LAS VEGAS: Bye Bye Bill’s – Caeser’s to Open New Strip Hotel-Casino

Image by Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0

While new construction has been at a standstill since the City Center complex opened, we are still seeing old establishments being rehabbed into brand new hotels and casinos. The Imperial Palace became the Quad, the Sahara is being renovated into an upscale SLS hotel, and Caeser’s transformed its Centurion Tower into Nobu Hotel. Now Caeser’s is at it again, transforming Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, located at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road.

No doubt it is the location that attracted the casino giant to the space. It is center-Strip with a good amount of foot traffic and corner marquee. According to Vegas Eater, the property will be a collaboration between Caeser’s and upscale Gansevoort Hotel Group and be called The Cromwell. It will house approximately 200 rooms & suites, a 40,000-square foot casino, Giada De Laurentiis’s first restaurant, and a mega night/dayclub on the roof operated by Las Vegas nighlife guru Victor Drai. Look for a February/March opening.

The Cromwell
3595 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Fodor’s Hotel Awards

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Fodor’s Travel recently named the 2013 Fodor’s Hotel Award Winners, which included hotels from around the world. According to Arabella Bowen, Fodor’s Travel executive editorial director, “To compile the Fodor’s 100, we look for properties within emerging destinations, trends our editors have been seeing throughout the year, new and noteworthy openings, and enduring favorites to create a list that will inspire all types of travel and traveler.”

This year’s list has been broken up into eight categories: Enduring Classics, Creative Conversions, Culinary Gems, Home Suite Homes, Sleek City Addresses, Local Characters, Exotic Hideaways and Blissful Beach Retreats. While you can access the full list here, the editors at JenLeoDals.com have carefully chosen one hotel from each category to feature.

Enduring Classics
“Enduring” is the perfect term for The Peninsula Hong Kong, which is described by Fodor’s as “an oasis of old-world glamour—opened in 1928.” As the island’s only historical five-star luxury hotel, this oasis of calm amidst the bustling city sits on the harbor, with outstanding views, outstanding service, and the perfect blend of east-meets-west.

Creative Conversions
According to the Travel Channel, Croatia has become the fastest growing Mediterranean tourist destination, and the Hotel Vestibul Palace could be one of the reasons. This creative conversion is made up of three palaces from three different eras in the Old Town of Split. It marries the new with the old, with modern touches interspersed with that of the Romanic, Gothic and Renaissance periods of the castles.

Culinary Gems
The lone Las Vegas entry in Fodor’s 100 is the new Nobu Hotel, a boutique hotel located within the Caesers Palace property. This hotel within a hotel sports 181 rooms and suites, has its own check-in lobby and dedicated concierge, as well as the largest Nobu restaurant in the world (hence it being named a culinary gem). The rooms, envisioned by Chef Nobu and partner Robert DeNiro, provide guests with complimentary valet service, priority access to Nobu, and free access to both PURE nightclub and the Qua Fitness Center.

Home Suite Homes
This category pays tribute to small boutique hotels with fewer than 40 rooms, and while there is a wide range of locations among the honorees, we were most impressed by Fazenda Nova in Tavira, Portugal. Sitting among 25 acres of olive groves and fruit orchards, this converted farm has a wide array of amenities and is located near both beaches and the country’s Algarve vineyards. Described as “affordable chic,” Fazenda Nova has a mere 10 suites along with a restaurant that serves seasonal dishes, inspired by the kitchen garden and orchards on the property, as well as the nearby ocean.

Sleek City Addresses
In contrast to the rural Fazenda Nova mentioned above is the ME London, an upscale, avant-garde hotel centrally located along the Strand. Part of the Melia Hotel Group, the ME London is a high-tech modern masterpiece, boasting 157 rooms, two New York-based restaurants, and a location that puts you near theaters, shopping, trendy nightclubs, as well as a bevy of tourist destinations.

Local Characters
The Volcano House on the Big Island of Hawaii nailed this category, which features “one-of-a-kind properties [that] specialize in immersive experiences that push beyond the typical hospitality formula.” Sitting on the rim of the Kilauea caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano House may be the oldest hotel on the list, with its first incarnation beginning in 1846. The hotel, with only 33 rooms, recently underwent a major rehabilitation  and reconstruction implementing sustainability initiatives and providing simple luxury with gorgeous crater views.

Exotic Hideaways
The exotic locales in this category run the gamut from Bali to Zambia but our attention strayed to a retreat in the Kingdom of Bhutan, a tiny little country located in the eastern Himalayas. Uma by Como is located in Punakha, a less-traveled area of the country that only has 750,000 residents. Twenty-nine luxury rooms and private villas occupy the property, set amongst the forested mountains, all with stunning views of the Punakha Valley.

Blissful Beach Retreats
To round out the eighth category is an entry from Central America, El Secreto in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Opened just last year, El Secreto has only 13 private villas combining a rustic exterior with a luxurious interior. The opportunity for adventure abounds here, with the Caribbean outside your door where you can kayak, dive, snorkel, fish and swim. Nearby nature preserves and archeological ruins await exploration on foot or by bike. Relaxation can also be yours, lounging on the white-sand beach or partaking in a massage or spa ritual at their Ikal Spa.

LAS VEGAS: Hakkasan, Body English & Pure Receive High Honors

Given that nightclubs are a dime a dozen in Sin City, we are very appreciative of the work that Vegas Seven has gone to in identifying the best and the brightest. This week they have announced their annual Nightclub Awards, providing locals and visitors alike with a guide to the hottest clubs, best DJs, and where to get your dance on. Twenty-four categories spell out in detail where you should be spending your hard-earned dollars on some fun. So what are you waiting for? Read on and plan your next foray to Vegas, baby!

Best New Club: Not surprisingly, Hakkasan took this award and probably blew away its competition. Opened on April 18th of this year, the MGM spend 400 days, employing 300 workers to build this five-level, 80,000 square-foot “super” club. Level 1 holds the upscale restaurant; the 2nd level is a private dining area overlooking the main restaurant; Level 3 belongs to the Ling Ling Club and Lounge, a more laid-back cultured experience for cocktails and schmoozing. The raucous nightclub resides on the 4th level, featuring dance floor with surrounding VIP booths, floor-to-ceiling LED screens, and elevated DJ booth. Adjacent to the nightclub is the outdoor pavilion with Strip-facing patio featuring pool, Garden Bar, and a two-story water feature. High atop, on Level 5, is the intimate VIP environment for larger parties in semi-private rooms. A little something for everyone.

Best After-Hours Club: For those of you who like the late-night action, the renovated Body English in the Hard Rock Hotel takes top honors. This subterranean club lets you get your party on until the sun comes up in the morning (Friday, Saturday, Sunday only). DJs spin underground, indie, electronic and new school hip hop, letting you get your groove on in between drinks.

Best Club When You Don’t Have Bottle Service: Not everyone can pop for bottle service—which is usually a minimum of $350—but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Top dog in this category is Surrender Nightclub at the Encore with its eye-popping decor. This club combines the indoor with the outdoor, with over 60,000 square feet of space, including pools and patio. High-profile DJs rock the house, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday only.

Lifetime Achievement Award: If you want the tried and true, the cream of the crop for almost a decade, then Pure Nightclub at Caesers is tough to beat. This year’s Lifetime Achievement winner sets the bar high, from its plush venues and gorgeous Strip views, to the celebrity partygoers and multiple awards it has received. It’s one of those places that should be high on your Las Vegas bucket list.

For the full list of award winners with descriptions, check out the Vegas Seven Nightclub Awards page here.

LAS VEGAS: Sin City To Get Its Very Own Carlo’s Bake Shop

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Cake Boss Buddy Valastro is really starting to like Las Vegas. Just last month he launched Buddy V’s at the Palazzo, an Italian-American eatery serving Italian comfort food based on family recipes. Now he has announced that he will open a Sin City version of his East Coast family bakery right next door. Carlo’s Bake Shop, expected to open in the next few months, will take up residency at the Venetian. The 2,200 square-foot space will serve up his famous cannolis, biscotti, and Italian sponge cakes, as well as the elaborately decorated cakes he is famous for.

Carlo’s Bake Shop originated in Hoboken in 1910 and has become internationally known due to Buddy’s gorgeous wedding cakes featured in bridal magazines, as well as the two TLC television series he appears on: Cake Boss and The Next Great Baker.

 

LAS VEGAS: Top 5 New Year’s Eve Parties

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December is now upon us and it’s time to get serious about where you will be celebrating New Year’s Eve. Las Vegas is always rockin’ with a party on every corner and rooms fill up fast, so do not delay. The choices abound, but we’ve whittled down the list to a more manageable 5, to make travel planning even easier.

Here are some of our favorite choices to ring in the New Year:

COSMOPOLITAN
The Cosmopolitan has several events going on but the celebration at The Ice Rink is where I’d want to be. You’ll be high above the Strip in a winter wonderland, skating your cares away and listening to Bruno Mars in concert on a marquee made of 65 digital panels. (He’s performing live downstairs at The Chelsea.) Tickets include cocktails.
Where: The Ice Rink, Cosmopolitan
When: 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Cost: $99 – $150 (Must be 21 to attend)

DOWNTOWN/FREMONT STREET
The Fremont Street Experience hosts one of Sin City’s biggest NYE parties, spanning several blocks, under the light canopy (which will be displaying a special light show that evening). This year’s party theme is “Rock in the New Year” and will feature 9 hours of live music on 3 stages, including Vince Neil (of Motley Crue) and Loverboy. The midnight countdown includes a dazzling fireworks display and revelers can duck into any number of casinos to warm up, try their hand at a game of poker, or freshen up their drinks.
Where: Fremont Street
When: Gates open at 6 p.m.
Cost: $40 (Must be 21 to attend)

ARIA
The Gold Boutique Nightclub and Lounge inside the Aria hotel is throwing a NYE Countdown hosted by JabbaWockeeZ, winners of America’s Best Dance Crew (and currently entertaining guests at their new customized theater at the Luxor). In addition to the drama and dance of this high-energy group, The Bangerz will deejay the event. First two hours feature an open bar, people, so don’t be late!
Where: The Ice Rink, Aria
When: Starts at 9 p.m.
Cost: $50 for the ladies; $75 for gents; table reservations start at $1,200 (Must be 21 to attend)

CAESARS PALACE
Pure Nightclub at Caesers recently won the Lifetime Achievement Award in the annual Vegas Seven Nightclub Awards and on New Year’s this plush venue with gorgeous Strip views will make you a believer. This is the cream of the crop and always deserves a visit no matter what time of year you visit Las Vegas. Known for hosting celebrities on a regular basis, you can hobnob with the best at this venue. Open bar from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Where: Pure Nightclub, Caesers Palace
When: 8 p.m. to 4 a.m..
Cost: $50 for the ladies; $100 for gents; Tickets here

PLANET HOLLYWOOD
How about a “Bottomless New Year’s Eve” at Koi Ultra Lounge? Planet Hollywood is set dead center in the middle of the Strip, giving you a bird’s eye view of all the revelry and fireworks along Las Vegas Boulevard. Tickets include an open bar and party favors.
Where: Koi Ultra Lounge, Planet Hollywood
When: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Cost: $40 for the ladies; $60 for gents;  bottle service $150 – $200 Tickets here

NOTE: The Las Vegas Strip will be closed to ALL auto traffic after 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, so plan appropriately.

 

LAS VEGAS: 14th Annual Latin Grammy Awards Coming to Mandalay Bay

GrammyHIRES

November 21st marks the date that the Latin Grammys come to town to blow the roof off of the Mandalay Bay Event Center. And for those of us not nominated or in the industry, there is the opportunity to attend this swanky event and see some great performances. Currently, a limited number of tickets are available to the public through the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office or Ticketmaster.

The event, hosted by actor/singer Lucero, will include performances by nominees Pablo Alboran, Marc Anthony, Miguel Bose,Jesse & Joy, Natalia LaFourcade, Draco Rosa, and more. Multiple nominees include Carlos Vives with five nominations, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album Of The Year, Best Tropical Song for “Volví A Nacer,” and Best Tropical Fusion Album for Corazón Profundo. Pablo Alborán and Draco Rosa both have three nods, while Miguel Bosé and Natalia Lafourcade have two apiece. Bosé will also be honored as the 2013 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year for his philanthropic and professional accomplishments.

14th Annual Latin Grammys
When
: Thursday, November 21st
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center
Cost: $50-600  (Mandalay Bay Events Center box office or Ticketmaster)

 

LAS VEGAS: Downtown Container Park Debut

Container park2

The face of downtown Las Vegas will be forever changed in the next few weeks when the new Downtown Container Park makes its debut. What began as an empty plot of land has been transformed into a vibrant, walkable retail and entertainment district composed of recycled shipping containers, a train caboose, and Xtreme Cubes which will house cafes & bars, boutiques & galleries, and so much more.

This urban revitalization is the brainchild of the Downtown Project, “a group of passionate people committed to helping to transform Downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world.”  This is just one of their many projects which is slowly changing the face of downtown Las Vegas, year by year.

The Downtown Container Park will be host to more than 40 tenants, including Big Ern’s BBQ, The Beatnik coffee shop, Pork & Beans, Pinches Tacos, Sasa Sweets dessert shop, Bin 702 wine bar, The Boozery, and museum stores for the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum. The space with the most flair, though, just might be Bolt Barbers, which will be housed in a vintage train caboose. There is also a children’s playground, outdoor theater, and large public art pieces (including a 40-foot preying mantis that shoots flames).

Downtown Container Park
Where
: Between 7th & 8th streets x Fremont
When: Early November

LAS VEGAS: Annual Restaurant Awards Tempt Travelers

Honey Salt's Farmer's Toast

Honey Salt’s Farmer’s Toast

One of the biggest conundrums when visiting Vegas is where to eat. I’m not just talking about the Michelin-star chef restaurants that are now requisite amongst Strip hotels, but the hidden gems in Chinatown, the cool new dessert bars, the outliers in Summerlin and Henderson that are worthy of a cab ride. With all the restaurant openings and closings, it can be a tough road for visitors, but Vegas Seven has just made your Sin City trip planning a little bit easier by announcing this year’s best restaurants, both on and off the strip, be it a brasserie, brunch, bar bite or buffet.

This year awards were handed out in 27 categories that run the gamut from Best Under-the-Radar to Best Obscure Ethnic Dish, with Best Mixologist, Pizzeria, Dessert and Buffet mixed in. While you can view the complete list of winners here, we thought we would share our favorites with you and encourage you to try something new on your next visit:

Best Brunch: This year’s surprise winner is China Poblano, the Cosmopolitan Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant. While you might frown at the pairing of these two cuisines, this restaurant makes it work. The a la carte brunch includes the more traditional dim sum and chilaquiles, as well as a fresh take on gazpacho that includes pineapple, cucumber, jicama, dragonfruit, queso fresco and chile pequin, a beautifully presented rainbow congee, and churros with hot Mexican chocolate to complete your meal.

Best Mexican Restaurant: Leticia’s Mexican Cocina, located on the north side of the valley, focuses their entire menu on authentic family-style items, prepared with fresh ingredients. You can enjoy community plates of carnitas, carne asada, enchiladas, or chile rellenos, or go a la carte with chef specials such as Cecina a la Tampiquena, Mojarra, and delectable Langosta.  They also serve hangover-worthy menudo (Friday through Sunday only) and authentic Mexican coffee and donuts.

Best Restaurant Off-Strip: Honey Salt over in Summerlin makes the grade here, using carefully sourced ingredients for their “farm-to-table inspired menu.” Drool-worthy items include grilled peaches & ricotta, caramelized sea scallops (with a vanilla bean cauliflower puree), and a brown bag baked peach pie. Chef Joe Zanelli also offers a three-course tasting menu ($45) for those who just cannot decide.

LAS VEGAS: Halloween in Sin City

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If you happen to be in Las Vegas during October, then you will have some scary choices to make.  The city that never sleeps is already like a year-long masquerade ball, but the week surrounding this haunted holiday brings some special events including Wicked West Haunted Ghost Town, Fright Dome, Fetish & Fantasy Ball, and the Las Vegas Zombie Run.

Ghostly Adventures Await
Bonnie Springs Ranch, a wild west-themed attraction out by Red Rock Canyon has two events to celebrate: A three-hour Haunted Ghost Tour on October 26th (7 or 10:30 pm) where each participant will actually go on the hunt, carrying state-of-the-art equipment to conduct paranormal investigations. Limited to 10 participants per tour, you will get to search out haunted souls and explore strange phenomenon. Cost: $60 (purchase tickets here). Additionally, they are hosting Bonnie Screams: Wicked West Haunted Ghost Town featuring haunted train ride, trail of doom, haunted houses, and live performances. Running from 7pm to midnight, October 10-31st, you can purchase tickets for $25 here.

Fright Dome
Circus Circus will again be transforming the Adventuredome into Fright Dome which will be open on select dates from October 3-31. Ranked as one of the top 5 haunted attractions in the U.S., this year they have teamed up with Fortress Features and will be offering six stand-alone haunted houses, including the first ever isolation-style haunted house (Hotel Argento) and two new haunted houses inspired by horror films “The Collection” and “The Collector.”  Willing victims can also enjoy rides, scare zones, and live entertainment. Not recommended for children under 12. General admission is $37.95, Fast Pass Admission $57.95 and VIP Pass $89.95. Tickets are available here.

Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball
If strapping on some leather or transforming into Marie Antoinette is your thing, then the Fetish & Fantasy Ball at the Hard Rock is the best ticket in town. Held Saturday, October 26th from 10pm-4am, this all-night party has been called “outrageous, bizarre and risqué,” “the world’s wildest Halloween party, “ and “one of the 5 events to attend before you die.” Attendees must be appropriately attired, meaning costumed or kitted out in leather/rubber/latex/lace. While there is a nudity ban, the imaginative outfits created by party-goers runs the gamut, so get those imaginative juices flowing. Music, vendors, and even a human petting zoo will be available, as will food and drink. General admission is $77, VIP tickets $250, After-Party Tickets $20, and entry to the event can be purchased here. (Note: only 7500 tickets are available for this event.)

Las Vegas Zombie Run
If you are not too hung-over from Saturday night’s festivities, you might want to partake in the Las Vegas Zombie Run on Sunday October 27th. The Zombie Run is a 5k and 1-mile fun run/walk with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit local charities. The event takes place at Sunset Park at 9am with each participant wearing a flag-football belt. If you manage to make it to the finish line with at least one flag left on your person, you finish alive, otherwise you become one of the undead. (Non-runners can volunteer to become one of the undead here.) Cost is $50 before October 1, $60 after. Registration can be completed here.

 

 

LAS VEGAS: Professional Bull Riders World Finals Coming to Town

Bull_Tamer

Time to dust off those cowboy boots and make plans for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World Finals, to be held October 23-27 at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV Campus. This ever-popular event draws big crowds to see the world’s toughest cowboys ride some of the meanest bulls in the nation. Professional bull riding is considered to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world, but it is also the most dangerous. During this year’s PBR Championships, the top 35 bull riders—based on points accumulated during the competition season—will be aiming for a perfect score of 100, with 8 seconds to prove their mettle. At stake: the PBR Championship and a $1 million bonus.

In addition to the daily competition, there are interactive fan zones, live entertainment, autograph signings, and after parties to attend. Additionally, the MGM Grand will open a special “8 Second Lounge” during the week featuring live entertainment, there will be a Rider Relief Fund Poker Tournament at South Point Hotel & Casino, and a charity golf tournament at Bear’s Las Vegas. For the full schedule of events, go here.

Professional Bull Riders World Finals
Where
: Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV
When: October 23-27
Cost: Single day $20-50, 5-day pass $100-$625, VIP package $1250
Tickets: UNLVtickets.com or 866-PBR-SHOW