Posts tagged vegas seven

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.

Joe Magliarditi profile in Vegas Seven

In today’s Vegas Seven, you can read my brief profile of Joe Magliarditi:

In his new job as president of the Palms, Joe Magliarditi sees some obvious reminders of his earlier experiences.The Rio, where he got his start in gaming in the 1990s, was the prototypical casino with a visitors/locals marketing split. The M Resort, which he opened as chief operating officer, was designed explicitly to capture parts of both markets as well. And in his time as president of the Hard Rock—which ended abruptly when new ownership forced a regime change earlier this year—Magliarditi made a concerted effort to attract locals while trying to revive the property’s flagging finances.

via For Magliarditi, new beginning brings familiar challenges | Vegas Seven.

He seemed very committed to the property upgrades, including the revamp of the original tower room and possibly the F&B, so I’d expect to see changes soon.

Staycations in Vegas Seven

It’s Thursday, so that means another Vegas Seven. This week, I look at the Vegas staycation in the Green Felt Journal:

Not everyone has the luxury of a Malibu summer home or the accrued sick/personal leave to spend their summer crashing in the Pacific waves or touring the Continent, so Las Vegans have increasingly turned during the recession years to a marriage of convenience: the Vegas staycation, where locals stay on the Strip and act like tourists.

via Staycation, All I Ever Wanted | Vegas Seven.

I absolutely love the art for this story.

And I’m really interested in learning about why people staycation…if you’ve got any thoughts, go ahead and share them.

Poker, the Great Survivor in Vegas Seven

If you missed it last week, here’s my latest Green Felt Journal, a look at why poker isn’t going anywhere:

A lot of folks are surprised that the World Series of Poker isn’t doing so badly this year. So far, about one-third of tournament events have had record numbers of participants. Back in April, many thought the Black Friday indictments would translate into a bummer of a summer for Caesars Entertainment’s flagship poker asset, but the tournament—like the game of poker itself—has proved to be quite resilient.

via Poker, the Great Survivor | Vegas Seven.

I haven’t tied my historical studies to current events in a column like that in a little while. I think I’ll be doing it more often. Hopefully without making people’s eyes glaze over when they see history. I find that sort of thing fascinating, but book sales tell me that I’m in the minority.

Selling the Camel in Vegas Seven

My contribution to the coverage of the Great Sahara sale is in Vegas Seven this week:

At the Sahara, NCL put 600,000 items for sale, from camel-base lamps ($150; they were the most consistently pilfered item from hotel rooms) to the wooden doors from the House of Lords restaurant ($825). The two-month liquidation sale is open to the public; for its first four days, NCL levied a $10 entrance fee to help keep the crowds manageable, but since then there’s been no charge to browse and enjoy the Rat-Pack-meets-flea market ambiance.

via Selling the Camel | Vegas Seven.

Walking around that sale was one of the most depressing things I’ve done for a story in Vegas–about on par with last year’s WSOP where I was wheeling around like a vulture waiting for the first bust-out so I could interview them.

To me, this was the most poignant reminder that people’s lives have been changed because of the place going under:

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The Quiet Pioneer in Vegas Seven

In today’s Green Felt Journal in Vegas Seven, I take a look back at the career of Bill Pennington, who had a much bigger impact on Las Vegas than is generally recognized:

Last month the Nevada casino industry lost one of its pioneers when William N. “Bill” Pennington died at the age of 88. He wasn’t a household name in Las Vegas, but he had a hand in the creation of today’s Las Vegas Strip by helping transform a struggling, scandal-plagued hotel-casino into the keystone of what was, for a time, the most profitable gaming company in the world.

via The Quiet Pioneer | Vegas Seven.

The very end of what I initially wrote didn’t make it in because of space constraints, but because it’s got an important quote from another Strip pioneer, I thought it was important to share. It also puts Pennington’s contributions into perspective:

And, in addition to being a business leader, Pennington never lost sight of the big picture.
“He wasn’t just a good businessman,” says longtime Circus marketing maven Mel Larson. “He was a good husband, father, and friend.”
In a time when Mob museums are memorializing the less-savory elements of our past, we shouldn’t forget real pioneers like Bill Pennington.

To me it’s a real shame that you’ve got tributes to people whose biggest claim to fame was that they had rap sheets, but no public recognition of the contributions of people like Pennington who just took risks, gave visitors what they wanted, and gave a lot of people jobs.

Courting Business Travellers in Vegas Seven

I’ve got a news piece in today’s Vegas Seven about the paradox and problems of pitching Vegas as a party hearty/business friendly destination:

The Las Vegas tourism business is a paradox these days. On paper, things look great: So far this year, visitation numbers are up by more than 5 percent from last year, when more than 37 million visitors came to town. As far as sheer numbers go, Las Vegas is well on its way to rebounding from the recession. But tourism is not, ultimately, a numbers game: it’s a money game. And with the Vegas convention business still trying to regain its footing after the recession, the money’s not what it used to be.

via Courting the Boss | Vegas Seven.

I think this is a big piece of the puzzle. Obviously, there’s no easy answers, but this is something Las Vegas has to figure out if it wants to continue to be a major business travel destination in the post-AIG era.