Category Archives: Las Vegas

Hard Rock Releases Virgin Rendering and Rebrand Timeline

Hard Rock Las Vegas has provided a glimpse into its future with a rendering and a new timeline for the resort’s rebrand to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

Yes, they’re insisting on calling it “Virgin Hotels” when it’s only one hotel. Let’s not get distracted. Rendering porn!

Virgin hotel Las Vegas

Note: The way to a blogger’s heart is through renderings.

The Virgin Las Vegas resort looks pretty slick, with a more deserty, cactusy vibe than the Hard Rock. Look, if you want actual architectural design terms, read Interior Design magazine. Yes, there are still magazines, presumably.

Judging by the rendering, the feel is “classic, cool Las Vegas, reinvented for the 21st century with contemporary, desert-modern architecture.” Oh, wait, that’s the Red Rock Resort. You get the idea.

Apparently, the folks at Hard Rock decided to pass on our suggested Virgin design featuring a massive chastity belt.

Virgin Las Vegas rebrand

Their loss.

Along with the intriguing renderings, Hard Rock also shared a revised timeline for the resort’s rebrand.

The scope of the project has been expanded, so according to the casino’s owner, “significant construction activities remain 10 months away and the property will remain open for business without any disruptions to our guests and team members through Super Bowl of 2020.”

That means renovations will begin at Hard Rock in Feb. 2020, with a full closure from April to June 2020. A grand opening of Virgin Las Vegas is expected in Nov. 2020. No way we’ll be invited due to all the smartassery, but we suspect it will make a splash.

The transition to Virgin will now include an overhaul of the resort’s entertainment venue, The Joint.

Other changes at Hard Rock include the recent introduction of Breathe Pool Lounge and the opening of Craft + Community Bar & Grill, a replacement for Culinary Dropout.

Hotel officials have estimated the rebrand to Virgin will cost $200 million. Some of that cost could be recouped if Hard Rock has a garage sale for all that music memorabilia. Yes, the memorabilia was included with the purchase of Hard Rock.

Imagine Dragons memorabilia

Dibs on this stuff or anything Duran Duran.

We’ve heard some major announcements about the resort will be made soon, related to both entertainment and the casino.

You’ll know when we do!

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 96: So Many Scoops

It’s time for another underwhelming episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast!

In this episode, we review “Absinthe” as the irrepressible show at Caesars Palace celebrates its eighth year on the Las Vegas Strip.

We’ve also got some kind, inarticulate things to say about a new restaurant at The Strat, Blvd. & Main Taphouse. The bottom line: We’d tap that again, anytime.

Blvd Main Strat

Listen in to get the early word on the new Blvd. & Main Taphouse at The Strat.

But wait, there’s more Vegas to shove between your ears in this hastily-slapped-together episode: We interview the merry miscreants of a far better podcast, Matt & Mattingly’s Ice Cream Social.

The crew at Matt & Mattingly’s Ice Cream Social are intimately involved with the world of Las Vegas entertainment and share inside scoop about shows past and present. Find out more at HeyScoops.com. Oh, and while you’re there, listen to episode 562, despite the fact we’re a guest on that episode.

If you’re not a podcast person, like we weren’t, this episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast sure as hell won’t turn you into one, but if you’ve got an hour to kill, maybe kill it with our grating, unlistenable voice in your head.

Take a listen! Or leave one. We’re not emotionally invested either way.

“Fuerza Bruta” Tanks, Closes After a Month at Excalibur

After a month’s run at Excalibur, “Fuerza Bruta” is pulling up stakes and closing.

“Fuerza Bruta,” performed in a tent outside Excalibur, translates as “brute force.”

The show opened March 7, 2019. Its final performance is April 7, 2019. It was slated to run six months. What’s the Spanish word for “awkward.”

Fuerza Bruta

Everyone who’s OK with not having seen this show, raise your hand.

A release announcing the show’s debut, said it “breaks free of the confines of spoken language and theatrical convention to transport audiences to a parallel reality where emotion takes control.”

How many red flags do you need in one sentence?

Oh, and there were no seats.

Yeah, the writing was on the tent.

Ticket sales were abysmal for the show, but to its credit, most of the people we’ve heard from enjoyed it. There just weren’t enough of them.

The show says it “has been seen by more than six million spectators in more than 34 countries and 58 cities since its launch in 2003.”

Those places, obviously, aren’t Las Vegas.

“Fuerza Bruta” will now give it go at MGM Cotai in Macau, where a show based largely upon movement, with no discernible plot, should fare much better. Just look at the Chinese box office numbers for the “Transformers” movies.

Eyes now turn to another circus-style show in a tent, “Celestia,” at The Strat. That show’s debut has been pushed back several times, and while there are deep pockets behind the production, it remains to be seen if “Celestia” can succeed where “Fuerza Bruta” failed.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 95: Las Vegas Calories Don’t Count

It’s time for another blowzy, cloying, yeasty installment of what many consider to be the 11th best Las Vegas podcast!

In this episode, we review some Las Vegas restaurants: Oscar’s Steakhouse at Plaza, Oakville Steakhouse at Tropicana, Carlos ‘n Charlie’s at Flamingo and the new Uno Mas at SLS Las Vegas.

Oakville Steakhouse Tropicana

The Barely There cocktail at Tropicana’s Oakville Steakhouse is our featured drink of the month and we don’t really even do those. Yeah, it was that good.

You’ll also get a cerebrum full of the latest Las Vegas scoop, including news about the MGM 2020 initiative, the fifth birthday of the High Roller observation wheel, Binion’s on “Ghost Adventures” and rumors about Hyde at Bellagio closing for a rebrand.

We’ll also give you all the reasons why an announced resort, Astral, won’t be happening on a parcel across from Mandalay Bay.

Astral resort Las Vegas

“Astral” is Latin for “Yeah, that’s not happening.”

We’ll top this episode off with one of our beloved (translation: reviled) listicles. Oh, if you insist, here it is.

11 Las Vegas Restaurants for When You Decide to Splurge

1. Joe’s Seafood and Prime Steak at Forum Shops
2. STK at Cosmopolitan
3. Carbone at Aria
4. Vic & Anthony’s at Golden Nugget
5. Old Homestead at Caesars Palace
6. Top of the World at The Strat
7. Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris
8. The Steakhouse at Circus Circus
9. Andiamo at The D
10. Delmonico at Venetian
11. Cleo at SLS

Note: These places are even particularly extravagant (by Las Vegas standards), but they’re some of our favorites and we just like making lists.

We hope you enjoy our podcast as much as we enjoy procrastinating in an effort to avoid recording it.

Listen and learn! Or at least listen. Learning is highly overrated.

Tropicana Opens Swanky New Trago Lounge

Tropicana has opened its new Trago Lounge, and we had to swing by for cocktails, video poker, a live DJ and mostly that first thing.

“Trago,” of course, is the first person singular present indicative of “trazer” in Spanish. As if that weren’t obvious.

Trago Lounge Tropicana

Make sure to roll the “r” when you say Trago. It will make you seem worldly.

“Trago” means sip or swig. In Portugese, it means “to quaff.” And if that made you giggle, please grow up. It means “drink with enthusiasm.”

Nailed it on the name.

Trago will be open 24 hours a day, the way Mother Nature intended.

The new bar sits just off the casino floor, in the footprint of the former Tropicana Lounge (which closed Sep. 10, 2018), and the space has gotten quite the overhaul.

Trago Tropicana lounge

Trago’s exterior design is composed of 1,114 interlocking squares. Related: Admit it, you believed us for a minute. Um, hello, it’s a photo caption. On the Internet.

It’s a relatively small space by Las Vegas lounge standards, about 3,500-square-feet, and can accommodate 120 guests, which ups the intimacy factor.

Trago Lounge at Tropicana hits a lot of the right notes.

The vibe has a little touch of glamour, but without being pretentious.

The music level is refreshingly perfect. The night we visited, a Vegas fixture, Lydia Ansel, was doing DJ duty. Ansel is a classically trained violinist, and accompanies the music she’s playing. The violin is unobtrusive, and most guests weren’t even aware Ansel was playing live.

Trago Lydia Ansel violinist DJ

Some random anonymous dude just sent Lydia all those roses. Hint: It’s the violin.

We should probably get into the beverage aspect of the Trago Lounge before your head explodes.

The menu is fairly limited, but the drinks we tried were excellent. All are in the $16-18 range, which is the new normal for Strip casino lounges, so don’t freak out.

Trago Lounge Tropicana

The more you drink, the more interesting you become. To you, mainly.

A favorite was the Purple G&T (gin and tonic). We are not a gin or tonic person, but it was delicious.

It had Express gin, Italicus liqueur, fresh lime and Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic. Which is, apparently, a thing.

Trago Lounge

Young flowers should respect their elderflowers.

The Tropical Margarita was also top-notch, and should appeal to tourists looking for a drink that matches the hotel’s beachy theme.

The Tropical Margarita had Don Julio Blanco tequila, Contreau orange-flavoured triple sec liqueur, fresh lime, passion fruit and Red Bull Tropical Edition. Now, you know why we take photos of cocktail menus.

Trago Lounge cocktail

Party in a glass.

The drink menu also has “Bourbon and Whiskey” and “Scotch and Cognac” sections, as well as draft beer, craft bottle beer and wine.

Trago Lounge also offers bottle service for $250 a pop. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

Video poker fans will be happy to see the Trago bar lined with 22 machines, although we trust seasoned players will wince when they see the pay tables (6/5 Bonus Poker). Then again, seasoned video poker players wince at just about everything.

While Trago won’t comp signature drinks for video poker players, they do comp bottled beer and well drinks.

The pours are watched closely, so no free pours here.

We hear Trago will be getting an automated drink monitoring system, but at the moment, you can get a pretty steady supply of drinks if you’re playing at a reasonable pace.

A definite selling point: The servers, hostesses and bartenders are all very attractive, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Trago Lounge waitresses

Thanks for playing along, you two.

And while we’re on selling points: Tropicana still has free parking. Hang in there, Tropicana!

Plus, that glorious stained glass above the casino.

Tropicana stained glass

Glorious.

Trago Lounge is a refreshing addition to the offerings at Tropicana, and aims to appeal to a younger customer than has been typical at the Tropicana Lounge and resort overall.

It’s great to see Tropicana making moves, investing in new venues and making an effort to keep pace with other casinos in the neighborhood, while taking care not to rankle longtime customers, many of whom still regularly use the word “rankle.”

If you pop into Trago, let us know what you think.

Trago Lounge at Tropicana

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Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas Gets Light Show

The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas boasts some new bling. And, yes, we’re fully cognizant of the fact people haven’t used the word “bling” since 2008. You get the idea.

The Strip resort spent about $1.7 million installing lights on its Eiffel Tower replica in honor of the casino’s 20th anniversary.

The light show was unveiled with the requisite hoopla on Feb. 27, 2019, despite the fact the resort’s anniversary isn’t until Sep. 1. Paris opened on that date in 1999. Never let facts get in the way of a perfectly good hoopla!

Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower light show

The half scale Eiffel Tower at Paris has about 300,000 rivets. Yes, we counted.

The new light show runs every 30 minutes, from sunset to midnight.

The lighting system features “300 color washing Traxon ProPoint Wall Washer luminaires and more than 800 Traxon ProPoint Pixel luminaires.” In human words, that’s 300 colored lights and 800 strobes.

The lights are programmable and come in four colors (red, green, blue and white).

Check out our spectacularly slapped-together video of the new Eiffel Tower light show at Paris Las Vegas.


While the music in our video syncs with the light show, we aren’t entirely sure music accompanies the show at Paris. The best view of the light show is across the street at Bellagio, and they have their own music going to accompany the dancing fountains show.

And while we’re on the subject, it’s fairly obvious the Paris light show is meant to pull tourist eyeballs back across the street from Bellagio.

We’ve often talked about how surprising it is Bellagio’s Conservatory is still free, given trends toward casino cost-cutting, so it’s refreshing to see Paris creating a new free “attraction” for Las Vegas visitors.

The Eiffel Tower light show may not have the “wow” factor of the fountains (nothing does, really), but it’s a fun diversion and makes the most of a distinctive Las Vegas landmark.