Glee, Skepticism Battle It Out at Resorts World

New signs of life at the long-delayed Resorts World project site have been received with cautious optimism by Las Vegas observers.

Resorts World recently erected its first construction crane, sparking hope the project is moving forward as promised by the Malaysia-based Genting Group behind the $4 billion resort.

Resorts World crane

Well, hello, sexy.

Resorts World sits on the site of the abandoned Echelon Place project. Before that, it was home to the Stardust.

Before the economic downturn, cranes dotted the Las Vegas skyline. Now, not so much.

Let’s take another look at this bad boy.

Resorts World crane

Quite tall, but suited to light work. We’ll take it.

Genting officials had promised cranes this summer to start on the casino’s “podium” and hotel towers. It’s expected 1,000 construction workers will be on-site in 2018.

The company also claims a good deal of work has been done at the site already, including installing utility lines and building a parking garage.

Resorts World crane

Here’s a look at the site from the Circus Circus side. It’s full of not a lot happening.

Resorts World is still shooting for a 2020 opening, but that date has been pushed back several times, causing concern Resorts World might fall victim to the same financing challenges that killed the Alon project and continue to plague the All Net Resort and Arena.

Genting Group has a long track record of successful projects, and was founded back in 1965. The company hired a casino veteran to help the project, Edward Farrell, president of Resorts World Las Vegas. Farrell helped open the Mirage in 1989.

The Resorts World Las Vegas team works out of Genting’s offices in Miami, Florida.

Resorts World crane

Let’s just think of this as the “before” photo. It’s more fun that way. Here’s a bigger version.

Some decorative flourishes have appeared recently on one of the Resorts World towers.

Check them out.

Resorts World

We have no idea what those are, but that’s beside the point. They’re new.

Let’s get in close, already.

Resorts World

We figure these facade pieces are like sample paint patches, a way of giving the colors a try before you commit.

Resorts World will have two hotel towers, one with 1,800 rooms and one with 1,400. When it broke ground back in May 2015, the resort was supposed to have 5,000 rooms.

The resort’s theme will be “modern Chinese,” another change from what was originally announced. At first, the resort was going to have a more traditional, Forbidden City-style, Asian theme.

Whatever it ends up being, we’re just glad to see Resorts World becoming something.

We’re ready to once again set aside our skepticism because of our deep and abiding love for shiny new things.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Free Downtown Loop Shuttle Service Launches

There’s a new way to get around downtown Las Vegas, and it’s free.

The Downtown Loop shuttle service is a six-month pilot program paid for by the City of Las Vegas.

The service runs daily, and bumps uglies (probably not the official term) with seven stops in downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown Loop Las Vegas

The folks at Pawn Plaza and the Mob Museum must know a guy.

The Downtown Loop stops at Bonneville Transit Center, The Arts District, Pawn Plaza, Fremont East (on Las Vegas Boulevard, south of Fremont Street), the Mob Museum, Fremont Street Experience (Main Street, south of Fremont) and Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

The free shuttle runs from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 3:00 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sundays. The 19-passenger buses hit their stops about every 20 minutes.

The new shuttle is a great way to explore parts of downtown you might not otherwise venture to, especially Fremont East, the Mob Museum and Pawn Plaza.

The shuttle costs a pretty penny, $550,000 ($275,000 for the first six months with an option to extend), but would likely be continued if deemed successful, based upon ridership and economic impact.

It remains to be seen what the interest level is. It’s likely the City of Las Vegas will want businesses benefiting from the shuttles to pay for them if they become a permanent offering.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 55: Tipsy Robot, Resorts World, Ellis Island and Pointless Rambling Galore

Rambling, it’s what we do.

In this week’s podcast, we chat up Rino Armeni, owner of Tipsy Robot. Tipsy Robot recently opened at Miracle Mile Shops, with two robotic bartenders.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Don’t think of them as robot bartenders. Think of them as buzz delivery systems.

We’ve also got the latest scoop about all things Las Vegas, including activity at Resorts World, the pop-up casinos at Las Vegas Club and Mermaids, openings and closings and everything in between.

There’s a metric hell-ton of Sin City news, including stories about Smooth Eats and 7th & Carson opening downtown, Bally’s getting minigolf and a new convention center, the new Downtown Loop shuttle (route below), Level Up’s virtual reality attraction, a pipe leak at Planet Hollywood and the weed shortage in Las Vegas.

Downtown Loop Las Vegas

The free Downtown Loop shuttle travels in a route inspired by the Mob Museum’s faux electric chair. Probably.

You won’t want to miss our “Listicle of the Week,” featuring “10 Surprising Things About Las Vegas Strippers.”

Podcasts are the new reading books, so shove us in your earholes, already.

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PBR Rock Bar Creates Inspired, Awkward Photo Op With Bedazzled Bull Testicles

We’ll say it right up front: We never imagined we’d type those words in that order, ever.

Nevertheless, PBR Rock Bar at Planet Hollywood has created a must-see photo op by decorating a bull statue in an audaciously eye-catching way.

PBR Rock Bar bull balls

PBR Rock Bar at Planet Hollywood has managed to turn one of the worst views in Las Vegas into one of the most brilliant.

We’ve written about offbeat Las Vegas photo ops in the past, and shared stories about the city’s phallic objects, but this bold decorative touch stands out for its sheer originality and undeniable flair.

Simply put, nothing says Las Vegas like a bull with disco bull.

PBR Rock Bar

In case you’ve ever wondered what makes this blog special. And your impertinence is duly noted.

Hello, Pulitzer Prize.

PBR Rock Bar, of course, is home to a variety of bulls, including a mechanical one.

We trust mirrors were added to the bull’s “boys” as a reflection of the restaurant’s irreverent and fun-loving atmosphere.

You never know what surprises await in Las Vegas!

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 54.5: The Illustrious Norm Clarke

Norm Clarke is a legend in Las Vegas journalism circles, so it was only a matter of time before we sat him down for a nice, long chat.

Norm Clarke

We have proudly been stealing Norm’s scoops for years.

Clarke began his “Vegas Confidential” column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 1999, then departed in 2016 citing health concerns.

During his time as a “man about town” columnist at the Review-Journal, Clarke set the standard for shaking stories loose, building a network of inside sources and maintaining a singular reputation for accuracy and integrity.

Norm Clarke

It’s Norm’s town. We’re just drinking in it.

He’s back in the thick of the Las Vegas conversation with a column for the Vegas Stats & Information Network.

Norm Clarke is a class act and a friend, and it was great chatting about his life, career and iconic eye patch.

To put it another way, Norm’s such a badass, he gets his own episode.

Update (7/5/17): Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman declared July 8, 2017, Norm Clarke Day in Las Vegas.

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Tipsy Robot’s Automated Bartenders Are a Riveting New Diversion on the Las Vegas Strip

A pair of robotic bartenders have created some serious buzz since a new bar, Tipsy Robot, opened inside Miracle Mile Shops at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas resort.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

“Kuka” is a German word meaning, “Bow before your new robotic bartender overlords.”

Tipsy Robot is billed as the “first land-based robotic bar.” There’s another pair of robot bartenders on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas cruise liner, but these are infinitely better, because Las Vegas.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

You can’t spell “tipsy” without “tips,” and, ironically, robot bartenders don’t accept those.

As marketing gimmicks go, this is one of the best we’ve ever seen, and crowds were gathering to watch the robots mix drinks even before the venue opened to the public.

We were utterly mesmerized as the dynamic duo deftly delivered drinks. See for yourself in our hastily slapped-together video.

That adorable little dance, though.

So, here’s all the Tipsy Robot skinny.

Guests place orders via one of 33 tablets. There’s a robust list of 18 signature cocktails, but guests may order custom-built drinks, too.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Park it at a tablet and make some mechanical mixology magic.

For an existing drink, it’s just a matter of making a selection and providing a name and e-mail address.

For custom drinks, guests can choose from virtually unlimited options, from the kind of liquor (Tipsy Robot boasts 172 bottles, or 59 different brands) to exact proportions of liquor and mixers and ice.

There are 14 “portions” in all. For example, we ordered a rum and Coke with two parts rum, six parts Coke and six parts ice. We really like ice.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Tipsy Robot serves Captain Morgan Silver. We’re trying to get past it.

Once an order is placed and paid for with a credit card (drinks are $14 for a standard drink with one shot of alcohol), it goes into a queue. That’s a fancy European term for “line.”

The robots take anywhere from a minute to 90 seconds to prepare a drink, so the virtual line moves quite quickly.

A fun part of the process is that video displays keep track of where your order is in the queue, and you can tell when your specific drink is being made.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Analytics! See where you are in the queue, the most popular drinks being ordered and trends related to the consumption of various drink categories. You are officially a world-class nerd.

While a drink is being prepared, an e-mail is sent to the address given when the order was placed.

The e-mail contains a QR code which, when scanned, “unlocks” the drink. This ensures nobody can abscond with a cocktail.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Set your drink free with your QR code. QR codes are like bar codes. Emphasis on “bar.”

That’s it.

The robots prepare drinks element by element, grabbing ice from a dispenser, extracting liquor from bottles hanging overhead, slicing fruit, shaking up the drink and pouring the cocktails ever-so-carefully into plastic cups.

What don’t the robot bartenders do? They don’t take breaks, they don’t accept tips and they don’t provide straws.

There are attendants in space-aged uniforms to handle the straw thing.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

The robot helpers are called “Galactic Ambassadors.” Just play along.

During our visit, we chatted up Rino Armeni, owner of the 2,500-square-foot Tipsy Robot and Chairman of Robotic Innovations. He said, “I’m very proud that Las Vegas finally has something different, new, and most importantly, ahead of its time.”

Armeni is a charismatic Italian whose enthusiasm is contagious.

“In food and beverage,” Armeni says, “I think we’ve been asleep at the wheel lately. It’s been a matter of recycling, rather than being inventive.”

Yes, he actually said “sleeping on the wheel,” but we know what he meant.

Armeni continues, “We want to be almost like the fountains of Bellagio, the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. We want people to come and experience this kind of entertainment.”

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Owner Rino Armeni greets Tipsy Robot guests, assuring them he’s never heard the word “Skynet” before.

Armeni is careful to point out he considers the robot bartenders entertainment, rather than a replacement for actual bartenders.

In fact, Tipsy Robot has a “Human Bar,” with humans serving up the libations.

The robot bartenders aren’t fully autonomous, of course. A human being is still tasked with replacing the liquor bottles.

When we asked an insider how much the robots cost, the answer was along the lines of “a metric ass-ton.”

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Humans and robots have many things in common, including an ongoing need for lubrication.

Tipsy Robot is looking to crowdsource the names of the robots. Siegfried and Roy leap to mind. Find out more on the Tipsy Robot Facebook page.

Tipsy Robot is open from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Here’s another look at these modern marvels. You may not be able to tell these robot bartenders your problems, but you’ll always know the precise size of your pour.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

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