Category Archives: Las Vegas

News Release About The Drew Contains Glorious Amounts of WTF

It’s been so quiet at The Drew, formerly the Fontainebleau, we were delighted to see a news release from the resort’s owner, Witkoff Group.

Our delight didn’t last long, because we actually read the release. Cue the tsunami of WTF.

Tsunami of WTF, we should mention, was our band name in high school.

So, it seems Witkoff wanted to announce it has hired a design architect, Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Which seems dangerously close to math, but we’ll let it slide this time.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro is apparently a well-known firm, despite the fact they seem to have misplaced their comma. (Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio are two different people.)

The firm has been tasked with “realizing a fresh vision for the next integrated resort on the north Strip’s emerging luxury corridor.”

So much to unpack, and we’re one sentence in.

First, as we mentioned, The Drew is the former Fontainebleau. Fontainebleau was about 70% complete when it was abandoned in 2009 due to dipshittery.

“Fresh,” then, is a relative term here.

Fontainebleau wrap

The wrap doesn’t really help.

“Emerging luxury corridor” may be stretching it a bit. This is the north Strip. Circus Circus is the hotel’s closest neighbor, with SLS a third of a mile north. Resorts World is emerging, slowly, but that hardly qualifies as a corridor.

Given the area’s string of bad luck (Alon, Wynn West, All Net Resort), “crushing disappointment corridor” might be a more fitting label.

This is where the news release gets epic.

Charles Renfro, lead designer of the Drew, adds, “The team’s design approach was inspired by the multiple ecologies of Las Vegas itself—the dynamic and rugged beauty of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas’ early adoption of modern architecture, and the city’s enthusiastic embrace of spectacle. The Drew will weave these seemingly contradictory conditions into a new quixotic environment.”

Apparently, the Mojave Desert is teeming with peyote!

But wait, there’s more.

“We are incredibly excited about being part of the Las Vegas landscape. Robust demand drivers continue to create an imbalance of hotel inventory supply and demand. The Drew is poised to not only capitalize on this imbalance, but also offer visitors a new marquee luxury resort with a distinctive, compelling concept. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our team and our partners,” shared Steven Witkoff.

We really missed the boat by not naming our band Robust Demand Drivers.

Witkoff

We’re just sharing the logo. You’re on your own with the snark.

All due respect, but Mr. Witkoff clearly doesn’t place much value on clue-having as he seems to believe demand is outpacing hotel inventory in Las Vegas. Las Vegas visitation is down, bro.

If there’s an imbalance, it’s that there’s too much room inventory, which is likely one of the reasons The Drew’s opening has been pushed back two years.

This little gem was tucked neatly at the end of the news release: “With a confirmed opening date in the second quarter of 2022, Drew Las Vegas has also kicked off its sales efforts to group customers. The initial response to the 3,780-room resort has been overwhelmingly positive as groups look for new ideas and a fresh perspective.”

“Confirmed”! Because if you say it in a news release, it has to be true.

There’s so much off-the-wall in this announcement, it’s hard to keep track of it all.

The reality is this project doesn’t have financing in place. That’s because you can’t really get financing unless you have an architect as part of the pre-planning and budget process, and Witkoff just hired this one.

Two years after Fontainebleau was purchased.

Two years.

To hire an architect.

The first thing on a developer’s to-do list.

A story in Bloomberg says, “By delaying, Witkoff will have more certainty about his construction budget.”

Like we said, you can’t get financing unless you know what the budget is.

Fontainebleau wrap

There’s no great angle. We’ve tried.

The thing they didn’t mention in the release is it’s likely this isn’t the first architect Witkoff has hired for The Drew. We’re thinking the first firm drew up some plans, ran some numbers and they didn’t make the cut, so don’t let the door hit you on the way out, architects.

Also not in the release are the specifics of challenges related to giving a makeover to an abandoned building exposed to the elements for years.

The latest cost estimate for making The Drew a thing is $3.1 billion. With a “b.”

Never fear, though. Witkoff says Goldman Sachs Group and Deutsche Bank have been hired to raise additional capital. It’s complicated.

Remember, Las Vegas was built on optimism and whimsy! The Drew seems to have an ample supply of both.

The truth is while we’re more skeptical than ever The Drew will become a reality (we’ve heard the property may still be flipped), we’re rooting for it to succeed.

From the day we broke the story of Fontainebleau being sold, we were onboard for something, anything being done with the hulking blue eyesore.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

We are obligated to share this fake billboard whenever we talk about this place.

There’s a chance in a few years Las Vegas visitation could warrant thousands of rooms coming online. There’s no denying Drew’s proximity to the Las Vegas Convention Center, with its $935 million expansion, could make it more desirable to investors.

We can’t wait to hear from Steven Witkoff when The Drew, with it’s unfortunate name, opens. “Suck it,” Steven Witkoff will say, and we will feel ashamed for ever having doubted him and his comma-challenged architectural firm.

For now, we’ll watch and wait and wonder at how such smart, rich people can read and approve news releases that make them seem so, well, rich.

Oscar’s at Plaza Endures as Stand-Out Vegas Steakhouse

While Oscar’s Steakhouse has been around since Dec. 2011, we figured it was time to loop back around to see how the joint’s doing.

We’re glad we did.

Oscar's Steakhouse

A touch of class without pretense, that’s Oscar’s.

In the early days of the restaurant, it was called Oscar’s Beef, Booze & Broads, but downtown’s Plaza has perhaps wisely backed off of using that saucy name. Now, it’s pretty much just Oscar’s Steakhouse.

The “Oscar” in “Oscar’s,” of course, is former Las Vegas mayor and mob lawyer, Oscar Goodman. Goodman spent a dozen colorful years as mayor, 1999 to 2011. Now, his wife, Carolyn Goodman, is mayor and just won re-election. Vegas loves its Goodmans.

In the spirit of Oscar Goodman, literally, let’s have a cocktail.

The signature cocktails at Oscar’s are reliably top-notch, including the Q 1908. The Q 1908 has Empress gin, fresh lemon and simple syrup.

Oscar's Plaza

We aren’t personally a gin person, yet we enjoyed this a lot, anyway.

We’re fairly sure every meal at Oscar’s should begin with the crab cakes. They’re a sight to behold.

Oscar's crab cakes

Oscar’s crab cakes are big enough to be dinner, but that’s not how appetizers work. Pace yourself, for once.

The official name of the appetizer is Johnny Quinn’s Crab Cake, by the way. Lots of dishes at Oscar’s have creative names, often inspired by Oscar Goodman’s life and sometimes controversial career.

Johnny Quinn was a raconteur and head of the hotel’s race and sports book when the Plaza was called Union Plaza. How do we know this? Oscar’s has thoughtfully put together a “List of Included Persons” booklet, a nod to the famous “Black Book” authorities use to keep track of folks unwelcome in casinos.

Oscar's Plaza Las Vegas

This entertaining booklet will keep you company while your date is on her phone. Ahem.

Let’s get into the entrees, already.

We had to get the filet mignon (sorry, Joey C’s Filet Mignon), and it was excellent.

Oscar's filet mignon

We’re more into “eating our steak” than “taking notes about the sauce,” sorry.

The sides were also outstanding, and Oscar’s serves what we’d call destination mac and cheese.

Oscar's mac and cheese

Again, a whole meal, but that’s not how sides work, either.

Our dining companion braved a dish with a face only a mother could love, the whole roasted branzino. Branzino, of course, is European sea bass. The dish involved brown butter-caper beurre blanc and arugula, but mainly we were left wondering what is wrong with people. She loved it, though, so to each their own.

Oscar's Steakhouse fish

Oh, just cover up the face with your arugula.

Time for another delectable cocktail!

We’re a fan of sweet, tropical drinks, so we went with the Jungle Bird. The Jungle Bird has Real McCoy three-year rum, simple syrup, Campari, fresh lime and pineapple juice.

Oscar's Las Vegas

We may not be into fish faces, but we sure as hell are into Jungle Birds.

When you dine a Oscar’s, you won’t have room for dessert, as if that’s going to stop you from having it.

The chocolate mousse prevailed in the dessert battle royale, with a trio of imported chocolates in mousse terrine. No, we don’t have any idea what half those words mean. Don’t judge, just gawk.

Oscar's mousse

Now, that’s a Vegas threesome.

Oscar’s is a traditional Las Vegas steakhouse with a twist. What’s the twist? The restaurant sits in a spot that was once the hotel’s pool.

Here’s what Oscar’s looks like from the outside.

Oscar's Steakhouse

There’s no place like dome.

The service is old-school charm, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming (no need to scream over intrusive live or piped-in music, thankfully), the drinks are strong and the prices are quite reasonable.

You can check out the full Oscar’s menu online.

Big thanks to the Plaza for hosting our visit, and Oscar’s is a worthy addition to your Las Vegas must-try list.

Oscar's Steakhouse at Plaza

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Intrigue Nightclub to Close at Wynn Las Vegas

It’s a crazy time for nightlife in Las Vegas. We’re hearing Intrigue, the nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas, is set to close.

News of Intrigue’s closure, confirmed by multiple sources, comes on the heels of another Las Vegas nightclub bombshell, that Hyde Bellagio will close.

While Hyde will be replaced with another nightclub concept, it sounds like Wynn Resorts will not do the same with Intrigue. That’s a pretty big deal.

A source familiar with Intrigue says the nightclub will close around Memorial Day (late May 2019), and no other nightclub concept is currently planned for the space.

It will be rented out for events, just as the hotel did with its Alex restaurant space. Alex is slated to become a new supper club concept, Delilah, in spring 2020.

Intrigue

There’s nothing more intriguing than a juicy Vegas rumor.

Intrigue opened at Wynn in 2016 in the space that was formerly Tryst nightclub.

Intrigue is unique in that it has both an indoor and outdoor component. Intrigue’s outdoor patio features waterfall and pyrotechnics. The club’s footprint covers 14,000-square-feet.

Intrigue is a holdover from the Steve Wynn era. The club’s concept was that of the company’s disgraced former CEO, with design by Wynn’s longtime collaborator Roger Thomas and former COO Sean Christie. Christie now oversees nightlife at MGM Resorts, and will spearhead the rebrand of Hyde Bellagio. Small world.

The possible closure of Intrigue has not been announced, but we have no patience for “news releases” or “official confirmations.” “Bor,” meet “ing.”

While we are not personally a nightclub person, we love a good scoop, so we look forward to seeing how this (wait for it) intrigue unfolds.

FlyOver Las Vegas Virtual Reality Attraction Coming to Linq Hotel

It was recently announced a new flight simulator attraction is coming to the Las Vegas Strip, and now we know where it will land.

We’ve learned FlyOver Las Vegas will be located at the Linq hotel, on the resort’s third floor Vortex deck.

FlyOver Las Vegas

Las Vegas will soon have a new way to get your woozy on.

The attraction will feature two domes, one a high tech theater, the other a ticketing, merchandise and concession space.

So, what’s FlyOver Las Vegas?

According to the FlyOver Web site, “FlyOver Las Vegas utilizes state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight. You’ll hang suspended, feet dangling, before a 52-foot spherical screen as our film whisks you away on an exhilarating journey over and above Las Vegas, Nevada and more local wonders. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combine with the ride’s motion to create an unforgettable experience.”

The ride will feature destinations in and around Nevada with filming locations expected to include the Grand Canyon, Zion and Arches National Parks in Utah and Lake Tahoe. More Vegas, please.

Each virtual reality show will run 8-10 minutes.

Here’s a promotional video.

FlyOver Canada has already been a thing. Check out the official Web site.

Side note: The FlyOver Canada location has a pre-show presentation by a company called Moment Factory, featuring “2-D and 3-D animations as well as 360-degree video projection mapping.” These are the same folks who did the incredible video display outside the Forum Shops. Let’s have more of that in Vegas.

Here are some perfunctory details from the FlyOver Las Vegas permit filing:

The theater dome will be 7,854 square feet, 33 feet tall and 50 feet in diameter with about 1,963 square feet of floor area. The theater dome will accommodate 62 movie theater seats with bass shakers.

Fun fact: The Bass Shakers are one of our favorite bands, ever.

The ticket dome will be 17 feet tall and 26 feet in diameter, with approximately 531 square feet of floor area.

Thanks to @morenoapa on Twitter for pointing us toward the permit application.

The Linq’s Vortex deck has been one of the most underutilized spaces on the Las Vegas Strip. Why you’d take people inside a dome for simulated views, rather than taking advantage of the Strip views from the Vortex deck, we have no idea. But we quite enjoy sparkly new Vegas things, so there’s that.

If you have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s a look at the Vortex at Linq. You sort of can’t miss it.

Linq Vortex

Today’s reminder Vegas does eye candy like no other place on Earth.

Construction of FlyOver Las Vegas is expected to begin in late 2019. Which is weird when you consider the attraction is expected to open in early 2021. It’s domes.

Here’s the official FlyOver Las Vegas Web site.

As gambling revenue declines over time, Las Vegas casinos continue to seek out partners to help generate revenue in other ways, especially attractions appealing to younger visitors.

While we tend to avoid attractions featuring heights (yes, even virtual) and the potential of motion sickness, FlyOver looks like it could be a fun new diversion in very visible location, so it has the potential to make a killing. This is one to watch!

Hyde Bellagio Nightclub to Close for Rebrand

As we were the first to share back in March, Hyde Bellagio nightclub will close for a rebrand.

We told you to follow us on Twitter!

MGM Resorts has officially confirmed our scoop, saying Hyde will close July 6, 2019.

Hyde Bellagio

What a waste of a perfectly baffling logo.

While Bellagio hasn’t said what will take Hyde’s place, our source says the concept will be along the lines of Annabel’s, a popular nightclub and bar in London. Here’s a look.

The closure of Hyde isn’t just a way to update an aging nightclub, it’s also a way to boot out a partner in the club, SBE Entertainment, as a cost-saving measure.

Hyde is just too valuable a location to let others share in the windfall, so it’s believed the new club will be managed in-house.

Hyde Bellagio

The view from Hyde is about as Vegas as it gets.

MGM Resorts recruited some high-priced nightlife talent in Sean Christie, President of Events and Nightlife, and it’s time for Christie to show his mettle. Christie formerly worked at Wynn Resorts. At one time, he was a managing partner of Encore Las Vegas Beach Club, Surrender and Andrea’s Restaurant at Wynn. Prior to that he was managing partner of The Light Group.

Before Hyde, which opened in 2011 (or 1860 in Las Vegas nightclub years),
the space was occupied by the Fontana lounge.

One of Hyde’s claims to fame is its $250,000 bottle service package that let guests control the Bellagio fountains with the touch of a button. Oh, the package also comes with a 30 liter bottle of Ace of Spades champagne, so totally worth it.

The new nightlife concept in the Hyde footprint is expected to open in winter of 2019.

This spot at Bellagio has one of the most magnificent views in all of Las Vegas, overlooking the resort’s iconic fountains, so we expect something impressive to take Hyde’s place.

Uno Mas is a Step in the Right Direction for SLS Las Vegas

SLS has opened a new Mexican restaurant, Uno Mas, a step in the right direction for the casino likely to be rebranded as Grand Sahara Resort.

Uno Mas

If you don’t think of “Shanghai Noon” when you hear “uno mas,” we can’t be friends.

Uno Mas takes up residence in the space formerly occupied by Ku Noodle, near the resort’s Northside Cafe.

Uno Mas has a modest menu, but the tacos hit all the right notes, despite their being a tad on the pricey side. Three for $18 isn’t outrageous, though, for The Strip.

Uno Mas menu

It must be good if we cheated on Cleo.

We had the Pork al Pastor, Carne Asada and Vegetarian tacos.

You are so gullible! We had the Crispy Pollo.

Uno Mas SLS

A trifecta of tempting, titillating tastes. Alliteration not included.

The tacos are scrumptious, at the risk of sounding like we’re writing this blog post in 1830.

The tacos are served on fresh corn tortillas and the pastor is spit-roasted.

Beyond the tacos, there’s a healthy selection of specialty cocktails ($13). We tried the El Fuego, Spanish for, “Ah, so that’s what Jalapeno tequila tastes like.”

The El Fuego has Dulce Vida Pineapple Jalapeno tequila, banana liqueur, mango and ginger beer. The garnish is a pineapple kissed with Tajin.

Uno Mas SLS cocktail

This one’s like a brisk slap to the jowl.

The menu says there’s Tajin on the rim, but no such luck. If you’d like to try and make this cocktail at home, make sure to get a Tajin rimmer, which we didn’t know was a thing until just now.

Everyone who visits Las Vegas should make sure to get a rimmer!

Yeah, we should probably work for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Uno Mas has apparently done well since it opened March 23, 2019. The official opening date is April 12.

Uno Mas SLS

Solo-friendly counter seating gives guests a view of the open kitchen.

Expect more changes in the dining options at SLS Las Vegas as the resort transitions to Grand Sahara. (The new name hasn’t officially been announced, but all signs point in that direction.)

Another SLS restaurant, Katsuya, closed in March to make way for a relocated high limit room.

It’s expected Umami Burger and Cleo may also be replaced, as they are leftovers from an earlier era when the former owners of SLS partnered with SBE Entertainment. Now, these SBE licensing deals are just cutting into potential SLS profits, so out they go.

SLS Las Vegas

SLS isn’t looking much like SLS anymore, and that’s a good thing.

Word is Bazaar Meat will survive the resort’s evolution, and will even get an expansion.

One more juicy tidbit from SLS: We hear the former Foxtail nightclub space will be split up and part will be a lounge called Casbah, a throwback to the resort’s Sahara roots.

SLS Las Vegas

We love this snazzy new SLS tagline, and we hate everything.

Uno Mas represents a solid move toward more accessible, crowd-pleasing dining options at SLS, and we look forward to tasting what’s next.

Uno Mas at SLS Las Vegas

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