Circa Resort Construction is Halfway to Completion

Circa Las Vegas has made impressive progress during its first year of construction, and we’ve got a look at the current state of the new hotel-casino downtown.

The $1.2 billion Circa is expected to open in December 2020. The project broke ground on February 19, 2019.

Circa Las Vegas construction

Downtown’s about to get some new shiny.

Here’s an amazing fun fact about Circa: Since Oct. 3, 2019, Circa has been adding a floor per week.

The 44-story, 500-foot-tall Circa will eventually have 777 rooms, but will open with closer to 500 rooms, plus 71 suites. The final mix of rooms and suites will be based upon demand.

Among the new resort’s features will be what’s billed as the “world’s largest sports book.” Gird your loins, Westgate.

Here’s a look at the space where the sports book will reside when it slides into home. Or something.

Circa sports book

They’ll probably spruce it up a bit before opening day.

The three-level Circa sports book, expected to cost about $20 million, will have a 78 million pixel high-definition screen.

Here’s a rendering of the finished product for comparison purposes, reversed angle from the perspective above.

Circa Las Vegas

Consider it spruced.

The jewel of Circa will be its rooftop pool complex, with six pools open 365 days a year. It’s projected the pools will be able to serve about 4,000 people a day.

The video screen at the pool will have 14 million pixels.

Here’s the owner of Circa, Derek Stevens, showing off his baby. Stevens and his brother Greg also own The D and Golden Gate.

Circa Las Vegas Derek Stevens

We were the first to quote Derek Stevens as saying, “Downtown is under-pooled.” He’s determined to remedy that.

Here’s the rendering of what the pool deck will look like when it’s completed.

Circa Las Vegas

Good luck escaping the sports at Circa.

It was a blast being among the first to walk around the future Circa casino, where we fully anticipate making regular donations.

Circa will have 1,350 slot machines and 49 table games.

Here’s a “before” shot of Circa’s casino!

Circa Las Vegas casino

Savsies on Wheel of Fortune.

During our tour, we spotted an area we’re pretty sure will be the home of Vegas Vickie upon her much-anticipated return to Fremont Street. She is set to be a featured part of Circa’s
lobby.

Circa

The Circa lobby will have a moon roof.

From what we can tell, the Vegas Vickie sign is so tall (40 feet), she’ll actually extend beyond the ceiling of the casino, protruding through an opening in the ceiling.

We couldn’t help but create this weak and entirely speculative image of where Vegas Vickie might go at Circa.

Vegas Vickie Circa

When we asked a friend at Circa which way Vickie’s leg will go, the reply was, “We don’t know.” If they don’t know, we sure as hell don’t.

Our mole got some sweets shots of Vegas Vickie during her renovation at Yesco Signs. She’s got a fresh coat of paint!

Vegas Vickie renovation

If you love classic Vegas signs, this photo gives a whole new meaning to “halfway to completion.”

Across the street from Circa is another key element of the project, deemed Garage Mahal.

The nine-story Garage Mahal structure will hold about 1,200 vehicles, but the big selling point is it’s the first parking garage in Las Vegas to be built around catering to rideshare services like Lyft and Uber.

Garage Mahal

In Persian, “Mahal” means mansion or palace. Because writing photo captions is hard.

More fun facts: More than 10.75 million pounds of rebar (emphasis on “bar,” because Vegas) have been installed at Circa to-date, as well as 12.2 million pounds of structural steel (emphasis on “pounds,” because you know how we are).

Circa is set to announce more about its bars and five restaurants in the next couple of months. Let’s just say the mix of cuisines will augment the already popular options at The D. Hint: Think “east,” both “coast” and “far.”

We haven’t heard much about non-sports entertainment at Circa, although a stage production called “Circa du Soleil” would have been absolute gold, marketingwise.

How is Circa coming along so quickly? Credit has to go to the stellar efforts of Steelman Partners (architecture and design), McCarthy Building Companies (general contractor) and Tre Builders (construction manager).

Oh, and the construction folks, of course. The total number of construction workers on Circa and Garage Mahal is about 600. Note: Safety vests are hawt. Are we right, ladies?

Circa

Oh, like we were going to write this entire story without a single use of the word “erection”? Do you know this blog at all?

Disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience as our day job, and The D and Golden Gate are member casinos of that organization. Our opinions are our own.

Update (1/7/20): The first windows have been put into place at Circa.

Circa windows

No panes, no gain.

Enjoy a few more photos of Circa’s construction, several of which are accidentally in focus.

Update (1/14/20): On Jan. 14, 2020, the pedestrian bridge between Circa and Garage Mahal appeared overnight, literally.

Circa

Overnight Bridge would be a decent band name.

Tropicana Looks to Be First Las Vegas Casino Sale of 2020

Our sources are awesome, and three tell us Tropicana Las Vegas is being sold.

We expect Tropicana to be the first big Las Vegas casino sale of 2020. (Update: Curses! Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand beat them to the punch. We are a blog, not a psychic.)

Tropicana hotel

The Trop cost $15 million to build. That hefty price tag (at the time) earned it the nickname “Tiffany of The Strip.” Seems appropriate a Las Vegas casino would have a stripper name.

The Tropicana is owned by Penn National Gaming, the same company that owns M Resort.

The COO of Penn, Jay Snowden, shared back in October 2019 the company had received unsolicited bids for the Strip resort. At the time, executives claimed a sale wasn’t “imminent.”

Now, we hear one of those offers has been accepted and the sale is under way.

Translation: The sale of the Trop is “imminent” AF.

The sale of Tropicana would fit into the recent trend in Vegas casino companies monetizing assets, as MGM Resorts has with Circus Circus and Bellagio, and Caesars Entertainment has with Rio.

The sale of Tropicana, predicted to be in the $700 million range, would take a nice bite out of Penn’s long-term debt of about $11 billion.

Tropicana Las Vegas

Trop has gotten some upgrades, but still has a touch of old-school Vegas.

Penn National Gaming paid $360 million for Tropicana in August 2015. The Trop was previously owned by Onex Corp. and Alex Yemenidijan.

When Penn purchased Tropicana, it nixed a planned $100 million expansion called “The Shops at The New Tropicana Las Vegas.” Some projects are better off nixed. Because shopping, meh.

What might have been. And what might have failed, miserably. Good call, Penn.

We quite like Tropicana, and recently enjoyed a visit to the Oakville Steakhouse and the new Trago Lounge.

It’s unknown what plans are in store for Tropicana following the rumored sale. All we know is if they screw with the stained glass ceiling in the casino, we riot.

Well, we riot on Twitter. You know, not real rioting. We have a tear gas sensitivity.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 105: Final Episode of the Decade

This is it. Our final show of the “tens,” or whatever the kids are calling them.

In this relentlessly tedious episode, we take a look back at 2019, an unforgettable year in Las Vegas, sometimes in a good way, even.

Vital Vegas Podcast

Ooh, the Vegas sign, so original.

For starters, we take a long, hard look at how people somehow manage to use the term “long, hard look” without blushing.

We also take a deep, probing look at some of the things that filled 2019 with so much WTF.

We would list some of those awesome things here, but that would involve “remembering what we said” or “listening to the show again,” and we all know that’s not happening. Read them here.

While we wrote about the awesome things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019 on this blog, we didn’t share the stupid and sad things that happened. We saved all that for this episode of the podcast, so strip down to your skivvies and immerse yourself in the glorious schadenfreude. A word, by the way, no one has ever successfully spelled without the use of Google.

Here’s a quick overview of some stupid and sad things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019.

1. “R.U.N.” opened at Luxor. Long story short, it’s a dumpster fire wrapped in a train wreck wrapped in a hot mess.
2. Paper straws became a thing. Even turtles think paper straws suck.
3. Service bartenders were replaced by machines at MGM Resorts casinos.
4. Bleutech Park was announced and our Las Vegas media couldn’t seem to get their arms around the fact it’s a scam.
5. They also seem to believe Virgin’s train project is happening. You might say the year 2019 wasn’t the best for clue-having.
6. Surge pricing in gift shops became a thing. That’s right, no prices tags. Because buying Doritos at casinos should be a gamble, too.
7. Resorts World said it plans to have a nightclub. We predict Kaos.
8. Kaos imploded at Palms.
9. The Forum Shops replaced a gorgeous water feature for a restaurant that is taking 46 years to complete, True Food Kitchen.
10. “Blanc de Blanc” opened and closed at Sahara.
11. The Drew pretended to be a thing. It’s not.
12. All Net Arena pretended to be a thing. It’s not.

There were many, many more stupid things that happened, but our New Year’s resolution is to be more positive and stay in denial whenever possible.

Anyway, thanks for a glorious 2019. Take a listen and help us start 2020 with a bang. Because heaven knows that isn’t in the cards for us this year, if you get our drift.

Chica at Venetian Serves Up Latin Flavors With Feminine Flair

We finally got around to checking out Chica restaurant at Venetian, and this under-appreciated dining destination is as appealing to the palate as it is pleasing to the eyes.

Yes, Chica opened in May 2017, but we are very busy and important.

Let’s take a gander at this seductive eatery, assuming people still take ganders. We, for one, have never seen anyone leave a gander, but we don’t get out all that much.

Chica Venetian restaurant

We sort of want to have a completely consensual relationship with this interior design.

The chef behind Chica is Lorena Garcia.

Garcia is known for competing on “Top Chef Masters,” a series whose entire purpose is pretty much to make those of us who are clueless in the kitchen feel even more clueless. It’s believed Lorena Garcia is the first Latin-American woman to open a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip, as hard as that is to believe.

Garcia, born and raised in Venezuela, is not only a chef, but a cookbook author and cookware designer. She also designed us some scrumptious food.

Chica Venetian

These empanadas were by far the best, and possibly first, we’ve ever had.

You know the food is good at Chica because we did brunch, and we are not a brunch person.

You also know the food is good if we voluntarily tried the grilled Peruvian octopus. If you’re into food with suction cups, you should try it, too.

Chica Venetian Las Vegas

We would not know an aji amarillo sauce if we landed in a vat of it, but it was tasty nonetheless.

The Dulce De Leche French Toast (translation: milk of the dulce) was great, although next time we’d get the macerated berries on the side as it overwhelmed our favorite part, the bread. It’s not called Macerated Berries Toast, after all.

Chica restaurant Vegas

Fun fact: It’s a myth you can get hairy palms from excessive maceration.

Chica says of itself, the restaurant gives guests “the opportunity to explore the flavors of Latin American cuisine as one culture, with influences from Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, among many more.”

This food gets around. All due respect.

Chica Las Vegas

Chica is home to some world-class guac.

The interior of Chica matches the appeal of the cuisine, and has an irresistible interior design with lots of Latin American flair like ironwork and large pieces of art reflecting the restaurant’s feminine theme.

Chica Venetian

Some restaurants just give good vibe.

The beverages are in plentiful supply as well. We even tried the Some Like It Hot, despite it having zero Captain Morgan. The Some Like It Hot is a margarita with a twist, featuring Dos Armadillos Reposado tequila, lime juice, papaya jam and Scotch bonnet peppers.

Chica also makes some mean Bloody Marys and an excellent margarita. We know how you are.

Chica Vegas

We make no apologies for not remembering which cocktail this is. That’s one of the ways we decide how good a cocktail is.

You may also want to try the mimosa deal⁠—bottomless champagne with a choice of fresh-squeezed juices like orange, guava, grapefruit and pomegranate ($25). Technically, they’re health drinks. Because juices.

If we remember correctly, which is highly unlikely, Chica is located between The Dorsey Cocktail Bar and Yardbird.

Chica Las Vegas Venetian

Es este.

You can check out the various Chica menus on the official site.

Thanks to the team at Chica for hosting a portion of our meal so we could try things we wouldn’t normally. Looking at you, Peruvian suction cups.

There are tons of great dining options inside the Venetian, Palazzo and Grand Canal Shoppes, but Chica is definitely a stand-out.

Flamingo Drops Sweet Renderings for Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse

Flamingo Las Vegas has shared some great-looking renderings for its new restaurant, Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse.

Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse takes up residence in the former Center Cut, Cafe to Go and Diamond Lounge spaces.

Bugsy Meyers Steakhouse Flamingo

When a rendering makes you thirsty, then you realize everything in Vegas does.

The restaurant’s name, of course, makes reference to two infamous mobsters, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and his longtime friend and associate, Meyer Lansky.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Flamingo’s news release about the restaurant doesn’t dive too deep into the history of its namesake crooks.

“Bugsy” Siegel (no one who knew him dared call him that, as the term means “crazy”), was a violent thug with a long history of making money from extortion, bootlegging and gambling rackets. He was connected to at least a dozen murders.

Meyer Lansky knew Seigel from their days in New York’s Lower East side where they ran a floating crap game, then progressed to auto theft, burglary, liquor smuggling and far more serious crimes.

Here’s a fun fact: Meyer Lansky’s real name was Maier Suchowljansky.

Siegel and Lansky ran a murder-for-hire operation, too, but let’s not let the fact these guys were douchebags get in the way of enjoying more details about this beautiful new venue at Flamingo. Remember, Las Vegas was built on short memories (and optimism).

To make the name Bugsy & Meyer’s name even more cringeworthy: Historians believe Bugsy Siegel’s whacking was approved by (wait for it) Meyer Lansky.

Bugsy Meyers Flamingo

According to the official news release, the Lansky family is involved in the restaurant at Flamingo. Awkward, given the whole “douchebag” thing.

At the new restaurant, guests will enter through a “bakery” facade, past a kitchen and dry-aged meat cooler. The meat is dry-aged, not the cooler. Words are hard.

The restaurant will have a variety of atmospheres, including the main bar, patio dining, the main dining room, three private dining rooms and a raw bar. We’re pretty sure the raw bar is pictured below. Why is it raw? It’s in Vegas, if you get our drift.

Bugsy Meyers Steakhouse Flamingo

Great fit for Flamingo, we say.

Vegas fanatics will appreciated that the main dining room will feature vintage photos of the early days of Flamingo and Las Vegas.

Bugsy & Meyers will have a speakeasy and private bar lounge, “The Count Room.”

Bugsy Meyers Flamingo

We intend to spend many bleary hours at this bar.

The cocktail menu will have both classics and originals. Our favorite part: “Rum cocktails will be heavily featured.”

From the renderings, we’d say Caesars Entertainment, owner of Flamingo, has found great partners with designers Studio K Creative and Jonathan Adler.

Studio K Creative has done other projects in Las Vegas, including La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas, Crush at MGM Grand and MB Steak at Hard Rock.

We can’t wait to give Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse a try when it opens in the spring of 2020.

“Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel” to Close at Harrah’s Las Vegas

The long-ailing Elvis tribute show at Harrah’s Las Vegas, “Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel,” is set to close Dec. 30, 2019.

The show showcased images of Elvis, 18 of his hits and “Broadway-style choreography.”

Heartbreak Hotel

For once, this show hasn’t said it’s looking for a new place to dwell.

The Elvis impersonator featured in the show, Eddie Clendening, originated his role while starring in “Million Dollar Quartet.”

There were rumors “Heartbreak Hotel” had struggled for some time, including before it even opened.

The show lasted just eight months. It opened on April 15, 2019.

The show celebrated its 100th performance in August 2019.

While “Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel” will shutter, Elvis hasn’t completely left the building. Harrah’s is home to Big Elvis, who performs in the hotel’s piano bar.

Some have suggested the demise of “Heartbreak Hotel” is further evidence Broadway-style productions are done in Las Vegas. Yes, we are one of the some. Some figure Elvis is pretty much done in Vegas, too.

“Million Dollar Quartet” closed at Harrah’s in 2016. “Jersey Boys” closed at Paris the same year.

There’s no word about what might replace “Heartbreak Hotel” at Harrah’s. Expect the show to say it’s gearing up for a national tour starting mid-2020.