is $5,000 per spin. You’re covered on the parking.

Wynn Resorts has at least three reasons to change its paid parking policies.

First, its restaurants, shows and retail stores have taken a hit since paid parking was instituted. And it’s not just happening at Wynn and Encore, but at casinos all across Las Vegas.

Restaurants don’t receive the financial benefits of paid parking, at all, so they’re being hurt with nothing to show for it.

Increasingly, restaurants, shows and retail stores are letting their casino overlords know they’re suffering, and it appears Wynn Resorts is listening.

Second, it’s Wynn Resorts, so there’s an undeniable public image component.

Generously setting aside parking fees can’t hurt during a time when Wynn Resorts is trying to restore its tarnished reputation following the Steve Wynn sexual misconduct scandal.

Wynn Resorts is throwing everyone a bone. Which, come to think of it, is what got Steve Wynn in all that trouble in the first place.

We’ll wait.

Wynn funny chip

Oh, like we’d do a story about Wynn without including this chip. Do you know this blog at all?

Third, follow the money.

Wynn’s neighbors, Venetian and Palazzo, still offer free parking. That means many customers park at these competing casinos and walk to Wynn and Encore.

One of the cardinal rules of Las Vegas casinos: Don’t send customers to a competitor. Guests may intend to pass through Palazzo to gamble and dine at Wynn, but there are lots of distractions along the way.

So, the bottom line is Venetian and Palazzo deserve props for holding strong on free parking. If they’d rolled out paid parking, it’s unlikely Wynn Resorts would be changing its policies.

Palazzo

We all owe you a beer, Palazzo.

Along those same lines, let’s not forget another neighbor with free parking: Fashion Show Mall. You can bet there’s a collective sigh of relief at retail outlets inside Wynn and Encore right about now.

We can only hope the new parking program at Wynn and Encore is an acknowledgment by casinos that paid parking is an unnecessary annoyance to customers.

Paid parking is a short-sighted revenue play that hurts brands and, ultimately, Las Vegas.

Let’s hope the other big casino companies in Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts (which started this whole paid parking mess), see the light, too.