MORE VEGAS INFO
VEGAS4VISITORS.COM WEEKLY COLUMN BY RICK GARMAN
October 15, 2012
Debut of the D
Downtown Las Vegas has a new hotel with the debut last week of The D, the revamped, renovated, remodeled, and renamed version of what used to be Fitzgerald's.
Owned by the same company that has turned The Golden Gate into a modern competitor, The D has undergone some pretty significant changes. To start, the facade of the building under the Fremont Street Experience canopy has been completely redone. Gone is the Luck of the Irish rainbow replaced with an interactive video display complete with LED lighting and 40 giant flat screen televisions. An escalator from the street to the second floor casino space has been added and the new D Bar is accessible from outside the building.
Speaking of bars, the new Longbar inside the hotel gets its name by stretching across a huge part of the casino, which has also been redone. Downstairs is the modern gaming area complete with a party pit (sexy dealers and dancers) and upstairs is the Vintage Vegas area with many coin-operated slots and the retro Sigma Derby horse-racing game.
The lobby and valet areas have been redone and the pool will get a revamp in time for next year's swimming season.
A new restaurant has been added: American Coney Island, a Detroit favorite since 1917, has brought their famous chili dogs to Vegas.
The rooms have been redone, turning what were decent but staid accommodations into modern, colorful digs. Red accent walls and decor touches dominate while contemporary furnishings, flat screen TVs, high-speed Internet, and more bring them into today's era of Vegas hotel offerings.
Of course the big question on many people's minds is how all this new, upgraded, modern stuff has affected the room rates. A quick check of their rate calendar shows a minimal impact with costs during the week through March 2013 in the $34-$49 range and on weekends rarely going above $100 and sometimes as low as $59.
I'll have a full review of The D Las Vegas soon.
PS: BTW and FYI, the D doesn't really stand for any one thing... it is a combination of the D for Downtown, the first letter of one of the owner's first name (Derek), and the city from which the owners hail from, Detroit.
Partly Cloudy at Skyvue
Many people (including myself) doubted the idea that there could be TWO giant observation wheels in Las Vegas and it is looking more and more like those doubts might have been well-founded.
One of the wheels - Caesars Entertainment's High Roller - is continuing apace, under construction at the back of their east Strip properties like Flamingo and Imperial Palace as part of the Linq entertainment plaza. It is due to open in late 2013 or early 2014.
The other, Skyvue, has run into some trouble according to various media outlets, mostly related to money.
There had been questions from the get-go about where the developers were going to get the estimated $200 million it was going to cost to build the massive observation wheel and retail facility across the street from Mandalay Bay. Despite those questions never really being answered, construction on the project started earlier this year.
Now news outlets such as the local NBC station KSNV Channel 3 are reporting that the project is behind by as much as $40 million in obligations to lenders, contractors, and the government on payroll taxes. Liens have been filed against the project, lawsuits are brewing, and work has all but halted according to the reports.
The company behind the project has not commented on the reports.
Neon Museum Preview
The long-in-the-works Neon Museum in Downtown Las Vegas is finally going to be making its grand debut on Saturday, October 27, but some folks are going to get a sneak peek the night before with the attraction's First Night Party.
The facility is a two-acre park known as the Neon Boneyard, filled with historic neon signs from classic Vegas properties like the Moulin Rouge, the Desert Inn, the Flamingo, the Stardust, and more. A new visitors' center has been created out of the iconic shell-like lobby of the old La Concha motel, which was moved from The Strip to the museum.
The preview event, which starts at 11pm, will light up the rescued signs with special illumination. While the neon won't actually being shining, the lighting is intended to provide a close-to-the-real thing experience. The event will also feature food, drink, and music. Tickets are $75 with proceeds going to the museum.
The regular tours start the next day and will run Monday through Saturday from 10am until 4pm. Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students, seniors, veterans, and Nevada residents. Anyone interested in tours should book online and book early as the tours are limited in space and many over the few weeks after opening have sold out already.
For more information, visit neonmusuem.org.
If simply going to the shows doesn't give you enough of those French-Canadian acrobats, perhaps you should head to Vegas December 1-8 for the third annual Cirque Week, a celebration of Cirque du Soleil for its biggest fans.
The event features behind-the-scenes access to Cirque shows including:
All of the events are free to anyone who purchases a ticket package, which start at $150 for two shows and go up to $540 for all seven shows.
More information is available at cirquedusoleil.com/cirqueweek.
New Year's Eve Room Rate Report
Is it almost 2013 already? Yes, it is and so that means it's time to start looking at Las Vegas for New Year's Eve.
As I do (almost) every year, I have done the hard work for you, going through three dozen hotels on and off The Strip and Downtown, checking to see what rates they are charging for the holiday, which is one of the busiest and most expensive times to visit Las Vegas.
December 31st falls on a Monday this year, so for the purposes of the survey I have looked at rates for what will be the most common stay - the three nights starting Saturday, December 29th and checking out on Tuesday, January 1st. In all instances I checked rates online and included only those for the most basic of room types unless the basic rooms were sold-out and the only thing available were up-market accommodations (rooms with better views, suites, etc.).
There weren't a lot of surprises. Prices are pretty much in line with what they have been when doing checks in October. The hotels that are expensive in general are expensive and the ones that are cheap are expensive but certainly cheaper. If you really want to save money, stay Downtown or off The Strip.
The cheapest rates on The Strip can be found at Imperial Palace, which is asking $452 for the three nights. Circus Circus is offering one of its bargain basement Manor rooms for $462 for the three nights, which is an absolutely insane amount of money to pay for that particular room in my opinion. If you are determined to stay on The Strip, I'd suggest paying a little more and going for the nicer digs at The Flamingo ($500 for the three nights) or Harrah's ($520 for three nights).
South Point has the best deal anywhere near The Strip at $319 for the three nights.
The most expensive rates are, unsurprisingly, at hotels like Bellagio and Wynn/Encore, which are both at $1,397 for the three nights, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas at $1,375, Aria at $1,197, and Caesars at $1,009.
The most shocking rate is at Luxor. Not only are they requiring a three-night minimum, they are charging an eye-popping $940 for the three nights. That's higher than significantly nicer hotels like MGM Grand, Mirage, Planet Hollywood, and even Mandalay Bay. There's something wrong with that rate and I expect it will come down dramatically in the coming weeks.
I only found two hotels that were sold out - Main Street Station in Downtown Las Vegas and The Tropicana on The Strip. The latter I find surprising and a bit suspicious. If you have your heart set on staying at The Trop, I'd give them a ring and/or keep checking the site.
If rates follow their typical pattern, they will hold steady or go up a little into November and then start to come down in December. If you have the fortitude to hold out, waiting until a few weeks before holiday to book can save you a lot of money. The downside is that your favorite hotel might sell out so you will have to stay someplace else but don't worry about getting locked out entirely. The days of Vegas being completely sold out are gone.
The rate survey is below. An asterisk next to a rate means that the hotel is not allowing check-ins on that date and it must be combined with another night.
Vegas4Visitors Weekly Awards
The Blue Skies Award of the Week goes to The Blue Man Group, who parachuted into the parking lot next door to Monte Carlo to celebrate the start of their show at the hotel. The show moved there from The Venetian.
The Low Calorie Award of the Week goes to the Buffet at Aria, not because it is serving healthy food but because it isn't serving any food at all. The buffet has closed for remodeling and is expected to open again next year.
The Danke Schoen and Good Night Award of the Week goes to the idea of turning the Wayne Newton estate into a tourist attraction. The project pretty much collapsed earlier this year when Newton and the company in charge of the project sued each other and but now the company has filed for bankruptcy, which pretty much ends the dream... at least for now. The estate will probably go up for auction and so another company could sweep in and kick start the idea.