Tag Archives: Bellagio

Las Vegas Chefs Battle for Best Chef of the Year honors at James Beard Awards

Three Las Vegas chefs are battling for the coveted title of Best Chef of the Year Southwest in the 2010 James Beard Awards, and several other Strip chefs are represented in the Oscars of the food industry, as well. 

The finalists were announced last week in New Orleans, and the winners will be announced May 3 at New York’s Lincoln Center. 

The three Best Chefs of the Southwest finalists are the off-Strip Saipan Chutima from Lotus of Siam, Claude Le Tohic from Joël Robuchon at MGM and Rick Moonen from RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay. 

Michael Mina from MGM, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio and Aria is recognized twice in the prestigious awards: His RN74 in San Francisco is nominated for Best New Restaurant, and his self-named restaurant, also in the City by the Bay, is nominated for Outstanding Service, competing against Robuchon’s restaurant at MGM Grand.

Robuchon’s MGM pastry chef Kamel Guechuda is up for the Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year. 

Chef Tom Colicchio, well known to foodies here for his Craft at MGM and as host of Bravo’s Top Chef, is nominated as Outstanding Chef of the Year for his original Craft in Manhattan. 

Two other New York chefs with outposts in Las Vegas will also battle in the Outstanding Restaurant Award category: Mario Batali, who has restaurants at The Venetian and Palazzo, has been nominated for his Babbo in New York City and Daniel Boulud from the Wynn for his Daniel in Manhattan. 

Timothy Hollingsworth, former Venetian chef for Thomas Keller Brasserie and now at Thomas’ French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., has been nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year. 

In other Las Vegas chef news, Todd English from Bellagio and Aria was nominated for Best TV Special for Food Trip With Todd English, as was The Venetian and Palazzo’s Emeril Lagasse who will go head-to-head with English in the TV category for Emeril’s Culinary Adventures: Napa

And architect and designer David Rockwell, who has masterminded numerous Las Vegas restaurants, Crystals at MGM’s CityCenter and the show Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, will be inducted into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

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Aria’s New Poker Room in Las Vegas

Fans of Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio will be happy to hear there is an equivalent in the Aria poker room in the new CityCenter complex and it has already been put to use.  Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, Davide Benyamine, Tom Dwan, and Patrik Antonius were all spotted recently playing in the secluded VIP lounge. 

While the room is semi-private, ogling railbirds can still get a peek at their favorite high-stakes players through the glass front door.  According to one of the employees at Aria, Phil Ivey is currently in talks to loan his name to the room in the same fashion that Bobby Baldwin did at the Bellagio, so news of big games being played in “Phil’s Room” could be on the horizon. 

A number of poker pros have taken time to check out the new poker room, including Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke and and UB.com sponsored pro Bryan “Badbeatninja” Devonshire.  Both had generally positive remarks about the new room and they took the time to relay their sentiments recently to Poker News Daily. 

When Poker News Daily paid a visit to the new room, the emphasis on service was apparent.  There was a short wait for $1/ $3 No Limit Hold’em, but everyone was being seated in a relatively short amount of time and the use of chip runners helped to speed up the process even further.  Beverage service is currently available and food service is said to be supposedly coming in the near future.

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Only One Gambling Site in Las Vegas’ New $8.5 Billion CityCenter

AriaIs gambling in Las Vegas becoming passé with the advent of new venues? 

Gaming regulators in Las Vegas last Friday granted preliminary licensing approval for the only casino component inside the $8.5 billion CityCenter project and suggested the revenue mix might be sharply different from the traditional gaming-driven environment that has existed since Las Vegas’ creation. 

During a hearing that lasted more than two hours, the Nevada Gaming Control Board was told not to expect additional gaming inside the multiple hotel, high-rise residential and entertainment complex. 

Aria, pictured, CityCenter’s 4,004-room centerpiece, was designed as the project’s only casino. Vdara and Mandarin Oriental are nongaming hotels, and Veer Tower is strictly residential. 

Executives from MGM Mirage and Dubai World, its 50-50 partner in the development, explained the CityCenter concept, using a promotional sales video and previewing Aria’s first television advertisement in what will be a $20 million marketing campaign. 

Gaming is not the focal point of the 67-acre project. The casino at Aria, roughly the size of Bellagio, will have only 145 table games and 1,940 slot machines, half of which will be linked to a server-based gaming platform. 

Aria President Bill McBeath said the casino’s revenue projections are modeled with Bellagio, but the CityCenter casino has fewer slot machines. He said Aria is designed to have private gambling salons like other MGM Mirage high-end casinos, but the rooms will not be used immediately. 

“There will be cross-marketing between the properties,” McBeath said. Aria will host MGM Mirage’s private Chinese New Year party for high-end customers at the MGM Grand, Bellagio and other company resorts. 

McBeath said Aria’s slot machines are projected to produce roughly $320 win per unit per day. 

During MGM Mirage’s quarterly earning conference call with analysts, City Center Chief Executive Officer Bobby Baldwin said Aria would produce $1.2 billion in revenue in 2010. 

“The (revenue) projections are optimistic,” Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said. “But they seem reasonable.” 

The three-member control board then recommended unanimous approval for Aria. The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider the recommendation this week.

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Fine Art of CityCenter Artists, Architects on Exhibit at Bellagio in Las Vegas

Sadly, with most of the fine art style of Las Vegas museums closing up shop– Las Vegas culture — including the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at the Venetian and Las Vegas Art Museum, and lesser robust ones opening by appointment only, it’s refreshing to know the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is apparently still going strong. 

Tomorrow, in fact, the Bellagio Gallery is debuting 12+7: Artists and Architects of CityCenter.   Organized in partnership with the CityCenter Fine Art Collection and its curatorial advisor Michele C. Quinn, the exhibition will feature sculpture, drawings, paintings and models by 12 of the contemporary artists and seven of the master architects whose work will dramatically change the artistic landscape in Las Vegas when the $9.1 billion, 76-acre CityCenter opens in December (please search for other articles using “CityCenter” in Las Vegas Backstage Access). 

The art exhibition will offer a sneak peek at the highly anticipated CityCenter development, showcasing artwork by such artists as Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Antony Gormley, Tony Cragg, Nancy Rubins, Peter Wegner and Richard Long. 

Also included are early sketches and architectural models of CityCenter’s towers, retail and the entertainment district designed by architects Pelli Clarke Pelli, Helmut Jahn, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Vinoly, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Foster + Partners and Rockwell Group. 

Admission is $15 for general admission, $12 for Nevada residents and seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students, teachers and military with valid ID.  Children 12 and younger are free.  Tickets and further information by calling 702-693-7871 or online at www.bellagio.com

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Thousands Head to Las Vegas to get Hitched on 09/09/09

What does Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Elvis Presley and Priscilla Anne Beaulieu, and Mickey Rooney and his eight brides all have in common?  They, and many other celebrities like them, were all hitched in Las Vegas. weddings

Weddings are one of the primary reasons why many make the trek to Sin City.  And the Wedding Destination Capital of the World is more than just a hotspot reserved for celebrities or those wanting a wedding that’s scandalous and spontantaneous.   Las Vegas weddings are growing increasingly popular in the most respectable circles. 

Bridal couples and Las Vegas also have something else in common:  They love their number sequences.  Last year it was August 8th, 2008 which drew in huge crowds because in Asian cultures 8’s a lucky number.  Two years ago it was all about the 07/07/07 which is the jackpot-y-est of all dates. 

Many times, the pros of having a Las Vegas wedding outweigh the cons, particularly in today’s current economic reality, in which many Americans are hemorrhaging money and watching all their pennies. 

It’s hard not to find a Las Vegas casino or wedding venue that is not getting in the spirit of 09/09/09 weddings.  Whether it be Cupids Wedding Chapel, Little White Chapel, or the Riviera, all are offering some package deal to draw in thousands of wedding couples that will, hopefully, improve long-sagging wedding industry revenues. 

On the haute style end, Bellagio is offering a very special package.  For $5,000, the bride and groom can treat guests and themselves to a wedding that includes one hour of chapel time, a bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, two mantle floral arrangements, bottle of Dom Perignon bubbly, wedding certificate, an officiant, rose petals and more. 

Caesar’s Palace offer packages that fit any budget and that offer up the outdoor plaza or the Venus Garden as settings.  They also have a category called “Unforgettables.” These are the details that personalize a wedding. With the help of a wedding planner, couples can design a unique wedding cake or even arrange for a live character such as Cleopatra or Roman guards to attend the wedding. 

Arguably one of the most romantic of all wedding sites in Las Vegas is the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Casino and Hotel.  Although only big enough to host 12 guests, the Eiffel Tower Observation Deck allows couples to wed night or day, with the bejeweled Las Vegas vista behind them. 

If you more into the big crowd feeling, on September 9th, 2009 at 9:09 pm, 99 couples are paying $99.09 for the privilege of getting married on the Stratosphere’s enclosed observation deck, enjoy a champagne celebration, get themselves superimposed in a Stratosphere souvenir photo and get two tickets to ride the roller coaster. 

Despite the spontaneity that can come with a Las Vegas wedding, it is important to allot enough time to get the marriage license at the Marriage Bureau at 201 Clark Ave. The fee is $55 in cash. Anyone applying for a license must be at least 18 years old and must be able to prove their age. Social Security numbers are also required. 

For those of you that can’t make this memorable date, don’t forget THE largest Las Vegas wedding convention – the Las Vegas Bridal Spectacular – will be August 21 and 22 at Cashman Center.  The event offers all the wedding resources under one roof to make your special day a lifetime memory.

Viva Las Vegas!

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Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Opens Gigantic New Meeting Space

Bad economy be darn.  Caesars Palace opened 110,000 square feet of new convention and meeting spaces on July 13, despite an economic downturn that has Las Vegas convention attendance dropping double digits, equating to 2,441 fewer meetings held this year than last. 

The convention area was part of a $1 billion expansion project of Caesars Palace that boosts the property’s total meeting space to 320,000 square feet. 

Harrah’s Entertainment in January announced it was postponing construction of the planned 660-room Octavius Tower, but would work to continue the convention area. 

The new space is the largest in Las Vegas for Harrah’s Entertainment.  The company’s other properties range in size form 160,000 square feet at the Rio, where the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is held annually, to 25,000 square feet at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. 

Caesars Palace officials expect the new space will permit it better to compete with similarly sized high-end space at the Bellagio, Encore, and Wynn Las Vegas.

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Sunflowers in Las Vegas

If you’re looking for a FREE mini visual vacation to clear your senses, Las Vegas Backstage Access recommends going to Sunflowersthe Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens which has unveiled its summer tribute featuring sunflowers, a lemonade stand, a 42-foot-high Ferris wheel and an aviary completed with exotic birds.

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Esquire is looking for a few good men in Las Vegas (???)

Well, a few REAL men, to be exact, as in really well-dressed! Esquire Magazine, with partners The Bellagio Hotel and The Bank Nightclub, will host the 2009 Best Dressed Real Man event and Style Lounge at The Bank nightclub in Las Vegas, Friday, April 17 from 8-10:30 p.m. esquire

The fashionable men will have the opportunity to register for the contest in person (and in style) while enjoying a Kenneth Cole trunk show, a Nivea for Men grooming station, a display of IWC Schaffhausen watches, Gentleman Jack specialty cocktails, complimentary Michelob Ultra and hors d’oeuvres. All BDRM guests will be offered complimentary entrance to the event, and will be able to stay and party at The Bank for the afterparty. 

When voting ends on May 31, five finalists will be narrowed down to one winner who will receive a $33,200 prize package consisting of $5,000 Kenneth Cole wardrobe, a $5,000 designer wardrobe, a two-day/three-night trip to New York City for the winner and a guest, plus two tickets to a runway fashion show, $15,000 cash, plus a one-year supply of Nivea for Men products, an IWC watch, and the winner will also be featured in Esquire’s September Style 2009 issue. 

As if that weren’t enough, all BDRM entries received will automatically be entered into the Nivea for Men Work Smarter, Play Harder Man of the Week contest. 

Come dressed to conquer.  Bragging rights? Absolutely.

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Top Las Vegas Chefs Sharpen Knifes, Battle for James Beard Awards

For culinary chefs it’s a big deal- and a huge honor.  Top Las Vegas semifinal chef nominees are now vying for the coveted James Beard Awards.   Wynn Las Vegas chef Paul Bartolotta is on track for a rare double James Beard award win for best chef and is competing against Claude Le Tohic of Joel Robuchon at the Mansion at the MGM Grand.  Raku is trying for best new restaurant; rising star chef of the year, Vanessa Garcia, Restaurant Charlie, at the Palazzo; rising star chef of the year, Sarah Kosilkowski, Michael Mina at Bellagio; and best chef, Saipin Chutima, Lotus of Siam, round out the Las Vegas competitors. 

The winners will be announced the first week of May in New York City.

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Daffodils & Butterflies Flutter Into Las Vegas

The Bellagio Conservatory is now celebrating spring with horticulture tributes and displays from England, France, bellagioItaly, and Japan.  The latest transformation lasts until mid-May.   Dominating the setting:  daffodils, jonquils, butterflies, an armillary sphere once used by French astronomers to chart the night sky, a villa re-creation with travertine terrace and ancient stone sculpture and a Japanese Zen display.  The good news:  It’s all FREE.

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Star Power Provides Fundraising Power for ‘Keep Memory Alive’ Lou Ruvo Benefit in Las Vegas

Ka-ching, ka-ching. . . the revenue results have been tabulated for last Saturday’s “Keep Memory Alive” fundraising benefit at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for the new Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.  In a choking recession, Keep Memory Alive has cleared a cool $10 million for the event, including one $5 million donation, two $1 million donations.  That brings the grand total to more than $75 million raised by the organization since it started 13 years ago. 

The event’s huge success could have been attributed to many reasons: Siegfried & Roy’s supposed final performance, the gala ambiance, the scrumptious food prepared by celebrity chefs galore, or was it the free-flowing Dom Perignon? Maybe it was the auctioned trip to David Copperfield’s Bahamas estate, hosted by the magician, which went for $60,000?  Could the success be attributed to the gaggle of celebrities in attendance including Teri Hatcher, Hilary Duff, Danny DeVito and his wife, Rhea Perlman, comic actor (and former Riviera entertainment director) Steve Schirripa, Muhammed Ali, Kristin Davis, and Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Ferrell?

Tossing conjectures aside, the gala highlighted Keep Memory Alive’s team coordination and fundraising prowess to bring about an heightened awareness to brain disorder diseases – Alzeimer’s alone afflicts about 5.2 million Americans – and raise money in Las Vegas in a down economy for a great cause.

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Illusionists Siegfried & Roy – & Career-Ending White Bengal Tiger -Take Final Las Vegas Curtain Call

Future performances from iconic Las Vegas illusionists Siegfried and Roy – and the white Bengal tiger that ended their prior careers – are, sadly, over.  siegfried

For their last hurrah the trio shared the stage on February 28 at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for their haunting final performance for the 13th annual “Power of Love” gala benefit for the Keep Memory Alive organization, proceeds going to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. 

Hosted by Robin Leach, in the audience were Teri Hatcher, Leeza Gibbons, Hilary Duff, Danny DeVito and his wife, Rhea Perlman, comic actor (and former Riviera entertainment director) Steve Schirripa, Muhammed Ali, Kristin Davis, and Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Ferrell.

The gala began by feasting on mouth-watering cuisine from chef’s Todd English, Wolfgang Puck, David Robins, Martin Heierling, and Jean-Philippe Maury. 

Then the abbreviated charity show saw Roy Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher side by side with Montecore, the massive white tiger that brutally mauled Horn during a 2003 performance.

Horn re-emerged Saturday dressed in a Gothic-style black-and-white robe, his face covered with a skeletal mask. The dark stage was covered in smoke.  Horn limped slowly onstage, often steadying himself on Fischbacher’s shoulder.

The two slowly performed a signature illusion as Fischbacher, dressed in white robes and a mask, stood inside a cage, which was cloaked in drapes.  As Horn removed the curtain seconds later, Fischbacher appeared across stage, a hulking white Bengal tiger in his place- it was Montecore.

As the crowd took to its feet, the men removed their masks and Fischbacher was standing between Montecore and Horn. They waved and blew kisses at the audience, but said nothing.

An announcer left the crowd with this final thought: “Within all of us there is an illusive melody, which when heard and followed will lead you to the fulfillment of your fondest dreams.”

On October 3, 2003, Montecore sank its teeth deep into Horn’s neck, dragging him offstage in front of a horrified audience. The illusionist, now 64, was partially paralyzed, suffering a damaged neck artery and crushed windpipe. 

After 13 years and more than 5,000 performances, the “Siegfried & Roy” show at The Mirage immediately went dark, ending one of the most successful shows in Las Vegas history.

During Horn’s long rehabilitation, though, both men remained devoted to their exotic habitat on the Las Vegas Strip. The Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage hotel-casino houses lions, tigers and leopards. Fischbacher, 69, has called it Horn’s “reason to get up in the morning.”

The benefactor for the event, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, will treat brain disorders like those Horn now suffers, is set to open later this year in a building designed by architect Frank Gehry.

An estimated $12 million was raised by the event for the Ruvo center, punctuated by  a $450,000 bid on a Rolls-Royce trimmed with the Keep Memory Alive logo, and a $5 million donation by Chuck Mathewson, CEO emeritus of IGT.   Steve and Elaine Wynn donated another $1 million.

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‘Power of Love’ Celebrity Fundraiser for Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in Las Vegas

A gala celebrity fundraiser to benefit the planned Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in Las Vegas will be held on February 28, louruvotime TBA.   The event will feature cuisine of chefs Todd English and Wolfgang Puck, auction, and a long-awaited performance by Siegfried and Roy.  Admission is $1,500 per person or tables can be reserved.  For information, contact the Bellagio at 702-263-9797 or www.keepmemoryalive.org

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Las Vegas Dunes After-Life Follows Implosion

The Dunes Hotel & Casino closed on January 26, 1993 and two months after Steve Wynn purchased it fordunes $75 million to build the $1.6 billion Bellagio.

But ever since the October 1993 implosion, former employees have been having annual reunions to stay in touch and reflect on the glory years of the famed Las Vegas resort- the site of the first topless stage show in Las Vegas.

This year’s 16th reunion will take place on January 21 at the New York City Bar & Grill, 6168 W. Spring Mountain Road in Las Vegas, from 5 p.m. until it shuts down.

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Bellagio To Open New Las Vegas Art Exhibition

The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art opens their “Classic Contemporary: Lichtenstein, Warhol, & Friends” art exhibition on January 23, displaying paintings and sculptures by major contemporary artists of the 1960s and ‘70s.

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