Weekly Column by Rick Garman

Want to know what's happening in Las Vegas? You've come to the right place.

Each week you can come here to get the latest news, the juiciest gossip, and the best reviews for the most fabulous city in the world, Las Vegas. Hey... it says "fabulous" right on the welcome sign!

The latest weekly column will always be on this page, but you can go back through the archives (all the way back to 1999!) or take a look ahead and what's coming up next for Vegas by using the navigation on the left hand sidebar.

Thanks for visiting! Enjoy!



McCarran Terminal 3 Preview

The future of air travel was unveiled over the weekend in Las Vegas with a public preview of the new Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport. As many as 10,000 people were estimated to have visited the $2.4 billion facility that will house many of the airports biggest carriers including United, Virgin America, and British Airways among others.

The new facility is just east of the existing main airport terminals and is meant to be a replacement for the old Terminal 2. The 1.9 million square-foot facility has 14 gates, seven for International carriers including AeroMexico, Air Berlin, Air Canada, British Airways, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic among others, and seven more for domestic carries including Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, Sun Country, Virgin America, Hawaiian Airlines, and United.

The ultra-modern facility is designed with a distinctly Vegas flair with lots of artwork designed to honor and evoke the city from historic photographs to colorful murals of showgirls and the like.

The terminal is long and thin, meaning a lot less walking to the gates than in the main terminal. Departures are on the second level with check in, security, and the 14 gates, while arrivals are shuttled to the ground level with customs, baggage claim, and all of the typical ground transportation options.

In addition to the 14 E Gates, the gates in the existing D Concourse will now be accessible through Terminal 3 via an unground transit system.

Scattered throughout the building are several restaurants including Dewar's Clubhouse Bar & Grill, The Village Pub, the Vegas ChopHouse, and fast food outlets like Burger King and Carl's Jr. Shopping includes sundry items, a duty free store, and a souvenir shop.

Other goodies include wireless Internet service and slot machines of course - nearly 300 of them.

Terminal 3 starts operations on June 27 with all of the international flights now being routed through the new facility. Domestic carriers including Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, and Virgin America will start using the new terminal in July. United and Hawaiian will have operations up and running in August.

Check out the slideshow of images from the new terminal:

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Terminal 3


Terminal 3


Big Makeover for The Palms

Things have been changing at The Palms over the last few months but the changes have been minor compared to what's coming. The hotel has announced plans for the next phase of their $50 million renovation project that will include a complete remodeling of more than 400 rooms.

The original Palms Tower at the hotel will get a top to bottom makeover that will turn the rooms into more hip and modern digs. The artist rendering shows the kind of sleek, contemporary lines that are all the rage in Vegas rooms these days with heavy use of bold accent colors and murals to make things pop.

This part of the project is expected to be complete by this fall with a similar makeover for the Fantasy Tower tentatively set for early 2013.

The room remodel comes on the heels of several other changes that have already been made including a revamp of the sports book and main pool area, revisions to the casino, and changes to their nightclub lineup. The Playboy Club closed last weekend and rumors have run rampant that their other clubs, Rain, Moon, and ghostbar will be getting upgrades if not complete replacements.

Restaurants are also on the change list with at least two new dining options expected this year including Heraea, an upscale sports-themed outlet from the company that manages STK at The Cosmopolitan, and a new branch of Earl of Sandwich.

By the way, the revamped pool area celebrated its arrival last week with the launch of a new Thursday night party that involves filling the pool with 25,000 rubber ducks. Why? Why not! Ernie would be happy.

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Arist Rendering


Missing: Historic Vegas Sign

A bit of Vegas history has gone missing! Maybe someone should call those CSI folks in to investigate.

The Glass Pool Inn was never one of the city's top destination hotels but it certainly was an iconic bit of Vegas silliness. The small roadside motel made its mark with an above-ground pool that had windows in it facing The Strip, making it an oft-photographed tourist attraction.

Nearly as iconic was its bubbly shaped blue sign, which hovered over The Strip near the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign for decades. The motel closed and was torn down in 2006 but the sign stayed until it was taken down recently so that it could be donated to the Neon Museum.

Until it disappeared.

Officials with the Neon Museum say that someone stole the sign from the padlocked, fenced in lot where the Glass Pool Inn used to be located. The theft occurred sometime in May and, owing to the size of the sign, wasn't a small operation. It would've involved a truck, multiple people, and maybe even a crane - all of this happening almost directly across the street from Mandalay Bay - and yet no one seems to have any clues as to what happened.

This is not the first time a big, iconic piece of Vegas has gone missing. Someone once managed to abscond with the 250-pound head from a statue of Lenin that sat right outside the Red Square restaurant at Mandalay Bay without anyone noticing. The head turned up a few weeks later in the parking lot of a thrift store.

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Missing! Photo Courtesy The Neon Museum


Vegas High Speed Train Gets Closer to LA

The DesertXpress has been billed by many as the "Train to Nowhere" but a new deal has been signed that could at least get it closer to somewhere.

An agreement between the company behind the proposed high-speed DesertXPress train has struck a deal with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority to connect their Vegas to Victorville, California line to a new high-speed line between Victorville and Palmdale, just north of Los Angeles, which will be connected via commuter train to Downtown LA. Eventually that commuter line would be replaced by a statewide high-speed rail line.

DesertXpress is a $7 billion dollar project that is designed to provide an alternative to driving the congested Interstate 15 for the millions of people who visit Vegas from southern California each year. Originally envisioned to go from Sin City to the City of Angeles, the line got scaled back and is now supposed to go only to Victorville, about 80 miles north of Downtown Los Angeles. This would mean that people would need to sit in traffic to get to Victorville, park, and then spend another 90 minutes on the 150mph train to Vegas, something that many people (including me) thought was a silly idea.

The MTA plan would hook up a new high-speed line from Victorville along a proposed new freeway to Palmdale, located about 60 miles north of Downtown Las Vegas. How is that better (other than the 20 miles) you may be asking? Well, there is already commuter rail service from LA to Palmdale, something that doesn't exist between LA and Victorville today. So theoretically, you could forget the car and take multiple trains from LA all the way to Vegas.

But would you? Here's how it would work. Let's say you're traveling from Burbank, which is just a couple of miles north of Downtown Los Angeles. You'd get on the train at the downtown Burbank Metrolink station and head north to Palmdale. Even though it's only about 50 miles, it currently takes about 90 minutes with all the stops between the two stations. Then you'd transfer to first high-speed train from Palmdale to Victorville. Let's figure that 50 mile journey is going to take you another 30 minutes. Then you get on the third train at Victorville to go the remaining 190 miles to Vegas in about 90 minutes. That's 3 1/2 hours just on the trains, never mind the time to get to the station and the time to wait for the next trains at your various transfer points. Figure 5 hours easy. Then there's the cost, which will far exceed what it would cost in gas to drive there and probably exceed the cost of a plane ticket booked more than a couple of weeks in advance.

Of course there are lots of hurdles between all of this happening, not the least of which is money. All of the various pieces of this are relying on loans from a massive federal government program and even if they secure the financing there will be years of impact studies and construction before we would ever find out if anyone would ever ride it.

Still doesn't make sense to me.

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Viva da Vinci Vegas

Beginning June 15, Imagine Exhibitions, Inc. will present Da Vinci - The Genius, the most comprehensive exploration of Leonardo da Vinci's work ever created, for a limited engagement at The Venetian in Las Vegas. The interactive experience will immerse guests in da Vinci's work through full-scale interpretations of his inventions and exhibits of his iconic art.

There will be more than 200 unique pieces including 75 life-size machine inventions, three-dimensional renderings of da Vinci's most notable Renaissance works, and in-depth analysis of his most famous piece, "Mona Lisa." Visitors will be able to push, pull, crank, and interact with many of these exhibits for a hands-on understanding of the scientific principles behind them.

Created by da Vinci experts in Italy and France, Da Vinci - The Genius will offer visitors a look inside the mind of the man who laid the groundwork for some of modern society's most impactful inventions, such as the helicopter, airplane, automobile, submarine, parachute and bicycle.

Doors open to the public on Friday, June 15. Tickets for Da Vinci - The Genius will be available for purchase at The Venetian box office and on their website; prices are as follows: adult ($25), senior/military ($23), Nevada residents ($20), children 12 and under ($18). Da Vinci - The Genius will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for a limited time only.

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The da Vinci Code

Vegas4Visitors Weekly Awards

The Presidential Seal of Approval Award of the Week goes to Capriotti's, the chain of much beloved (at least to me) sandwich shops in Vegas that were mentioned in a speech at UNLV by President Obama. "I want to thank all the students for coming out here on a nice summer afternoon, some of you might (rather) be at Capriotti's or some place, but instead you're here with us," the Prez said. The theory is that Obama may have been clued into the sandwiches by Vice President Joe Biden who is from Delaware where the chain got its start.

The Isn't Technology Amazing Award of the Week goes to the MGM Resorts hotels like Bellagio and MGM Grand, which suffered a big computer glitch last week that brought down all of their reservations systems. Guests had to be checked in with good old fashioned pen and paper, resulting in long waits and very unhappy customers at all of the hotels. The system was back up and running after a few hours.

The Elvis Might Be Leaving the Building Award of the Week goes to Legends in Concert, which, according to a rumor being floated by Robin Leach of Vegas Deluxe, may be moving from the Imperial Palace to the Rio later this year.

The Getting Jiggy With It Award of the Week goes to Caesars Augustus, or at least the big statue of him outside of Caesars Palace, which was all decked out with daisies, a green glow necklace, and a pair of headphones last week in honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, the big electronic music festival that was in town for the weekend.

The Sing Like Shania Award of the Week goes to you, if you can. Caesars Palace is having a contest where you can upload a video of yourself singing a Shania Twain song and the winner will be awarded with their own one week headlining gig at a venue at Caesars. Info and entry instructions can be found on their Facebook page starting June 18.

The Meaty Anniversary Award of the Week goes to the Steakhouse at Circus Circus, which is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this month with special discounts and deals on meals.

The Shop 'Til You Drop Award of the Week goes to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North, which is going to add about 35 new stores and a bunch of parking over the next few years. The expansion of the facility, located near Downtown Las Vegas, is expected to include a Saks outlet and should be complete by 2015.

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Where's David Guetta When You Need Hi?