Adam Meyer, who has the license plates, “Bet on Me,” on his Bentley, has supposedly been approved for a whopping $1 million Super Bowl bet at the M Resort.
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M Resort in Las Vegas has a Christmas tree that stands 109-feet tall, making it the tallest cut Christmas tree in the country, M Resort execs contend. The largest living, non-cut Christmas tree is in Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho and stands 161-feet tall.
This year, Anthony Marnell III and family, the M Resort execs, found their tree in Oregon – a 109-foot, 11-ton White Fir — the tallest non-living Christmas tree, M Resort executives contend.
The tree made its journey from Oregon on a truck Nov. 29 and arrived in Henderson, Nevada on Dec. 2. Since the tree arrived at M’s Villaggio Del Sole Piazza, workers on cranes and ladders have been busy decorating it with thousands of lights and ornaments.
But how is M Resort sure it has the tallest tree in the nation?
“We have a guy up in Oregon who has done this for us in the past,” Executive Vice President and General Manager John Lipkowitz said. “He takes care of all the measurements, weight and calculations. We really didn’t know it was going to be the tallest until others released their numbers.”
A close second goes to Costa Mesa, Calif.’s 96-foot-tall White Fir.
Probably the most famous Christmas tree in the nation — the one in Rockefeller Center in New York — is 76 feet tall.
The National Mall tree in Washington, D.C., is an 85-foot Blue Spruce from the White Mountains of Arizona, while the Obama family tree is an 18.5-foot Norway Spruce from Shepherdstown, W.Va.
There are several categories by which cities and resorts measure their trees.
There’s tallest non-living tree (M Resort’s category), tallest living tree, tallest floating tree and the tallest artificial tree.
The Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, says it has the world’s tallest living tree this year at 161 feet.
Mexico City’s 367-foot tower of lights shaped like a tree is the tallest artificial tree, while Rio De Janeiro has the tallest floating artificial tree.
Lipkowitz said the Marnell family had the nation’s tallest tree another year, at the Rio, but former staffers can’t remember the year. The family’s goal, regardless, has been to open its spaces for family-orientated, holiday fun, Lipkowitz said.
The M Resort Spa Casino is continuing their “foodie” tradition by bringing back a Las Vegas favorite. After serving as the setting for the 2009 season of Bravo’s Top Chef, the Marnell family, M Resort owners, are hosting their Italian Festival poolside at the Villagio Del Sole. The event is scheduled for October 17 and 18th from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free.
The first Italian Festival was held 17 years ago at the Marnell family’s Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. It quickly became a locals’ favorite, bringing thousands of people to the Rio’s two-day event.
“I’m looking forward to starting a new tradition with it [The Italian Festival] here at the M…I hope people bring their whole family and enjoy great Italian food and entertainment in an unbelievable setting,” said Anthony Marnell III, Chairman and CEO of the M Resort Casino Spa.
Guests at the Italian Festival will be able to sample calzones, pizza and more prepared by local restaurants as well as the M Resort’s own world renowned chefs. There will be Bocce tournaments and grape stomping and spaghetti eating contests. But if nothing else, the trip to the Henderson hotel would be worth it just to sample the dessert table - stacked high with cheesecake, biscotti, Italian ices, cannoli and spumoni.
M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas has pulled out all the stops for a Labor Day celebration. The resort will host ‘End of Summer Festival ‘09’ a Labor Day bash on Sunday, September 6 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. poolside. Admission is free to the public.
Mix and mingle will be the order of the day as the M Resort pays homage to the holiday, complete with live musical performances, a fresh lemonade stand, watermelon-eating contest, a festival of food and a fireworks show.
Much-loved ‘70s and ‘80s tribute band Loveshack will perform from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Loveshack is famous for their nostalgic, high-energy renditions of classics like “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Jesse’s Girl” and “Come On Eileen.” Las Vegans favorite, Nitro will perform from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nitro delivers a rockin’ good time with well-known rock and pop songs.
Guest foodies are invited to enjoy a feast of food favorites including south of the border fare, American classics, barbeque, burgers and hotdogs, cotton candy, gelatos, shaved ice and even M’s homemade pastries. Or, if that doesn’t strike your fancy, just gather around the pool deck for a wide variety of free activities for the kids including face painting, temporary tattoos and balloon art.
Bravo has revealed the identities of the 17 “chef’testants” who will be competing on Top Chef: Las Vegas and announced the sixth edition of Top Chef will premiere Wednesday, August 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Top Chef: Las Vegas’ contestants will be competing for a grand-prize package that will include prizes similar to the reality culinary competition’s previous seasons. Thanks to show sponsor Glad, the winner will receive $100,000 in seed money to help open a restaurant; a feature in Food & Wine magazine; a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen; and the title of “Top Chef.” However Top Chef’s sixth season will also feature an additional prize: $100,000 of merchandise provided by Macy’s.
The popular program was filmed in and around Las Vegas earlier this year and soon became the talk of the town’s culinary circles – and the city’s worst kept TV secret.
Bravo refused to confirm or comment about the long-awaited Vegas version “Top Chef” until last month, after production had wrapped on the seventh series of the popular show. Meanwhile, cameras and crew members were seen throughout the city, shooting segments at various locations including M Resort, which served as the production location during filming, Springs Preserve and World Market Center.
The network said “some of the top names in food, movies and entertainment” will be featured throughout season six, including actress Natalie Portman, and Las Vegas Rio headliners Penn & Teller.
Unfortunately, none of the “Top Chef: Las Vegas” so-called “chef’testants” are from Las Vegas. The closest to a local competitor the city has is the youngest of the brothers, 30-year-old Michael Voltaggio, who lives in Los Angeles, Calif. (The Voltaggios grew up an hour north of Washington, D.C., in Frederick, Md.)
Some of the biggest names in food will also take part, including Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Palmer, Paul Bartolotta, and Hubert Keller (who made his “Top Chef Masters” debut during the spin-off series’ debut last month), among others.
Lately, there have been a couple of Bravo’s Top Chef sightings as the cheftestants, Tom Colicchio and the gang bounced around from hotel to hotel shooting Season Six. They’ve been spotted at Mandalay Bay and The M Resort.
As a footnote, Tom C. has two restaurants in Las Vegas. Craftsteak at MGM Grand, opened in 2002 and is one of the best steakhouses in Las Vegas- a favorite haunt of ex-President Bill Clinton and rocker Gene Simmons. Colicchio’s other venue is Wichcraft, also at MGM Grand- the sandwiches are to die for.
The network had formally renewed Top Chef for a sixth season in April and the Sin City represents the sixth different location for the culinary competition, which now ranks as Bravo’s highest-rated series following Project Runway’s move to Lifetime.
”Las Vegas has become a culinary destination — some of the world’s best chefs and restaurants are here — so it’s only fitting that our newest season was the best yet,” Top Chef lead judge Tom Colicchio said. “You’ll be surprised by the quality of chef’testants we discovered this season. They really raised the bar.”
In addition to Colicchio, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and judges Gail Simmons and Toby Young will also reprise their roles for the show’s sixth edition, which was filmed at The M Resort Spa & Casino in Las Vegas.
The season will also include guest appearances by Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Natalie Portman, Daniel Boulud, Penn & Teller, Hubert Keller, Laurent Tourondel, Tim Love, Michelle Bernstein, Tyler Florence, Charlie Palmer, Paul Bartolotta, Nigella Lawson and Jerome Bocuse.
The upcoming season of “Top Chef” will follow the same structure as previous seasons, with a short “quickfire” challenge at the beginning of each episode followed by a main elimination challenge.
“Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs,” stated this morning’s press release. “The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients.”
Bravo is also bringing a few new features to the “Top Chef” table this season, including a special “Top Recipe” Web series featuring season five contestant Fabio Viviani.
Each week, the former “Top Chef: New York” personality will demonstrate how to cook the winning dish in a segment exclusive to the Web.
Another “Webisode” series, “Guest Judges: Strip’d,” will provide insights and a more personal perspective of the judges, while another will show the chefs out on the town in Las Vegas and give viewers a peek into the chefs’ lives outside the kitchen.
Further technological enhancements will include a phone-based “Slice & Dice Showdown” hosted by one of the show’s judges, Toby Young. The mobile video series will see each of the Voltaggio brothers lead a team of their fellow “Top Chef” competitors through a foodie challenge in anticipation of the final, ultimate dessert bake-off.
Top Chef: Las Vegas’ 17 contestants are:
- Ash Fulk, a 29-year-old from Pleasant Hill, CA who currently resides New York, NY
- Ashley Merriman, a 32-year-old from Center Sandwich, NH who currently resides in Seattle, WA
- Bryan Voltaggio, a 33-year-old from Frederick, MD who currently resides in Urbana, MD
- Eli Kirshtein, a 25-year-old from Atlanta, GA
- Eve Aronoff, a 40-year-old from Ann Arbor, MI
- Hector Santiago, a 41-year-old from San Juan, PR who currently resides in Atlanta, GA
- Jennifer Carroll, a 33-year-old from Philadelphia, PA
- Jennifer Zavala, a 31-year-old from Cromwell, CT who currently resides in Philadelphia, PA
- Jesse Sandlin, a 30-year-old from Baltimore, MD
- Kevin Gillespie, a 26-year-old from Atlanta, GA
- Laurine Wickett, a 38-year-old from Rochester, NY who currently resides in San Francisco, CA
- Mattin Noblia, a 29-year-old from Biarritz, France who currently resides in San Francisco, CA
- Michael Isabella, a 34-year-old from Little Ferry, NJ who currently resides in Washington, DC
- Michael Voltaggio, a 30-year-old from Frederick, MD who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA
- Preeti Mistry, a 33-year-old from San Francisco, CA
- Robin Leventhal, a 43-year-old from Sun Valley, ID who currently resides in Seattle, WA
- Ron Duprat, a 40-year-old from Mare Rouge, Haiti who currently resides in Hollywood, FL and Naples, FL
It’s that time of the year to temporarily cast worries and responsibilities aside and have some fun in the sun in Las Vegas. Here’s a listing of major Las Vegas pool parties:
Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel. Every Sunday through September from 11 a.m. to sunset at 4455 Paradise Road. DJs and celebs galore perform and mingle with ordinary folk. Cover costs could vary depending on special events, but generally $20 for women, $40 for men. Local women get in free. Cabanas by reservation, 702-693-5555
Ditch Fridays at the Palms. On Friday from noon to 7 p.m. plan to skip work and really have fun at 4321 W. Flamingo Road. In addition to offering cabanas and daybeds, a variety of special events are on tap through the season, including concert and DJs. Admission is $25 for men. All women get in free. Cabanas by reservation, 702-938-9999
Sapphire Pool at the Rio. This pool is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 3700 W. Flamingo Road. Admission for men is $30 Sunday through Thursday, $50 Fridays and Saturdays, and $60 on holidays. Local women receive free admission and local men receive half-off admission with valid ID. Cabanas by reservation. 702-777-7709
Bare at The Mirage. Bare is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. It’s a European-style sunbathing venue, featuring the typical pool party amenities and music. Asset Thursdays are for locals, targeting workers in the hospitality industry. On Sunday, they host a backyard barbecue with local guests receiving complimentary grilled faire. Admission Monday through Thursdays is $10 for women, $20 for men. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, admission is $20 for women and $40 for men. Local women receive free admission with valid ID; local men receive complimentary admission on Sundays through Thursday. Cabana reservations, 702-791-7442
Daydream at M Resort. Daydream is open form 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays at 12300 Las Vegas Blvd. South (actually in Henderson, not Las Vegas.) Local women receive free admission with valid ID; all other women pay $10, while all men pay $20. Mondays and Thursdays are Daydream’s industry days. Themes vary, from free facials to free gift bag giveaways. www.daydreamlv.com
If the Tweets on Twitter are to be believed, the sixth season of Bravo TV’s Top Chef has reportedly begun filming on location in Las Vegas. And apparently Los Angeles Times reporters are believers too, saying that filming for Season Six will begin today.
Las Vegas has already been an integral part of Top Chef history. The Season One finale took place at the MGM Grand and most of the season’s shows have found Las Vegas chef’s represented in the kitchen including Season One runner up Tiffani Faison, Season Two runner up Marcel Vigneron, Season Three winner Hung Huynh, and Season Five chef Eugene “Gene” Villiatora.
Althought the host site has not been officially named, the newly opened M Resort in Henderson, Nevada is rumored to be the site of the chef-on-chef competition.
Other reports have Top Chef filming in Seattle, Washington. However, it’s possible that both stories are true. Bravo TV has announced both a “Top Chef Junior” and “Top Chef Master” series – spin-offs of the original TV show that targets a different caliber of culinary king and viewer.
“Top Chef Master” will begin airing June 10 and will feature 24 prominent Las Vegas chefs, including Hubert Keller, Rick Moonen, Roy Yamaguchi and Ludo Lefebvre.
Keller has Fleur de Lys restaurants in San Francisco, his home, and at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas; Moonen co-owns rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay; Yamaguchi has two Roy’s Restaurants in Las Vegas and Lefebvre recently left Lavo at The Palazzo in Las Vegas to open Ludo Bites in Los Angeles.
Stay tuned to Las Vegas Backstage Access for more Top Chef details.
Anthony Marnell III opened his new $1 billion M Resort property in Henderson, Nevada on March 1 and Las Vegas Backstage Access was there and wrote on it. The resort was swamped with 4,000 guests on opening night, forcing many guest to park their cars on the dirt just to get in.
Attendance continues to surge. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that 20,000 people, lured by the promise of $10 in free slot play, signed up for their slot club in the first two day. Other guests swamp the two eateries, the Red Cup Café and the Vig Deli. Table games, at least the $10 ones, are generally packed with clients, even during the week.
Encouraged by the results, Marnell has expanded his 1,800-member work force by 250 people. That’s a 14 percent increase in a down economy.
Despite our economy, there still is much casino and hotel room construction going on in Las Vegas. In fact, nearly 13,000 hotel rooms remain under construction in 2009.
The $2.9 billion Fontainebleau mega-resort is planned to open late this year. It features 3,815 rooms and suites; 27 restaurants and bars; a 7-acre pool deck with four pools; a 350,000-square-foot shopping area called the Runway; and a spa with 55 treatment rooms. That’s a mouthful.
The Silverton Casino Lodge is undergoing a $130-million expansion including adding pools, a high-limit gaming salon and 800 slot machines.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino expects to add 950 guest rooms and expand the pool, while adding more meeting space.
The $1-billion M Resort is heading toward a March 1 opening of its 390 guest rooms and a 100,000-square-foot pool that gives the feel of being in a canyon.
Finally, construction continues on Las Vegas’ 900-lb gorilla, CityCenter, an $8.6-billion development slotted to open in late 2009. Hotels in the project include the 4,000-room, 61-story Aria Resort & Casino; a 400-room Mandarin Oriental, the first in Las Vegas; and Vdara, an all-suite condo/hotel project with more than 1,500 units. Structural issues have delayed the opening of CityCenter’s Harmon Hotel.
If you missed the recent new casino opening hoopla, Steve Wynn has opened yet another of his gems- Encore Las Vegas – on December 22, 2008. Weighing in with a price tag of $2.3 billion, the glitzy 2,034-room Strip playground provides refreshing eye-candy from all the gloomy economic news on work stoppages for the partially started and planned Las Vegas casino and entertainment projects.
With any luck, perhaps Encore will serve as the cornerstone catalyst for a rejuvenated Las Vegas and a positive economic outlook in 2009.
Encore’s opening, combined with the good news of Phil Ruffin’s $775 million purchase of Treasure Island Casino & Hotel from MGM Mirage earlier this month – a great holiday present for their 3,200 Treasure Island employees. The former New Frontier owner’s purchase will help fund the planned finish of MGM Mirage’s $9.1 billion CityCenter next year, the largest private construction job in the U.S..
And, lest we forget, the Fountainebleau and the M Resort still are on track to debut in 2009, further helping to hopefully solidify our lethargic economy.
Recent local Las Vegas casino stimulus events could not have happened at a more needed time. Gaming revenue in Clark County, which includes downtown Las Vegas and the Strip, is reported down 8.5% for the 2008, to $8.3 billion. And visitor volume is down 3% over last year, though the city’s convention business is holding steady.
Any positive local stimulus would be welcomed with open arms.