Category Archives: Las Vegas Hotels

Rio to Be Remodeled, Towers Will Get Hyatt Brands

The new owner of Rio casino, Dreamscape, is partnering with Hyatt Hotels, and the underwhelm is palpable.

Dreamscape announced it signed a deal with Hyatt that involves a major renovation as well as rebranding its hotel towers, but the resort will keep the Rio name.

Rio Las Vegas casino

Rio is tired of being everyone’s punching bag. We could also have ended that sentence with “tired.”

Dreamscape acquired Rio from Caesars Entertainment for $516.3 million in December 2019.

One hotel tower, presumably Masquerade Tower, will have 1,501 rooms and be rebranded Hyatt Regency.

Beyond that, Rio will be rebranded into “multiple Hyatt full-service brand flags.”

There are a metric hell-ton of Hyatt brands to choose from for a rebrand.

So, it’s a lot like what’s happening at Resorts World, with three “flags” operating under one umbrella. In the case of Resorts World, it’s three Hilton brands: Hilton, Conrad and Crockfords.

Cosmo has Marriott. Virgin has Hilton. All the cool kids are doing it.

Rio Las Vegas sign

Whatever you do, Dreamscape, don’t muck with the sign. Unless you’re fixing it, then muck away.

On the bright side, the resort’s “revitalization” will include all public spaces, including the casino, retail, bars and restaurants, spa and pool complex.

The renovation and rebrands will happen in phases.

It’s been painful to watch the slow decline of Rio. Dreamscape’s plans at least provide a glimmer of hope the resort could be a thing again.

Still, one need only look across the street to Palms to see where big investments and plans have failed to pan out. Palms has yet to reopen since closing in March 2020, and our sources say it won’t reopen again under its current ownership, Station Casinos.

Carnival World Buffet

For a time, this was the bomb. Or just bomb. We are a blog, not an Urban Dictionary.

Off-Strip resorts are a tricky business, and it remains to be seen if Dreamscape’s plans are, indeed, its plans (so many juicy rumors), and whether those dreams fulfilled could mean a chance at success for our beloved and beleaguered Rio.

For now, we’re reserving judgment on where all this could go. At least until Dreamscape removes the apostrophe in “Caesar’s Palace” on its Web site. They might have deep pockets, but they have a lot to learn about Las Vegas. We’ll wait.

Virgin Reveals Its Rejuvenated Opening

The construction walls are down outside Virgin, and we’ve got a peek at what’s in store when the new resort opens at 6:00 p.m. on March 25, 2021.

The fence came down sans hoopla, now those anxiously awaiting the debut of Virgin can get a clear look at how far the casino has come since it was Hard Rock.

Virgin entrance

It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

Virgin’s signage is going full bore, promoting its new offerings and touting the fact the resort will open with no resort fees.

Virgin no resort fees

One of the greatest phrases ever invented: No resort fees.

Here’s another pic of the shiny new porte-cochere (fancy talk for driveway) at Virgin Las Vegas. Technically, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Which is awkward, but we’re so excited about having a new casino in Las Vegas, we’ll give it a pass.

Virgin porte cochere

Rumor has it spaces in the parking lot won’t be numbered, but lettered. Good luck finding the G spot.

One more shot of the Virgin entrance for posterity. We suspect it’s the last time the surface parking lot will be empty at Virgin.

Virgin Las Vegas

Fun game: Find the suspicious security guard.

The only other thing we’d add is Virgin Las Vegas is really close to the airport (at the corner of Harmon and Paradise).

The planes fly so close, you can almost reach up and scratch their bellies. Or something.

Virgin sign

Just spit-balling here, but Virgin should sell “flight path view” room upgrades for all the aviation nerds.

Check out our exclusive pics of some Virgin venues, and get all the scoop on Virgin’s new bars and restaurants. Emphasis on bars.

The opening of Virgin Las Vegas is close at hand, and we can wait to get inside her.

Luxor Shows Off Pyramid Tower Room Renovations

Luxor thinks a new batch of renovated rooms will be a draw for customers. They may have a point.

We’re pretty sure you need to circle back to read that first paragraph again. We’ll wait.

Because Luxor is in the shape of a pyramid.

We don’t have all day, so here’s a photo of one of Luxor’s overhauled Pyramid Tower rooms, the Pyramid King.

Luxor room reservation

Luxor opened on Oct. 13, 1993, because people were much less superstitious in 1993.

The Pyramid tower is the 30-story pointy one. Luxor also has twin 22-story towers. They’re referred to as “ziggurat towers,” but because we have no idea what that means, we’re just going to breeze right by it.

The remodeled Pyramid Tower rooms will be available for stays starting in mid-April.

Here’s another room.

Luxor room renovation

This is the Pyramid Two Queen room. In poker, a pair of queens are called “ladies.”

Here’s a fun fact: No hotel room window in the history of Las Vegas has ever had the view from that window.

There are lots of reasons for that, including the fact many views just suck.

Mostly, though, it’s because the contrast between the light level in the room (artificial) and outside (sunlight) is so great, either the room ends up being too dark or outside is washed out. Even with HDR (high dynamic range) software, photographers and graphic designers swap out what’s in the window with a better resolution image to enhance the appeal of the room.

Look, this whole story is about a couple of hotel rooms, so we needed to pad it a little to keep the photos from slapping together.

Oh, look, a renovated bathroom!

Luxor

In ancient Egypt, a toilet was basically a stool with a hole in it. A container with sand was placed underneath. Classy.

The news release about the renovated rooms says, “Luxor’s new Pyramid King and Pyramid Two Queen guest rooms are inspired by Moroccan and North African cultures with bold splashes of orange and blue, with brilliant gold accents.”

Wild coincidence: The name of our band in high school was The Bold Splashes.

You can see all the room types on Luxor’s official Web site. If you decide to book, don’t bother calling. We were on hold 20 minutes, no luck speaking to anyone. The hotels haven’t really staffed back up based upon increasing demand. Give it a minute.

Luxor’s room remodel is ongoing, and will continue through the summer. Eventually, all 1,715 standard king and queen rooms will get a facelift.

Luxor is still about as iconic as it gets in Las Vegas, despite the fact much of the Egyptian theming has been removed inside.

The Luxor beam is only half as bright as when the hotel opened (part cost-cutting, but also it was causing too many crow’s feet due to all the squinting), but got some fancy LED light strips along the pyramid’s edges not too long ago.

It’s great to see MGM Resorts investing in a refresh of its Pyramid Tower rooms, and we are big fans of the color scheme.

Insert pyramid scheme joke here. Hey, we can’t do everything for you.

Update (3/23/21): Wow, this got awkward. Thanks to our alert readers who pointed out Luxor’s room renovations feature hand-me-down furniture from Bellagio.

Luxor hand-me-downs

Chairs, lamps, dressers. At least you tried, Luxor.

Exclusive First Look Inside Virgin Las Vegas Resort

Virgin Las Vegas resort opens March 25, 2021, but we couldn’t wait, so our inside source provided some sweet photos to provide a taste of what’s to come.

Virgin Vegas

Does Virgin make you horny, baby?

Keep in mind, Virgin is still under construction, and they probably aren’t thrilled these photos are being shared, but we’re excited and can’t sit on them any longer.

We are incorrigible. And, you are correct, we had to look up how to spell that. Anyway, exclusive pics!

Virgin Las Vegas

Yes, our mole was disguised as a Majesty Palm.

From what we’ve seen, Virgin will definitely have a distinctive vibe, a style and sensibility unlike any other Las Vegas resort.

That unique sensibility was telegraphed by the announcement Virgin Las Vegas will not have resort fees when it opens. It will also boast free WiFi and parking.

Talk about winning hearts and minds before the doors even open.

Here’s an eye-popping preview of the Commons Lounge at Virgin.

Virgin Las Vegas photos

Sorry about the leaked pics, Virgin. Can’t get too mad that we can’t wait to get inside you!

They pretty much nailed it on this lounge, as the rendering (below) is fairly indistinguishable from the real thing. Although, they opted for a colorful carpet instead of tile. We dig it.

Virgin

Nailed the execution there, Virgin. Bonus points if there’s a ram.

Here’s another shot inside Virgin Las Vegas, and we are 60 percent sure these are not sex swings.

Virgin sex swings

Oh, please grow up.

The overall feel of the hotel has a distinctively feminine energy, which makes sense as women business travelers are expected to be a significant portion of Virgin’s clientele.

We have access to more photos, but sort of don’t want to spoil the surprise any more than we already have.

The owners of Virgin Hotel (technically, “Hotels”) Las Vegas have spend months and a pretty penny overhauling the former Hard Rock, and they even pushed back their opening a couple of times because they wanted to do the launch right.

That doesn’t mean we can’t tease. The place is called “Virgin” after all.

Virgin Las Vegas sports book

Had to include one for the sportsball fans.

There are a lot more surprises in store based upon the renderings of the pool complex, casino, restaurants and lounges in the works.

Virgin door

Not a trace of Hard Rock remains. Don’t worry, though, the Seminoles are still poking around in Las Vegas and promise to return.

A few of the Hard Rock’s restaurants will be back—MB Steak (rebranded One Steakhouse), Pizza Forte and Nobu—but Virgin has several new offerings lined up, including Night + Market, Kassi Beach Club, Casa Calavera (from Hakkasan Group), Money, Baby, Afters Ice Cream, Olives and the Funny Library Coffee Shop. Get more details.

While Virgin Las Vegas hasn’t confirmed which of its venues will open March 25, 2021, we trust a few won’t come online right away. Here’s a look at the former Vinyl space, expected to be rebranded once live entertainment is a thing again (very soon).

Virgin Vinyl

Vinyl is expected to have a new groove.

We hope you’ve enjoyed a little taste of what’s brewing at Virgin, the first new Las Vegas casino resort to open in 2021.

Next up, Resorts World, expected in May or June.

There’s a lot to look forward to in Las Vegas, and the opening of Virgin Las Vegas sits right at the top of our list.

MGM Resorts Sued Over Resort Fees

Travelers United, a non-profit that claims to “represent all travelers,” has sued MGM Resorts over much-loathed resort fees.

On its Web site, Travelers United says this is “a price deception case,” claiming “this is a clear case of false advertising.”

Nobody loves resort fees, but from our experiences with MGM Resorts, the fees are transparent and readily available when booking a room.

So, good luck with this one, lawyers.

No resort fees rally

These showgirls were protesting resort fees. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

We rail against resort fees as much as anyone, but we’re fairly sure this practice isn’t going away because of lawsuits like this.

You can read the Complaint here (.pdf format). The case was filed in the District of Columbia. Still, Vegas-related.

The reasons for hotels charging resort fees are fairly complicated. Sorry, but we don’t have time to explain anything “complicated” because we are very busy and important. We also don’t entirely understand the reasons, but mostly the “busy and important” thing.

The obvious reason hotels charge this fee is to make more money. Yes, we went to public school.

Another reason is so hotels can be competitive on OTAs, or online travel sites. Customers often search for rooms based upon price. As resort fees aren’t included in the official price of a room, those lower priced rooms show up higher in search.

There’s also the motivation of recouping housekeeping and other costs for comped (free) rooms. Yes, hotels charge resort fees on “free” rooms.

In addition, hotels don’t have to pay occupancy tax for resort fees because, technically, it’s not a room charge.

Yeah, it’s all a little slimy.

Hotels say resort fees are for things like spa access and WiFi and, wait for it, local phone calls.

The real problem with resort fees is they’re perceived as a “hidden” fee. The reality is they’re not very hidden because everyone who has ever stayed at a hotel with resort fees knows about them. Which is pretty much everyone that’s ever stayed in a hotel.

Some people are really, really passionate about ending resort fees, like the folks at KillResortFees.com. There, you will learn a lot about this ridiculous practice.

While we appreciate the dislike of resort fees (sometimes called amenities fees or facilities fees), the rage about them has always been a little disproportionate to the level of irk.

In the case of Las Vegas, rooms are incredibly inexpensive compared to other destinations, even with resort fees attached.

If resort fees go away, hotels will just raise their room rates to make up for the lost revenue.

We say just add up the room rate and resort fee and be done with it. It’s the total cost that matters, not what label a charge is given.

Call resort fees something else if you need to. Call them “Frolicking Baby Panda Fees” if you prefer. Pandas are adorable. “It’s the fee that clings to your leg and you can’t shake it off!”

Call them “Happy Ending Fees.” Although, that’s an actual service in Las Vegas, so nevermind.

You know what we mean.

MGM Resorts parking fee

It’s really not about the amount of the fee, it’s how it makes you feel.

The Travelers United suit follows attorneys general in Nebraska and D.C. going after Hilton and Marriott last year.

The agency tasked with monitoring and presumably punishing hotels for deceptive practices, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), has been fairly useless in resolving this ongoing burr under the collective saddle of travelers.

We’ll keep an eye on the Travelers United lawsuit, as it could bring more attention to the aggravating issue of resort fees.

There are still a few casino resorts in Las Vegas that don’t charge resort fees, but it’s a pretty short list. They include Four Queens, Binion’s and Casino Royale. Virgin Las Vegas announced it will not have resort fees when it opens March 25, 2021.

Until concerns about resort fees are addressed, feel free to direct your ire toward truly annoying things like paper straws, surge pricing and smaller pour sizes.

Palazzo Resumes Operations Seven Days a Week

In still more positive “Las Vegas is healing” news, Palazzo has ramped back up to operating seven days a week.

The resort previously shut down its hotel tower midweek because of a drop in demand due to the pandemic.

While Palazzo stopped taking room bookings during the slowdown, its casino, restaurants and shops continued to operate.

Let’s be honest, casinos are the most important part of any casino resort, anyway.

Palazzo

In researching this photo caption, we just learned about palazzo pants. Hint: They are dopey.

Several other Las Vegas hotels have also reopened fully after closing midweek due to lower demand. They include Mirage, Park MGM and Mandalay Bay.

Palazzo and its sister resort, Venetian, were recently sold to Apollo Global and Vici Properties for a cool $6.25 billion.

The sale followed the death of Sheldon Adelson, longtime CEO and chairman of Las Vegas Sands. Adelson died on January 11, 2021 at the age of 87.

While the sale price of Venetian and Palazzo (as well as the Sands Expo convention center) was substantial, and taken by some as a vote of confidence in the future of Las Vegas, the reason these resorts were for sale is Las Vegas Sands decided to bail on Las Vegas.

So, yeah, glass half full, but it doesn’t tell the full story.

Electra Palazzo

Life’s too short for glasses only half full.

We’re pretty sure Sheldon Adelson saw the writing on the wall about an agonizingly slow post-pandemic recovery as well as challenges on the horizon related to supply outpacing demand, especially in the area of meetings and conventions.

Still, we’ll take upbeat news where we can get it, and Palazzo reopening its hotel tower falls squarely into that category.