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!



Resorts World Plans Preview

The proposed $7 billion Resorts World Las Vegas is at least three years away from accepting its first guests but you'll be able to get a sneak peek in just a few months when the company behind the mega-resort opens a pair of preview centers on The Strip. Designed to build excitement for the project and disguise the construction site that has become an eyesore, the plan will include landscaping, art, entertainment, shopping, and more.

Resorts World is being developed by the Asian gaming company the Genting Group. They purchased the abandoned Echelon project from Boyd Gaming earlier this, which was to be a multi-billion dollar complex of hotels on the land once occupied by The Stardust. The global recession made Boyd pull the plug on the project in 2008, leaving a dusty lot of partially constructed buildings.

Genting is planning a 3,500 room resort with an Asian theme, complete with a recreation of the Great Wall of China, replicas of the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian, a panda habitat, and an indoor water park. The 175,000 square-foot casino will make it the largest in Las Vegas.

The preview centers will feature retail, meeting space, offices, and promotions areas. In between the two, the fences will get decorated with Asian art and renderings of the upcoming property. Entertainment will come in the form of frequent performances from dancers dressed in dragon costumes.

Resorts World is expected to start construction in 2014 with an anticipated opening date of sometime in 2016.

The preview centers should be open by this fall.


Silver Sevens to Debut July 1

Terrible's is Terrible no more.

Completing the final phase of a year-long transition, Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino will make its official debut with a week-long celebration, beginning Monday, July 1.

The property formerly known as Terrible's Hotel & Casino has undergone an extensive, multi-million dollar renovation that included a complete makeover of all the rooms, a fully renovated sports book operated by William Hill, a new Corona Cantina bar, the addition of a new hospitality suite, and a new guest service center. The exterior of the property also received a refreshed look with the installation of new neon signage to reflect Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino.

The grand opening celebration will include gaming promotions plus dining and drink specials.

Join Silver Sevens A-Play Club and you can enter special scooter and car giveaways. Play to earn drawing tickets for a daily giveaway of a scooter and toward the grand prize giveaway of a 2013 Fiat 500 Pop. The car winner will be selected July 7 at 7pm and scooter giveaways will take place in the Corona Cantina daily at 3 pm July 1-7.

Additional gaming promotions for A-Club Members include the $80,000 "Red, White and Blue Cash" drawings set every Friday and Saturday in July, where participants can win $5,000 Cash; free entry into the $5,000 "Swipe & Win" on Wednesday, July 3; and a cruise giveaway on July 7. In addition, all A-Club Members who earn 50 base points during the celebration week will earn a free Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino T-shirt.

If you're hungry, the Sterling Spoon Café (formerly Bougainvillea) will be serving $7.77 steak and lobster dinner every day in July from 2 to 10 pm. In addition, Café guests can enjoy seven entrées under $7 offered 24 hours a day throughout July, including signature items: steak salad, chicken lettuce wraps, Mandarin chicken salad, pulled pork sandwich, and eggplant parmesan. During the celebration week festivities, free cake and champagne will be served July 1-3 from 4 to 7 pm each day and free coffee and pastries will be served July 5-7 from 8 to 11 am each day.

Silver Sevens is at the corner of Flamingo and Paradise, about a mile east of The Strip.


The "I'll Believe It When I See It" File

Las Vegas is the capital of grand pronouncements. Over the years people have proclaimed their intentions to build everything from a casino hotel shaped like the Titanic to an indoor ski resort. Few of them ever happen, of course, so it is always best to file these claims to future Vegas fame in the "I'll Believe it When I See It" file.

That file got a bit bigger last week with four new projects and rumors that range from what I would say are all possible but range in likelihood from a shrug to some serious eye-rolling. It's important to note that the people behind these projects and rumors swear they are serious and will happen but then again so did the guy that wanted to build the iceberg shaped shopping mall next door to the Titanic casino.

The first one involves a rumor being put forth by Vegas Deluxe's own Robin Leach. He says that the next step of the MGM Grand's massive overhaul will be to remove the facade from the Strip facing side of the hotel and replace it with massive windows that would flood the casino with light. The reason I put this in the IBIWISI file is because even if they did replace the facade with windows, the massive Hakkasan nightclub and the Rainforest Café are in between The Strip and the casino. Interestingly, there are rumors that Rainforest is going to close so maybe it's all part of the same master plan, but until I see demolition crews I'm going to keep this one off the sure bet list.

The second item for the file is the proposal to build the world's tallest roller coaster in Las Vegas. Known as the Polercoaster, the 860 foot tall structure would be outsized only by the Stratosphere Tower and the unfinished Fontainebleau hotel and would feature an observation deck at the top and a wild, looping roller coaster to the bottom. The company behind the idea, US Thrill Rides, has a terrific reputation of more than 20 years building attractions all over the world, but even they admit that they don't have the financing and don't even have a serious place to build it. The paperwork they filed with the county would place it at The Tropicana but nobody with that hotel is claiming the concept. Could be fun... I'll believe it when I see it.

The third grand plan with a future worth questioning is the proposed Dynasty Hotel & Casino, which would be built on Flamingo Road about a mile east of The Strip near Tuscany Suites and Silver Sevens. It would feature nearly 800 rooms in a 26-story tower, a 100,000 square-foot casino, restaurants, nightlife, and a showroom. While I think it's fantastic that companies are considering building new hotels in Las Vegas, I think the economy is just too unsettled and there are simply too many empty hotel rooms in Vegas right now to support adding more, especially in properties that aren't within easy walking distance of The Strip. I don't discount this totally but will definitely not be holding my breath.

And finally, I have to write about an LA to Vegas train again. I have been doing this job for more than 15 years and there are certain stories that keep popping up... The Moulin Rouge is going to get rebuilt, the Tropicana is going to get torn down, there will be train service between Los Angeles to Vegas. These things never happen but like a bad penny they keep turning up and the train one has turned up again. X-Train is the latest, a "party train" that would run between Fullerton, near downtown Los Angeles, and a station at The Plaza in Downtown Las Vegas. They say they are going to start booking tickets in the next month for rides that will begin next year. Does this sound familiar? It should. The company first made their announcement about the service in November of last year and at the time said the service would be up and running in 2013. Now it's 2014.

Say it with me... I'll believe it when I see it.


Vegas4Visitors Weekly Awards

The Last Dance Award of the Week goes to The Tropicana, which will NOT be hosting another stint of the live Dancing with the Stars show like it did last year. There had been a rumor that the show could become a permanent attraction and they reportedly even remodeled the showroom to accommodate it, but looks like the dancing is done. No word yet on what will go into the showroom, which hasn't seen a full-time headliner since Gladys Knight's show closed more than a year ago.

The Places to Sit Award of the Week goes to the 20,000 seats that will be included in a new concert and sports arena to be built behind New York-New York and Monte Carlo. The $350 million project is a joint venture between MGM Resorts and AEG, the big concert promoter. It is slated to open in 2016 and is the centerpiece of a new shopping and dining plaza that is now under construction between the two hotels.

The Deflating Award of the Week goes to Hooter's, which may be getting a new name as part of a new ownership team taking over. Talks are reportedly underway between the owners and various hotel chains that could end with a recognizable name being slapped on top of the hotel. This would be at least the seventh name the property has operated under since it opened in 1973 including Howard Johnson's, Paradise, Polynesian Paradise, The Treasury, Hotel San Remo, and Hooter's.


Attraction Review: Discovery Children's Museum

The old children's museum on Las Vegas Boulevard was a bit shopworn with age but had an almost inexhaustible supply of cool things for kids to touch, watch, interact with, and learn from. Some, including myself, were worried that a move to a fancy new building might result in a loss of some of the magic, offering a more homogenized version of the things in this world that can shape young minds. All of us needn't have worried - the new Discovery Children's Museum takes everything that was wonderful about the old one and makes it bigger, better, and brighter in every way.

The gleaming three-story facility is located on the campus of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Getting there is easy if you have a car but it is not within walking distance of The Strip. A cab will probably cost you between $15-$25 depending on your point of origin.

The centerpiece of the museum is The Summit, a multi-level jungle-gym of a contraption soaring 70-feet up through all three floors of the museum. It contains simple, hands-on lessons that equate basic scientific principles to reality. Want to understand the physics of a fulcrum? Lift this car by pulling down on a rope with so little force that even a small child can do it. How about getting an insight into the ways we perceive light and sound? Create "music" with a series of vacuum tubes or see a model of the human brain. Or you... I mean your kids... could just horse around on the various slides, chutes, and ladders that connect different levels in ways much more interesting than taking the stairs.

The two main exhibits on the first floor are Water World, a series of water-filled channels, tubs, and pools (complete with a model of Hoover Dam!) and Fantasy Festival, which features a pirate's ship, a castle, a stage, and costumes to go with all of the above. The former teaches kids how water flows and falls and its relation to power and the earth (although it's really just an excuse for kids to get wet and shoot water guns) and the latter encourages imagination (although it's really just an excuse for them to play dress up).

Other exhibits include It's Your Choice, a game show inspired area with quizzes, tests, and challenges that support healthy eating and exercise habits; Solve It, a "mystery town" that lets youngsters collect evidence solve problems (don't worry, it doesn't involve CSI style murders); Eco City, a miniature town with a bank, airport, grocery store, and more that teach lessons on environmental friendliness and sustainability; a Toddler Town with a mining theme for very little ones; an art area; performance spaces; traveling exhibit halls; and much more.

The only downside is that there is so much here that your kids are probably going to be bouncing off the walls trying to get to it all or so enamored with one thing that they'll ignore the rest.

Most of the exhibits are geared toward younger children. Most of this stuff will probably cause eye-rolling from tweens and outright hostility from teenagers but you're probably used to that by now.

It is worth noting that this is one of the few family-friendly attractions in Las Vegas so both visitors and locals are taking full advantage of that. The place was absolutely packed on the Saturday afternoon of my visit, which can result some tried patience - the kids as they have to wait in lines to get their hands on some of the exhibits and yours as you listen to the chaotic din of that many children in one place. Visiting on a weekday might be a better idea if you can swing it.

There is a small snack area with vending machines or you can bring your own food into that area. Food is not allowed into the museum proper.

At just $12 per person (ages 1-99) this is also an incredible bargain. If you have small children and are planning on bringing them to Vegas, this should be at the top of your to-do list.

Discovery Children's Museum
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
360 Promenade Place
Las Vegas, NV 89106
$12 ages 1-99
Tues-Fri 9am-4pm
Sat 10am-5pm
Sun 12-5pm
Vegas4Visitors Rating: A


Nightlife Review: Light

No matter the luxury trappings, most Las Vegas nightclubs have a similar kind of anything-goes, hedonistic atmosphere where all that really matters is how strong the drinks are and how loud the music is. This is primarily done to lure the young, party-til-dawn set who think nothing of dropping hundreds of dollars to have a night out on the town.

Light, the high-energy nightclub at Mandalay Bay opened in 2013, certainly has it's share of that crowd but something here feels different; a little more grown-up, a little more sophisticated, a and a lot more sexy.

Credit goes mostly to this being the brainchild of longtime nightclub management company the Light Group (Haze, Bank, 1 OAK, and several others) and Cirque du Soleil (Mystére, O, , and several others). The union of these two subject-matter-experts has taken the best of what a nightclub can be and combined it with the kind of cutting-edge atmosphere and visuals that turn it into something more than just a dance floor and a bar.

The space is really little more than a three-story black box theater, with a dance floor surrounded on three sides by multiple levels of bottle-service VIP seating, everyone else standing, and bar space. There is no decor to speak of which allows the focus to be easily shifted depending on where they want it to be. A lot of the time that's on the massive floor-to-ceiling video projection wall that spans almost the entire football-field length of the club. It shows moody visuals in random flashes that are almost hypnotic and often tied to the special effects happening around the space. For instance, a video of a woman exhaling smoke is timed to the dry ice jets that flood the room with fog.

But really taking it to the next level are the Cirque performers that pop-up randomly throughout the room. Bungee artists soar above the dance floor; colorfully adorned dancers spin lazily in glass globes or shimmy around in light-up costumes; two big sections of the video wall become transparent to show stages above the dance floor where acrobats and dancers appear almost out of nowhere in mini-shows.

Big name DJs man the booth after midnight on many nights including exclusive stands from Skrillex, Zedd, Bass Jackers, and Carl Kennedy to name a few. They and the house DJs that play before and after the main-stage sets keep the party going with a non-stop mix of EDM, house, hip-hop, and pop. It was interesting, I thought, that the sound level was loud but not at that ear-drum bleeding level it is in most clubs. I was actually able to have a conversation that didn't involve me having to pretend like I heard what the other person said. This added to the sophisticated vibe of the club.

Don't get me wrong - there were still plenty of young, pretty party-people in attendance including one VIP booth of about a dozen twenty-somethings who had what I estimated to be about $4,000 worth of booze, much of which they had already consumed by the time I saw them. And while I was definitely an outlier in terms of age, I didn't feel uncomfortable like I usually do in these types of youth-focused clubs.

And the one thing it definitely has in common with most of the other nightclubs in town is the cost. Figure anywhere from $20-$50 to get in and then drinks (including domestic beers) from $10-$25 apiece.

Light is a fantastic, wholly original nightclub that has a little bit of something for everyone and a lot for people who don't normally like nightclubs.

Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Fri-Sat 10:30pm-4am
Vegas4Visitors Rating: A