Virgin Hotels Las Vegas Releases New Ad

The Virgin brand has always stood out by the way they market their properties.  The first ad for their Virgin Hotel Las Vegas was recently released and it rocks!!

The new hotel will open in the first part of January 2021!

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Virgin Hotels Las Vegas set to open on January 15, 2021.
If you have not been following, the Virgin Hotel is what used to be the Hard Rock Resort, just reimagined the Virgin way!

Virgin recently unveiled their plans for its 1,500 hotel rooms and suites, designed by Los Angeles firm Studio Collective. The three distinctive towers’ names will be Opal, Canyon, and the all-suite Ruby Tower. Virgin Las Vegas will be part of the Curio Collection by Hilton and will participate in the Hilton Honors guest loyalty program.


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Did the MGM Sell the MGM ? (video)

A question that has been popping up on the Las Vegas forums a lot lately is asking about the recent news of the MGM being sold.  So did the MGM sell the MGM, Mandalay Bay and the Bellagio? If so, what does that mean for the hotels?

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The Short Answer

The short answer is “Yes” MGM sold the MGM, the Mandalay Bay, and the Bellagio Resorts. But they did not sell the MGM, Mandalay Bay, or the Bellagio. I know. Confusing? What they sold was the physical property of each resort with the idea to lease them back from the “new “property owners”. So they did not “sell” the resorts themselves.

Like most things in Las Vegas, the resorts were run a little differently then they do elsewhere in America.  Look at it like this:  When you go to your ordinary Holiday Inn, do you think that Holiday Inn franchisee owns the actual land and buildings?  Oftentimes they don’t.  It’s leased.  That’s why you may see it as a Holiday Inn one year and a Motel 6 the next. Depends on who is leasing the building.

In Las Vegas, getting the money to build a casino resort was not an easy thing to do.  The usual financial channels a business would use to loan money to build were not touching places like Vegas. That’s what helped bring in the Mob.  Corporate America was not going to tarnish their squeaky clean reputations by buying into “Sin City”.  That started to change thanks to men like Howard Hughes.
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The Las Vegas Resort

So when they built a resort, the resort owned it all. The land, the buildings, and the business. Since Las Vegas was the only place in America for gambling, the casinos were busy making huge profits and using some of their profits to fund other areas of the resort.  That how we got the 99 cent shrimp cocktails as well as the really cheap buffets.  Much of the cost for these customer catching amenities were being paid for by casino profits.

As gambling started to open up around the country in the 1990s and with tighter air travel restrictions after 2001, more people gambled closer to home instead of gambling in Las Vegas.  The casino was no longer the resorts profit center.  Each department now had to become financially responsible.

Corporate America seized control of the Las Vegas Strip and homogenization became the operative word.  One commercial piece of property had to be run like the others. The XYZ Resort in Las Vegas needed to be run just like the XYZ resort is operated in Detroit.

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Corporate Greed

We can’t forget about the other keyword in Corporate America, GREED.  The CEO’s of these resorts are making millions without much regard to what was actually happening down on the floor.  They have multi-million dollar contracts with huge stock bonuses even if the resort companies fail to make a profit.

So now they found a new tool to fill their pockets with cash. They spin off the real estate of each resort into tax-sheltered Real Estate Trusts (RET).  With them being the first stockholder of the new trust.  So even if they retire, resign, or are actually fired for being bad caretakers, they will still be making millions from the Real Estate Trust. As well as whatever they made selling off their resort shares that were part of their golden parachute.

What Spooked Jim Murren?

This is why MGM’s former CEO Jim Murren became so concerned about Steve Wynn’s gaming license when they started to create the Bellagio Trust.  MGM would be a minority owner of the trust and Steve Wynn could hypothetically buy back the one resort he wished he never sold.  The Bellagio!! And with some really good legal work, he would be able to kick MGM off the property.

In order for Steve Wynn to do that, he would need to have his gaming license.  So Jim Murren tried to get Steve’s gaming license revoked.  When he saw that wasn’t going to happen, Jim Murren resigned to go work on an even bigger scam. The King of Nevada (Governor Sisolack), called upon him to run the COVID lockdown.

The man who loved to lay people off at MGM would now be in charge of making sure Nevada was the worst in the nation for job loss.  Or would that be the best in the nation for the most jobs lost due to a politically motivated health crisis??

Final words

So to answer the question, most of the resorts on the Las Vegas Strip are run by two companies.  You have the Real Estate Trust and you have the resort company.  Example:  MGM Resorts International is the resorts company. They are the company renting you the room.  MGM Growth Properties is the landlord for the MGM Grand Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay. They own the building and the land the resorts sit on.

For you, the Vegas tourist who is staying at the Resort, it means nothing. Nothing will change except maybe the price.  Now that the resorts have to pay a monthly lease payment regardless of the occupancy rate.

A Toast to the Vegas Believers 2017

As we close out this year, you have to agree that this was one epic year for Las Vegas! For all the things that happened as well as all the things that didn’t happen.   The big news, the sad news and the other weird shit that only happens in Las Vegas! 2017 was a memorable year for Las Vegas Tourism.

I want to focus on the stuff that many of the Vegas naysayers said could never happen, but did in 2017.

Who Would Have Ever Thought? 

Hockey Anyone?
All those armchair professors who screamed from the rafters that Vegas would NEVER get an NHL team.  Not only did we get an NHL team, we got a team that came out kicking and haven’t shown any signs of slowing down their first season out.

  • First team in 100 years to start life in the NHL 5-1
  • The Golden Knights have scored four or more goals 17 times in their first 32 games
  • At 26-9-2, the Golden Knights have the NHL’s fifth-best record
  • First team to win six straight games in their inaugural season

NFL Got a Clue in 2017
Remember all those years the NFL kept telling the fine people of Las Vegas to go screw ourselves, they will never let us get an NFL team?  Yea.  They kept telling us that we needed to clean up our act and get civilized before they would even consider granting us an opportunity to beg to be considered for a such a prized possession as an NFL team in our valley!  Yea. Wonder how that crow is tasting today??

The National Football League (NFL) got their butts handed to them in 2017 in so many deliciously different ways.  I just like the fact that their sports rival, the NHL, beat them to the Fort Knox of professional sports, Las Vegas.  Watching the NFL Gods back peddled on their words about Las Vegas and decided maybe it was time to call a truce to the feud with the city and grant us a team.

Not that we ever needed a team here to get a badly needed stadium, but having an NFL team helped push the most corruption filled stadium deal thru the legal and financial hoops needed to finally get built.

So they gave us one of the worst teams in the league, at least now we can say we have an NFL team.   We still can’t use the words “Super Bowl” for the Big Game parties held in the resorts, but we have a NFL team.

Las Vegas Raiders Stadium 12-31-17

Vegas Raiders Stadium

We Finally Get the Big Domed Stadium
Something Las Vegas has been needing for the last 20 years finally happened.  We get a big domed stadium opening in 2020.  Sixty thousand seats of convention, big concert, and sporting paradise goodness all next to the Strip and close enough to support one of the most underrated college football teams in the nation.  All it took was a few Strip rivalries to butt heads and a few news articles to show that the LVCVA is indeed a slush fund for the MGM and since the stadium deal was not an MGM idea, it was doomed from the start.

Finally, when Steve Wynn finally broke his silence and spoke in favor of the stadium, all things changed and suddenly MGM was all for the stadium deal to be done.  So another “It will never happen in Vegas” deal got done and we have a stadium being built.  With it comes a title that no other city will hold or want to hold.:

Las Vegas can claim that they have “The Worst publicly financed sports stadium deal ever!!”

The Big Blue Silo is Sold and is Staying
What went from a developer’s $3 billion dream resort to being the Strips monument to excess and exploitation during the big boom and a bankrupt eyesore, has found a new owner who wants to finish the project off.  Of course, I am talking about the Fontainebleau Project!

Carl Icahn purchased the mothballed big blue silo for a bargain price of $150 million in 2010.  He sold it recently to New York developer for $600 million.  Too much money spent to turn it into scrap metal and now with the Vegas economy growing again, it was announced the new owners plan to get busy finishing the place off and opening it.  Maybe a giant Motel 6??

Las Vegas Loves NASCAR

NASCAR Times Two!
I have always said that Vegas loves NASCAR and NASCAR loves Vegas. The money that people pump into Las Vegas during the Spring race is too much to ignore.  We have been praying for a second race, but like always, too many people kept saying we can’t have one.  Its too short of a season and a second race would have to be raced in the hottest part of summer.  Nobody would want to attend NASCAR in Vegas in the summer.  Yea, right. How about a night race like they do for the NASCAR Truck series here?  Well, NASCAR and the track owners said “Great Idea” and they gave us a second fall race at night! September 14,15 and 16.


The Taxicab Mafia is Defeated
For over 50 years, three families ran the transportation industry in this town. They wrote the rules, granted or denied licenses.  They supervised the legal enforcement of their rules and governed who could and could not work in the business.  Not only that, they told the State and local governments how it was going to be, no questions asked. Nobody dares challenge the Las Vegas Taxicab Mafia!

2017 will be the year that historians will say that the Taxicab Mafia put up the white flag of defeat.  They fought a hard, costly battle, called in all their political favors owed and still could not defeat two well-financed companies who decided it was time to end their rule over Las Vegas transportation.  To say they were in a panic would be an understatement.  Being defeated and surrendering is two different things apparently.  The taxicab mafia still sends out news releases telling of their wonderful upgrades and changes to their aging fleets. The new technology they adapted and how wonderful they are to work with.  In reality, they have since closed or cut back operations, layed off staff and started to be nicer to their remaining drivers.  Not to mention that they had absolutely no say in the newly proposed expansion of the Las Vegas Monorail.  All signs of defeat.  The taxicab mafia lost, the Las Vegas tourist won!

At this rate, 2018 should be an amazing year from the start!

So as we close out 2017, raise a glass of something special with someone you love, cheer that you were one of the believers and make a toast to a more entertaining and adventurous 2018!


Happy New Year Everyone

From The Vegas Tourist!




5 Sure Bets on Changing Vegas

Recently the Motley Fool website ran an article on the changing Las Vegas landscape.  It sounded a lot like what I tell my tour guests when they ask about Las Vegas today: The Las Vegas of today is less about gambling and more about the experience. Here are the 5 bets you can be sure on about the future of Las Vegas.

    1. More tourists
      Ok, this one was kind of a given.  But as we learned with 9/11 and the crash of 2008/2009, you can never be too sure.  Last year we had a record 41 million tourists visit our little island in the desert.  And from what all the indicators are showing, 2016 will be even better. We are looking at 43 million for the year if everything continues like it is.
    2.  They aren’t gambling as much
      This one is interesting.  According to the LVCVA 2015 tourist survey, fewer people are gambling but those that are, are gambling more.  77% gambled in 2011., 73% gambled in 2015.  They spent on average $345 in 2011 compared with $422 in 2015.  They are spending more elsewhere: dining, shows, and entertainment (including tours!).
      Steve Wynn was correct in 1998 when he told people at the opening of the Bellagio that gambling would no longer be the cash cow of the casino.  People thought he was crazy to say that.  But he was right back then and still is today.  Vegas is moving (slowly) away from gambling as the main draw for tourists.
    3. Still the largest in the world
      When it comes to holding records, Las Vegas has the market cornered.  We are home to the largest, biggest, badest, tallest… you name it, we probably have the record holder of it right here. Las Vegas is home to some of the largest hotels in the world.  17 out of the top 27 – 25 out of the top 50 largest hotels are located in Las Vegas.  The Palazzo/Venetian being the largest with 7,200 rooms (suites).  Las Vegas occupancy rate is at 89%.  The national average is about 63%.
      The Wynn will get a lagoon?
    4. To win, bet on Wynn
      To bet against Steve Wynn is to make a fool’s bet.  He knows how to make money with hotels and casinos and he knows how to fill them with guests who want to spend their money.
      Now it looks like he will get his dream. To tear out the golf course and put in a convention center complex and fantasy lagoon.  And it will make money! Currently, his namesake hotel boasts a $321 a night average rate with a 91% occupancy.  The best one the Strip.
    5. Conventions, Conventions, and more Conventions are coming
      I have always said that if there is a group of people who get together, they will have a convention and there is a good chance that convention will find its way to Las Vegas.  People keep asking “Does the Las Vegas Convention Center really need the Riviera space?”  – Personally, I was not in favor of tearing down the Riviera for the convention center.
      The convention center needs more space and it definitely needed a Las Vegas Strip address and entrance.  They got that with the Riviera purchase.  To answer if they need the space?  I would say to look at the Convention Calander
      I can say that pretty much every hotel on the Strip and even most of the large ones downtown are preparing to attract more meetings and more conventions. Everyone seems to be adding space or reconfiguring what they have to accommodate more conventions and meetings.   More conventions are coming and more want to come. But it’s a tough business to be in because other cities caught on and they now want to have the business Vegas used to take for granted.


What are your thoughts on the changing Vegas scene?? 


Photos: Tom Donoghue

H/T[Motley Fools]

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ Coming to Las Vegas

From showgirls and sinking ships to screaming fans and would be millionaires. The question of what will become of the now vacant Jubilee! Theater at Bally’s seems to have been answered.  On Friday, ABC announced that the 2016-2015 season of the popular game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” will be shot at Bally’s. This will be show’s 15th season and is scheduled to premiere Sept. 12.

The craziness and popularity of Las Vegas seems perfect for game shows.  Almost every year, we can count on the shows like “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” to make a stop for a week or so here.  Even Bob Barker made a special appearance here to shoot several episodes of “The Price is Right”.  In 2009, Wayne Brady helped to relaunch “Let’s Make a Deal” from the Tropicana before moving it to Hollywood.

As the first U.S. network game show to offer a million-dollar top prize, the show made television history by becoming one of the highest-rated game shows in the history of American television. The U.S. show is ranked #6 in the 2013 list of the 60 greatest game shows of all time.

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” premiered in 1999 in prime time on ABC with host Regis Philbin.  Then in 2002, it relaunched as a syndicated show with Meredith Vieira doing the hosting duties for eleven seasons. Later hosts included Cedric the Entertainer (2013–14), Terry Crews (2014–15), and now Chris Harrison of ABC’s long-running reality show “The Bachelor” is the host.

No word on what the remodeling schedule is or when tickets for the new show will be available.


ref: Wikipedia