Category Archives: Las Vegas

Confirmed at Last: The Strat to Build Dizzying New Observation Deck

It’s been more than two years since we first shared rumors The Strat (formerly Stratosphere) would get a thrilling new attraction, and now it’s come to pass.

Stratosphere Gaming LLC has filed for permits to build “a new observation deck for the Stratosphere,” one we believe will boast some of the same qualities as the wildly popular Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Here’s an exclusive first look at plans for this new attraction at The Strat.

Stratosphere skywalk

The observation deck will be clear. “Aiee,” as the kids say.

Back in 2016, we slapped together an amateurish rendering of what we felt the new observation deck would look like.

Come to find out, we weren’t that far off!

Strat glass walkway

We are a blog, not a renderer. Clearly.

The new observation deck will protrude over the edge of The Strat, much as its existing thrill rides do, Insanity and X-Scream.

A third ride, the Big Shot goes straight up. Skyjump (with a controlled free fall) goes straight down.

Skyjump sign

We feel woozy just sharing this photo.

The permit mentions “glass platforms and connection to supports,” “glass exterior walls and barrier walls” and “cable ties and actual connections to plates/supports.”

That leads us to conclude something will definitely be dangling at The Strat.

This image from the plans shows the platform will be supported by cables.

Strat skywalk attraction

Is it weird our palms are sweating just looking at a blueprint?

The observation deck permit has already had an Architectural Review (approved) and Case & Public Planning (whatever that might be, also approved).

The permit mentions installation of the new Strat observation deck will require the use of a crane.

The Strat casino

We just realized “Start” is an anagram for “Strat.” Most useless photo caption, ever.

A comment in the permit states, “Planning does not require a formal administrative review as the proposed observation deck does not change the overall intensity of the Stratosphere or its primary use.”

They’re kidding, right? That must have some legal meaning we don’t quite understand, because if they think an observation deck that extends over the edge of The Strat doesn’t “change the overall intensity of the Stratosphere,” they done lost they minds. As the kids say.

While we’re not a heights person, the new “skywalk” at The Strat has the potential to make a huge splash, benefiting the resort (in the middle of a huge rebrand to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod), downtown (where we work in digital marketing as our day job, by the way, opinions are our own) and Las Vegas overall (the new attraction is likely to make headlines worldwide).

The existing thrill rides at The Strat are a huge moneymaker, and this new “Skypod Walk” (spitballing here, no name has been announced) will absolutely raise the bar. By about 870 feet, actually.

Like we weren’t going to update this to include the resort’s new name. See more casino chips we’d like to see.

Adrenaline junkies are sure to consider a transparent walkway hundreds of feet in the air a Las Vegas must-do, like the coasters at New York-New York and Circus Circus, Vegas Indoor Skydiving, the Richard Petty Driving Experience and downtown’s SlotZilla zipline.

While we won’t necessarily walk the new glass platform slated for The Strat, because we are a giant baby, we will certainly have to check it out as we feverishly cling to a wall as far away from the ledge as possible.

From what we can tell from the architectural drawings, the new see-through observation platform will extend from the Strat’s “skypod” on the side closest to Las Vegas Boulevard, above the hotel’s porte-cochere area.

The design of the new observation deck was done by a company that operates out of Las Vegas and California, Sparo Design.

It’s unknown when the new “skywalk” observation deck (or whatever it’s eventually called) at The Strat will begin construction, or when it will open.

When it does, expect a line. People be kray.

Binion’s Announces Whiskey Licker Up Venue and Boutique Hotel Apache

Binion’s Gambling Hall has announced two expansion projects: Whiskey Licker Up and Hotel Apache.

Whiskey Licker Up will be a full-service saloon with a rotating bar as its centerpiece.

The new bar and restaurant will be 6,500-square-feet and will be located on the southwest corner of Binion’s, just above the existing Whiskey Licker Bar.

The new venue will feature drinks, food, dancing, live entertainment and a mechanical bull.

Binion's Whiskey Licker Up Bar

A new place to get bucked in Las Vegas.

While the venue will play up the casino’s western theme, a variety of music will be available, based upon feedback from guests.

There’s already evidence of work being done for Whiskey Licker Up.

Binion's facade

Be gentle with that gorgeous neon, please.

The second floor of Binion’s, formerly The Mint, has been gutted to make way for the new venue.

Binion's Whiskey Licker Up

That entire back wall is going away so guests get a bird’s eye view of the circus that is Fremont Street.

Here’s another shot of the space, just because nobody else has them and that makes us look cool.

Binion's

A number of the venue’s design elements are built around structural features of the original casino. Yeah, we should’ve taken notes.

And speaking of The Mint, easily one of the best features of Whiskey Licker Up will be the integration of an original wall from The Mint, complete with petrified wood.

Binion's Mint

These stairs will give guests easy access to the venue via a new entrance off Fremont.

Here’s a look at the location of what will be the entrance to the upstairs bar and restaurant and mechanical bullery.

Binion's

A new entrance will help guests avoid having to navigate their way to Whiskey Licker Up via the casino.

Whiskey Licker Up will overlook Fremont Street Experience’s 1st Street stage.

Here’s the view from the balcony, likely to become a go-to spot for people-watching. This will all be seating, with arena-style levels so everyone can enjoy the views.

Binion's new bar

See more photos from behind the facade in our photo gallery thingy.

In anticipation of your question, yes, the new venue will mean a loss of some drop-dead gorgeous neon, but there’s a matching facade on the east side of Binion’s, so don’t have a freak-out.

Binion's facade

No pain, no gain. You’ll survive.

Construction of Whiskey Licker Up will be completed by the summer 2019.

The second expansion project is the opening of a boutique hotel, Hotel Apache.

The concept was inspired by the colorful history of the casino. The original Hotel Apache opened on the site in 1932.

Benny Binion purchased the Apache Hotel (and Eldorado Club) in 1951, and re-opened them as Binion’s Horseshoe. The rest is history. History we don’t have time to research because we are busy playing Wheel of Fortune, so cut us a break.

During our eight seconds of research, we did determine the hotel at Binion’s closed in 2009. You’re welcome.

Hotel Apache will have a modest 81 rooms, decked out with old-timey decor.

Hotel Apache Binion's

Hotel Apache, where every day is Throwback Thursday.

A unique element of the Hotel Apache project is it will play up rumors of the hotel tower being haunted. Ghost hunters and true believers will have the opportunity to explore a hotel owners claim has a “long history of eerie occurrences.”

Trust us, there are a lot of people who are really, really into this.

As with the new saloon, it’s expected Hotel Apache will be open this summer.

We know how you are: No word yet about whether Hotel Apache will have a resort fee, but its sister hotel, Four Queens, doesn’t have them, so fingers crossed.

The new offerings at Binion’s follow on the heels of a number of projects slated for downtown, including the new Circa Las Vegas resort (on the site of the former Las Vegas Club), as well as new hotel towers at Fremont casino and Downtown Grand.

Binion’s has always been one of our favorite Las Vegas casinos, with some of the best dining (try the BBQ) and drinking (generous pours) values in town, and we can’t wait to check out the new saloon and hotel.

But especially the saloon. Do you know this blog at all?

Whiskey Licker Up Vegas

This rendering is a lot like the other one, but we will never let a rendering fail to fulfill its destiny of being on this blog.

Begrudging props to VegasChanges.com for ferreting out some of the Binion’s news prior to the official announcement.

Full disclosure: Binion’s is a partner casino of Fremont Street Experience for whom we do digital marketing. Our opinions are our own.

If you’re into historic Vegas architecture, check out the Nevada Preservation Foundation. They have an event coming up that includes a “backstage tour” of Binion’s, The Mint and Hotel Apache.

Whiskey Licker Up and Hotel Apache at Binion's

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 93: Yeah, It’s This Thing Again

It’s that time again, and we’re so very sorry.

This week’s podcast covers all the Vegas news you need and a whole lot you don’t.

Let’s catch up on The Strat’s rebrand, the latest from SLS (Katsuya’s closing) and so much more.

We also give a saliva-drenched review of The Steakhouse at Circus Circus. Hint: It’s as good as you’ve heard, even if you’ve heard it’s one of the best steakhouses in the world.

Steakhouse Circus Circus

It’s like butter, including the butter.

Naturally, we round up the latest Vegas scoop, including Virgin joining Curio Collection by Hilton, where the triple zero roulette infection has spread (looking at you, Cosmo), restaurant changes at Venetian (adios, AquaKnox and Public House) and who’ll be guest hosting Chippendales at Rio.

Our listicle of the week is chock full of things to get excited about in Las Vegas, and surprisingly none of them involve a pole.

Don’t miss out on the podcast we’d pay good money to miss out on, but we’re sort of stuck because our name’s on it.

Enjoy!

Stratosphere Confirms Rebrand to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod

Confirming a story we first shared nearly a year ago, Stratosphere has officially announced it will be rebranded to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod.

We’ll give you a minute on the whole “Skypod” thing.

Strat Las Vegas

Out with the old, in with the thing we’ve been calling it for some time now.

While people have been calling Stratosphere “The Strat” for some time, the whole “Skypod” thing could take some getting used to.

While a news release from Golden Entertainment, owners of The Strat, says the resort will “begin its transition to The Strat” on Feb. 3, 2019, the rebrand has actually been underway for some time.

Although, the changes have been subtle.

Like the massive “Strat” in the hotel’s revamped porte cochere.

Strat casino

The Strat telegraphed its rebrand a little.

Golden Entertainment bought Stratosphere in late 2017. Renovations of the hotel-casino began in mid-2018.

One of the more visible changes was the replacement of the casino’s high limit slot room with a Starbucks.

That’s a strong statement, either about the state of The Strat’s casino or the direction of Las Vegas casinos. Let’s just go with it being a statement about coffee.

Strat Starbucks

We don’t get it, but we’ve literally never had coffee. It’s funky.

In Nov. 2018, Strat closed its Roxy’s Diner, replacing it with the Strat Cafe and Wok.

Roxy’s went from annoying (servers sang ’50s songs) to bland, but at least an effort was made to change up the dining offerings.

Strat Cafe

Everything in Las Vegas should pretty much have “Wok” slapped on the end of it.

Here’s a peek inside the Strat Cafe.

Strat Cafe

De-theming is a thing.

A nice addition to the Strat’s restaurant line-up is the addition of 108 Eats on the hotel’s Observation Deck.

108 Eats Strat

Nothing fancy, but guaranteed to hit the spot.

We stopped by right away because the grab-and-go restaurant is from the same chef behind downtown’s Esther’s Kitchen. 108 Eats doesn’t disappoint. The sandwiches and paninis are top-notch.

We also just like saying the word “panini.”

108 Eats Strat

So much better than it has to be.

There’s also a Froot Loops ice cream. That tastes exactly like Froot Loops. Well worth a visit when you’re checking out the view from the hotel’s 108th floor.

Don’t forget: There’s a fee to visit the Observation Deck, but just tell them you’re going to the lounge. You’ll want to take advantage of the happy hour, anyway, but your elevator ride will be free.

There’s more on tap at Stratosphere.

The Strat Stratosphere

At the moment, The Strat is straddling its current and future name.

The resort will introduce Blvd. & Main Taphouse in 2019. Here’s a rendering.

Blvd. and Main Tavern Strat

We trust “Blvd.” refers to Las Vegas Blvd. “Main” refers to Main Street. Strat is at the intersection of these streets. Hey, this isn’t rocket science.

Here’s another Blvd. & Main Tavern rendering, because you can never have too many renderings.

Blvd. & Main Tavern

We’re going to put that whole “you can never have too many renderings” thing to the test.

All right, just one more.

Blvd. & Main Tavern Strat

We love new.

Also in the mix will be a new View Lounge overlooking the casino floor and a fully remodeled race and sports book, which construction walls are already teasing.

Strat casino

Are we the only one who thinks this “Rising Soon” tagline is a little awkward given The Strat is the most prominent phallic object in Las Vegas?

Here’s a look at what’s the come at the race and sports book at The Strat.

Race and Sports Book Strat

Nice photo bomb, golf dude.

Here’s a rendering for the View Lounge.

View Lounge Strat

The rendering person at The Strat has been really busy.

Blvd. & Main Taphouse and View Lounge will be located on the northwest corner of the casino, basically at the bottom of the escalators as you enter from the self-parking garage.

Oh, and parking is still free at The Strat.

Another new addition will be 108 Drinks, a sister venue to 108 Eats. Rendering alert!

108 Drinks Strat

We were voting for 108 Dranks, but this will do.

Also in the works is a Links Lounge, a partnership with Aristocrat Technologies.

The lounge will offer Aristocrat’s popular “Link” slot machine series, including Lighting Link, Dragon Link and Liberty Link.

Strat Easter egg

Here’s a fun Easter egg. All the custom videos featuring The Strat contain something gold in honor of the resort owner, Golden Entertainment. We thought it was a faulty pixel. Hey, we can’t be right about everything.

Also new in 2019 will be a new loyalty program, True Rewards. The Strat will be the first Golden Entertainment venue to roll out the new program.

True Rewards will also be available at 130 venues operated by Golden, including about 60 PT’s pubs and several casinos in Las Vegas (Arizona Charlie’s), Laughlin (Aquarius, Colorado Belle, Edgewater), Pahrump and Maryland. Learn more.

True Rewards Strat

These adorable tier names, though!

So, about the “Skypod” in The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod.

It’s a little unclear why Strat would need to carve off the top of its tower with a different brand, but given the financial success of its thrill rides, it makes sense to try and make the most of those offerings.

Translation: The thrill rides at Strat print money.

In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the thrill rides at Strat make more than its casino, just as the restaurants at SLS make more than its gambling operation.

The “Skypod” refers to anything at the top of the Strat’s tower, including the revolving Top of the World restaurant (a must-do in Vegas), 107 SkyLounge and the thrill rides: Sky Jump, Big Shot, Insanity and X-Scream.

107 SkyLounge

There are happy hours, then there’s this happy hour.

We’ve heard rumblings of other thrill rides in the works for the Strat, but there have been no official confirmations to-date.

Buzz about The Strat’s name change has ranged from “We already call it that” to “When I hear ‘pod’ I think of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers'” to “The guitar people aren’t going to be happy abou this.”

“Strat” is a common way to refer to Fender Stratocaster guitars, of course.

We added you to Wikipedia’s disambiguation page, Strat. You’re welcome.

Strat resort Las Vegas

The Strat uses all caps in its new name. Please don’t. It will just encourage them.

Props to The Strat for its refresh. We’re always up for new things to see and do, and look forward to seeing what’s next.

We’ll be by to get a Strat-branded chip for our collection, too.

Here’s the latest from The Strat, including even more renderings!

Update (2/3/19): Tipster Jim C. shares Fellini’s Ristorante Italiano will close at The Strat in April 2019. No word about what might replace it.

Fellini's Stratosphere

Arrivederci, Fellini’s.

Chinese New Year Means Days of Swine and Roses at Bellagio Conservatory

The newest seasonal display at the Bellagio Conservatory is up and this time it celebrates The Year of the Pig in honor of Chinese New Year.

Or, as Chinese New Year is known in Las Vegas, “The season of kissing up to Asian gamblers.”

Bellagio Chinese New Year

Yeah, it’s a weird one. Just go with it.

Bellagio’s Chinese New Year motif has one of the quickest turnarounds of all the seasonal displays as it’s right on the heels of Christmas.

Because of the fast turnaround time, many of the items in the Chinese New Year display are more statue than plant, but it’s still impressive and one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas.

Bellagio Chinese New Year

In China, red symbolizes fortune and joy. Fun fact: Fortune and Joy are two of the most popular stripper names in Las Vegas.

Bellagio’s horticulture staff of 120 people go to great lengths to research every inch of the Conservatory’s 140,000-square-foot display to ensure the accuracy of a lot of things we have no clue about.

For example, part of the Conservatory features a representation of the grounds at the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, a Buddhist temple in Guangzhou, China.

Bellagio Conservatory

Warning: Saying “Guangzhou” out loud is likely to hemorrhage your larynx. And not in a good way.

There’s also flower pagoda guarded by two Chinese Fu dogs (“Foo” in English) that appear to have left in their hair curlers too long.

Bellagio Chinese New Year

Not even remotely a dog, bro.

Chinese Fu dogs are a giant scam because they’re not dogs, they’re lions. They’re also very good luck, so we’ll give them a pass.

How meticulously do the wizards at Bellagio research their displays? Well, if you screw up the position of the Fu dogs, you’re out of luck.

According to feng shui, when looking at the lions, the one with a ball (male) is on the right and the one with a cub (female) is on the left. Bellagio nails it.

Bellagio Chinese display 2019

You’re going to need more storage space on your smartphone.

The entryway to the Conservatory features a giant jade decoration.

Jade is said to represent the six virtues in Asian culture: Benevolence, righteousness, wisdom, bravery, Grumpy and Sneezy.

Bellagio Conservatory

What an awesome entrance to the Bellagio buffet this would make.

On the north side of the Conservatory stands a replica of a bronze sculpture, “Lotus Flower in Full Bloom.”

The original stands in Golden Lutus Square in Macau, China.

Bellagio Conservatory

It’s important to note this statue in no way resembles an attachment for the Magic Wand massager.

Given it’s the Year of the Pig, the star of the show is a massive pig, or more accurately, an “Earth pig.”

The pig is 22 feet long and 12 feet tall and is far more adorable than a 22 foot long slab of bacon. We trust you are feeling an appropriate amount of shame and regret right now.

Bellagio Chinese New Year

Sorry. Didn’t mean for you to hear that buffet comment.

As always, the Bellagio Conservatory is a feast for the eyes and remains a Las Vegas must-see.

We’re honestly astonished the Conservatory is still around. Other free attractions have either gone away (like “Sirens of TI” at Treasure Island and Rio’s “Masquerade Show in the Sky”) or cut back on their hours (like the volcano show at Mirage), but the Conservatory at Bellagio keeps delivering the goods.

Conservatory Chinese New Year 2019

Just as Fu dogs are lions, so too are these, although people sometimes mistake them for dragons. Bonus: Eyelashes are on fleek.

The hard fact is such free attractions don’t really provide much value to a casino. Back in the day such attractions would draw crowds, and many in those crowds would stay and gamble.

Today, not so much.

The vast majority of people who visit the Conservatory are just there to look. It’s a loss-leader for Bellagio (and its parent, MGM Resorts) that’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify as MGM Resorts and other casino companies become more and more focused on the bottom line.

The takeway: Get your feng and your shui in gear and enjoy the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden while you can.

Chinese New Year Vegas

We never got why Asian travelers would want to see things they could see back home until we ate at a Burger King in Paris.

The Chinese New Year display runs through March 9, 2019. Next up is the spring display, Mar. 16 to June 1, 2019.

If you’re a fan of the Bellagio Conservatory, as we are, avail yourself of our massive collection of Conservatory photos covering the last six years of eye-popping displays.

Bellagio Conservatory Chinese New Year 2019

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[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_6.jpg]570
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_16.jpg]610
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_7.jpg]570
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_10.jpg]550
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_11.jpg]510
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_19.jpg]590
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_17.jpg]530
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_12.jpg]550
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_15.jpg]500
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/bellagio-conservatory-chinese-new-year-2019/thumbs/thumbs_bellagio_chinese_new_year2019_20.jpg]500

Christina Aguilera’s Las Vegas Residency Is a Lock

Christina Aguilera will start a Las Vegas residency on May 31, 2019 at Zappos Theater inside Planet Hollywood.

The official announcement of the residency was made Jan. 29, 2019, but that’s not when fans knew it was happening.

Christina Aguilera

We like this version of Christina Aguilera more than the flashy one.

One of the more interesting aspects of Aguilera’s residency announcement is the fact vigilant fans caught a post on the singer’s Web site listing her 16 performance dates prior to the official announcement.

The schedule was swiftly removed from the site, but the Internet never forgets and the word was already out in a big way.

Christina Aguilera

Don’t worry, Web intern. Hopefully, you find a gig working for someone relevant next time.

Christina Aguilera’s Las Vegas residency follows on the heels of successful residencies at Planet Hollywood by her fellow pop princesses: Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani.

A planned residency by Britney Spears at Park MGM resort was recently canceled due to family issues.

Fans even caught wind of the show’s artwork.

Christina Aguilera

You go, fans.

Here are her 2019 show dates for Planet Hollywood.

  • May 31
  • June 1, 5, 7, 8, 13, 15, 16
  • Sep. 20, 21, 24, 27, 28
  • Oct. 2, 4, 5

While we’re sure the folks at Caesars Entertainment, owners of Planet Hollywood, and some in the media (“You promised us an exclusive, Xtina!”) are pulling their hair out about somebody on Aguilera’s team jumping the gun, buzz is buzz and the gaff generated as much or more publicity than the actual announcement.

Social media goofs are an ongoing headache for performers. Obsessive fans never miss a thing. Just ask Celine Dion.

Aguilera’s Vegas residency is further evidence, as if we needed more, A-list entertainers no longer see Sin City as a place where careers go to die. For those who do it right, there’s big money to be made in Las Vegas.

Time will tell if Christina Aguilera gets it right.

Our suggestions: 1) Price it right. 2) Make it good (as few backing tracks as possible, please). 3) Don’t overstay your welcome.