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VEGAS4VISITORS.COM WEEKLY COLUMN BY RICK GARMAN
October 12, 2015
The Countdown: Top 10 Vegas News Stories of the Week
Kerry Simon to Get Strip Marquee Tribute
It's rare that any single person can unite the hotels on The Strip but Chef Kerry Simon was one of them. Simon, who passed away a few weeks ago from Multiple System Atrophy, will be honored on The Strip when multiple hotels up and down the street will change their marquees to feature a message celebrating his life. The popular chef had restaurants at several hotels around Vegas and was loved in the local community. The marquee honorarium will happen on Sunday, October 18 at 7pm. Read the review of Chef Simon's Carson Kitchen.
MTV's Real World Takes Over The Gold Spike
If you happen to find yourself Downtown and see some extra-drunk or overly dramatic behavior happening, check to see if there are cameras around. MTV is back in Vegas filming the 25th season if its "reality" show The Real World at The Gold Spike. Past seasons have been filmed in Vegas at The Palms and The Hard Rock. The former Gold Spike casino stopped being a casino in 2014 but it, and its sister the Oasis next door, have continued on as low-cost housing and rentals for folks doing business at Zappos across the street and other visitors. Read the history of The Gold Spike.
Vegas Speedway Adding Luxury Options
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway wants to be high class, or so it seems from the construction going on now that will add a new VIP section overlooking the track and a luxury RV lot complete with its own concierge. The grandstands along turns three and four are being replaced with the new amenities and will provide up-close views of the races and far-off views of Las Vegas. The VIP stands are reserved for companies that buy 50 tickets or more and the RV section will run intrepid "campers" $8,000 on NASCAR weekend. The new facilities should be done by March of next year in time for the big race. Read more about the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Trump International in Las Vegas Hacked
The Trump International hotel in Las Vegas - and a bunch of other Trump hotels around the world - were hacked for nearly a year, with guests' information like credit cards, addresses, and the like stolen. The data breach happened between May 2014 and June 2015 but investigators have said they haven't found any evidence that the personal information has been used for identity theft. If you stayed at the hotel, ate a restaurant there, or even bought something in the gift shop, your info may be at risk and Trump International is offering free identify theft protection for a year - just contact the hotel. Read more about the Trump International.
Bruno Mars in Wax and In Person
Bruno Mars is getting double exposure in Vegas with a new wax figure and an upcoming New Year's Eve concert. The wax figure debuted this week at Madame Tussaud's at The Venetian in their music room in honor of his 30th birthday. Hopefully it will get molested a little bit less frequently than the Nicki Minaj figure that has been the subject of scandal lately. If wax is not enough Bruno for you, perhaps you can score tickets to his Vegas New Year's Eve concert at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Or not... tickets went on sale last week and are already sold out, although you can still get them through resellers like Stub Hub. Read more about Madame Tussaud's and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Nightlife Shake Ups: Cirque Dumps Light; Revolution Lounge to Close
Two popular clubs in Vegas are undergoing some significant changes with news that Cirque du Soleil has pulled out of its partnership with Light at Mandalay Bay and the Beatles themed Revolution Lounge at The Mirage will close. Cirque was involved with the entertainment and atmospherics at Light but no longer, meaning that if the club continues with Cirque-style performers appearing around the room at various times, they won't be actual Cirque performers. The management company Hakkasan has also dumped Light and the clubs owners have hired Play Management to take the reins. What this means to the experience in the club is to be determined. Meanwhile, Revolution, which also had ties to Cirque through the Beatles themed LOVE show, will be shuttering October 14. It'll be replaced by a new nightclub sometime next year. See all Vegas nightlife.
SkyJump Vegas Welcomes 200,000th Crazy Person
Since it opened in 2010, SkyJump Las Vegas at The Stratosphere has had 200,000 people crazy enough to jump off the top of the tower with only a metal cable holding them in place as they take the 855-foot drop. On October 2nd, Ruby Johnson was the 200,000th person to do the ride and was surprised on the landing pad by Stratosphere staff and welcomed with champagne, balloons, confetti and a grand prize package valued at $2,000. The package consisted of a seven-day cruise to Mexico on Norwegian Cruise Lines, a three-night stay at Stratosphere, SkyJump merchandise, food, drinks, and more. Everyone else who took the plunge on that day got in on the celebrations with prizes including free dinners and hotel stays. Crazy. Read more about the thrill rides at The Stratosphere.
Celine Adds Shows
Celine Dion returned to her residency at Caesars Palace recently and apparently demand is so high for tickets that she has had to add more shows. 23 new performances have been added to the schedule from February through June of 2016 adding to the nearly two dozen shows she has yet to peform in 2015 and January of 2016. Dion took a year off of her show to care for her husband who is battling throat cancer and returned with a substantially revised show in August. Tickets for all dates are on sale now and range from $55 to $250. Read more about Celine Dion.
Nazarian Out at SLS Las Vegas
Sam Nazarian was the driving force behind the conversion of the aging Sahara into the struggling SLS Las Vegas but apparently he's driving someplace else as his company, SBE, has sold its stake in the hotel to the investment firm that owns the rest of the property. Nazarian never got a real chance to run the place allegations of drug use kept him from getting the necessary approvals to be involved with a casino. Stockbridge, the company that now owns the whole thing, will license the SLS and restaurants from SBE and are going to continue to refine operations to see if the hotel can turn a profit - something it hasn't done since it opened. What this means for the future of the hotel is murky. Stockbridge has said they have enough money in the hotel's bank accounts to fund operations through the end of the year but what will happen after that is unknown? Will they keep throwing money at a money-losing venture or will they try to sell it? Stay tuned. Read more about the SLS Las Vegas.
Giada Now Serving Brunch
Since its debut last year, Giada De Laurentiis' restaurant at The Cromwell has been one of the most popular in town, with reservations required weeks in advance to get a table at peak dining times. Shortly after they opened they started lunch and then breakfast and now they are adding a weekend brunch. They are offering pastries, breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and more. They are debuting two new items including a Lobster Hash and the Italian Chicken & Waffle. And of course don't forget the booze, from "limitless" mimosas to bloody Mary's and beyond. The brunch runs Saturday and Sunday starting at 8am and can be done ala carte or as a tasting menu at $45 per person. Read more about Giada.
Celebrating Wacky Holidays in Vegas
The holidays are upon us. No, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve, I'm talking about the really important ones like National Dessert Day and International Magic Week!
Although the federally recognized ones get all the attention, there are "holidays" almost every single day, most dreamed up by marketing organizations to promote a product of some kind. But hey, when you get things like National Dessert Day out of the bargain I feel as though the profit-minded motivations are perfectly acceptable.
Let's take a look at a few of the upcoming holidays and how you can best celebrate them while in Las Vegas.
Monday, October 12 is National Gumbo Day, so you should probably go to Louisiana to celebrate it right but you can do pretty good in Vegas at either Lola's Louisiana Kitchen near the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North or Zydeco Po-boys in Downtown Las Vegas. Both are run by honest-to-goodness Louisiana natives and so they take things like gumbo really seriously.
Tuesday, October 13 is Face Your Fears Day and there are lots of ways you can do that in Las Vegas. There are extreme thrill rides like the Roller Coaster at New York-New York, El Loco at Adventuredome, and the craziness atop the Stratosphere Tower. Then again, maybe what you're afraid of is wearing a bathing suit to the Vegas hotel pool... you can take care of that here also.
Wednesday, October 14 is National Dessert Day and there are way too many good ones to eat in Las Vegas but I'm going to throw my fork toward the tres leches cake at Las Comida, the giant chocolate chip cookie at Old Homestead, the frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3, the cheesecake at Citizens Kitchen, and the strawberry shortcake at Andiamo Steakhouse.
Sunday October 18 is National Chocolate Cupcake Day and there is only one place to think about in Vegas to celebrate the occasion: The Cupcakery. There are three locations open in Vegas and their cupcakes are the best in the city by far and are competitive for the title of best I've had anywhere.
Sunday, October 25 is World Pasta Day and where I'd send you in Vegas depends on your taste and your budget. If you want the traditional Italian at a moderate cost go to Buddy V's, if you want a mix of old and new and don't mind paying a little more go to Rao's, and if you want more contemporary pastas and don't care about the cost, go to Giada... if you can get a table.
Wednesday, October 28 is National Chocolate Day according to at least a few websites, although it's worth noting that there are other days that proclaim this holiday during the year. I say fine... you can never have too many National Chocolate Days. In Vegas, go try the chocolate covered strawberries at Ghirardelli or the house made chocolate selections at Hexx Kitchen & Bar.
October 25-31 is International Magic Week so celebrate by seeing a bunch of Vegas magic shows. Start with Mac King's laugh-out-loud tricks in the afternoon, then move on to a classic David Copperfield set in the early evening, and finish it off with the perception-challenging Penn & Teller as a nightcap.
When to Avoid Las Vegas
Planning a trip to Las Vegas is all about timing - finding that period when there are plenty of rooms available, which keeps things cheap. Generally speaking the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, late January, and August are the slowest times of year but what about the busiest?
What follows are the events that draw lots and lots of people to Vegas, which of course drives up room rates. If you want to avoid the highest prices, avoid Vegas during these times.
New Year's Eve
The days around December 31st used to be the busiest time in Vegas but have been eclipsed lately by a big event in the summer (see EDC below). Still, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the city to ring in the New Year and room rates are usually sky high.
Memorial and Labor Day
People like to celebrate the beginning and end of summer by heading to Vegas and the casinos love to put big splashy parties, concerts, and events on these weekends to capitalize on them.
Pick any holiday that creates a long weekend like President's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or something like Fourth of July on certain years and you'll get massive crowds taking advantage of the time away from work.
There are more and more big music festivals happening in Vegas but the one you really need to be concerned about is the Electric Daisy Carnival, which happens in June. The electronic dance music fest now draws more people to Las Vegas than any other single event including New Year's Eve, with more than half a million partiers to town.
Major Sporting Events
The big game, usually in early February, brings lots of sports betters to town and they drive up room rates.
The Las Vegas races usually happen over a weekend in early March and the city is packed with fans of going fast.
National Finals Rodeo
The annual event, held ever December, is the biggest pro rodeo event in the country. Watch out for big belt buckles and big prices on rooms.
These don't happen on a regular schedule but when a bout is held in Las Vegas you can count on insane prices on rooms and long lines everywhere you go.
Consumer Electronics Show
CES is usually held in early January, drawing about 165,000 tech geeks to Vegas.
Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week
More than 140,000 people who love to customize their cars descend on Sin City in early November.
Show Review: Puppetry of the Penis
I'd kind of like to leave my review of this show to just that, but I guess that would probably leave a lot of questions that I would rather not answer later so here we go.
This is one of those things where you want to ask how anyone could have ever thought of doing it and then you realize that it involved guys and probably a fair amount of alcohol and it all starts to makes sense. Regardless of the origins, the show has played in 35 countries around the world over the last two decades and is now in an open-ended run at a small theater inside the Erotic Heritage Museum.
The concept is fairly simple - two guys use their anatomy to make various shapes. There's a brain, Gene Simmon's tongue, Kim Kardashian's butt, Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball, ET, a mushroom cloud, the Eiffel Tower, a cowboy hat, a sombrero, various food items including a hot dog and hamburger, and on and on it goes. This is not done behind a screen or with some sort of visual trickery; they are completely naked on stage and pull, bend, stretch, and twist their, um, "stuff" into these various forms for the audience's amusement or horror depending on how extreme it is.
It is done for comedic value and is not, even in the slightest little bit, sexy. And the two affable chaps make it more goofy than creepy, which it could get very quickly with the wrong people doing this. If these guys weren't naked and doing silly stuff with their junk, they'd be people you'd probably want to go grab a beer with.
The show is obviously not for everyone. I'd say the gauge is your instant reaction to the concept. If the idea of it makes you smile or laugh (even as you may be shaking your head in amazement that people do this kind of thing), then you'll probably enjoy it. If not, you may want to consider going to see a nice magic show.
Oddly captivating. Funny. Wrong in a lot of ways.