MORE VEGAS INFO
VEGAS4VISITORS.COM WEEKLY COLUMN BY RICK GARMAN
January 12, 2015
The Countdown: Top 10 Vegas News Stories of the Week
10. Journey's Joint Jaunt
The classic rock band Journey is joining the lineup at the Hard Rock Hotel's Joint concert venue for a mini-residency starting in April. The band famous for songs like "Open Arms" will play 9 dates starting 4/29 through 5/16. Tickets go on sale January 16. This will be right after the Rascal Flatts mini-residency, which is scheduled for several dates in late February into March. Read more about the Hard Rock Hotel.
9. Does Vegas Really Need Another Hooters?
No, but if rumors are to be believed it's going to happen anyway. The restaurant famous for its, uh, chicken wings is reportedly going to open a second location inside The Palms in the space formerly occupied by Heraea (and before that Rain Nightclub). The dining area opens on to the pool and they may take over some of the food service there as well. The other restaurant is located at The Hooters Hotel, of course, which is still limping along despite severe financial difficulties that may lead to yet another sale and rebranding of the property. Read the review of the Hooters Hotel.
8. XS Nightclub Gets $10 Million Tech Makeover
Remember when $10 million would be what they'd spend on an entirely new nightclub? Now that's what XS at Wynn/Encore has spent on upgrading it's technology! The new special effects include pyrotechnics that shoot flames above the pool deck, movable LED screens, more than 14,000 LED lights around the DJ booth, dance floor lighting outside over the pool, lasers, 3-D video screens, and more. Read the review of XS.
7. SlotZilla Rider Stuck; Rescued by Firefighters
The Las Vegas fire department had to be called in to rescue a man stuck on the SlotZilla zoom line on New Year's Day. The rider, who was not identified, had just started his trip from the 120 foot tall platform on Fremont Street when the wheels on his line device got stuck. He hung there for almost an hour, face down, until the firefighters used a bucket truck to bring him down. He wasn't injured - reportedly just a little cold - and declined SlotZilla's offer of dinner and a limo ride back to his Strip hotel. Read the review of SlotZilla.
6. Rio Turns 25
The Rio Las Vegas is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this month with a series of special events, giveaways, and parties. The hotel opened on January 15, 1990 and was built and managed by Marnell Carrao Associates, a company that had been involved in the design and construction of several Vegas properties. In 1999, the hotel was purchased by Harrah's, which now operates under the Caesars Entertainment banner. There have been rumors that the hotel may be sold again soon as a part of its parent company's upcoming bankruptcy proceedings. Read the review of The Rio.
5. Cirque's LOVE Performer Injured
There has been another accident involving a a performer in a Cirque du Soleil show, this time at LOVE at The Mirage. The incident occurred just before Christmas during the show's finale when the unidentified cast member sustained an injury and was transported to the hospital. The person was later released in good condition and is expected to be fine. No further details about the incident were released by Cirque. A performer in Cirque's show KÀ was killed in 2013 and another in Zarkana was seriously injured in 2014. Read the full review of LOVE by Cirque du Soleil.
4. Recycled Percussion Beats It to a New Theater
The bang-loudly-on-stuff group Recycled Percussion ended their run at The Linq Hotel suddenly just before the end of the year, but they won't be quiet for long. The show will reportedly reopen at the David Saxe Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood sometime this spring but an official date has not been set. The smaller stage will probably require some changes to the show but it will stay the same in concept with the talented percussionists making noise with pretty much anything they can hit with sticks or their hands. No word on what may replace the show at The Linq.
3. Mariah Joins Vegas Residency Rumor Race
Several media outlets and gossip columns are reporting that Mariah Carey is now the lead candidate for a new residency at Caesars Palace. It's all just a rumor so far with details varying wildly depending on who you read - some are saying it'll be a "mini-residency" for a couple of months while others are saying it'll be upwards of 100 dates over a couple of years. The Jennifer Lopez rumors are still lurking out there as are new ones about Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, and Ricky Martin. It's getting exhausting. Read more about Caesars Palace.
2. Rainforest Cafe Moving to Harmon Corner
The Rainforest Café is going to be moving out of its long-running home at MGM Grand and moving up the street to the Harmon Corner shopping mall next door to Planet Hollywood. It is expected to take over the space once occupied by Eli Roth's Goretorium by summer of 2015. There is no word yet on when the MGM location will close and what will happen to the space when it does but it is expected to be opened up to The Strip for a new dining/nightlife experience. Read the review of the Harmon Corner.
1. Two Vegas Restaurants Make Eater's Essential Eats List
Eater.com went on an epic eating binge, looking at restaurants across the country and consuming more than 260 meals in an effort to identify the 38 most "essential" eats in the country. Two Vegas restaurants made the list, both of which are on my Top 10 Best Vegas Restaurants for 2014 list - the incredible L'Atelier at MGM Grand and the amazing Raku Grill off The Strip. Neither are cheap, but me and Eater.com think both are totally worth the cost. Read the review of L'Atelier and Raku Grill.
What To Look Forward To in Vegas for 2015
One of the biggest ways that Vegas lures people back each year is by introducing new stuff to see, do, eat, and, most importantly, spend money on. The near constant reinvention of Las Vegas driven by profligate spending from the big casino companies is a big part of what fueled the city's growth over the last couple of decades although it is also a part of what made it crash so hard during the recession.
Now that Sin City has clawed its way back from the brink, we have seen a wave of new development opening. In 2014 alone there were several new hotels including the SLS and The Cromwell; big new attractions including the tallest observation wheel in the world with the High Roller; high profile restaurants including ones from big names like Giada De Laurentiis; some of the most extravagant nightclub experiences in the world like Hakkasan; and new shopping opportunities like those found at Downtown Summerlin.
Is 2015 going to be as exciting? In a word, no.
This year seems to be a bit of a lull - the proverbial calm before the storm as the really big stuff gets ready to debut in 2016 and 2017. About the only category in which there is a lot to talk about is dining but you know how much I like to talk about food so that's actually a good thing.
Keep reading to find out what you have to look forward to in Las Vegas for 2015.
New Vegas Hotels, Casinos, and Shopping for 2015
This category is pretty empty this year. Other than a Wyndham branded timeshare hotel located just off The Strip, there is nothing else new planned for a 2015 opening. We should see construction kick into gear on the next wave of megaresorts including Resorts World on the former Stardust site, the Crown Resorts project across the street from Wynn Las Vegas, and the All-Net Resort next door to SLS Las Vegas. Those are all due in 2016 or 2017.
The transformation of the Las Vegas Hilton into the Westgate should continue but that's going to be an ongoing, phased project. If there is going to be a grand reopening type of event it probably won't be until later in the year or maybe even in 2016.
Bally's is going to finish off the makeover of their front yard into the Grand Bazaar, a marketplace-like shopping plaza with more than 150 stores and restaurants and a Swarovski crystal ball that will drop every night at midnight. They are calling it the Crystal Starburst, which I only mention because I stand by my assertion that it is the best stripper name ever. The Grand Bazaar should debut in February although some stores may stagger in after that.
The ongoing renovation of Monte Carlo and New York-New York should mostly be done in 2015 as they debut the bulk of The Park, a curving street of restaurants, stores, and public spaces in between the two hotels that will lead to a new 20,000 seat arena debuting in April of 2016.
Treasure Island should debut their new shopping area on the corner across from Palazzo and the Fashion Show Mall. It's mostly going to consist of a big CVS grocery store but we are going to apprecite it anyway because it is the thing that killed off the awful Sirens show that used to happen in front of the hotel. That should open in the next month or two.
As long as we are talking about shopping, there is also an expansion of the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North due to open this spring. They are adding new stores and much needed parking.
New Vegas Dining for 2015
Food has always been a big part of the Vegas scene and this year the restaurant lineup is going to grow and change in all sorts of different ways, from high end to cheap eats and with all different types of cuisine.
Celebrity chefs continue to be a big draw in Vegas and this year will see the debut of several new eateries from famed names. Michael Mina will add to his stable of Sin City eateries with Bardot, a new French restaurant set to debut at Aria next week; Julian Serrano is taking over the former Circo space at Bellagio for his new restaurant Lago, which will serve small plates with a lovely view of the Bellagio Fountains; Alaine Ducasse is replacing his own restaurant Mix at the Delano with a Vegas branch of his popular Rivea restaurant serving French and Italian dishes; and Gordon Ramsay will be serving up quick-bite fish and chips in a shop on the Linq Promenade.
Caesars Palace will be getting two new restaurants this year. First will be the highly anticipated arrival of Mr. Chow, the upscale Chinese restaurant that has been a favorite in New York, London, and Beverly Hills as far back as 1968. Then there is the new comfort food restaurant Searsucker from "Top Chef" alum Brian Malarky.
Speaking of TV food competitions, "Iron Chef" staple Masahuru Morimoto will debut his eponymous Japanese restaurant at The Mirage sometime this spring.
If you are looking for something a little more accessible (read: affordable), there are going to be several new eateries opening in The Park, the pedestrian friendly promenade going in between New York-New York and Monte Carlo. Country singer Dierks Bently will be bringing a branch of his down home Whiskey Row restaurant to the neighborhood and there will also be an outlet of Cuba Libre, the restaurant and rum bar with locations in Philadelphia, Orlando, and elsewhere.
Meanwhile the Rainforest Café is picking up stakes and moving from their current location at the MGM Grand to the Harmon Corner shops next to Planet Hollywood. They will be taking over the space once occupied by the Goretorium haunted house attraction by the summer.
And the cult of White Castle finally has a reason to celebrate when the first branch of the popular burger chain opens at Casino Royale.
We should also see a return of the Buffet at SLS Las Vegas, which opened briefly with the hotel then closed when crowds didn't materialize. They will try again at some point this year.
Downtown Las Vegas is becoming quite the food mecca and the area will be getting at least one new notable restaurant when Food Network chef Ben Vaughn opens Ben's Southern Kitchen next door to Atomic Liquors.
New Vegas Shows, Attractions, Nightlife, and Events for 2015
Although there will probably be a lot of new stuff in 2015 in these categories, right now we don't have a lot to talk about other than one new show, a new nightclub, a new festival, and a whole bunch of rumors and revisions.
Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn will be sharing the stage at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace starting in June. They are planning on at least 20 shows a year for two years but that number may go up depending on ticket sales.
After that is where the rumors start. There are unconfirmed reports of headlining stints from Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Ricky Martin, Diana Ross, and Lionel Richie just to name a few but none of that has been confirmed yet. If they are, they will be the same kind of limited residency deals that the country trio mentioned above is doing - a few weeks of shows a few times a year, leaving the artists open to do gigs elsewhere the rest of the time. I doubt that any of them will rise up to the level of Celine Dion's or Britney Spears' commitments, which have them doing upwards of 100 shows a year.
Nightclubs have become the biggest of big business in Vegas, drawing in more than a billion dollars in revenue each year so to remain competitive at least two hotels are going back to the drawing board with major makeovers to their former party spaces. Caesars Palace will debut Omnia this spring in the space once occupied by Pure. It is expected to have multiple levels and rooms plus an outdoor patio looking over The Strip. Down the street at Aria, Haze closed last year and will be replaced by something else but we don't know what, yet.
This is the most volatile category so absolutely nothing is sacred or safe. Expect more big name clubs to fall by the wayside this year only to be replaced by something that they hope will be bigger and better.
In terms of big events, Vegas is solidifying its position as a festival town with the debut of the first US version of Rock in Rio. The two weekends of concerts in May will feature No Doubt, Metallica, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, John Legend, Deftones, Joss Stone, and more. It's all being held at a new festival ground under construction across from the SLS Las Vegas that will have street scenes, multiple stages, rides and attractions, and the facilities to support the expected 80,000 people per weekend set to descend on the area.
Rock in Rio joins the continuing Electric Daisy Carnival electronic dance music festival in June, the Life is Beautiful festival in October, the country themed Route 91 Harvest Festival in October, and the pop-music extravaganza iHeart Radio Music Festival in September.