Venue Fees: The Newest Ways Las Vegas Nightclubs Are Screwing You

We’ve long railed against insidious, often deceptive, CNF charges (or “concession fees”) at Las Vegas restaurants.

It seems Las Vegas nightclubs are getting in on the customer screwing action with a snaky new revenue-generating surcharge we haven’t seen before: Venue fees.

An alert tipster informed us about a 7% “venue fee” tacked onto all bills at XS Nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas.

XS Nightclub venue fee

By the way, those numbers on the right are in U.S. dollars. The mind reels.

One of the reasons we haven’t seen this fee before, and why we can’t definitively say it’s new, is we would rather dive headlong into a pool full of piranha while wearing bacon manties than set foot in a Las Vegas nightclub.

So, what’s a “venue fee”?

We’d say it’s a resort fee for nightclubs, but with resort fees, hotels at least pretend you’re getting something in return for your money.

Venue fees, like CNF charges, get you absolutely nothing as far as we can tell. Nightclubs charge it because they can, plain and simple.

The 7% venue fee at XS Nightclub may not sound like a lot until you see the prices at the club, then it really starts to sting.

A 7% venue fee on an $8,000 table is $560. For nothing, as far as we can tell. Even for a lower tier table (the closer you are to the dance floor, the higher the cost), the venue fee for a $4,000 table is $280.

XS Nightclub

Las Vegas has a never-ending supply of WTF.

We tried computing the venue fee on the cost of table and a $300,000 bottle of Ace of Spades Champagne, but our calculator melted.

Learn more surprising things about Las Vegas nightclubs.

The great news, of course, is nightclubs are still free for groups of attractive young women. So, there’s that. Do expect to be asked by a club promoter for photos of you and your girls before you get your comped table, and expect you’ll be joined later by male customers with deep pockets.

Chances are you visit nightclubs a lot more often than we do, so we’d love to hear if you’ve seen this new venue fee elsewhere. We suspect XS isn’t the only offender.

XS Nightclub

Somebody has to pay for all the untz.

We’ve seen mentions of venue fees in reference to Tao, Hakkasan and Omnia.

Club-goers don’t seem deterred by the price of tables or venue fees, so we’ll add it to our list of “Things We Don’t Get About Las Vegas.”

You know, like Criss Angel, eSports and the ban on lotteries.

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Rumor: Aerosmith Las Vegas Residency Not Happening in 2018

Hopes were high for an Aerosmith residency at the Park Theater in 2018, but it seems those hopes have been dashed by what a reliable source describes as “internal band issues.”

Long-standing rumors about Aerosmith residency were seemingly confirmed in an interview with band member Joe Perry. Now, not so much.

Perry, 67, told a reporter the residency would “start in the fall” of 2018.

Aerosmith

Fun fact: That wasn’t actually love in the elevator.

Earlier this week, it appeared contracts were being finalized, but now it seems the deal has fallen through. It’s unknown if the band will do a residency at a later time.

The band’s eccentric lead singer, Steven Tyler, has been struggling with medical issues that have resulted in show cancellations, but the drama around the Las Vegas residency doesn’t appear to involve any of that.

Confession: We wrote that entire paragraph as excuse to say Steven Tyler is 69.

Aerosmith was slated to do 15-20 shows at Park Theater, joining a stellar lineup of talent wooed by the theater’s owner, MGM Resorts.

Britney Spears and Lady Gaga are also slated to appear at Park Theater. They’ll join Ricky Martin, Bruno Mars and Cher as regulars.

We’ll keep our ears peeled for more news related to the Aerosmith residency. Which may not be an appealing visual, but it gets you the scoop you so richly deserve, so just go with it.

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First Look Inside Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at Bellagio

Spago Las Vegas by Wolfgang Puck at Bellagio opens this summer, and we’ve got a first peek inside the new restaurant.

No, it doesn’t reveal a lot, but it hints at the spectacular view and also give us an opportunity to scoop Eater Vegas, which is always a hoot.

Spago Bellagio

Yes, the hotels and High Roller are FUBAR in the background, but you get the general idea.

Spago, of course, was a fixture at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace for years. That location closed in Jan. 2018.

Now, the groundbreaking restaurant will take up residence in the former Todd English’s Olives.

That’s where things get weird and super awkward, if you listen to the rumor mill, which we always do, especially if it involves sex.

So, the owner of Bellagio, MGM Resorts, cut ties with Todd English when he got into hot water related to sexual harassment allegations.

The company never said that publicly, of course, and also never mentioned it when they scrubbed English’s name from the Todd English P.U.B. at Aria. Now, it’s just The Pub.

So, now we’ve got Spago moving into the Olives space.

Wolfgang Puck

We mourn the loss of this neon at the Forum Shops location of Spago. Thankfully, one of the signs will be on display at the Neon Museum.

From what we hear, Mark Andalbradt will be the executive chef.

Those in the know, though, say Andalbradt has had his own struggles with avoiding mischief. It’s rumored he was demoted at the Forum Shops Spago to a behind-the-scenes role at Cut at Palazzo (another Wolfgang Puck restaurant) for over-indulging and getting gropy with a member of the staff. Allegedly. Because lawyers.

Just when you thought that kind of crap doesn’t fly in Vegas anymore.

You didn’t actually think that, did you? You’re adorable.

Spago is expected to open at Bellagio in May 2018, and it’s bound to be a hit.

It’s great to see an iconic Las Vegas restaurant getting a second chance, and here’s hoping the restaurant’s executive chef doesn’t squander his.

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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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Everything You Need to Know About the $100 Million Kind Heaven at Linq Promenade

Caesars Entertainment, Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell and other collaborators have announced an ambitious, $100 million project for the Linq promenade on the Las Vegas Strip, Kind Heaven.

Since we know how you like to skim, we’re going to cut through the WTF and sum the project up in a way its development team and other publications have not: In English.

Kind Heaven is an Asian-themed walk-through attraction with music festival roots.

Don’t say we never did anything for you.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Prediction: Best-selling item in the Kind Heaven gift shop will be mosquito repellent.

Yes, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the essence of Kind Heaven. The details range from breathtakingly original to laughably absurd.

Kind Heaven is a little bit theme park, a little bit interactive theater, all wildly original for Las Vegas, and the entire concept is based upon a dream. More on that in a moment.

The intention is for Kind Heaven to be a unique experience, and from what’s been shared, it could actually end up being just that. It could also be a colossal disaster, which is part of what makes it so exciting.

Let’s dive into this whimsically weird attraction set to open in 2019 in Las Vegas.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Kind Heaven’s logo features a number of symbols, all of which have growths which should probably be looked at by a physician.

The project is being put together by a powerhouse team of creative minds and Caesars Entertainment. That may have come out wrong.

Aside from Perry Farrell (founder of the Lollapalooza music festival), there’s also Cary Granat, co-founder and CEO of Immersive Artistry. Granat is also the former CEO of Walden Media (which produced the “Chronicles of Narnia” film series) and was formerly the president of Miramax.

Also on the team is visual effects pioneer, Ed Jones. Jones was involved with blockbuster films like “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Indiana Jones” and “E.T.” He’s the president of Immersive Artistry.

So, there are some creative minds at work on the Kind Heaven project.

The driving force, though, is Perry Farrell. He’s the one whose dream inspired Kind Heaven.

Farrell says that in his dream, he “descended upon an imaginary city from the sky and watched a girl pickpocket someone who was passed out on the street.”

It takes a true visionary to have a dream and say, “That’s a $100 million idea right there!”

Whores book cover

Let us introduce you to Perry Farrell, the man once voted “Least Likely to Ever Work With Caesars Entertainment, Ever.”

From there, back in 2014, Farrell tried to develop an “EDM-driven immersive theatrical production” called “Kind Heaven.” That show, which was intended for Las Vegas, never became a reality, but the Kind Heaven dream apparently lived on. Read more in Rolling Stone.

The specifics of Kind Heaven aren’t easy to pin down, but that’s probably because its developers haven’t quite sorted everything out yet.

What we do know is Kind Heaven will be located at the Linq promenade shopping center. The pedestrian mall is anchored by the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the High Roller. And In N Out.

Kind Heaven will cover a whopping 100,000 square feet of space with 40 food stations and bars. Hint: That’s a lot.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Bonus points if your first thought was “Blade Runner”!

Kind Heaven will “transport visitors to Southeast Asia” via a “virtual train” and is set to feature holographic special effects, streetscapes and holy temples in Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Hong Kong.

According to Cary Granat, the venue will feature music from 130 artists on five stages. Hey, we said it’s whimsical.

Farrell will curate the “audio soundscape” for Kind Heaven, because why would you ever want to just call something what it is? This is art, that’s why.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

When “Jubilee” opened in Las Vegas, there was a worldwide rhinestone shortage. With Kind Heaven, look forward to a worldwide monk robe shortage.

Kind Heaven will be family-friendly by day and adults-only at night. According to Farrell, the adults-only part will presumably include “street walkers, nightclubs and sake bombs.”

We’ll see how much of that makes it through Caesars Entertainment’s notoriously stifling review and approval process.

Perry Farrell has provided some of the most vivid (and confounding) descriptions of the attraction.

He told Billboard, “You’re basically walking through a 90-minute show routed in mythology and original content. When you’re within the complex, you’re free to roam around and discover hidden alleyways, visit nightclubs and eat from Hong Kong-style street food vendors. There will be improvisational actors, musicians, acrobats and comedians, combining elements of sensuality and espionage into an experience that will be a first of its kind.”

Think Fremont Street Experience, but rather than downtown’s casino “theme,” an Asian one.

No, really.

Live musical performances on multiple stages (three on Fremont Street, five at Kind Heaven), street performers, bars and restaurants, roaming and exploring, sensuality and immersion.

Oh, and let’s not forget, ziplines. Caesars Entertainment announced its Fly Linq project back in November 2017.

You think we’re kidding about Fremont Street being the inspiration for Kind Heaven? They even included a vagrant in their rendering!

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Not happening. Unlike Fremont Street, Linq promenade is private property.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and worked in marketing at Caesars Entertainment as well back in the day. Our opinions are obviously our own, and God, we feel old.

Here are some other notable features of the Kind Heaven attraction:

googie Kind Heaven is specifically intended to appeal to Millennials.

googie It will be cashless. Our first experience with a similar cashless system was at Rock in Rio USA, the music festival held at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds across from SLS Las Vegas. Event organizers love RFID wristband payment systems because they help avoid employee theft and there’s a windfall from the “breakage.” Read more.

googie The attraction will accept digital currencies like Bitcoin.

googie It will feature “wearable tech.”

googie The exact location of Kind Heaven isn’t entirely clear at this juncture, but it’s likely to span the space between Flamingo and the Linq hotel.

googie The attraction will be open to people of all ages from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., close for three hours and re-open for those 21 and older.

googie The venue will have a “Dynamo” stage with a capacity of 1,000 people for concerts.

googie Objects inside the attraction will have RFID tags, and everything will be for sale. Well, almost everything. Farrell says, “Everything that you see, except for my wife, is for sale.”

Kind Heaven Las Vegas bar

Fun game! See if you can spot the drama. Answer below.

googie There may be holographic porn. Farrell says he’d like to have a holographic porn of himself. We are not making this up. Read more.

googie The venue will feature virtual monkeys that wrestle each other, robotic chickens and 20-foot snake. Guests will presumably be able to wager on the matches.

googie It will take 18 months of construction.

googie Kind Heaven will create 200 construction jobs.

googie The attraction will employ 670, exclusive of the holographic monkeys.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

“Honey, she’s a friend from work!”

There have been conflicting reports about how many stories Kind Heaven will take up, ranging from three to five to seven.

Specifics of three levels of Kind Heaven have been shared, though.

Level one is a night market. On this level, at a bar called The Dispensary, guests will be able to order feelings. That is absolutely not a typo. We trust one of the feelings will be “WTF?”

Level two is The Forest, with lost temples and cities, tree houses and lush vegetation. Millennials love their vegetation lush.

Level three is The Sanctuary. This level will be above the Vortex (that colorful, tornado shaped structure at Linq hotel). This area is likely to feature EDM.

And more drama!

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

Matt Goss’ girlfriend is not pleased.

And while we’re on the subject, Matt Goss is everywhere at Kind Heaven. Remember that rendering of “The Forest”?

Kind Heaven

The one thing we know for sure about Kind Heaven is Matt Goss is getting a lot of tail.

Yep, Matt Goss and friends.

Kind Heaven

There’s a small chance this isn’t actually Matt Goss. Would it kill you to just play along, or at least pretend you know who Matt Goss is?

As we’re taking a closer look at the Kind Heaven renderings, we would like to also point out there’s more drama lurking in the forest image.

Kind Heaven Linq

You were so busy worrying about Matt Goss, you didn’t notice this situation developing nearby.

And don’t get us started about what else is going on in The Forest!

The jealous confrontation in the bar has apparently resulted in the scorned woman having her leg amputated!

Kind Heaven Linq

When they said there would be danger at Kind Heaven, they weren’t kidding.

That just about covers what we know about Kind Heaven, and we’re exhausted.

So, can a $100 million, Asian-themed attraction based upon a dream thrive on the Las Vegas Strip? We hope so.

Doesn’t Disneyland feels like a dream made real? Come to think of it, doesn’t Las Vegas?

We’ve heard convincing arguments from industry insiders saying Kind Heaven is set to be the biggest game-changing success in the history of Las Vegas. We’ve heard equally compelling arguments Kind Heaven will be the biggest flop in the history of Las Vegas.

Here’s what we think.

Casinos are scrambling to draw the next generation of Las Vegas visitors. Skill-based slot machines, cornhole and eSports are feeble, fruitless attempts at doing so.

With Kind Heaven, Caesars Entertainment is being bold and Las Vegas was built on audacity.

Here’s hoping the dream that is Kind Heaven pays off, because when bold wagers come through in Las Vegas, we all win.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 74: Rumors, Reflection and Copious Humbuggery

It’s the podcast that’s been described as “unlistenable,” frequently and very recently.

In this episode, we shovel all the latest Las Vegas scoop against the advice of our team of lawyers.

There you’ve got your SLS sale. There you’ve got your Hard Rock sale. There you’ve got your Gwen Stefani residency, your Lucky Dragon bankruptcy and your Las Vegas Walk of Stars disintegration.

SLS Las Vegas

The SLS sale is finally going through, and we call dibs on a vest.

Learn more about the comp drink monitoring system on the casino floor at Westgate, and get the latest about plans for the El Portal and more.

As a special bonus, prospector and part-time marshal Pappy provides his thoughts about Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox claiming he knew nothing about the sexual misbehavior allegations about Steve Wynn.

Pappy

If you don’t listen to this podcast, you’ll break the heart of a noted frontiersman and penny crusher. Long story.

It’s the one Las Vegas podcast you can live without, and no, we didn’t inadvertently leave a word out of this sentence.

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