Posts tagged vegas seven

The Rise of Chinese New Year in Vegas Seven

In today’s Green Felt Journal in Vegas Seven, I’ve got a piece about Chinese New Year’s impact on Las Vegas:

Some people might consider the massive New Year’s Eve celebration—“America’s Party”—the ultimate night for Las Vegas casinos. True, that bash attracts more than 300,000 people each year. But ask the people charged with making money for casinos, and they’ll tell you that the holiday they really look forward to is Chinese New Year.

It is now arguably the second most important holiday in Las Vegas, right behind the “holiday” known as Super Bowl weekend. And it’s just about tailor-made for casinos: Traditionally, it’s considered propitious to gamble at the start of the new year.

via The Rise of Chinese New Year | Vegas Seven.

It’s definitely an interesting week on the Strip.

Three Intriguing People from Vegas Seven

The annual People Issue of Vegas Seven is out.  I wrote three profiles for it:

Aron Ezra: Wizard of Apps

Ezra is VP of Mobile for Bally Technologies

Fred Keeton: The Pathfinder

Keeton is VP of Finance for External Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer for Caesars Entertainment


Reinventing the Party Machine in Vegas Seven

This week Vegas Seven released its nightclub issue. Since that’s such a big part of the casino scene these days, I thought I’d tackle the question of how clubs rebrand in this week’s Green Felt Journal:

In the wake of the Great Recession, nightclubs have been a crucial part of the identities and business plans of Las Vegas casinos. Major operators such as Wynn, the Venetian and even the storied Caesars Palace have made their clubs integral to their overall operations. Meanwhile, such resorts as the Palms and Hard Rock Hotel have built themselves almost from the ground up as party destinations. When clubs work, they generate buzz, foot traffic, ancillary casino gaming and food-and-beverage spending. But when they don’t, they can be a drag on a property.

via Reinventing the Party Machine | Vegas Seven.

It’s definitely a different aspect of the hospitality business, and one that, for the amount of money it brings in, generates surprisingly little literature. That might be by design.

Anyway, I had fun learning more about how nightclubs brand themselves, though it’s safe to say you won’t see me doing the bottle service thing anytime soon.

Breaking the Casino News in Vegas Seven

I don’t have a Green Felt Journal in this week’s Vegas Seven, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t contribute. This time out, I focused my gimlet eye on the fact that, several times over the past year, “local bloggers” beat the mainstream media to the punch:

Looking back at the past year, several important casino stories weren’t broken by the dailies, or even the weeklies; they were first reported on, a website that is increasingly first with news from the Las Vegas casino industry. In July, news about Aria’s Legionella outbreak first surfaced on the site after a hotel guest shared the e-mail that the hotel had sent him. It wasn’t until the next day that anyone else picked the story up.

via Breaking the Casino News | Vegas Seven.

I thought that there was enough of a critical mass of cases where VegasTripping had been first and been right to start a conversation about it. I think that the nature of news–particularly in specialist areas like Vegas hotels–is changing, and that we’ll see more news broken by outlets like VT in the future.

Rounders’ Rules in Vegas Seven

If your Turkey Day could be made any better by having another Green Felt Journal to read (or if you’re more of my many international readers for whom this is just another Thursday), you are in luck: this week’s treat from Vegas Seven deals with the question of poker rules, and an organization with a Las Vegas connection that’s helping to standardize them:

In 2007, Las Vegas-based poker pro Michelle Lau collaborated with Netherlands pro Marcel “The Flying Dutchman” Lüske to assemble a list of rules that could be used by tournament directors and players around the world. They came up with the International Poker Rules, a set of 81 guidelines and procedures that set the terms for everything from registration to the final hand.

via Rounders’ Rules | Vegas Seven.

As I discuss in the article, there are a number of very good reasons for this kind of standardization, and I think that as poker becomes more global it’s just going to be even more crucial to the continuing success of terrestrial poker centers like Las Vegas.

Heavyweight Hospitality at Caesars in Vegas Seven

In the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to have some very good conversations with people in the casino business that, I hope, have translated into good writing about the business. Here’s the first, a Green Felt Journal column about the challenges that Ramesh Sadhwani is taking on at Caesars Palace. From Vegas Seven:

Ramesh Sadhwani, who in September was named the hotel’s vice president of operations, might be the man to help Caesars recapture the title.

He’s certainly got a championship resumé: 15 years with Four Seasons, living in several countries and managing a number of five-star properties; five years as senior vice president and general manager of hotel operations for Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Tower suites. Sadhwani knows top-tier hospitality, both in its broad international context and its specific Las Vegas spin.

On paper, he’s the first guy you’d want on board to run your five-star hotel. What doesn’t come through on paper, though, is Sadhwani’s genuine enthusiasm for the business of other people’s leisure.

via Heavyweight Hospitality | Vegas Seven.

What is difficult to convey is the genuine warmth in Sadhwani’s voice as he walked me through his decision to join Caesars which, within about five seconds, made his passion and his friendliness–two qualities essential for anyone in hospitality–immediately apparent. It’s usually just about impossible to build a rapport with someone who you’ve got 20 minutes to interview over the phone, but with Sadhwani it happened pretty quickly. He was upfront about the challenges he’s facing at Caesars and very specific about what he’s planning to do there.

It’s always refreshing to talk to a consummate professional like Sadhwani, who knows his business back-to-front and is so confident in his knowledge that he doesn’t have to roll out pre-stamped corporate boilerplate; he can just talk about his job. If you wanted to go into the hotel business, I can’t think of a better teacher.

In the column, I tried to draw on some of the history of Caesars Palace to show where it’s been, which certainly has a bearing on where it’s going.

As one of the best-known casinos in the world, I think it’s better for Las Vegas as a whole when Caesars Palace is doing well. And, despite some questions I’ve got about the Nobu tower concept, I have a lot of faith that Sadhwani’s going to deliver a Caesars Palace that, from a hospitality standpoint, is in the Vegas elite.

Riviera’s Rebirth in Vegas Seven

My piece on the Riviera is out in Vegas Seven as of yesterday. Busy day, so I didn’t have time to post this. It’s this week’s Green Felt Journal:

As destroy/erase/improve gives way to rework/repaint/recycle, older Las Vegas hotels that a few years ago might have been imploded have gotten new leases on life. Over the past year, both the Tropicana and Plaza have been thoroughly revamped after each had been bandied about as a possible demolition candidate. Now it is the Riviera’s turn for a makeover, and the ultimate fate of the property could reveal much about the next decade or more of Strip development.

via Riviera Rebirth | Vegas Seven.

I think the Riviera is an interesting test case for what many properties are going to face in the next 10-20 years. I don’t see the need for implosions and new construction coming back anytime soon, so the question is, how do Strip casinos age gracefully? At the other end of the spectrum, the Bellagio’s facing the same dilemma.

As far as changes, I like some of what I see, and I don’t like other things. Bingo’s a great idea. Keeping prices low is a great idea. Changing the names of Kady’s and Kristofer’s–not such a good idea. At a time when everything strange and idiosyncratic about Las Vegas seems to be disappearing, I don’t know why they replaced those names with standouts like “Poolside Cafe” and “R(iviera) Steakhouse.” I can only hope they’re not placeholders before they bring in Bahama Breeze and Lone Star to run them.

I might do another blog post about the Riviera soon–I have a number of observations about the place that didn’t make it into the column, and I’d like to share them.

Beer Pong Forever! in Vegas Seven

Last week when I first tweeted news that O’Sheas was being closed as part of the great Linq construction, I got a lot of questions, testimonials, and eulogies about beer pong. So I asked Rick Mazer (I’m too tired to retype his entire title, but he’s in charge of CZR’s Center Strip properties) what was happening. He said don’t, worry, beer pong’s safe, and I said, looks like I’ve got a quick, fun Vegas Seven piece:

When the details of Caesars Entertainment’s $550 million Linq were announced last week, most people were riveted by what the project promises to bring to Vegas in June 2013: 200,000 square feet of outdoor dining and shopping, a new name and appearance for the Imperial Palace, and a 550-foot sky wheel (Caesars doesn’t want us to say “Ferris,” so … OK) as an anchor.

via Beer Pong Forever! | Vegas Seven.

It just goes to show that if customers like something enough, casinos will keep on offering it. Usually.

Trekkie Nightlife in Vegas Seven

At long last, an article that I wrote during the recent Creation Entertainment Star Trek convention is out as this week’s Green Felt Journal in Vegas Seven:

The first thing you see walking into McFadden’s at the Rio is William Shatner in his full late-1960s Technicolor glory on one of the wide-screens that’s usually devoted to SportsCenter. Even with the sound off, you can tell in a second that this is the climax of “Balance of Terror,” when his Romulan nemesis tells him he has one last duty, and that in a different reality they might have been friends.

You know that everyone else here knows it, too. You’re in the right place.

via Nightlife on the Starship Enterprise | Vegas Seven.

This was a fun one to write, because I’m a Star Trek fan (this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows me on Twitter). The convention itself was a real experience, one that I hope to write more about.

As far as this piece goes, it was not an easy one to write. I had spent about an hour at McFadden’s trying to think of how I was going to tie this all together. Luckily, I’d been watching “Balance of Terror” on Netflicks the week before, which just happened to be playing on the TVs when I came in.

But I didn’t know how I was going to pull it all together until I saw the woman–who at first looked like a respectable middle-aged HR manager or schoolteacher, showing off her tattoo. So that became the emotional center of the story. From there it became a matter of building up to it.

I’d already written one draft when I was sitting in the vendors’ room doing a rewrite. Now my problem was finishing the piece. I wanted to tie it back to what’s happening in Vegas now, and why it’s important to cater to groups like Trekkies. But I was coming off as too preachy.

Then I saw a guy wearing a green wraparound captain’s tunic, and couldn’t help but noticing his Galaxy-class paunch stretching the fabric to the limit. Which got me thinking about William Shatner, and his SNL skit back in the 1980s when he told fans to “get a life.”

Boom. Something clicked in my brain, and it all fell into place.

So that’s how the piece came together. I hope you like it.

Best of Vegas

Today Vegas Seven‘s gigantic, double-wide “best of” issue hits news racks everywhere around Las Vegas. I contributed a few items (see if you can guess them), but I wrote more than made the final cut. So, for your reading pleasure, to spark discussion and stimulate debate, I’m sharing what I wrote here:

Best Casino Memorabilia Arbitrage Opportunity: The Sahara’s camel lamps, easily the hottest item at the liquidation sale that’s still ongoing. The few that weren’t stolen from rooms before the shutdown are retailing at $150. They’re already going for $350 on eBay. This is the casino-lovers equivalent of a Babe Ruth rookie card.

Best Anti-Dayclub Scene: The Henderson Multi-Generational Center’s Activity Pool. There’s no cabanas for rent, though they do have one thing most Strip pools don’t: a thirty-foot water slide. No bottle service either, though there is a water fountain and Frankilicious, a hot dog stand that claims to be “frankly…delicious,” and not without merit. Plenty of fun water features for the little ones and ample space to stretch out makes this is place to be for locals who struggle through summer without backyard pools.

Best Daredevil Tactic by a CEO: The Stratosphere’s Frank Riolo’s, whose leaps on the resort’s SkyJump attraction galvanized morale at a property that had been hard-hit by recessionary belt-tightening. Investing in room makeovers in early 2010 was just as gutsy, but strangely enough did not get Riolo the employee recognition (or the photo ops) that the jumps have.

Best Worst-Kept Secret in Town: The Cosmopolitan’s “secret” pizza joint, which received almost as much press as the resort’s celebrity chef eateries before it even opened. Recently, the clandestine slice-to-go place was the third most searched-for restaurant on Vegas Mate, a popular Vegas info and travel-planning iPhone app, beating out such decidedly unanonymous restaurants as Hash House a Go Go and Margaritaville. It might help that they make great pizza, served with little pretension.

If you’ve got any best-ofs, go ahead and add them in the comments below. If you have half as much fun as I did…you’ll still have fun.