Tag Archives: Hard Rock

Mystery Surrounds Issues Behind Key Hard Rock Executive’s Suicide in Las Vegas

Randy Kwasniewski, the President and COO of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas was found dead in his home last Tuesday.  He died of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the Clark County coroner’s office said Wednesday. 

Kwasniewski’s body was found at his residence in Summerlin, Nevada. Metropolitan Police were called to the home Tuesday morning. 

Kwasniewski was married with two children, family friend and attorney David Chesnoff said. 

Kwasniewski, 56, had been in his current position as president and chief operating officer at the Hard Rock Hotel since New York-based boutique hotel operator Morgans Hotel Group bought the resort in February 2007. 

Kwasniewski had been overseeing a $750 million expansion at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas that recently added two hotel towers, casino space and a larger concert hall to the property. 

Kwasniewski’s death comes amid mounting issues and speculation of an imminent management shakeup is in the works for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.  

A source who talked with Kwasniewski last said he appeared stressed out, fatigued and lost a lot of weight.  

Prior to his death there was much talk that Hard Rock management has been on thin ice since the property has been dealing with a very challenging transition since Morgans Hotel Group bought it from Peter Morton for $770 million fours years ago. 

Morgans owns 14 percent of the hotel-casino and operates the off-Strip property. DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, an affiliate of Credit Suisse, owns the remaining shares.

Morgans Chief Executive Officer Fred Kleisner will oversee operations at the Hard Rock Hotel for the time being, the company said.  

Kleisner became interim CEO in September 2007 upon the resignation of Ed Scheetz. 

Scheetz resigned his position after a 23-year-old woman was mysteriously found dead of a drug overdose inside a Turnberry Towers condominium in Las Vegas leased by Scheetz and Morgans. 

Though Scheetz was never charged with a crime in connection to the death, a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the woman’s family in 2009 was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.

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Where are the Super Bowl Parties in Las Vegas? Everywhere!

Why spend thousands of hard earned dollars to go to Miami when you catch all the action literally everywhere in Las Vegas for a comparative mere pittance? 

Apparently, thousand of people are of the same persuasion. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority anticipate 278,000 people to visit Las Vegas this weekend- that’s a whopping 13.5 percent increase from last year’s visitor totals.  The nongaming impact from all those visitors is expected to be up 2.4 percent to $89.7 million. 

So, why don’t you see advertising on Las Vegas’ Super Bowl activities?  It’s simply because of the National Football League’s half-baked and business-choking stance against sports betting, the league has threatened legal action against Las Vegas casinos that use the Super Bowl name in their promotions of parties and events surrounding Sunday’s game. But that hasn’t deterred casinos from promoting “Big Game” activities at their properties or kept Super Bowl bets from becoming a major draw at local sports books. 

Station Casinos, South Point and The Orleans, for instance, will show the game in a ballroom that is open to the public. NFL rules do not allow companies to charge admission to rooms where the game is being shown. 

Las Vegas casinos also can have free but private viewing parties for invited guests and VIPs away from the sports book. 

Station Casinos, which owns 10 Las Vegas casinos, are holding viewing parties for invited guests and are offering $1 hot dogs and $1 Budweisers. 

The Las Vegas Hilton is also having a huge viewing party. 

The Palms will hold its football viewing party for VIPs in its Fantasy Suites, including the Hardwood Suite where guests can relax and shoot hoops during breaks in the game. 

The Hard Rock Hotel, which just opened 824 new hotel rooms and 40,000 square feet of new casino space, is having a public party in Wasted Space and a party for invited guests at The Joint. 

For Boyd Gaming Corp., whose properties include Sam’s Town, The Orleans and Suncoast, this weekend is one of the biggest on its winter calendar. 

“It’s far more than just the sports book,” Boyd spokesman David Strow said. “On Sunday, you’ll be able to see the game pretty much in every nook and cranny of the casino.” 

MGM Mirage is also expecting a big weekend even without a lot of extra hype. The gaming company said it has sold out or is near selling out at its 10 Strip properties even though it is not holding any special game-day parties or promotions, other than offering free T-shirts at Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s with $25 parlay bets. 

Nothing boosts business at Las Vegas sports books like the Super Bowl.  With a record haul predicted for the contest (previous article on Feb. 4, 2010 by Las Vegas Backstage Access), still wagering has never reached the elusive $100 million mark.  It has steadily increased over the years, from around $50 million in 1989 (when the San Francisco 49ers nipped the Cincinnati Bengals) to $71.5 million in 2002 (when the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams) to a record $94.5 million bet on Super Bowl XL in 2006, when Pittsburgh beat Seattle.   Maybe this will be the year?

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New Las Vegas Nightclubs Opening Doors

Despite high Las Vegas unemployment, foreclosures, and a stifling recessionary environment, that’s not stopping Las Vegas casinos from pulling out all the stops and opening new nightclubs this New Year’s Eve. 

The 25,000-square-foot Haze nightclub, the newest offering from the Light Group, will be opening its doors tomorrow night at Aria in the new CityCenter.  Also at CityCenter, Eva Langoria Parker’s Eve nightclub will be opening. 

The new rock bar Smokin’ Hot Aces is also having its grand opening in The Venetian’s retail shops on New Year’s Eve, following a soft opening that started Monday. 

The 14,000-square-foot Vanity nightclub – featuring a $1 million chandelier with 20,000 crystals and another 20,000 LED lights – will open on New Year’s Eve at the base of the Hard Rock’s new HRH tower (previous article by Las Vegas Backstage Access). 

For fans of the Hard Rock’s Body English nightclub, the basement club will fade into oblivion on Jan.1, having its last hurrah on the same night Vanity opens.

One of the Vanity club partners is Las Vegas major leaguer Jason Giambi says celebrities will have to earn their keep.  “Gone are the days where you would pay a celebrity $200,000 to just show up and you had a chance to make your make your money back,” says Giambi, adding, “I’m thankful that’s over.”

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New Hotel Rooms Aplenty in Las Vegas Create Buyer’s Nirvana

Recession?  What recession?  Apparently, Las Vegas is being true to its persona- betting heavily that 1,575 new hotel rooms are just what the doctor ordered- if not now, maybe in the future? 

A mere two weeks after the debut of the Aria at the $8.5 billion new CityCenter, two more casino properties have entered the Las Vegas lodging fray in a market already straining to fill the rooms it already has, witnessed by an average mid-80 percent fill rate and drastically declining room rates. 

The 52-story PH Towers at Planet Hollywood Resort have just added 1,201 rooms yesterday.  The rooms are being marketed at $229 midweek and $349 weekends.   And the top four floors will be 16 condominiums for sale, ranging from 6,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet.

Not to be outdone, the Hard Rock Hotel also yesterday added their HRH tower, bringing 374 more rooms that include seven penthouse suites and eight spa villas.  Opening with their tower is the 25,000-square-foot Reliquary Spa, a new parking garage with a porte-cochere and 40,000 square feet of new casino space.  Think it ends there?  Hardly.  A new Hard Rock nightclub, the 14,000-square-foot Vanity, waits opening on Dec. 31, which will also mark lights out for the venerable celebrity hangout, Body English.

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Sean “Diddy” Combs to Open Las Vegas Nightclub

Sean “Diddy” Combs is about to open a new nightclub in Las Vegas.  Well, at least he’s going to help open one. 

“(The) Hard Rock is opening a club and I’m supposed to be opening up that new club for them,” so says the versatile artist. 

The new nightspot, Vanity, is set to open on New Year’s Eve. 

Still, the rapper formerly known as Puff Daddy won’t necessarily be at the Hard Rock when the ball drops on 2010. 

Instead, he said he is scheduled to host a day or two after the grand opening celebration, on or around Jan. 2. 

Still, he may very well be there at the Hard Rock on NYE. 

Maybe. 

“I may be out here, I may be shooting a television special,” he teased, adding with a smile, “I can’t give you any more details, that’s breaking news.” 

Still, it’s pretty safe to say Puffy is planning to party somewhere in Las Vegas on Dec. 31. 

The hip-hop heavyweight is no stranger to the Las Vegas club scene and likely has a litany of lucrative hosting offers on the table for New Year’s Eve. 

“I’m the Black Sinatra,” he said. “I’m supposed to be out here.” 

It wasn’t always this way for the rapper/actor/producer/fashion designer/fragrance developer/father/vodka czar.  Whew! 

“I used to come to Vegas maybe once every other year,” the outspoken 40-year-old icon said. “I’ve been out here already four times this year … This is the most I’ve been out here.”

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World Extreme Cagefighting Expected to Return to Las Vegas on Dec. 19

World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) is expected to remain in Las Vegas through the end of the year, as the promotion’s rumored WEC 45 event will reportedly take place on December 19 in Las Vegas, likely at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Cagefighting

The Versus-televised event follows November’s WEC 44 card, which will be held at The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas and is headlined by featherweight champ Mike Brown vs. challenger Jose Aldo. 

Originally expected to feature the return of lightweight champ Jamie Varner against recently-crowned interim title-holder Ben Henderson as well as the return of former featherweight champ Urijah Faber, it remains to be seen what matchup will headline the event as Henderson’s injuries suffered in last weekend’s win over Donald Cerrone will sideline him until early next year and Faber’s return is currently slated for January. 

During the latest installment of ESPN’s “MMA Live,” Cerrone’s teammate Rashad Evans said “The Cowboy” could get his anticipated rematch with Varner with Henderson hurt, and the Cerrone-Varner matchup appears to be a possibility to headline WEC 45, though a non-title bout, including the return of former bantamweight king Miguel Torres, could be tapped for the WEC 45 main event. 

One confirmed participant for WEC 45 is Bart Palaszewski, who returns to the WEC after scoring a knockout win outside the promotion earlier this month.

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Las Vegas Nightclubs Gone Too Wild?

Even in wild, anything goes Las Vegas, apparently, there are limits on what can and can’t be done in nightclubs.

In July, gaming regulators slapped the Planet Hollywood casino with a $500,000 fine for its Prive nightclub’s bad behavior, including “topless and lewd activity” and dumping club-goers in the casino “in various states of consciousness.”

The same month, the Rio closed its Sapphire topless pool, managed by a local gentleman’s club, after authorities arrested 10 people on suspicion of prostitution and drug crimes. Over Labor Day weekend, eight more arrests on similar charges were made at the Hard Rock Hotel’s pool club party, Rehab.

It’s all part of a crackdown by Las Vegas authorities on what they see as clubs gone wild.

“The quarrel is not, ‘You guys are offering entertainment that’s going to offend Middle America.’ We all want to keep Middle America coming to us to have fun. But we have rules,” said Randall Sayre of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. During the heyday of the “What happens here, stays here” tourism campaign, the must-have accessory for any Las Vegas Strip casino was a pulsating nightclub that lured Hollywood starlets and drunken tourists willing to pay for a few hours of shimmer.

That has sometimes proved to be an ill-fated mix. Though the clubs are reliable moneymakers and publicity machines, some have vexed officials with their fraternity-style antics — including stripping contests, fistfights, and alleged drug use and sexual assaults.

In the last decade, smoky lounges on the Strip gave way to three-story mega-clubs and booze-drenched pool parties. Out on the cutting edge of trendy are clubs such as the bronze-walled XS, the centerpiece of casino magnate Steve Wynn’s resort Encore.

Most of the clubs, which pull in tens of millions of dollars from high-volume sales of alcohol and special seating, successfully keep thousands of tourists under control. But the venues, jostling for the same young crowd, have a penchant for envelope-pushing — and the casinos, Sayre said, have mostly kept their hands off the cash machines.

In the last two years, Clark County has warned clubs about a wet-boxer-shorts contest and women shedding shirts at events named “Lose the Tan Lines” and “Boobs or Bust.” Some clubs launched stripping contests; others tried to sneak around no-nudity ordinances by slathering women in body paint.

Many nightlife problems are far graver, however, which could prove problematic for casinos in the long run. Gaming regulators can hold them responsible for most anything that unfolds on their properties.

In 2006, the state Gaming Control Board told casinos it was concerned about reports of violent, excessively drunk and underage club-goers. In the last year, authorities have noticed an uptick in prostitution and narcotics crimes at Strip hot spots, said Officer Bill Cassell of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

But it was “Prive-gate” that truly rattled the town’s after-dark scene and it appears no end is in sight for the enforcement and creation of new clubbing rules to govern Las Vegas partygoers.

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