Daily Archives: December 1, 2009

CityCenter Unveils Vdara Hotel and Spa in Las Vegas Today

MGM Mirage and Dubai World marked the unveiling of their CityCenter project today with the opening of the luxurious Vdara Hotel and Spa. 

Executives cut the ribbon on the 57-story, 1,495-suite luxury property shortly after 10:30 a.m. today. 

The hotel’s suites come in one- or two-bedroom variations, ranging from 500 square feet to 2,000 square feet, each featuring gourmet kitchens and washer and dryer units among their amenities. 

Other amenities in the non-gaming Vdara Hotel include an 18,000-square-foot spa, Asian fusion restaurant Silk Road and direct access to the Bellagio’s casino floor. 

Vdara has partnered with Vanity Fair for its private grand opening celebration tonight with appearances by actor Orlando Bloom, actress Rosario Dawson and photographer Sebastian Copeland. While VIPs will fill the hotel tonight, Vdara won’t welcome its first public guests until Wednesday evening. 

Following Vdara’s opening will be the unveiling of the high-end retail and entertainment district, Crystals, on Thursday, then the opening of Mandarin Oriental will be Friday. 

CityCenter’s crowning jewel and only gaming property — the 4,004-room Aria Resort and Casino — will round out the month with a Dec. 16 opening. Residential occupancies at Veer Towers will begin January 2010 while the Harmon will open in late 2010.

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Historic Binion’s Hotel in Las Vegas to Close

Another legendary landmark Las Vegas hotel has put up a permanent no vacancy sign. Binion’s announced Monday it will shut down its 365 rooms on Dec. 14. The casino and other operations, though, will reportedly remain open. 

Binion’s officials have said the reason for shutting down the hotel operations was because of the ever slumping economy which has forced room rates to drop and vacancies to rise. 

Even though the casino will stay open, there’s no question the decision will be a blow to a downtown that has struggled — even during the talks of revitalization. 

It’s been a staple on Fremont Street for more than half a century. Word of the closure spread quickly. 

Binion’s original coffee shop and Keno operation will also close, but the entire casino operation — including the Sports Book and the famed poker room which hosted the World Series of Poker from 1970 to 2005 — will stay open. 

But the hotel closure could impact gaming. 

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is trying to help Binion’s owners and lenders hammer out a deal to keep the hotel open. He said he does not think this will impact his plan to revitalize downtown. 

“Once you start saying you’re not going to do those things, then you recede. Vegas is a very funny place. We go through these ups and downs. We’ve been here before, perhaps not to this level, but I don’t blame this on Las Vegas. Las Vegas has the infrastructure in place. We’ve got the best hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment,” Goodman said. 

Goodman said it’s hard to find investors to come in with fresh money to refurbish rooms, but he’s not giving up.  “We have to keep pushing forward, now more than ever,” Goodman said. 

About 100 people will be laid off when the hotel closes. 

Anyone who has a reservation after Dec. 14 is being referred to Binion’s sister property across the street, The Four Queens. 

Most of the restaurants, including the famed Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse, will remain open.

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“Cowboy Up” in Las Vegas – National Finals Rodeo Buck into Las Vegas

On Dec. 3-12 the Wrangler National Finals rodeo — the sport’s answer to the Super Bowl and World Series — is back with latigo and spurs at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas– with some huge numbers to celebrate. 

This is the silver anniversary of the rodeo’s move to Las Vegas, and it comes with plenty of gold — a rodeo-record purse of $5.75 million. 

The move from Oklahoma City to the Entertainment Capital of the World in 1985 has worked out beyond all expectations for rodeo — and for Las Vegas. Every performance has been sold out for more than 20 years, and telecasts of last year’s 50th anniversary edition of the rodeo drew 15.4 million viewers. 

The non-gaming economic impact of the rodeo to the region last year was $54.7 million, according to figures compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. 

But those numbers are just the by-product of the rodeo’s real business of determining world champions. Eleven months of crisscrossing the country in trucks and planes, going short on sleep and subsisting on fast food only qualifies a cowboy to compete for a gold buckle. Every world title is decided on Las Vegas’ big stage. 

If that’s enough cowboy action, the NFR Cowboy Christmas gift show also starts on Dec. 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, running through Dec. 12. 

The Las Vegas Backstage Access calendar lists some of the many events.

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Ex-NBA Star Avoids Jail for Las Vegas Casino Bad Check Charges

Former NBA all-star Antoine Walker has agreed to pay more than $900,000 to settle bad check charges with three Las Vegas casinos and avoid trial on felony criminal charges, a defense lawyer and prosecutor said Monday. 

Walker wasn’t in court when his attorney, Jonathan Powell, described a plan for his client to pay a minimum of almost $13,000 a month over five years to settle a complaint stemming from casino debts at Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort. 

Powell on Monday described his 33-year-old, 6-foot-9 client as unemployed, but said he hopes to sign with a team in the U.S. or Europe. If he does, Walker promises to increase payments to almost $21,400 per month and finish the repayment plan within three years. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access has written other articles on this case.

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