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!



The Countdown: Top 10 Vegas News Stories of the Week

10. Double Barrel's Booze Bargain

While alcohol is certainly plentiful in Las Vegas, the one thing it's often not is cheap. Double Barrel Roadhouse at Monte Carlo is looking to change all that with a new $25 all-you-can-drink hosted bar special. Valid every night between 10pm and midnight, $25 gets you a wristband that you can show at any of the restaurant's bars and get a wide variety of well drinks and draft beers - as much as you want. Considering the fact that $25 will get you a drink and a half at most Vegas bars, this is a pretty good deal, even if you only have two hours to take advantage of it. Of course whether or not you should do this is a question best left to you and whatever hangover remedy you employ the next morning. Read the review of Double Barrel Roadhouse.

9. Casino MonteLago NOT Coming Soon

There had been hope that the casino at Lake Las Vegas would be reopening now that new owners have taken over and gotten the neighboring Hilton hotel up and running. But that hope has been pretty much dashed now that the owners have failed to get a gambling license and don't have anyone else to run it for them. The California based company that bought both the hotel and the adjacent casino last year couldn't satisfy state gaming regulators that they could run a gambling operation and now have said they won't try again to get a license, but instead will be seeking out a partner. They have asked for a three-year extension on permits that would allow time to do so. Casino MonteLago was first shuttered in 2010, reopened briefly in 2011, and then closed again in 2013. Read more about Lake Las Vegas.

8. Hakkasan Leading With Big Name DJs

The Electronic Dance Music craze in America has turned DJs into superstars, with many of them ranking among the highest paid celebrities in the country. Calvin Harris, for instance, is estimated to rake in more than $60 million a year from music royalties and appearances in DJ booths. In Vegas, the celebrity DJ is big business and Hakkasan Las Vegas at the MGM Grand is sparing no expense in bringing the biggest of the big names in to oversee their dance floor. In August they have schedule multiple nights with Tiesto, Hardwell, Steve Aoki, Afrojack, and yes, Calvin Harris. If you need an EDM to English translation, this would be sort of like having Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Elvis on the same lineup. Tickets are not cheap - a $75 cover is not uncommon and that just gets you in the door. Read more about Hakkasan Las Vegas.

7. M Resort Adds New Themed Slots

Themed slot machines have been all the rage for quite some time now but recently the proverbial (and actual) ante has been upped with the addition of wildly over-the-top video and multi-player machines that try to immerse players deeply into the theme. Want to slay zombies? Take a seat at "The Walking Dead" slot machine and if you get the bonus round, you'll get to do so. M Resort, has now added four new highly themed slot machines that you'll be finding all over Vegas eventually. They include "Classic Batman," featuring iconic villains like The Joker and The Riddler in bonus games where you get to join the dynamic duo in fighting crime; a new "Titanic" slot machine, which features clips from the movie; "ZZ Top Live from Texas," where you can rock out to classic hits from the band while playing; and "Grease: Pink Ladies," featuring songs, movie clips, and more focusing on the characters like Frenchy and Rizzo. Read more about the M Resort.

6. Showcase Sold

The Showcase Mall just north of MGM Grand has gotten new owners - or at least part of it has. The mall is actually three separate pieces with three separate owners and now a New York based firm has paid $145 million for the part with the World of Coca Cola store, the M&M World store, Outback Steakhouse, and more. The company says it plans some cosmetic upgrades for their part of the puzzle that may include some jazzing up of the iconic giant Coke bottle out front. Read more about the Showcase Mall.

5. Pawn Stars Store & the First Lady Tiara

The Gold & Silver Pawn store in Las Vegas, most famous as the home base for History Channel show "Pawn Stars," stumbled into a bit of presidential history recently when it acquired a tiara once belonging to Ida McKinley, wife of President William McKinley. The Harrison clan who run the store picked it up for $43,000 and then agreed to sell it to the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Ohio for the same amount. The library put together a fast fundraising campaign, got the money, and now has the tiara on display for all of the museum's visitors to see. Read more about the Gold & Silver Pawn Store.

4. Cowabunga Bay Opens

Las Vegas' second water park finally splashed down over the holiday weekend with the opening of Cowabunga Bay. The 23-acre park is located on the far east side of town, not too far from Sunset Station and the Galleria Mall. It features a wave pools, water slides, children's play areas, a lazy river, and more all done up in a '60s mod beach theme. The park is open daily through the end of August and then weekends only through the end of September. Prices are $36 for adults and kids over 48" tall and $28 for kids under 48" tall. Read more about Cowabunga Bay.

3. Miracle Mile Fountain's July Charity Announced

The fountain inside the Miracle Mile Shops is a favorite for tourists who like to throw change in there for luck before heading into the adjacent Planet Hollywood casino. Every month the mall collects that money and gives it to a different charity. July's charity is Dress for Success Southern Nevada, the local chapter of the nationwide organization that helps disadvantaged women get the tools necessary to reenter the workforce including business attire for interviews, professional development training, and more. You can read more about the organization at Read more about the Miracle Mile Shops.

2. Donny Osmond App

Proving, perhaps, that there really is an app for everything, you may now download the new Donny Osmond app, which the singer has released to coincide with the launch of his upcoming album. "The Soundtrack of My Life" will be his 60th album in his long career and the app celebrates that with previews of the songs on the CD including a duet with Stevie Wonder of "My Cherie Amour," plus stories and photos. If you share the app with friends via Facebook and Twitter, you will unlock more audio clips and other rewards. You can get the app for free via the iTunes app store or Google Play. Read the review of the Donny and Marie show in Las Vegas.

1. Celine Meets Airport Video Guy

Georgia resident Richard Dunn made headlines a few weeks ago when he filmed a video of himself wandering around the Las Vegas airport in the middle of the night lip syncing to Celine Dion's "All By Myself." The video went viral and even inspired a video response from Celine herself, who invited Dunn to see her show the next time he was in town. That happened over the Fourth of July weekend as Dunn and his family flew to Vegas and got to meet the singer and attend the concert at Caesars Palace. See the video and Celine's response video.


The 10 Things You Need to Know about The Linq Hotel & Casino

Caesars Entertainment announced plans this week to remodel and rebrand (again) the hotel now known as The Quad (formerly the Imperial Palace) into an all-new resort called The Linq Hotel & Casino. Here are the important things you need to know about the project:

1. The Linq name is meant to unite the hotel with the Linq shopping plaza in between it and The Flamingo that features stores, restaurants, and the High Roller observation wheel. Moving forward they will be considered one entity, with the shopping and attractions a part of the parent hotel's portfolio of amenities.

2. All of the hotel's 2,256 rooms will get a major makeover, with all new furnishings, decor, fixtures in the bathrooms, and more.

3. Each of the rooms will get a signature mural designed to evoke various iconic Las Vegas imagery like neon signs and more.

4. The pool area will get a major makeover to add new cabanas, a day club, and new retail and spa amenities.

5. A new lobby bar will be added along with some quick-serve dining outlets near the main porte corchere on the north side of the building.

6. Digital connectivity will be an important part of the new resort with property wide Wi-Fi, an automated check-in process, and a virtual concierge that can book restaurant and show reservations.

7. At least they'll get to keep the Q.

8. New entertainment offerings may get added but for now Jeff Civillico, Divas, and Recycled Percussion are staying put. There is no plan to redo the showroom at this time.

9. The hotel will remain open while the transition takes place so expect even more construction inconveniences if you decide to visit.

10. The formal debut of The Linq Hotel & Casino is scheduled for October 30, 2014, but the new rooms should be coming online in phases over the next few months.


The 10 Things You Need to Know about The Westgate Resort and Casino

After weeks of rumors, the formal announcement came last week: the LVH has been sold and will be revamped, at least partially, into a timeshare facility and renamed the Westgate Resort and Casino. Here are the important things you need to know:

1. The property will primarily remain a hotel/casino but some units will be converted timeshares. Only about 200 rooms, out of the 3,000 in the building, will be sold to start.

2. Westgate CEO David Siegel paid an estimated $150 million for the property and plans to invest hundreds of millions more to remodel the bulk of the property and add new construction. The long term plan is to add more towers and low-rise buildings around the main resort.

3. All of the rooms will be remodeled and some will be converted to multi-room condo-style units, more in keeping with the timeshare model.

4. The casino will get new tables and slot and a new high-limit lounge where the existing Tempo lounge is now located.

5. The sports book, billed as the world's largest, will remain in place and will get some cosmetic and tech upgrades including new TVs and furnishings.

6. The show, "Raiding the Rock Vault" will stay for now, but it's going to need to perform a lot better than it has been to make it for the long haul. Rumors are rampant that they are looking for a big name rocker to join the production. Other options for the space that have been floated include a new millennium version of a traditional Vegas show, a Broadway show, or a headliner. The theater has hosted runs by Elvis Presley to Barry Manilow and even the roller skating musical Starlight Express.

7. Shimmer cabaret will be redone into an open lounge; shows that are there now will either go away or, potentially, move into the main theater.

8. The property will get its first ever proper nightclub in the space that used to be the Star Trek casino. The 80,000 square-foot venue will include an indoor/outdoor component and a pool.

9. There will be changes to the restaurants including a new steakhouse, an Italian restaurant, and more. Benihana - the biggest one in the country - will stay put for the time being.

10. The property will stay open during the renovations.


The 5 Things To Look Forward To in Vegas in 2014

Development is picking up steam in Las Vegas with lots of new construction on things like restaurants, shopping, and even new hotels. Here's your list of the 5 things to look forward to opening in Vegas during the remainder of 2014:

1. The SLS Las Vegas - the former Sahara on the north end of The Strip has gotten a major makeover and will have 1,600 rooms, all-new restaurants, nightclubs, a swank casino, shopping, and more. It is scheduled to open August 23. Read more about the SLS Las Vegas.

2. Bally's Grand Bazaar - The front of Bally's is getting revamped to feature a new 150 store shopping complex done as a modern version of an outdoor marketplace (even though all of the stores will be fully enclosed and air conditioned). It is expected to open by the end of the year. Read more about the Grand Bazaar shops.

3. Delano Las Vegas - the former THEhotel tower at Mandalay Bay is getting redone as luxe boutique hotel Delano. It will feature new rooms, a new pool, new restaurants and bars, and more. The full revamp won't be done until 2015 but the new rooms should be coming online as early as September of 2014. Read more about the Delano.

4. Tom's Urban & Shake Shack - the two popular restaurants will be added to the front of New York-New York as a part of The Park, the entertainment plaza being built between that hotel and Monte Carlo. They are expected to open by December. Read more about The Park.

5. Treasure Island Shopping Mall - a new, multi-level mall is under construction at the corner of the property where the pirate ship used to dock. It will feature several new stores and restaurants including yet another CVS and is expected to open before the end of the year. Read more about Treasure Island.


The 7 Essential Cocktail Spots (and Cocktails) in Vegas

Thirsty? These are the places you need to visit in Vegas if you are looking for more than just your average cocktail and suggestions on what to order when you get there:

1. Fizz Las Vegas at Caesars Palace

A fantastic, intimate, grown-up champagne and cocktail lounge created by Elton John's husband David Furnish. Try the Fizz Fraise, with champagne, strawberries, and gin. Read more about Fizz.

2. Rose.Rabbit.Lie at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The drink program here is just as exciting as the entertainment and food programs, with hand-crafted cocktails, flasks, and more. Try the Airmail, with rum, orange blossom honey, lime, and sparkling wine. Read more about Rose.Rabbit.Lie.

3. Holly Madison's 1923 Bourbon and Burlesque at Mandalay Bay

Barrel aged bourbon is the star here but don't miss the rest of the mixology program, with really fantastic interpretations of classic cocktails. Try the Pamplemousse Drop, with vodka, grapefruit vodka, lemon juice, and creme de mure. Read more about 1923.

4. The Atomic Lounge

The historic dive bar that used to draw the likes of Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra has reopened with a funky new attitude and fantastic drinks. Try the F-Bomb, the official cocktail of the National Atomic Testing Museum, featuring fireball, fernet, and an energy drink. Read more about The Atomic Lounge.

5. The Lady Silvia

Done as a speakeasy, complete with a hard-to-find front door, this cute little cocktail lounge offers up a wide variety of really good drinks, all made with obvious attention to detail. Try the Grant-a-Rita with Patron tequila, passion fruit liqueur, orange juice, agave nectar, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Read more about The Lady Silvia.

6. The Vanguard Lounge

Downtown's top craft cocktail bar is a tiny slip of a place but the drinks they serve are larger than life, with fresh ingredients and amazing combinations. Try Benito's Grandma's Hard Lemonade, with gin, simple syrup, elderflower liqueur, peach bitters, and Grand Narnier. Read more about the Vanguard Lounge.

7. Vesper at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The lobby bar is named after the classic martini that James Bond drinks in the movies, but their long list of hand-crafted cocktails is worth exploring more deeply. Try the classic Gin Fizz. Read more about Vesper.


The 7 Best Offbeat Shopping Spots in Vegas

Sure you can go to any of the malls and satisfy your cravings for everything from The Gap to Gucci, but why not explore a little deeper and check out these truly offbeat shopping experiences:

1. Bonanza Gift Shop

It is billed as the world's largest gift shop and whether or not that is actually true, it does have more incredibly tacky Vegas crap than anywhere else in town. And let's face it - tacky Vegas crap makes the best souvenirs, doesn't it? Read more about Bonanza.

2. Zombie Apocalypse Store

Zombies are all the rage these days (rage... zombies... see what I did there?) and this is the epicenter of all things walking dead. The t-shirts are especially fun and will be highly coveted by friends and family. Read more about the Zombie Apocalypse Store.

3. The Toy Shack

If you had a favorite toy as a child, there is a better than average chance that you will either find it here or they will be able to get it for you. Blast from the past heaven! Read more about The Toy Shack.

4. Lost Vegas Antiques

It's hard to miss this place, which sort of looks like a thrift store and a Vegas souvenir shop collided and then exploded. It's mostly junk, but it's fun junk. Read more about Lost Vegas Antiques.

5. Gambler's General Store

This shrine to all things casino recently joined forces with the Gambler's Book Club to create a giant superstore of gambling related everything. Take a piece of Vegas home with you! Read more about the Gambler's General Store.

6. Rick's Restorations

The home of The History Channel's "American Restoration" has a shop where you can pick up some of the amazing things they bring back to life here, from old Coca Cola coolers to slot machines. Read more about Rick's Restorations.

7. Retro Vegas

The flamingo pink exterior give you a hint of what the inside of this antiques and collectibles store is like. Although they have a lot of different stuff, it's the classic Vegas items that are worth a gander. Read more about Retro Vegas.