Vegas4Visitors.com 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!

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Resort Fee Update

It's a new year and that usually means the hotels in Las Vegas are looking for new ways to wring a few extra bucks out of you. I figured it was time to canvas all of the major hotels in Vegas and see if any of them have added or raised their resort fees.

For the unitiated, resort fees are extra nightly charges that are added on top of the normal room rate and usually include some extras like Internet service, fitness center access, and local and toll-free calls. There is no opting out of a resort fee - even if you don't use the services it covers, you have to pay it.

This time, in addition to the major resorts that I have been covering, I added bunch of properties in Downtown and neighborhoods around Las Vegas and now the list has more than 60 hotels on it! New additions include Boulder Station, The D Las Vegas, Green Valley Ranch The Quad, the upcoming Nobu Hotel, and Trump International to name a few.

Since the last time I checked in October 2012, there hasn't been a lot of changes. Only three hotels have increased their fees. Circus Circus is up $1 to $10 and it includes less (for instance only one ride at Adventuredome instead of two), while New York-New York is up $2 to $20 for the same services. The big jump was at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which went from no resort fee to $25 per night.

Caesars Entertainment properties like Caesars Palace, Paris, Bally's, and the new Nobu Hotel Las Vegas are still holding true to their promise to not charge a resort fee so if you are adamant about not paying one, look at their hotels.

Hotel Fee Includes
Aliante Hotel & Casino $0 n/a
Aria Las Vegas $25 In-room Internet; in-room local and toll-free calls; fitness center access; daily newspaper; and airline boarding pass printing.
Bally's Las Vegas $0 n/a
Bellagio $25 In-room Internet; in-room local and toll-free calls; fitness center access; airline boarding pass printing.
Caesars Palace $0 n/a
Boulder Station $12.99 In room Internet; in room local, domestic long-distance, and toll-free calls; newspaper; copy and fax services; other discount offers (varies).
The California $0 n/a
The Cannery $0 n/a
Circus-Circus $9.95 In-room Internet; 1 free ride at Adventuredome; 2 free midway games; 2 free drinks; gym access; local and toll free calls; coupon book.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas $25 In room Internet; local, domestic long distance, and toll-free calls; fitness center and tennis court access.
The D Las Vegas $0 n/a
The Eastside Cannery $0 n/a
El Cortez $0 n/a
Encore Las Vegas $25 In-room Internet; fitness center; daily newspaper; local and toll-free calls.
Excalibur $15 Free wired high-speed Internet service in the guest room; free access to the fitness center; free incoming faxes; daily newspaper; and free local, domestic long distance, and toll free phone calls.
Flamingo $0 n/a
Four Queens $0 n/a
Four Seasons $25 In room Internet; in room coffee and tea service; local and toll-free calls.
Fremont Hotel $0 n/a
Gold Coast $3 Local and toll free calls; in room coffee service; fitness center access; shuttle to Orleans and Strip; valet and self parking.
The Golden Nugget $0 n/a
Green Valley Ranch $25 In room Internet; local and toll free calls; daily newspaper; fitness center access; shoe shine service; airport shuttle service.
Hard Rock Hotel $24.64 In room Internet; local, domestic long distance, and toll free calls; daily newspaper; fitness room access; shuttle to the Fashion Show Mall; notary service; boarding pass printing.
Harrah's $0 n/a
Hooters $10 In room Internet; local and toll free calls.
JW Marriott $0 n/a.
LVH: Las Vegas Hotel $0 n/a
Luxor $18 High-speed Internet: fitness center access; free local, long distance, and 800 number calls; free daily newspaper; coupon book.
M Resort $0 n/a
Main Street Station $0 n/a
Mandalay Bay $25 in-room wireless internet; cardio center access; daily newspaper; local and 800-number calls; outgoing faxes; and boarding pass printing.
Mandarin Oriental $24 In-room Internet access; fitness center access; morning coffee or tea; local and toll free calls.
MGM Grand $25 In room Internet; fitness center access; daily USA Today newspaper; local and toll free calls; limited Business Center Services.
Mirage $25 In-room Internet access; Cardio Center access; daily newspapers; robes in your room; local and toll-free calls; limited Business Center services.
Monte Carlo $20 In-room Interne; in room coffee service; 2 bottles of water daily; fitness center access; daily newspaper; free local and tollfree calls; limited business center services.
New York-New York $20 In-room Internet; fitness center access; daily newspaper; local and toll-free calls; limited business center services.
Nobu Hotel Las Vegas $0 n/a
Orleans $6 Local and toll-free calls; in-room coffee service; fitness center access; 10 minutes of Internet service in the business center.
Palace Station $15 In-room Internet; local and toll-free calls; fitness center access; other discounts.
Palazzo $20 In-room Internet; Fitness center access; daily newspaper; local and toll-free calls.
Palms $20 In-room Internet; fitness center access; shuttle service to the Forum Shops; daily newspaper.
Paris Las Vegas $0 n/a
Planet Hollywood $0 n/a
The Plaza $0 n/a
The Quad $0 n/a
Red Rock Resort $25 In-room Internet; local and toll-free calls; daily local newspaper; fitness center access; shoe shine; airport and Strip shuttle.
Rio Suites $0 n/a
The Riviera $15 In-room Internet; fitness center access; local and toll-free calls.
Sam's Town $4.50 In-room coffee service; local and toll-free calls; shuttle to Downtown and The Strip.
Santa Fe Station $15 In-room Internet; local, domestic long-distance, and toll-free calls; daily local newspaper; limited business center services; other discounts.
Silverton $0 n/a
South Point $0 n/a
Stratosphere $7.50 Unlimited Tower admission for up to 4 people; fitness center access; 2-for-1 show tickets.
Suncoast $5 Local and toll-free calls; airport shuttle; fitness center access; in-room coffee, safe, and min-fridge.
Sunset Station $15 In-room Internet; local, domestic long distance, and toll-free calls; fitness center access; local daily newspaper; other discounts.
Terrible's $0 n/a
Texas Station $13 In-room Internet; local, domestic long distance, and toll-free calls; fitness center access; daily newspaper; other discounts.
Treasure Island $25 In-room Internet; fitness center access; 2-for-1 buffet lunch or dinner (Mon-Fri, 1 per stay); 2-for-1 cocktail (1 per stay); daily newspaper; local and toll-free calls; boarding pass printing; copies and faxes; $20 credit for future stay; VIP viewing for the Sirens show.
Tropicana $20 In-room Internet; fitness center access; 2 bottles of water in the room; local and toll-free calls; limited business center services.
Trump International $25 In-room Internet; local and toll-free calls; Strip shuttle service; in-room water; limited business services.
Vdara $25 In-room Internet access; local and toll-free calls; fitness center access; daily newspaper; two bottles of water per day; and turndown service upon request.
Venetian $20 In-room Internet; Fitness center access; daily newspaper; local and toll-free calls.
Wynn Las Vegas $25 In-room Internet; fitness center; daily newspaper; local and toll-free calls.
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Year of the Snake

Pretty much any holiday will mean extra people in Las Vegas, but here there are three really big ones in terms of crowds: Valentine's Day, which brings out the soon to be betrothed in masses; New Year's Eve, which brings out the soon to be hung over in throngs; and Chinese New Year, which is not just for Asian tourists anymore.

The Year of the Snake, one of 12 animals symbolizing the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, begins on February 10, 2013 but the resorts in Vegas are not waiting until then to start their holiday displays and activities.

The Bellagio Conservatory has already launched its Chinese New Year's botanical display. There is a big snake, naturally, but the centerpiece of the display this year is the massive "money tree," a traditional symbol of affluence and luck, with giant gold coins hanging from its branches. There is also a Chinese junk boat that is hosting live music performances daily from 5pm-6pm. The Chinese New Year display runs through March 3, 2013.

The traditional lion and dragon dance will be held at Bellagio on February 12 starting at 6:30pm.

The Venetian and Palazzo are getting in to the Chinese New Year spirit with their display located in the atrium of the Shops at Palazzo adjacent to the main casino. Taking center stage is a 98-foot long animated blue snake and a giant 38-foot cherry tree. Their decorations run through February 25, 2013.

A parade and dragon and lion dance will kick off at The Venetian on February 9 at 3:30pm

Parades and dances will also be held at the MGM Grand on February 10 at 5pm led by a troop from KÀ by Cirque du Soleil and at Wynn Las Vegas on February 12 at 6pm, complete with firecrackers and traditional costumes.

The Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas will have a series of Asian cultural celebrations from February 8-10 and will have special Chinese New Year themed shows on the giant canopy over the street.

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Oscar Odds

Some of the races in this year's Academy Awards seem like foregone conclusions. I mean really... does anyone want to bet against Daniel Day Lewis? But as the Golden Globes and some of its surprising wins proved, these kinds of contests can be unpredictable.

As is his tradition, Johnny Avello, the Director of Race & Sports Operations at Wynn Las Vegas has released his odds for who or what will win in several categories at the Oscars this year. These are just for fun since you can't actually bet on the Oscars in Vegas casinos yet, but that day is coming so maybe you can use this year as practice.

The odds-on-favorite for Best Picture is going to Lincoln at 1 to 2. It's worth noting that these odds came out before Argo's surprising win at the Golden Globes, which could throw a bit of a wrench into the proceedings. Zero Dark Thirty is in second place with 5 to 1 odds followed by Argo at 6 to 1; Les Miserables at 15 to 1; Silver Linings Playbook at 25 to 1; Amour at 35 to 1; Life of Pi at 60 to 1; and Django Unchained at 85 to 1. The longshot of the pack is Beasts of the Southern Wild which is laying down 100 to 1 odds.

As expected, Daniel Day Lewis is the sure-thing bet for Best Actor for his turn as the 16th president in Lincoln and has 1 to 9 odds to back it up. The rest fall in to the also-ran category with Joaquin Phoenix at 14 to 1 for The Master; Hugh Jackman at 15 to 1 for Les Miserables; Denzel Washington at 25 to 1 for Flight; and Bradley Cooper bringing up the rear at 30 to 1 for Silver Linings Playbook.

The race for Best Actress is a lot more competitive. Jennifer Lawrence has a slight edge with even money odds for her turn in Silver Linings Playbook. But Jessica Chastain is right behind her at 3 to 2 odds for Zero Dark Thirty. It's worth noting that both actresses won the top prizes at The Golden Globes, Lawrence for comedy and Chastain for drama. The other ladies in the race are Emmanuelle Riva, who is at 7 to 1 odds for Amour; Quevenzhane Wallis at 30 to 1 for Beasts of the Southern Wild; and Naomi Watts at 35 to 1 for The Impossible.

Supporting Actor is Tommy Lee Jones' race to lose according to the odds. He's at 4 to 5 for his role in Lincoln, but again this was before Christoph Waltz' stunning victory at the Golden Globes for Django Unchained. Waltz is in 4th position in Avello's odds at 10 to 1. The rest of the pack features Robert DeNiro at 4 to 1 for Silver Linings Playbook Philip Seymore Hoffman at 9 to 2 for The Master; and Alan Arkin at 12 to 1 for Argo.

Anne Hathaway is ahead in the odds for Best Supporting Actress with 1 to 3 odds for her performance in Les Miserables. Sally Field is her closest competition at 4 to 1 for Lincoln followed by Helen Hunt at 12 to 1 for The Sessions; Amy Adams at 22 to 1 for The Master; and Jacki Weaver at 30 to 1 for Silver Linings Playbook.

The Best Director race seems headed toward Steven Spielberg who is at 2 to 5 for Lincoln. That seems like more of a sure thing after the shocking omissions of Ben Affleck, Katherine Bigelow, and Tom Hooper in the category. Michael Haneke is in second place at 4 to 1 for Amour; David O'Russell is at 12 to 1 for Silver Linings Playbook; Ang Lee is at 14 to 1 for Life of Pi; and Ben Zeitlin is at 40 to 1 for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The Academy Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific on ABC.

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Vegas4Visitors Weekly Awards

The Really? Award of the Week goes to Planet Hollywood, which is rumored to be on the verge of signing at pop princess Britney Spears for $200 million deal to become a Vegas headliner. Really? I mean... really?

The Eat Up Award of the Week goes to the Buffet at Aria Las Vegas, which is open again after a remodeling of the decor and revamping of the menu. I'll have a new review for you in a few weeks.

The Harmony Award of the Week goes to Human Nature, the Austrailian doo-wop group who have started their new residency at The Venetian.

The Waxy Build Up Award of the Week goes to Whitney Houston, who will be the first person to ever get four different wax figures created by Madame Tussaud's. One will go in each of their locations around the country including Madame Tussaud's Las Vegas at The Venetian in February.

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Restaurant Review: American Coney Island

Founded in 1917 by Greek immigrant Constantine Keros, American Coney Island has been a landmark in its original Detroit location for nearly a century now. Locals hold it in such esteem that those who leave the city often say the one thing they miss is the restaurant's signature chili dog.

Detroit native Derek Stevens obviously felt that way and had the resources to do something about it. As the owner of The D in Downtown Las Vegas, he decided the one thing his new hotel needed was the first ever branch of the American Coney Island, bringing the classic eats to Fremont Street. That the place is run by one of the grandsons of the original founder is comforting since you can rest assured that they are going to make sure little is lost in the transcontinental translation.

The restaurant is small and utilitarian; less than a dozen tables and not much in the way of decor. But who cares? We're talking chili dogs and gyros so if you want fancy wallpaper and lots of seating options, go to a buffet on The Strip (and be prepared to pay for the privilege). Note that you can access the restaurant from the Fremont Street Experience or from inside the casino.

The menu is similarly limited with four main items: the famous Coney Island Dog, a specially seasoned Dearborn Sausage topped with chili (no beans), their secret chili sauce, mustard, and onions (don't ask for it with ketchup - they will sneer at you); the Coney Loose Burger, which is seasoned, loose-meat ground beef served in a hot dog bun and topped with chili; the American Special, a combination of the two (ground beef on top of a hot dog); and classic Greek gyros in soft pita with onions, tomato, and homemade Tzatziki sauce. A side of chili and fries (with or without chili and cheese) complete the offerings.

The dogs are substantially meaty in both flavor and texture, owing to their Michigan roots where they are required to have less filler. The chili is not too spicy and the ground beef has a nice hearty taste (midwesterners - it reminded us of our beloved Maid-Rite). The gyros made me flash back to a trip to Greece two decades ago.

Prices are so cheap you may need to look twice to make sure you are reading them correctly. $5-6 bucks is the top of the food chain price-wise so you can do a full, very satisfying meal for less than $10 easily.

The restaurant is open 24 hours a day just in case you get a craving for a chili dog at 3am.

American Coney Island

The D Las Vegas
301 E. Fremont St.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
website
Hours: Daily 24 hours
Restaurant Type:Hot Dogs

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Nightlife Review: Drink & Drag

The gay community has often been at the forefront of urban renewal, although perhaps not always intentionally. Often forced to the societal fringes, gays and lesbians have been known to take root in neighborhoods that were off-the-beaten-track and helping to turn them into desirable communities with higher property values.

Such may be the case with Drink & Drag's arrival at Neonopolis. Once the white elephant of Downtown Vegas, the shopping center has gone from nearly abandoned to bustling in the space of a few months and credit for at least part of that has to go to Downtown's first (but not last) gay club.

Taking over the second floor space once occupied by Jillian's, Drink & Drag features a bar, a dance floor, a 12-lane bowling alley (including VIP lanes), and a billiards room. The thing that sets it apart from your typical rock and bowl venue is the staff, which is billed as featuring more drag queens than any other venue in the world. I'm not sure who counts or keeps track of such things, but there you have it.

Although the crowd is primarily young and primarily gay it is not exclusively either of those things. That's why neighborhoods that start out being gentrified by gays and lesbians usually end up with families of all different stripes - everyone is welcome! If you are an open-minded straight person, they will happily take your money.

The drag staff will change from night to night but expect lots of makeup, fabulous frocks, and big wigs. Periodically through the night they will leap up on the nearest platform and start lip-syncing along to the music, often with synchronized choreography.

It occurs to me that all neighborhoods would be better if this occurred on a semi-regular basis. Think of how fun it would be to look out your window and see drag queens performing on your lawn. But I digress.

The staff of lovely ladies is supplemented by Chippendales-worthy bartenders, waiters, and go-go boys so there is plenty of eye candy to go around.

Prices are higher than people have probably come to expect from a Downtown bar, with atypical cover charges and drinks that will pinch more of your cash than usual. But that's what happens to those neighborhoods once they get nice - they get more expensive, too!

Drink & Drag

450 Fremont St.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
702-489-3724
website
Hours: Daily 4pm-4am
Type: Gay/Lesbian

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