Category Archives: Vital Signs

A Metric Ass-Ton of Las Vegas News We Have Neither the Time Nor Inclination to Write More About

It’s time for a cavalcade of Las Vegas news we’d love to write more about, but writing often involves “research” and “spell checking,” which we’re almost entirely not interested in. Here we go!

googie Nevada lawmakers took a time out from being batshit crazy to make an actual good decision: They voted to approve Uber and other ride-hailing companies. The bill failed a couple of times until legislators figured out how to attach $70 million in taxes to the deal (the 3% tax on fares will also hit taxi companies). The governor is expected to sign the legislation. Nobody seems to know when the law will take effect, so more on that soon.

Uber

Taxi companies state, “How can you trust a company with such a glaring bias toward umlauts.”

googie In other legislative news, Nevada Governor Brian approved a bill allowing slot machines with “skill-based, arcade-style elements.” Which translates, of course, as “slot machines with the appearance of being skill-based to entice Millenials into playing slot machines.”

Top Dollar

Trust us, we’re familiar with slot machines providing the illusion of being skill-based.

googie Downtown’s Fremont Street Experience (where this blog works as his day gig) has announced its free Rock of Vegas summer concert series schedule. The first concert featured KC and The Sunshine Band on May 23. Upcoming concerts include Tonic and Vertical Horizon (May 30); The Smithereens, Tubes and Motels (June 13); Smash Mouth and Toad the Wet Sprocket (June 27); Theory of a Deadman (July 18); Spin Doctors & Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (Aug. 1) and Kansas and Blue Oyster Cult (Sep. 6). For details, visit the awesome official site, and we’re not just saying that because we do their Web site. Probably.

KC and The Sunshine Band

KC assured booties were, indeed, shaken.

googie The Interlude bar at The Cromwell is being taken over by Drai’s Group, the folks behind the hotel’s extraordinarily annoying and successful Drai’s Beach Club & Nightclub. It’s expected drink prices will continue to be outrageous, but now guests will have the opportunity to drink them in the company of even more preening, self-absorbed dipshits.

Cromwell bar

Dibs on The Preening, Self-Absorbed Dipshits as a band name.

googie The Lucky Dragon project has released new renderings, and has symbolically begun pouring concrete. There’s no actual evidence this nine-story, 201-room boutique hotel-casino has financing, so it’s likely this project could be another SkyVue observation wheel. Check out the project’s Web site to witness a company trying really, really hard to be seen as legit.

Lucky Dragon

Of all the new casino projects unlikely to ever actually happen in Las Vegas, we’re most excited about Lucky Dragon!

googie The Cafe at Monte Carlo will close June 7 and the venue will be turned into a “meetings and event” space. This is just one of the changes coming to Monte Carlo, including a rebrand and overhaul of the hotel’s rooms. Read more.

Monte Carlo

Outside Monte Carlo. Your results may vary.

googie Speaking of Monte Carlo, longtime Monte Carlo magician Lance Burton is working on a feature film, “Billy Topit, Master Magician.” The tagline alone, “The mob wants to make him disappear, permanently!” should be worth the price of admission. Or, rather, the price of the DVD. Which, judging from the Fivrr poster design, this movie is going directly to.

Billy Topit

Lance Burton performed more than 5,000 shows in Vegas. He retired in 2010. Although, obviously, not completely.

googie A new show we will never attend, under any circumstances, has opened inside Light nightclub in Mandalay Bay. “For the Record: Baz,” a Baz Luhrmann-inspired cabaret show, is a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and The Nation Jazz Hands Association, an organization which may or may not actually exist. Read more and let us know what you think if you see it.

Baz

“Baz” combines two of our favorite things, nightclubs and “immersive theatrical concert experiences.”

googie Slide the City, a Vegas-sized Slip ‘N Slide experience, has put Sin City on its schedule. The 1,000-foot-long slick vinyl slide is three football fields long and it making appearances in cities across the country this summer. Details are few, but it’s a flipping Slip’n Slide!

Slide the City

Typically in Vegas, slick vinyl costs extra. Photo courtesy of Slide the City.

googie Jennifer Lopez has announced a residency at Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood starting Jan. 20, 2016. Yes, the announcement is a little premature, but we’re pretty sure that’s not the first time Jennifer Lopez has evoked that reaction.

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez was once known for her singing and dancing, but after movies like “Maid in Manhattan” and “Monster-in-Law,” she’s now known for her singing and dancing.

googie The world’s largest Hooters restaurant will soon open at The Palms. It was slated to open in early May 2015, but we’re pretty sure that isn’t happening unless the Hooters organization is in possession of a time machine. Also of note: Simon restaurant at The Palms closed May 22. A new casual restaurant, Cafe 6, has taken its place.

Hooters Palms Vegas

Three words: World’s biggest hooters. Now, we get to sit back and see how many people find this blog through Google searches.

googie A popular New York restaurant, Carbone, will make its Vegas debut at Aria in October. Triple George Grill’s reign as best chicken parm in Las Vegas could be in jeopardy.

Carbone

Carbone means “coal” in Italian, a fact which qualifies this photo caption the most useless one useless you’ll read today. At least until the next one.

googie In other restaurant news, Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio restaurant has closed at Venetian after 16 years. The closure involved a millionaire celebrity chef whining about how high his rent was.

Venetian

The Venetian boasts its own Rialto Bridge, inspired by the one in Venice, Italy. The original was damaged by fire in a 1310 revolt. Told you that last photo caption wouldn’t be the most useless.

googie The “Crazy Girls” revue, formerly of Riviera Las Vegas, has re-opened at Planet Hollywood. The show happens in the Sin City Theatre each night at 9:00 p.m. Reps say the show’s famous bronze statue will be installed inside Planet Hollywood soon. Find the show on Facebook.

Crazy Girls

On May 1, the run of “Crazy Girls” at Riviera came to an end. The Riv closed May 4. Usually, photos of the statue feature butts. This blog does not live by society’s rules.

Just kidding.

Riviera Crazy Girls

The aforementioned “Crazy Girls” butts.

googie Frankie Scinta’s show closed at The D Las Vegas on May 20, 2015. The Scinta crew is a longtime fixture on the Las Vegas lounge scene, and are doing one-off shows around town.

Scinta

Frankie Scinta illustrates the importance of properly maintaining PVC trap assemblies in residential home sinks.

googie “Duck Commander Musical,” the mutant offspring of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” closed at Rio Las Vegas on May 17, 2015, and not nearly soon enough from the sound of it. While well-produced, audiences didn’t migrate to the ill-conceived flop. Fun duck facts: A duck’s penis is shaped like a corkscrew and becomes erect within a third of a second.

Duck Commander Musical

Fun duck facts: A duck’s penis is shaped like a corkscrew and becomes erect within a third of a second.

That’s all the vital Vegas news we can think of in our current state of mind (specifically, hammered).

If you have Las Vegas news or tips, send them our way. Leave a comment on this blog, find us on Twitter or Facebook, or just swing downtown sometime. We’ll be the one promoting responsible gaming and drinking in moderation. Or whatever the opposite of that is.

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Hooters Casino Hotel Sold to Company Nobody’s Ever Heard Of, Trinity Hotel Investors

Yet another Las Vegas hotel-casino is changing hands.

Riviera was recently sold to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and closed May 4, 2015. Tropicana is going to Penn National Gaming by the end of 2015.

Now, the entirely unremarkable Hooters Casino Hotel has been purchased by a company called Trinity Hotel Investors for $53.8 million.

The sale happened under the radar on May 1, 2015, a mere day after employees were informed of the purchase. Way to keep it classy, owner persons.

Hooters

Hooters Casino Hotel has 696 rooms, exactly none of which you’d stay in unless you lost a bet.

We first saw word of the sale on the excellent Stiffs and Georges blog, and it was later confirmed by the Las Vegas Sun.

Compared to other recent sales, Hooters was had for a song. Riviera sold for $182.5 million. The Trop cost $360 million. Hooters was so inexpensive at $53.8 million, it’s believed Vegas mogul Steve Wynn has roughly that amount of cash in his pocket right this very minute.

The new owners of Hooters are expected to rebrand it. Rumors are Holiday Inn will take over operation of the resort, but not under that name.

Hooters Casino Hotel, previously the San Remo, has been a financial cluster for some time now. In fact, several times, it’s nearly gone bust. Because you know damn well we weren’t going to do an entire story about Hooters without a “bust” joke.

Hooters

And Riviera is the one they’re going to blow up?

New ownership is a glimmer of hope for the only casino in Las Vegas known to have given this blog alcohol poisoning with its policy of swapping out a call liquor for some blasphemous, generic crap without informing us it was doing so. Asshats.

While for years we’ve been hoping Hooters would burn to the ground after a lightning strike, we’re cautiously optimistic a new owner could make something of the joint.

Hooters Las Vegas

Hooters opened as a Howard Johnson Hotel. Then is was the Paradise, the Polynesian Paradise and Treasure Hotel before becoming Hotel San Remo and eventually Hooters. Sign-makers love the place.

The stated “singular purpose” of Trinity Hotel Investors is “investing in and enhancing the value of hotel real estate.” They also tout their acumen at “identifying investment opportunities with strong risk-return profiles.”

So, yeah, we’re not holding our breath about the whole “making something of the joint.”

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Genting Group Breaks Ground on $4 Billion, Asian-Themed Resorts World Las Vegas

Las Vegas-watchers have grown a little jaded in recent years, given a string of high-profile projects which have made grand promises but faltered or failed to materialize at all.

Now, another massive project has broken ground and all eyes are on Genting Group and its sprawling Resorts World Las Vegas. Genting broke ground on Resorts World on May 5, 2015.

Resorts World Las Vegas

The completed Resorts World Las Vegas will be 21,847,314 square feet, mainly because that square footage just has a nice ring to it.

Genting Group was founded in 1965 and operates resorts in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the U.K, the Bahamas and the U.S. The company is also a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Let’s take a quick look the possible future of the Las Vegas Strip. It looks like Sin City’s ball is about to drop!

The Resorts World Las Vegas groundbreaking was accompanied by speakers speaking, politicians politicianing and Chinese lions lioning.

The groundbreaking hoopla was accompanied by renderings of Resorts World Las Vegas we haven’t seen before, including this one of the casino.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Happily, the Asian theme in the casino avoids being too on-the-nose or cheesy. For the win.

Resorts World will be built on the site of the former Stardust, this blog’s all-time favorite casino, and even the potential of a panda habitat (no, really) at Resorts World is unlikely to change that.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Because it’s Asian-themed! Look, we’re just spitballing here.

Resorts World is next to Circus Circus, but don’t hold that against it. Resorts World is being built on the site of the abandoned Echelon project.

Construction on Echelon was stopped in 2008 due to the economic downturn, not to mention a fair amount of what’s commonly called “bone-headedness.”

Resorts World Las Vegas

The current Resorts World Las Vegas site. In other words, the “before” shot.

If Resorts World becomes a reality (because, again, groundbreakings are the easy part), the expansive destination will feature 3,000 rooms in its first phase, as well as 3,500 table games and slots.

Here’s another view of the finished product.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Gorgeous pool area! Because if Las Vegas has too much of anything, it’s water.

The resort will also presumably boast an indoor water park, aquarium, outdoor amphitheater (lower right, above), Chinese gardens (below, possibly), a bowling alley, observation deck, a 4,000-seat theater and a Panda Express.

Just wanted to make sure you’re still paying attention.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Seriously, Genting, don’t screw around with us. Let’s make this happen, thanks.

Resorts World is slated to open in 2018.

Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn described that 2018 opening timeline “ambitious.” Then again, what would Steve Wynn know about building Las Vegas resorts?

Find out more on the official Resorts World Las Vegas site.

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Ten Things Downtown Grand Las Vegas is Doing Right

What a difference a month makes in Las Vegas.

Not long ago, we were reporting about the bleak situation at Downtown Grand, the former Lady Luck. Two restaurants closed and hours at others were shrinking, massive staffing cuts were being made department-wide and the hotel’s casino was pretty much on life support.

Those “adjustments” now appear to have been part of some master plan, because there have been a slew of recent changes, big and small, breathing new life into the struggling hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown Grand

Las Vegas is built on second chances. Well, it’s actually built on permeable sand and gravel, but that’s less romantic.

Here’s a list of 10 things Downtown Grand Las Vegas is finally doing right.

1. Improved Video Poker Pay Tables

If your casino has less-than-favorable video poker pay tables, words spreads quickly. The result is players stay away. In response to customer feedback, Downtown Grand has retooled its poker play tables to be comparable to other downtown casinos.

Thankfully for Downtown Grand, word spreads just as quickly when payouts are adjusted upwards. We’ve played more video poker at Downtown Grand in the last two weeks than we did the prior six months.

Furnace Bar

The Furnace Bar has become one of our favorite places to drink and play downtown. Emphasis on drink.

Thanks to the folks at Royal Flusher Vegas for letting us know about the pay table changes.

2. Fresh Blood

Sensing its days might be numbered at Downtown Grand, the casino’s management company, Fifth Street Gaming, did something dramatic. They wisely brought on some fresh blood.

The most significant acquisition was Anthony Bender, Downtown Grand’s director of casino marketing. Bender has held management roles at the Riviera and at Stratosphere owner American Casino & Entertainment Properties, both entities familiar with the delicate balance of appealing to both Vegas visitors and locals, just as Downtown Grand must do to thrive.

Downtown Grand Las Vegas

We don’t have photos of any of the new executives, so we’ll just share this lovely artwork at Downtown Grand.

In addition to Anthony Bender, the hotel also brought on a new chief financial officer (Marie Ramsey), a new casino financial analyst (Jeffrey Rabinowitz) and a new director of table games (Ken Mumby). All the hires were new positions according to Downtown Grand CEO Seth Schorr.

These new executives bring a diverse and expansive set of skills to Downtown Grand. Ken Mumby, for example, has 35 years of casino industry experience, and was most recently Vice President of Casino Operations for Planet Hollywood. Let’s see if these folks can shake things up!

3. Promotional Table Game Play

What’s most grabbed our attention recently at Downtown Grand is the aggressive marketing to casino players.

For example, while we have played a few times at Downtown Grand, we’re not what you’d call a whale. Still, each week in August, the hotel has offered us $25 in promotional chips for the casino’s table games. Not match play. Promotional play. That means you get $25 in promotional chips, every week, which you can play like real chips. If you win, you are paid in real chips. If you don’t, it costs nothing, there’s zero risk.

It’s difficult to overstate our love for these perks!

Downtown Grand chips

Promotional chips are our new BFFs. Bite it, match play.

We’ve never gotten a promotional offer like that from a casino, ever.

Sometimes we just play the promotional chips, win and cash out. Sometimes we play those chips, plus some additional cash. But no matter the result, it’s a blast, and we feel valued and appreciated as a customer. That engenders loyalty, and again, these promotional chips have gotten us into Downtown Grand more in the last few weeks than in the months prior.

This is a very good sign. It’s also a potentially expensive promotion for the casino, but if you’re going to kick-start a recovery, this is a bold way to do it.

4. Pot Roast at Triple George

The same folks that own Downtown Grand also own Triple George restaurant, just across the street. This welcoming restaurant does a lot of things well, but until recently, we’d never tried the pot roast. It was off-the-charts amazing, including meat so tender, you’ll think you’re French kissing a cloud.

What does this have to do with what Downtown Grand is doing right? Because dining is a huge part of what makes a Las Vegas resort work. Customers don’t have to gamble 24/7, but there should be enticements to stick around as long as possible.

The dining options at Downtown Grand are outstanding, and we’d put Triple George’s pot roast up against any dish in Las Vegas. That’s how you get people to visit, and stay. Be extraordinary.

Triple George

Yes, we considered proposing marriage to this pot roast, but it got a little weird.

Credit for this meat masterpiece goes to Downtown Grand’s assistant executive chef Todd Harrington, formerly of Central at Caesars Palace, who revamped the menu at all the hotel’s restaurants.

5. Art Bar Happy Hour

Art Bar is Downtown Grand’s lobby bar, and its marketing hook has been copious amounts of art on the bar’s ceiling. Why, we have no idea, especially when happy hour is really the selling point.

Art Bar’s happy hour is 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and features 50 percent off all food and drinks. This is an excellent deal, in a warm, mellow space. In fact, Art Bar was recently named “Best Bar to Chill” by the staff of Las Vegas Weekly.

We love the fact our Captain and diets run about three bucks, and the specialty cocktails are worth a try, too.

Mozart cocktail

The happy hour at Art Bar is helping to put the happy back in Downtown Grand.

6. The Commissary $1 Taco Deal

Yes, The Commissary’s hours have recently been pared back (currently 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays), but the sometimes-overlooked restaurant still has some fight in it.

The Commissary’s one-time $1 Tuesday taco deal has been extended to seven days a week. Get a chicken, brisket or bean-and-cheese street taco for just a buck.

We’ve only tried the chicken and brisket versions, but they’re stellar, and again, have kept us coming back, sometimes several times a week. After which we sometimes gamble. Starting to see a pattern here?

99-cent tacos

It took superhuman strength for us not to Photoshop a space between “every” and “day.”

7. Video Poker at Side Bar

Side Bar is what they now call the former Mob Bar, adjoining Triple George. For some reason, when Mob Bar moved down the street, the plug was pulled on all the video poker machines at Side Bar. Prior to Mob Bar’s departure, this was one of our favorite places to hang, eat, drink and play video poker.

The good news is video poker is back! Side Bar isn’t open all the time as far as we can tell, it’s mainly used as an overflow dining room for Triple George, but even if Side Bar is just a Friday and Saturday night thing, it’s a step in the right direction.

Side Bar Triple George

Let the good times roll, again.

8. Free Comedy

Free is good, and Downtown Grand continues to offer free comedy, called “Summer Comedy Club,” each Thursday.

Show’s start at 8:00 p.m., and the comics are “curated” by Bonkerz Comedy.

Check Downtown Grand’s official site for who’s scheduled to perform when.

Downtown Grand comedy

The best things in life are funny. Free is a close second, though.

9. Dollar Daze

A recent effort to help drum up business at Downtown Grand is the hotel’s Dollar Daze promotion. Cheap food and drink? Providing value to guests? It’s so crazy, it just might work!

Loyalty club members can get a cheeseburger at Stewart + Odgen (pronounced “Stewart Plus Ogden,” not “Stewart and Ogden,” we recently learned) or a specialty shot for $3.

For $2, get a pretzel or a bottle of domestic beer. For $1, get a kosher hot dog or a daiquiri at Ninth Island. Learn more.

Dollar Daze

Your amount of daze may vary.

These are solid deals, and tailored to value-oriented customers. Will they bring in high rollers? Maybe not, but deals like this are the bread-and-butter of casinos that appeal to local, repeat players.

10.  Get Lucky

Ultimately, there’s only so much Downtown Grand can do with marketing and promotions to refresh its image as a lucky place to play. That’s where Lady Luck steps in.

A slot player at Downtown Grand recently won a progressive for, wait for it, $1.2 million. To be exact, $1,212,863.16. See more.

Wisely, Downtown Grand has been promoting this big win like crazy. Giant jackpots are a gambler magnet, part of what keeps the Las Vegas dream alive. A casino can’t plan for a super-sized jackpot, of course, but it can certainly take advantage of the resulting buzz.

Downtown Grand

The winning machine. Different guy, though.

It’s obvious Downtown Grand is serious about making a long-awaited, much-needed course correction.

Are Downtown Grand and Fifth Street Gaming out of the woods? Not quite. The hotel’s location remains a challenge, but if these recent initiatives are any indication, talent and resources are being brought to bear on Downtown Grand’s challenges, and we look forward to seeing what’s next, especially if it results in one of the great comebacks in Las Vegas history.

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Failed Fontainebleau Las Vegas Project Partially Redeemed By Candid New Billboard

Yes, the failed, 68-floor Fontainebleau Las Vegas project is an ungodly eyesore.

Yes, Fontainebleau is a monument to the Great Recession and corporate hubris, whatever “hubris” might be.

And, yes, Fontainebleau is incredibly difficult to spell.

Fontainebleau is all those things, but there may be a bright side. Fontainebleau may actually have a sense of humor about itself.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

Can a failure on the scale of Fontainebleau Las Vegas be redeemed by a simple act of truth-telling? Probably not, but we needed a caption for this photo.

The future of this sad chapter in Las Vegas history is unclear, but for the moment, Fontainebleau Las Vegas has made us smile, and that will tide us over until they tear this monstrosity down, already.

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