Tag Archives: Phil Ruffin

Gilley’s Returns to the Las Vegas Strip on April 16

Gilley’s is coming back, bull and all. The mechanical bull that has long been victorious in numerous battles waged by tourists, locals and bikini-clad riders is back to buck off all comers at it’s new ‘arena’ at Treasure Island, when Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall and Bar-B-Que re-opens April 16. 

A Las Vegas cousin of the famous Texas saloon, it was THE popular country honky-tonk and a huge attraction at the New Frontier for years until owner Phil Ruffin sold it and bought Treasure Island for $775 million. 

It will be going in the former Tangerine nightclub space now occupied by Christian Audigier the Nightclub, which overlooks the Sirens of T.I. gunbattle. Gilley’s will have retractable glass for outdoor Strip seating, and will be accessible from inside the casino and via a newly constructed bridge in front of the Siren’s ship.  

Gilley’s will be open for lunch and dinner, featuring a show kitchen and custom saddle seats at the bar, live entertainment Thursday through Saturday, line dancing and the world-famous Gilley Girls.

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Mist Lounge in Las Vegas to be Resurrected as Gilley’s Saloon in TI

The cozy Mist Lounge in Las Vegas, located just off the Treasure Island casino floor, has closed awhile back, ending its memorable six-year run.   Now, a new nightclub and restaurant is planned in its space. 

The Lounge has been sold back to former Frontier, now TI (Treasure Island) owner Phil Ruffin, who plans to create his hallmark sawdust-on-the-floor country nightclub Gilley’s at TI in the former Mist Lounge space. 

TI Vice President of Hotel Sales & Marketing Don Voos confirms that Mist will indeed become home to the rebirth of the nostaligic, countrified Gilley’s Saloon– with a little help from its neightbor, Pizzeria Francesco’s that will be demolished  and merged in with the new space. 

“We will be building a new Gilley’s Saloon & BBQ restaurant,” says Voos.

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Las Vegas Billionaires Cry in their Dom Pérignon

The annual Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans for 2009 was released this week.  With deep sadness and regret Las Vegas Backstage Access reports that most Las Vegas gaming luminaries have taken multibillion-dollar net worth shellackings. billionaires

Most blamed their financial woes largely on the stock market’s collapse in 2008 and early 2009. 

Las Vegas Sands Corp. founder, chairman and chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson, 76, was the highest-ranking Nevada resident on the list, coming in at No. 26 with a net worth of $9 billion. 

But even that is chump change in comparison to Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates who tops the Forbes list with a net worth of $50 billion, followed by financier Warren Buffett, who comes in at No. 2 with $40 billion. 

By comparison, Adelson began 2008 as the third-richest person, but Forbes refigured its list later in the year and Adelson fell to 15th with a net worth of $15 billion. In March, when Forbes released its top billionaire list, Adelson was listed with a net worth of $3.4 billion. 

Las Vegas Sands avoided filing bankruptcy nearly a year ago when Adelson invested $1 billion of his own money into the company to make a debt payment. 

Kirk Kerkorian, the 92-year-old Los Angeles billionaire who owns about 43 percent of MGM Mirage, took the largest tumble of all gaming executives on the list, falling from 27th in 2008 with $11.2 billion, to 97th in 2009 with a net worth of $3 billion. 

MGM Mirage’s declining stock since the end of 2007 reduced the value of Kerkorian’s holdings in the company from $11 billion down to $1.5 billion. Other Kerkorian investments in the oil and automotive industries also suffered throughout the year. 

Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman Steve Wynn fell from 118th with $3.4 billion to 141st with $2.3 billion. “Tough year for the king of Las Vegas,” Forbes reported. 

The biggest Las Vegas challenge, according to the magazine, was opening the $2.3 billion Encore last December in the middle of the recession.  

Meanwhile, Wynn cashed out more than $100 million in shares of Wynn Resorts that will be used as part of his upcoming divorce settlement with his wife, Elaine. 

Other Las Vegas gaming industry executives making the list included former Stratosphere owner Carl Icahn, who recently became majority shareholder of Tropicana Entertainment. Icahn was 22nd with $10.5 billion in net worth. 

New York billionaire Donald Trump, who owns the Trump International Las Vegas and 30 percent of the company that controls three Atlantic City casinos, was 158th on the list with $2 billion in net worth. 

Other Las Vegans include Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin, No. 193 with $1.85 billion, and Silverton owner Ed Roski Jr., No. 236 with $1.5 billion, rounded out the list of gaming executives. 

Hilton Hotels scion Barron Hilton, who earned $800 million when the company was sold to Blackstone in 2007 and $300 million from the sale of Harrah’s Entertainment in 2008, is tied with Wynn for 141st on the list with $2.3 billion. 

Curiously, Las Vegas partier and socialite extraordinaire Paris Hilton, and even her pet monkey were left off the list. 

The only other Nevadan listed on the Forbes 400 is Henderson resident Nancy Walton Laurie, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. She was listed in 118th place with $2.6 billion. 

Three members of Mars family, whose family’s company owns the Las Vegas-based Ethel M Chocolate family, tied for 19th place on the list, each with $11 million in net worth. 

Now, a brief moment of silence for all the Las Vegas  billionaires who have lived gold-gilded lives and lost but a smidgeon of their fortunes– and for the majority masses who can’t even count to a billion, or even write it.

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The Las Vegas Home Michael Jackson Really Wanted- But Never Had

Pop singer Michael Jackson had plans to make an offer on a $16.5 million estate on Tomiyasu Lane in Las Vegas, owned by Gary and Carol Primm, his former Las Vegas real estate broker says. He was going to call his new home “Wonderland.” 

Nestled among the homes of casino owner Phil Ruffin, the Sultan of Brunei and entertainer Wayne Newton is a 10-acre compound in Las Vegas that pop singer Michael Jackson was planning to call home. 

Actually, he was planning to call the property at 7000 Tomiyasu Lane — owned by former casino mogul Gary Primm and his ex-wife, Carol — “Wonderland.” 

“He got so excited, the minute we drove through the gates here he got that feeling of Neverland,” said Zar Zanganeh, a Realtor with Fine Vegas Estates, during a tour of the home. “As soon as he stepped out of the car, he said, ‘Zar, I love this place. I’m calling it Wonderland.’” 

Jackson began eyeing the home in 2007. The King of Pop was planning to put an offer on the $16.5 million estate after his London tour was complete and his finances were flush, Zanganeh said. 

Jackson first saw the property when he was living in a 10-acre mansion on Monte Cristo Way in northwest Las Vegas — a property Zanangeh helped him lease, sight-unseen, while the entertainer was overseas after his acquittal on child sexual abuse charges.

 It was one of about 15 homes Zanganeh had shown Jackson.  But it was the only home where Jackson felt comfortable enough to walk outside with no mask or umbrella to shield him from the sun. 

He wanted to move in immediately but his finances weren’t in order to buy at the time, Zanganeh said. He approached the Primms about leasing the home — an offer they turned down. But Jackson’s interest in the house remained piqued and he stayed in regular contact with Zanganeh by phone and e-mail. 

Not long before his death, Jackson learned the Primms had lowered the price from about $22 million to $16.5 million. He told Zanganeh he was preparing to make a formal offer upon his return from England. 

Jackson died June 25 before any offers landed on the table. 

The mansion struck a chord with Jackson, who was looking for a permanent home after vowing never to return to his Neverland Ranch near Santa Ynez, Calif. The memories of the trial were too painful, and Zanganeh said Jackson on many occasions during their house hunting swore he would never return there. He saw a future in Las Vegas — he entertained the idea of a regular show on the Strip, and wanted to be able to provide stability for his children. He also wanted a home replete with strong security features. 

Security was something Gary Primm took seriously. The security features in the home start with three fierce gates — one each for the main home, the guest home and a service entrance. 

A fence surrounds the property. Secret tunnels wind throughout the home; many of the doors are bulletproof, and some are cleverly disguised as walls or cabinets to fool a possible intruder giving chase. There’s even a panic room that has its own oxygen supply and a separate, buried phone line so the wires couldn’t possibly be cut. 

Attached to the main home is a four-car garage. But it also offers what real estate agents have billed a “car museum” — in essence, a showroom large enough for 20 additional vehicles. 

The car museum has its own car wash, which uses deionized water so as not to scratch the vehicles. It also has power lifts so mechanic work can be done on site. The home has two gas stations — one for diesel, one for unleaded. 

It wasn’t just Jackson who fell in love with the estate. His children were excited at the thought of moving in, Zanganeh said. 

“The kids went nuts (when they first walked in). We keep a lot of candy in the house … Paris ran in here, ran right up to the dining room table, started eating jelly beans and said, ‘Daddy, this is like Candyland!’ which is a game they regularly played in the house. Paris loved that part of the house. Blanket just fell in love with all the animals we had in the barn.” 

The home offers an equestrian facility with eight stalls and two wash bays. It also boasts a separate “doggie villa,” which the Primms had used to house their champion Rottweilers. In the barn, there are two horses, a pony and a pig. Jackson didn’t spell out specific plans to bring additional animals, but he did ask if the pony and the pig could stay. 

A walk through the back yard of the home reveals a golf driving range, basketball and tennis courts, a greenhouse and a pool. 

If the fountains, sculptures, water slide and rock crags weren’t enough, tucked behind a waterfall inside a cave is a grotto guest suite. 

Zanganeh described the property as “something very much out of ‘The Flintstones.’” 

The secluded 1,000-square-foot living space, which has a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchenette, was going to be turned into a playhouse for the children, Zanganeh said. 

The coziness of the 15,000-square-foot home was something that appealed to Jackson — especially the dining room, which is designed to seat eight people. 

“Michael enjoyed having family time: They’d dress up for dinner, they’d sit down at the dinner table, they’d always have all the holiday dinners at the table,” Zanganeh said. “It has room for an expansion — the doors open up to an outside area for entertainment — but Michael liked the fact that although the house is very big, many of the important rooms like the bedrooms or the dining rooms still felt very intimate for a family.” 

The only space where Jackson planned for a major modification was the indoor shooting range. Guns were of little interest to him, and the space suited him for a recording studio. It even had an area for a production room and a dance floor where he could practice for auditions.

The master bedroom has a “his” and “hers” wing, with separate bathrooms and a workout gym. The “his” bathroom has its own barber chair, and the gym has a sauna and a steam shower. Both sides have walk-in closets. Amenities on the ladies’ side include a whirlpool tub, a balcony for tanning outside and a bidet. (The in-home beauty salon is downstairs by the kitchen.)

The theater room was an important room for Jackson. In other homes, he would take meals or meetings in that room or would use it to entertain, Zanganeh said.  At the Primm estate, the theater room, with seating for 16 and three screens, doubles as a cigar room. It has an extensive ventilation system and fresh oxygen pumped in.

Jackson was also drawn to the neighborhood. Zanganeh said Jackson was concerned about who his neighbors might be. On Tomiyasu Lane, he was comforted by the fact that he had already formed relationships with several residents who lived nearby.

“Every time we went around, Michael wanted to know who the neighbors were, what they do for a living. In this neighborhood, he knew many of the neighbors. He’s friends with the Sultan of Brunei, who built the home next door. He knows Wayne Newton, who has a property around the corner,” Zanganeh said. “It’s a nice, secluded neighborhood. Very private. Everyone is very low key. But it’s a very high net worth community.”

Jackson lived in several leased homes in and around Las Vegas before his death. He spent time at a Pahrump home last summer. He was rumored to be planning a show in Las Vegas at major Strip properties, but those rumors were squelched with the announcement of Jackson’s London tour.

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