Category Archives: Las Vegas

Hakkasan Grid is an Eye-Opening Wonder of Science and Art

If Vegas knows anything, it’s dazzle, and the new Hakkasan Grid at Hakkasan Nightclub takes dazzle to a whole new level.

The multi-million dollar light installation made its debut during EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival, May 17-19, 2019), and delivers on the promise of a sensational new reason to visit Hakkasan inside MGM Grand.

Hakkasan Grid

You’re going to wish you had more eyes.

The Hakkasan Grid is a marvel of technology. The ceiling light installation is made up of 57 individual triangles that can be turned into a virtually unlimited number of shapes, colors and configurations.

Here’s a look at some of the technology involved in making the Hakkasan Grid such a stunner.

Hakkasan Grid Las Vegas

Only slightly less complicated than brain surgery.

The overhead display undulates and pulses, intensifying the impact of the music, creating an ever-changing visual feast for nightclub-goers.

Hakkasan Grid

The 57 triangles are moved using 169 winches, which is 2.964912280 winches per triangle, which can’t be right, but we are a blog, not a mathematician, so let’s move on.

Yeah, you sort of have to see it in action. Behold the Hakkasan Grid.

It’s like a space ship, a kinetic sculpture and a neon factory had a threesome and the Hakkasan Grid is the offspring.

The thing is straight-up amazing, and we aren’t even a nightclub person.

If you’re a light installation nerd, it’s worth noting the Hakkasan Grid is 30 feet wide, and each of the triangles was custom-designed and 3-D printed. The display features pixel mapping and color-mixing technologies as well.

Hakkasan nightclub Las Vegas

Hakkasan is a Japanese word meaning, “You have no chance with that girl, so stop pestering her, you big dope.”

Hakkasan opened in 2013, making it 104 in Las Vegas nightclub years.

Given its substantial investment in the new light installation, Hakkasan clearly isn’t resting on its laurels and intends to stay relevant as the nightlife landscape continues to evolve in Las Vegas.

Hakkasan nightclub Vegas

The exterior of Hakkasan got some digital mapping since your last visit. You need to get out more.

The venue boasts world-class DJ talent, including Tiesto, Zedd, Steve Aoki and others. Such residencies are the bread-and-butter of nightclubs, but it can’t hurt to have a mind-blowing light show in the mix as well.

Hakkasan Grid Las Vegas

Hakkasan it the place to let your geometry freak flag fly.

We’ve added the Hakkasan Grid onto our list of must-see attractions in Las Vegas, right up there with the Bellagio fountains, the new Eiffel Tower light show, the Viva Vision canopy on Fremont Street, the Mirage volcano and us in a thong.

That’s weird. People usually don’t read this far. Good luck unseeing that.

SLS Resort to Be Rebranded to Sahara Hotel & Casino

Ever since SLS Las Vegas was purchased by developer Alex Meruelo, speculation has run rampant about what the new name of the resort would be. Now, we know.

According to a well-placed source, SLS will be renamed Sahara Hotel & Casino.

And all was right with the world.

Sahara SLS

Best. Rumored. Rebrand. Ever.

Since about the time Meruelo Group acquired SLS in April 2018 (yes, we broke the story, because that’s how we roll), rumors swirled the casino would be named Grand Sahara Resort. Meruelo also owns Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.

In the end, though, we hear cooler heads prevailed, and the name Sahara Hotel & Casino will be announced as the hotel’s official name in the next few weeks.

We are downright elated at this news.

Renaming SLS as Sahara is a brilliant move. It plays upon the storied history of the casino, while saving a metric hell-ton of money by playing up an existing brand rather than trying to create a new one from scratch.

While the previous Sahara went downhill toward the ends of its life (Sahara closed in 2011 after 59 years of operation), there’s a surprising amount of goodwill toward the brand, and we suspect Vegas visitors and locals will embrace the new Sahara’s throwback vibe.

Since acquiring SLS, the resort has had a multi-million dollar facelift, including dramatic changes to the casino and the recent opening of the Casbar lounge.

The original Sahara had a Casbar lounge. Ah, the circularity of the universe. (We’ll share more about the new lounge soon, as it’s incredible. We’re just too Captained to do it justice at the moment. Yes, “Captained” can be used as a verb.)

New Sahara Las Vegas

This is not your grandpa’s Sahara.

Clues about a Sahara rebrand abound at SLS.

For example, the casino’s loyalty club is called Club 52. Sahara opened in 1952. The loyalty club’s logo features a design flourish used in the original Sahara’s advertising.

SLS Sahara

Those aren’t ovaries. They’re a design flourish! Freak.

Oh, and while we’re delivering the scoop, here’s another juicy item: We hear Alex Meruelo has purchased another Las Vegas casino.

Mind blown.

Now, we can redirect our speculation from the new name of SLS to which casino he’s acquiring. Treasure Island? Planet Hollywood? Another Caesars Entertainment casino?

We’ll get an official announcement soon.

Also, expect more news out of SLS/Sahara soon, including official confirmation of scoop we’ve already shared: Cleo is closing. Umami Burger is closing. 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria is closing. Bazaar Meat is staying and getting an expansion. “Magic Mike Live” is moving in.

Oh, and expect an announcement of a major renovation to the resort’s pool complex. Are you not entertained?

In the meantime, let’s just bask in the magnificence of a new name for SLS: Sahara Hotel & Casino.

We can’t wait to have her back.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 98: Las Vegas Tea Time

It’s time for another installment of the podcast that never fails to disappoint!

In this episode, we chat with casino owner Derek Stevens about the debut of Circa Sports, a new sports book at Golden Gate. Read more.

Circa Sports Golden Gate

The oldest casino in Vegas has the newest sports book. There will be a quiz.

Stevens shares updates about not only the new sports book, but also brings us up to speed on construction of Circa Resort.

Also on the show, we share our experience at the Top of the World restaurant at The Strat, as well as Alder & Birch at Orleans.

But, wait, there’s more.

We also pass along some inside scoop about the Hakkasan Grid, a new light installation at Hakkasan nightclub at MGM Grand.

Hakkasan Grid

Behold the newest eye candy in Las Vegas, the Hakkasan Grid.

Naturally, we cover all the juicy Las Vegas rumors and speculation you have grown to know and love.

We talk SLS resort, the Front Yard at Ellis Island, resort fees, the former Intrigue nightclub, the World Series of Poker at Rio, the Mill Meek fiasco and more.

It’s the final episode of the first season, so take a listen.

Wynn’s Popeye Statue to Set Sail for Encore Boston Harbor

A famous statue of Popeye at Wynn Las Vegas is about to set sail for Encore Boston Harbor, so catch it while you can, matey.

Or whatever.

The Popeye statue, made by renowned sculptor Jeff Koons, will reportedly be packed up in the early morning hours of June 4, 2019.

Wynn Popeye statue

Sun’s out, guns out, or whatever the kids are saying now.

The statue will be in place at Encore Boston Harbor in time for its opening on June 23, if all goes according to plan.

The Popeye stands in front of the Wynn Theater, not far from the self-parking garage, which is free again, so you have no excuse to not visit the resort before Popeye’s departure.

Wynn Popeye

Popeye is incarnated with Brancusian reflectivity in the artist’s signature material: Stainless steel. Which we totally didn’t steal from the Sotheby’s Web site.

The Popeye statue has a long and storied history we didn’t have time to research.

We do know it was purchased for $28,165,000 in 2014. It’s rumored Wynn Resorts turned down an offer of $60 million for the statue at one point.

If you’re an art person, don’t fret that Popeye won’t be at Wynn much longer. You can pop into the Wynn Plaza and snap a selfie with another impressive piece of art, Smiling King Bear by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel.

Wynn Plaza

Our photography is occasionally fleek.

Please take care of our Popeye statue, Encore Boston Harbor. We sort of want it back, eventually.

Front Yard at Ellis Island is Looking Like a Thing

One of our favorite Las Vegas casinos, Ellis Island, is getting an expansion, The Front Yard.

To put it simply: It took less time to build the Great Wall of China.

Now, however, we are pleased to report The Front Yard is starting to look like a thing and we even have a new timeline for the venue to open. We’ll leave you in suspense as you look at this photo we took.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Hey, if you were a construction worker, would you rush to finish a job six feet from a brewery?

The Front Yard, a two-story dining and entertainment venue, was originally announced way back in July 2017. It was supposed to open in late 2018.

Emphasis on “late.”

Look, Ellis Island is a family-owned casino and not like those monolithic corporate entities on The Strip. It’s one of the reasons we love the place, beyond the fact you can get a beer and a Captain Morgan and diet for $8.

Ellis Island just moves at a different pace, and The Front Yard is no exception. Yes, this expansion has taken forever, but here’s the thing: Ellis Island is sort of in on the joke.

Ellis Island Front Yard

We love this new venue because it’s as far away from Ellis Island’s karaoke lounge as possible.

We asked for a comment from our friend, Christina Ellis, Director of Marketing for Ellis Island, she said, “We’ve been promoting the project for over a year-and-a-half at this point, so it’s no secret The Front Yard has taken a bit longer than expected! When we first started brainstorming the beer garden we were basically just adding a patio, now it’s a huge, beautiful structure that we’ll be able to keep open close to 365 days a year.”

She also shared, “We added a larger kitchen, more seating and some structural changes. All great things, but things that required new permits, new drawings, etc. This is really the first construction project I’ve been a part of, so I’m learning a lot and it’s exciting how eager everybody is for us to open!”

That we are.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Yes, it’s basically the same photo again. Get your own blog if you don’t like it. We’re trying to keep the words from slapping together.

The revised open date for the Front Yard is September 2019, and that’s the story they’re sticking to.

In the meantime, there’s already a lot to love about Ellis Island. There’s the cheap-ass drinks, and the fact they brew beer on the premises.

Ellis Island BBQ is easily some of the best in all of Las Vegas, all at a rare value. Visit their Web site for all the details.

Here’s a model of the Front Yard for good measure.

Ellis Island Front Yard

You can sort of see miniature us being thrown out by miniature security for having too many miniature cocktails.

We can’t wait to have our first Captain and diet at the Front Yard at Ellis Island, and thanks to the utterly lovable Ellis family for their ongoing patience with our drunk Tweets about the construction delays.

We kid because we love! Let’s get this place did, already!

Rumor: Cleo Restaurant at SLS to Close and Everything is Ruined

We knew it was on the horizon, but it didn’t seem real until now.

We’ve heard one of our favorite all-time Las Vegas restaurants, Cleo at SLS Las Vegas, will close by Labor Day.

And everything is ruined.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Feeling a little weepy right about now.

This fantastic restaurant has never really gotten the attention it deserves, and it appears Cleo won’t survive the transition from SLS Las Vegas to Grand Sahara Resort.

SLS Las Vegas is in the process of a major overhaul, as anyone who visits the casino can attest.

SLS Las Vegas

The casino at SLS is unrecognizable. Specifically, there are people in it.

Among the changes is a purge of many of the resorts restaurants, specifically legacy restaurants from when SLS was partially owned by SBE Entertainment. (The restaurants are largely SBE brands, and that partnership is costing the new owners of SLS licensing fees better spent elsewhere.)

Katsuya closed in March 2019 to make way for a high limit room.

A new Mexican restaurant, Uno Mas, recently opened in the former Ku Noodle space.

It’s expected Umami Burger’s days are numbered as well. Ditto 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, although few will miss that disappointing offering.

One restaurant will stick around, however, the much-loved Bazaar Meat, which will even get an expansion.

Should the rumor of a Labor Day closing come to pass, we’ll be in mourning about the loss of Cleo.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas laffa

You complete us, laffa.

We have never had a dish like the chicken tagine at Cleo, and don’t get us started about the laffa bread and lebaneh with feta. We don’t even know what those things are, really, or how to pronounce them, and yet we love them so very much.

Here’s more about Cleo Mediterranean restaurant, the best Las Vegas restaurant you haven’t tried yet.

Check out the menus on the official Web site, and get there while you still have the chance.