Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show (aka CES) is the largest convention or trade show in Las Vegas. Once again, the Las Vegas Convention Center will be busting at the seams next January. There’s no end in sight to the growth of CES as technology becomes more a part of everyone’s life. Make no mistake about it, keeping CES in Las Vegas is a major reason the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority purchased the Riviera for future expansion. That expansion can’t come soon enough for anyone involved with CES.
Every year technology companies go to CES to show off their latest products and prototypes of what may become available in the future. Tech industry professionals from retail to production attend the show. News media from tech to mainstream will be in Las Vegas. Last year over 175,000 people attended CES. Next year CES should bring at least the same interest. The new schedule may even bring more people.
CES 2017 will take place from Thursday, January 5 through Sunday, January 8.
The weekend dates for CES are a departure from previous years. In the past, CES would begin midweek and tails off by the weekend. Many people, especially the media, would leave Las Vegas before Friday night. The long weekend may be offer more flexibility for potential CES attendees but it comes with a price. More people visit Las Vegas on the weekend than during the week and that will have an impact on everything from hotels to transportation and dinner reservations.
Early January isn’t the busiest time of year in Las Vegas but when you add almost 200,000 people and you have the potential for mild chaos. Hotels during are always near capacity during CES. Add the additional people visiting Las Vegas for the weekend and you can expect higher hotel prices. Possibly much higher hotel prices.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I believe in planning well in advance for busy times in Las Vegas. Not only is this helpful for getting low hotel room rates but it’s also helpful for attractions and meals.
If you know that you’ll be in Las Vegas for CES and remotely considering dining at one of the more popular restaurants, you should prepare earlier than normal. Large parties aren’t easy to fit on a normal weekend, and will be almost impossible if you want to the last minute.
Hotels closest to the Las Vegas Convention Center are usually among the first to get booked. The more luxe hotels are usually next to go. Plan CES 2017 in advance and get the best of everything before it’s gone.
Tip: Book your room with the Caesars Entertainment Semi-Annual Sale going on now. Click Here
Earlier this year there was a proposal submitted to local government to ban large items during big events on the Vegas Strip by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. That proposal was considered and after a few months it was recently approved by the Clark County Commission. The ban on large items will include briefcases, purses larger than 12”x 6”x12”, computer and camera bags, coolers, backpacks, fanny packs, strollers and carts at certain big events on the Vegas Strip.
This isn’t an every day ban, so you won’t have to leave these items in your hotel room every time you go to the Vegas Strip. Big events on the Vegas Strip are the few days a year that there will be major activity or closures outside. The one event specifically on the mind of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was New Year’s Eve. The Vegas Strip is closed on New Year’s Eve and there are people everywhere. Police are concerned about terror attacks around the world over the past year. The hope is that preventing large items on the Vegas Strip will keep potential weapons from easily sneaking into the area. This should make their jobs keep us safe on busy days and nights a little easier.
First time violators of the ban on large items will be given a warning and must leave the area with their bulky items. They will be allowed to return but a second warning could result in a $250 fine or possibly an arrest.
There are a couple of large items exempt from the banned list. Medical devices and medical transportation devices (scooters, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.) will be allowed. This ban goes into effect immediately when there are big events on the Vegas Strip. You should expect plenty of warning before the most major big events so that you’re not surprised by the new rules of the Vegas Strip. However, smaller big events that cause partial closures might be something to keep an eye on.
This might be an inconvenience during a few days but who’s really going to complain about staying safe?
Las Vegas shows come and go but they rarely do so at the same time. The public relations teams in Las Vegas are usually good about giving a little breathing room in between show announcements. That wasn’t the case recently when where there was news about 5 different shows closing, moving and extending in as many days. Most of the news wasn’t expected so let’s take a look at each show individually.
Matt Goss (Caesars Palace) – Closing
Caesars Entertainment announced that the last Matt Goss show at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace would take place on September 24th. This ends a long run at Caesars Palace that began in 2010. It hasn’t been announced if Matt Goss would relocate the show in Las Vegas or move on. However, there are multiple sources reporting that Cleopatra’s Barge will be closing. Word is that it will become some kind of intimate nightclub or lounge. Details on both are sure to emerge in the near future.
Raiding The Rock Vault (Tropicana) – Closing
Over the weekend it was announced that “Raiding the Rock Vault” would be ending its residency at Tropicana Theater on July 31. The announcement seemingly came from out of the blue as the show appeared to be popular. Guests would consistently rave about the live rock show and seemed to return often. However, new guests are as important as returning guests and that might be where the show was lacking. There’s no word if the show will return to a new location.
Showstoppers (Wynn) – Closing
Over the weekend the major musical production at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas set a closing date of September 30. The announcement was abrupt but not very surprising as reviews seemed to be mediocre. The show won’t be revamped and no plans have been announced for a new show in the theater just yet. Don’t expect to hear about a new show until the nears its closing date.
Absinthe (Caesars Palace) – Moving
This was the biggest surprise of all the recent show news. “Absinthe” is probably the best show in Las Vegas and consistently sells a lot of tickets (5,000 a week according to the Las Vegas Sun). Over the weekend the show’s producers announced that “Absinthe” would be closing at Caesars Palace on October 21st. The show will reopen at a new location on the Vegas Strip in the future. This quirky show wouldn’t be appropriate for just any property so it will be interesting to see where it ends up.
Jennifer Lopez (Planet Hollywood) – Extended
Jennifer Lopez announced 21 additional performances for her headlining residency show at the Axis Theater inside Planet Hollywood. The new show dates go on sale to the public beginning Friday, July 22 at 10 a.m. PT. However, Total Rewards players club members can purchase tickets before the general public. Presale takes place for TR members on Wednesday, July 20 at 10 a.m. PT through Thursday, July 21 at 10 p.m. PT. New show dates into 2017 are below.
December 2016: 14
February 2017: 8, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 21, 24, 25
May 2017: 24, 26, 27, 28, 31
June 2017: 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11
If you’ve been to Las Vegas before you know that you’ll typically pay more for products inside of a Las Vegas casino than you would at the same business outside. Likewise, you’ll pay more of a markup depending on which casinos you visit. If you didn’t know this then consider this a heads up when preparing a budget for a visit to Las Vegas. Sticker shock is real and it’s never fun to be surprised by prices when you walk into a bar, restaurant or store.
You should know that bars, restaurants and retail outlets inside and part of a casino complex like The Park or The Linq will cost a little more money than similar outlets outside of the casino. You’ll notice the higher prices from the Vegas Strip to the Vegas suburbs. The markups range from insignificant to very noticeable.
I happened to be staying at The Flamingo when The Linq first opened a few years ago. The coffee options inside the casino weren’t very exciting so I went outside for a familiar cup of coffee. Having stayed in different casinos for years, I was expecting a slight markup for the Venti Iced Coffee. I wasn’t expecting the huge markup from the Starbucks stores I visit in the Vegas ‘burbs. At the time, the cup of coffee cost around $3 in the neighborhood. That same exact cup of ice coffee was over $5 at The Linq.
The price increase was shocking but the coffee was necessary. It was so necessary that there was a return visit the next day. This was the first time that I had sticker shock on the Vegas Strip. Prices were always a little in the casinos more than local businesses but this markup stood out. It seemed a bit excessive but I needed the iced coffee and there was no plan to search elsewhere.
The large markups haven’t stopped on the Vegas Strip. It seems as if every new business on the Vegas Strip has a 20% markup from the price you’d expect to pay back home. Markups aren’t only at new bars and restaurants on the Vegas Strip. You’ll see a smaller markup, but still a markup, at casinos and retailers off the Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas. The markup may only be 10% but it’s something.
To higher prices are understandable. These businesses typically have to pay higher rent in high traffic areas like casinos and malls. Some of these new businesses even have to incorporate construction into their prices. We may not like the higher prices but they do make sense.
While the percentages may seem high, these markups are tolerable in the short term. You’re often locked into an area when choosing a cup of coffee, cocktail or dinner. It’s easy to say “I’m okay paying $5 for a cup of coffee that is $3.50 back home.” Even high-priced items like steak are priced higher. The steak that might cost $55 elsewhere might cost $60-$65 in Las Vegas.
Higher prices in Las Vegas, or any tourist city, aren’t new. It’s easy to accept these prices. Sometimes convenience is worth paying more money. It was for me when I paid way too much for my cup of coffee. Prices are something to consider when budgeting for a vacation. These markups aren’t going away but should be accounted for when planning a trip to Las Vegas.
One way to beat the markups in Las Vegas is to take advantage of discounts when you can. This is why we share Happy Hour deals, discounts and other specials when something new comes up.
MGM Resorts International recently announced a modest change to their M life players club. The only change that you’ll see to the players club is the name. The “M life” players club will now go by the name “M life Rewards.” This modest name change is probably a precursor for changes in the future but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The real news to come along with the name change is the availability of MGM Resorts’ first credit card. The M Life Rewards Mastercard is a partnership with First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha. First Bankcard has hundreds of partners ranging from national hotel chains like Best Western to a regional gas station & convenience store Sheetz. Point here is that this isn’t a fly by night credit card company.
The new M life Rewards MasterCard allows L life Rewards members to achieve higher Tier status, more rewards and benefits faster and turn everyday purchases into exclusive hotel, dining, entertainment and spa experiences at M life Rewards destinations. M life Rewards cardholders earn M life Rewards Points and Tier Credits for every dollar spent, including double (2x) points at gas stations and supermarkets and triple (3x) points for purchases at M life Rewards destinations. There’s even a bonus of 10,000 M life points after you spend $1,000 within the first three billing cycles.
One of the most popular benefits with the M life Rewards MasterCard is that cardholders will receive an upgrade to Pearl Tier status and priority hotel check-in at all M life Rewards destinations. This tier of rewards includes complimentary self-parking and buffet line passes at M life Rewards’ Las Vegas resorts. You can see MGM Resorts parking fees here. Complimentary parking might offer the largest tangible financial benefit of everything this credit card offers.
There’s no annual fee for the M life Rewards credit card and it comes with a 19.99% APR when you open your account. Like other credit cards, that APR may change during the life of your card. For comparison, lowcards.com says the average credit card APR is 14.99%. You can see all of the terms for the credit card here.
M life Rewards members can apply for the M life Rewards MasterCard online at mlife.com or at any M life Rewards Desk in Las Vegas including: Bellagio, ARIA, Vdara, MGM Grand, The Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor, and Excalibur. Fun fact, I just learned that there’s an M life desk at Delano. That’s helpful as the line at Mandalay Bay is usually long.
Expect M life Rewards to expand to the east coast later this year. MGM Resorts International announce that they will own 100% of Borgata in Atlantic City before the year is over. They’ll also be opening MGM National Harbor near Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD later this year. Look for both casinos to join the M life Rewards family when they transition or open.
In addition to a variety hotels to choose from, M life Rewards has some of the best partnerships of any casino players club in Las Vegas. Hyatt, Southwest Airlines, Royal Caribbean International and Avis Budget Group are just some of the partners. You can see the full preferred partners list here.
In case you haven’t heard by now Monte Carlo will be transformed over the next couple of years to become Park MGM in 2018. MGM Resorts International will begin a major renovation of the property that will cover all of the hotel rooms, casino floor and restaurants later this year. The classic European design from Monte Carlo will continue at Park MGM but it will be similar to classic New York architecture than what you might find in Monte Carlo.
It appears that the New York theme from the neighboring casino, New York-New York, will carry through The Park and into the new hotel. Part of Park MGM will be devoted to NoMad, a luxury boutique hotel in New York City. Earlier this year Jim Murren, CEO MGM Resorts International, said that the company wouldn’t be theming any Las Vegas hotels for a while. In fact, with renovations potentially coming to Excalibur and Luxor there may be less themed hotels on the Vegas Strip than ever in a few years.
If you love the themed casino-hotels of Las Vegas you might want to make a pitstop at some of the few remaining hotels that have overt themes besides New York-New York.
Excalibur has a solid place on the Vegas Strip as one of the most kid-friendly hotels. The medieval theme and the castles are becoming a symbol of 90′s Las Vegas. Links to the past aren’t always desired in today’s corporate Las Vegas which is looking forward to the customer of tomorrow. We might soon see some of the exteriors of this hotel covered in corporate blandness. Interior de-theming isn’t difficult and a new exterior shopping element may take away some of the castle-like feelings outside. Dive into the Tournament of Kings if you need any excuse to visit Excalibur
This is an interesting property when it comes to de-theming. The Luxor pyramid may never go away in our lifetime. It’s one of the most iconic buildings on the Vegas Strip. Unless MGM Resorts decided to get rid of the entire building the pyramid isn’t going anywhere. However, on the inside, Luxor has undergone some de-theming over the years. You still know that you’re at the Luxor but the over the top original theme no longer exists. Ride the inclinator and grab a picture of the pyramid outside to make sure you have a memory of the Luxor should something drastic happen in the future.
The theme at Paris still exists but you can see it going away a little bit every year. Le Paris Balloon has been cleaned up, the Eiffel Tower still serves as one of the best views of the Vegas Strip and you can still see the Eiffel Tower legs inside of the casino. However, recent additions like Gordon Ramsay Steak and Martorano’s don’t really fit the Parisian theme. Even Burger Brasserie has lost the French “Le” that preceded the name. You may want to grab an extra Eiffel Tower slushy drink vessel on your next visit to have a memory of Paris Las Vegas at home.
The Circus theme extends throughout the entire family-friendly property. There are new rides added to the Adventuredome but you can see the age of this casino that opened in the 1960′s. The Steakhouse has a vintage feel and makes one of the best and affordable high-end steak dinners on the Vegas Strip. Circus Circus occupies so much land that there are always rumors that it may be sold or renovated. Visit this strange piece of Las Vegas history while it’s still intact.
The theme at Treasure Island is slowly slipping away. The Sirens of TI show has been canceled for a while now and Pirate Cove is no longer one of the best free attractions on the Vegas Strip. A new shopping element has taken over part of Pirate Cove and there’s barely enough room for the ship. The next renovation may mean the end of the nautical/pirate theme. The mixture of old theme and modern design is awkward and won’t last forever. Use the new Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit as an excuse to see the pirate ship while you can.
I’m a fairly devoted customer when I find something I like. Exploring new bars, restaurants, stores and attractions are what help make Las Vegas so much fun. After trying everything in a certain area it’s easy to run into a routine of visiting the same places because you know they’re good. This was the case with coffee shops in downtown Las Vegas.
Since I’m a gambler I’m usually under or near the Fremont Street Experience. The coffee options in the casino district are minimal and limited. However, if you leave the canopy you can find a nice variety of places to grab a good cup of coffee within a few blocks. Next time you’re in the downtown casino area, take a few steps out to Fremont East to try a cup of coffee at one of these coffee shops.
This is my go to coffee shop on Fremont Street. The coffee is good and the environment is fantastic. Located in the Emergency Arts building across the street from the El Cortez this coffee shop is also a record store, home to the burlesque hall of fame and has delicious food and beer. The coffee shop plays selections from their vintage vinyl collection available to purchase. This is one of the few coffee shops where the music is so good that headphones aren’t needed to block out the sound.
We’re officially knee deep into the iced coffee season. While the majority of their customers are focused on the unique and large donuts, the coffee is what stands out the most to a coffee drinker. Cold brew and nitro Stumptown coffee go a long way to making a hot summer day tolerable. Grab a donut if you need it but the coffee alone should send you zoomin’ around downtown Las Vegas. Donut Bar is located 124 Carson, a block off Fremont Street.
Inspire News Cafe
Most people seem to think about Inspire Theater first but they shouldn’t forget about the cafe. Inspire News Cafe is a Euro-style cafe and gathering place where it’s not uncommon to see small meetings taking place. Wifi speed is great making this one of the better locations to work in downtown Las Vegas. They serve Illy coffee, which isn’t unique but it’s my favorite mass produced and distributed coffee. The iced espresso beans are perfect for a hot summer afternoon.
The Black Cup
This small coffee stand hits you as soon as you enter Downtown Container Park. Coffee might not be the first thing on your mind when visiting a park and mall but The Black Cup serves delicious locally roasted organic coffee. This is just a stand so you can grab your cup and take it on the go. The wifi at Downtown Container Park might be the fastest in the area and The Black Cup and outdoor environment help to make it a great place to work for a little while. Head to the grassy area in the summer since the metal tables can get a little hot.
July 4th is less than a month away and Las Vegas is almost ready to celebrate. This is a strange year for July 4th in Las Vegas because Independence Day isn’t exactly being celebrated. Most of this year’s July 4th fireworks shows in Las Vegas aren’t even on July 4th. This year you’ll actually see more fireworks on and near the Vegas Strip from July 1 through July 3 than you will on July 4th.
Here is information on when and where you’ll be able to see fireworks in Las Vegas during July 4th weekend.
Friday, July 1
Station Casinos will be hosting fireworks on Friday, July 1 at Palace Station at 9 p.m. This will serve as the kick-off to a month-long celebration of their 40th birthday. This is a change for Station Casinos as they’ve recently held their July 4 fireworks shows at Red Rock Casino and Green Valley Ranch.
If you’re looking for a place to watch, but don’t want to leave the Vegas Strip you can head to the Stratosphere or Umami Beer Garden and SLS Las Vegas.
Saturday, July 2
311 will be performing as part of the Mandalay Bay Summer Concert Series during the fourth of July weekend. This has become an annual tradition since they’ve performed on these dates at Mandalay Bay for a few years. On Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3, guests to the show will enjoy 311 as well as a fireworks show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets to the fireworks and performance are priced between $57 – $64. Doors to the show open at 8 p.m.
Plaza will celebrate the Grand Opening of their new pool with a fireworks show from the roofs of the Plaza’s two towers at 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 3
Caesars Palace – They’ll be celebrating their 50th anniversary on July 3rd. The 13.5-minute fireworks show will take place at 9p.m. above the newly reimagined Julius Tower. The Linq will have a block party all day and will probably be a good place to watch the show.
Stratosphere – Their “Independence Pool Party” will be launching fireworks at 9 p.m. The fireworks display by Grucci will launch from various locations including the top of the tower. You should be able to see this from most points on the north end of the Vegas Strip. Again, Umami Beer Garden at SLS Las Vegas should make a great place to watch
Again, 311 will be performing as part of the Mandalay Bay Summer Concert Series during the fourth of July weekend. This has become an annual tradition since they’ve performed on these dates at Mandalay Bay for a few years. On Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3, guests to the show will enjoy 311 as well as a fireworks show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets to the fireworks and performance are priced between $57 – $64. Doors to the show open at 8 p.m.
If you want to get away from the chaos of the Vegas Strip, Lake Las Vegas 4th of July Celebration will take place on July 3 with a fireworks show over the lake at 9 p.m.
There are plenty of reasons to sign up for a casino players club but the savings you can incur might be the best of them all. You can accumulate points by gambling and spending cash to use for future expenses but that’s not the most immediate savings available to you. You never have to spend a penny to find some kind of savings from some casino players clubs.
When you visit a casino-owned restaurant you may be entitled to a discount regardless of your status in their players club. Certain restaurants at Caesars Entertainment hotels will offer $1 off per item just for showing your Total Rewards players club card. That might not sound like much of a savings that that can be greater than a 10% discount if you’re just ordering a sandwich that costs less than $10.
Some players clubs will offer a percentage off your bill just for paying with your players club. If you’ve earned a some points with Boyd Gaming’s B-Connected players club you be entitled to a major discount when you pay for your meal at one of their restaurants using players club points. Every level of player receives a 40% discount on meals. Many of these restaurants offer lower prices than you’ll see on the Vegas Strip so the discount feels even bigger than you might imagine.
Entry level players club members with Station Casinos Boarding Pass players club get a 10% discount at the gift shop at each property. That discount grows as high as 30% when you reach the highest tier, Chairman, at Boarding Pass. If you earn Boarding Pass points from the casino you can use them to pay for your discounted prices at the gift shop.
M Life, MGM Resorts’ players club, is one of the biggest in Las Vegas. They offer discounts just for signing up to become a member of their players club. M Life offers their entry level (and all levels) discounts on hotel rooms, shows and at participating retail shops when by showing their players club card. Like other players clubs the discounts are better the higher tier you reach. It’s somewhat easy to earn points since M Life offers them for spending in all departments.
Every players club has a different way to reward their members. You don’t need to be a high roller or big spender to start saving money at different hotels, restaurants, etc. It only takes a few minutes to sign up for a players club in person at the casino. Some players clubs even allow you to start the process at home. Becoming a loyal member of certain casino players clubs allows you to reach higher tiers quicker and earn greater benefits.
Players club benefits used to apply only to gamblers and high rollers but that’s no longer the case. Unless you want to remain off the grid in Las Vegas, you should be taking advantage of these players club discounts.