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!



Bill's to Become Gansevoort

What's a Gansevoort? No, it's not a bookcase at Ikea.

Gansevoort is the high-end hotelier that will be taking over Bill's Gamblin' Hall (formerly the Barbary Coast) on the Las Vegas Strip, taking what was an inexpensive and fairly pedestrian small hotel and turning it into a luxury, boutique property aimed at the rich and famous and those who want to act like them.

The company has three hotels; one in the meatpacking district and another on Park Avenue, both in New York City and the third in the tropical paradise of the Turks & Caicos in the eastern Caribbean. Although their footprint is fairly small, they have gained a lot of traction in garnering attention from a well-heeled clientele, including a lot of famous faces who relish the fancy digs at the Gansevoort properties. Kim Kardashian filmed her reality series at the Gansevoort Park Avenue, although whether that counts as positive PR is probably dependent on your view of things like Kardashians.

Caesars Entertainment is spending $185 million to redo the Vegas property from the ground up. It will feature 188 rooms with a New York City loft design including wood floors, brick walls, and eclectic furnishings; a luxury spa; several restaurants including one from a celebrity chef to be announced; and a 10th floor, rooftop pool and nightclub that will be run by Victor Drai. His Drai's restaurant and After Hours nightclub will reopen in the hotel's basement with a new look and feel.

Gansevoort will run the hotel while Caesars will run the casino and incorporate it into their Total Rewards players' club program.

The Gansevoort Las Vegas is aiming toward a January 2014 debut. Rates are expected to start around $249 per night and go up from there, making it one of the most expensive hotels in Las Vegas.


O'Shea's Returning to The Strip

The long-running O'Shea's casino that closed last year will be getting a rebirth of sorts next year as it returns inside of The Quads.

The new O'Shea's will be a bar and restaurant just off the main casino in The Quad, formerly the Imperial Palace, which is in the midst of a full makeover. O'Shea's will feature its own gaming area (a handful of tables and some video poker at the bar) and live entertainment. Oh and beer pong, of course. Can't forget the beer pong.

And yes Lucky the Leprechaun, the casino's long-running mascot, will be back.

O'Shea's was a small casino between The Quad and The Flamingo most famous for its cheap drinks, cheap gambling, and cheap food. It closed in April of 2012 to make way for the new Linq project, a street of new restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment venues that will lead to a massive observation wheel called High Roller at the back of the eastside Strip hotels. At the time of the closure, the company behind Linq said O'Shea's would return but it was believed at that time it would be included in the Linq instead of inside The Quad.

All of this is expected to debut later this year or early in 2014.


Mega Beat Progressive Poker Jackpot Pays Off

Playing poker in Vegas just got a lot more interesting and a lot more lucrative with the new Mega Beat progressive poker jackpot now up and running at Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Flamingo, The Quad, Bally's, Harrah's, and The Rio.

In poker parlance, a "bad beat" is when a really good hand loses to even better hand. Mega Beat takes that concept and rewards the loss with a progressive jackpot that pays everyone.

The jackpot starts at $200,000 and requires that a minimum hand of four aces gets beat, which means someone else needs to have a straight flush. As the jackpot grows the minimum hand decreases with every $100,000 dropping the four of a kind requirement level. So $300,000 requires four kings, $400,000 requires four queens, and so on all the way to $1.4 million and above requiring four deuces.

The person with the "bad beat" hand gets 20% of the jackpot, the person who beat the "bad beat" hand gets 10%, and every other player at a table at every one of the casinos gets a cut of the remaining 70%.

Think it can't happen? The jackpot was introduced a couple of months ago and it just paid off to the tune of almost $700,000. The "loser," a player at Planet Hollywood who had four queens, got $136,000; the "winner," who had a straight flush, got almost $70,000; and every player at every table in the seven casinos (about 240 at the time of the "beat") each got just over $2,000.

All you have to do to participate is play poker at one of the aforementioned casinos. It does not require any extra bet or registration.


Vegas4Visitors Weekly Awards

The Fee For All Free For All Award of the Week goes to The Silverton, the latest Las Vegas hotel to add a resort fee. It's $4.95 and covers local and toll-free calls, airport shuttle, fitness center access, and an in-room safe. You can get a full rundown of who is charging what on the Resort Fee page.

The Spring Has Sprung Award of the Week goes to the Bellagio Conservatory, which has launched its 2013 spring botanical garden display. Included are a 26-foot-tall windmill, giant (faux) tulips and windmills, and a 36-foot-long greenhouse that has more than 800 live butterflies in it from as far away as Africa and Asia. You can view a webcam of the Conservatory here.

The Fun and Games Award of the Week goes to The View, the new nightclub at The Palms that opened this weekend in the space that used to be home to The Playboy Club. The concept of the new club is games - checkers, billiards, Connect-4 - which are scattered around the club. The real draw continues to be the great view (hence the name) of Vegas from the big floor to ceiling windows.


Show Review: Million Dollar Quartet

On a chilly December day in 1956, rock and roll history was made when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins came together by happenstance at the Sun Records studio in Memphis and had an impromptu jam session. Translating that into terms that people under 40 could understand, it would be as if Adele, Taylor Swift, Adam Levine, and Bruno Mars all got together and played some tunes just for fun. (That would be fun as in amusement, not fun. the band).

The 1956 session was dubbed the Million Dollar Quartet and a fictionalized version of it has been turned into the musical, which won plaudits and a Tony Award on Broadway, and is now playing in the newly renovated showroom at Harrah's.

Regarding that, the classic booths still make up the back half of the theater, but the front half, which used to be rows of glorified buffet chairs on a flat floor, has been replaced by rows of proper theater seats complete with the requisite cup holders. It's much nicer and more comfortable than it used to be.

The musical unfolding on the stage has a story and dramatic conflict - Elvis has left Sun Records, Cash is about to unbeknownst to Sun guru Sam Philips, Perkins needs a hit, and Jerry Lee Lewis is giddily megalomaniacal in his belief that he is about to become a major star. All that is really just background noise, though, as the true star of the show is the music as performed by a talented cast of musicians doing what we'll call tributes instead of impersonations. They bring the songs to glorious life with foot stomping versions of "Blue Suede Shoes," "That's All Right," "I Hear You Knocking," Great Balls of Fire," "Hound Dog," and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" to name a few.

There are multiple performers playing the different roles at different shows but the quartet I saw - and the ones in the secondary roles - were nothing short of fantastic. The actors performing Presley and Cash had enough of their mannerisms and vocal patterns down to evoke their spirits without descending into full-on, distracting mimicry, while the gents playing Perkins and Lewis were delights in their more showy roles. It's worth noting that these folks are not just acting, they are playing all the instruments and singing live, making it all the more impressive.

I wonder about the longevity of this show in Vegas as the audience who has a deep enough appreciation for the music to pay the high ticket prices is getting smaller and smaller. Witness the demise of the Elvis themed Cirque du Soleil show and the Liberace Museum, both of which were partially brought down by a dwindling fan base. I really hope enough people can embrace how timelessly classic these rock and roll treasures are to keep "Million Dollar Quartet" going for years to come.

Vegas4Visitors Rating: A-

Million Dollar Quartet
3475 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89190
Price: $69-94
Show Times: Thu & Sat 7 & 9:30pm and Fri, Sun-Tue 7pm


Attraction Review: SCORE!

I have to admit that I'm not much of a sports fan. The only one I really enjoy is bowling because the only one that supplies players with cup holders for their beer.

But if you know the difference between a soccer ball and a hockey puck (which are interchangeable mysteries as far as I'm concerned) then SCORE! just may be the place for you.

The attraction at Luxor goes way beyond a simple memorabilia museum and turns it into an interactive experience designed to turn you into a virtual version of the next great sports star, complete with agents, contracts, and multi-million dollar (fake) endorsement deals.

You start at a computer terminal where you input some personal information, choose your sport of choice (from football to auto racing), and get a picture of yourself. A card with a bar code on it is printed and you use that to access various interactive features throughout the facility.

There are multiple sections each devoted to a sport. A football section has the requisite signed jerseys and other memorabilia plus a hand-eye-coordination test and a long-jumping measurement. The hockey section has more jerseys and trophies plus a miniature faux-ice ring that requires you to navigate a puck through an obstacle course. The basketball section measures how high you can jump while the baseball area clocks your ball-throwing speed. Over in the auto racing area, you are timed on how fast you can perform some of the basic tasks of a pit stop. There are also areas for boxing and soccer.

At the end of the tour you visit a virtual locker room where you get your final "score" so to speak. An interactive terminal shows you virtual newspapers announcing your team, your signing bonus, your endorsements, and more, all calculated to a certain degree by your performance on the various skills tests. I supposedly made $50 million on my NASCAR deal. Cool.

As mentioned, I am not a sports fan and the memorabilia portion of the facility was completely uninteresting to me, but may hold some thrills for those with a deep affinity for a team, a player, or a sense of history (even I could appreciate the "Rumble in the Jungle" artifacts). But the real attraction here is the interactive aspect, giving people a hands-on way of showing why they aren't sports stars. Heck, if it could turn me into a $50 million racer it can do wonders for someone with a hint of real athleticism.

3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Price: $28 adults; $15 kids 4-12
Hours: Daily 10am-10pm
Vegas4Visitors Rating: B+