Complimentary Sake Tasting At Tropicana Las Vegas Pool

Further evidence that the Tropicana Las Vegas Pool (eventually to be branded Nikki Beach) is NOT going to be another Rehab. Just hit my email today:

Definitive Talent presents Sake Sessions Complimentary Sake Tasking. Party on until midnight with music by Deftal DJ/VDJ Chimz and Drumble Beat (Featuring AB).

Sushi Featured by Osaka.

June 24, 7-10 PM. Be on the guestlist by texting SAKESESSION at 21691

Located poolside at Tropicana Las Vegas

Tropicana Las Vegas’ Nikki Beach – A Niche Of It’s Own

I’m bullish on the Tropicana Las Vegas remodel. I can’t believe the “bang for the buck” they are getting for the $165 million they are spending. It is night and day. People who have not set foot in the Trop in years (or perhaps never at all) will check it out and be impressed. I’m not suggesting that it will Bellagio, Palazzo, or Wynn Las Vegas, but the redo will zing them well up the pecking order.

The biggest announcement has been the addition of a Nikki’s Beach for their pool area.

I continue to hear the “how is Nikki Beach going to do in a city awash in daylife” and (with all due respect), I don’t think anyone has researched Nikki Beach enough. They have a worldwide reputation and a built in clientele. They aren’t trying to be Rehab. And they will be more “boutique” than Encore Beach Club.

This is not exactly Rehab — further into the video you see the laid back side — (although some may deem it NSFW):

From their Nikki Beach Miami page:

Nikki Beach Miami is the hidden jewel of South Beach, located at One Ocean Drive along the beautiful Atlantic Ocean amid swaying palms trees and warm sunny breezes. Nikki Beach has established itself as the landmark for ultimate parties, celebrations, and entertainment and always lives up to it’s reputation as a party playground for jet setters, celebrities, VIPs, guests and visitors alike.

I think the key words there are “hidden jewel”. This is where you go when you want to chill with hundreds, not rage with thousands.

If they peel off people from neighboring hotels that have a lousy pool area, it will be a success. And I don’t see it appealing to the Jersey Shore wannabes.

If the Tropicana pulls off this whole South Beach thing like I believe they will, they’ll be successful. Surprisingly enough, no one has grabbed that theme yet (and people still love themed hotels). Recouping $165 million isn’t like trying to recoup what CityCenter cost. At the end of the day, they didn’t tank the $70 million cost of Encore Beach Club into Nikki Beach here, so modest results will be very acceptable and deemed successful. If it catches fire, it will just be a bonus.

Fewer Free Drinks In Las Vegas Not Just Your Imagination

According the the Associated Press, Las Vegas resorts comped $310.7 million in free drinks in 2009, a 2% drop from 2008. The resorts note that they sell more liquor when they give less away, and that no doubt is true. But at what cost? The entire idea about comping drinks is the keep the players PLAYING (and keep them lubricated up enough to keep playing). If you are on a losing streak and you have to go hunt down your own drink, aren’t you more likely just to leave the table (or machine)? Especially with machines where you can’t have a dealer watch your chips while you are gone.

This is unfortunately further evidence that some of people running the resorts have no clue about Las Vegas or the culture that made it famous (and made piles of cash from happy visitors). They get tighter with the free booze, then wonder why gaming wins are down? DUH. Sure… right now they are blaming it on the economy. But when the economy bounces back and gaming wins stagnate, maybe they’ll actually get back to taking care of the players.

I think it should be mandatory for ALL resort upper management to go on an “everyman” bender: 24 hours on the Las Vegas Strip drinking, eating, and gambling with no VIP status or access and their own money at stake. They would learn volumes. Instead, they are too busy cleaning their pocket protectors and doing calculus for amusement and often seem to have no clue what you guys — the real Las Vegas visitors — want and enjoy.

At the very least, reading our blog should be mandatory for resort management on every level. We print the stuff you guys are emailing us — the stuff you really care about. I am amazed (perhaps shocked is a better word) about how out-of-touch some of the resort decision makers are with you guys. And we aim to correct that. One letter and one comment at a time. Feel free to make your voice heard by commenting below:

New Walgreens On The Las Vegas Strip – Needed, Great For Everyone

Wallgreens recently announced that they’ll be building a 3 story Walgreens location on the Las Vegas Strip across from CityCenter. Many have been wondering why? After all, that part of The Strip has an ABC store, CVS, another Wallgreens just a short distance south, and a 7-11.

This is a no-brainer. That part of the Las Vegas Strip now has a heavy concentration of both condo and condotel (one room condos that are basically glorified hotel rooms) accommodations that have kitchen facilities. In additon, CityCenter has permanent residents but is a city without a shopping center of any kind.

Especially in this economy, visitors are preferring to save by buying food and booze and eating/drinking in their room. (The “kids” have been calling this pre-gaming for years — you booze it up in your room, kicked back while you get ready for a night on the town — and saving money on expensive bar and club drinks). Add a kitchen to the mix and you can make some light meals, microwave frozen dinners or pizza, refrigerate some milk for cereal and similar.

Tip: Even if you don’t have a fridge or kitchen in your unit, you can still keep your beverages (milk, or course) cold. Buy a cheap, Styrofoam disposable cooler. Keep it filled with ice. Leave it in the room when you check out.

This Walgreens will be larger than a typical location and I suspect will have enhanced grocery and other offerings perfect for the Las Vegas visitor.

Here’s what everyone else who is only looking at the tourist aspect of this is missing:

The neighborhood around Harmon between The Strip and Hard Rock is actually pretty substantial. Aside from hotels, you have a large rent-by-the-week/month apartment complex. Not to mention the high rise condos and time shares. PLUS a significant number of old-school (2 story) condos hidden back in the neighborhoods south of Harmon.

I’m guessing that the new Walgreens will have a back entrance from Harmon and be easily accessible to that neighborhood, which otherwise has nothing similar. (The nearest grocery store is way over at Maryland and Flamingo or Maryland and Tropicana). I’m also guessing that it will be built in a way to easily turn it into a casino or restaurant or other similar “Las Vegas Strip” facility if the Walgreens does not meet expectation.

However, I’m betting they will.

How Did and Access Vegas Insider Vibe Newsletter Get Started?

People always like to ask why our brand and newsletter has been so successful when most independent efforts to tout Las Vegas end up as no more than a glorified hobby. One thing truly did lead to another, but the core was 1) A real, true love for Las Vegas and everything Vegas and 2) Lots of hard steady work and the willingness to starve in the early days to do it full-time (kind of like being in a band) and 3) Getting it going in the early days of the internet.

Step by step, here’s how it all happened:

I got my first computer in 1995. AOL was getting to be a hot item and I was logging on through a friend’s computer (thanks, Howard). I wanted my own. I became the proud owner of a green Acer desktop. I think the screen was 15 inches. The computer’s hard drive was 100 MB.

I discovered the alt.vacation.las-vegas internet newsgroup — basically a public, unmoderated message board available to virtually anyone on the internet — and started chiming in with my Las Vegas adventures and opinions. I was regularly out on The Strip and Downtown Fremont Street and always had something new to post.

Unfortunately, unmoderated message boards open to the entire internet can get messy. People who don’t like each other start “flame wars” (where people snipe back and forth). And the fact that I was out and about so much and posting new Vegas info 2-4 times a week started to rankle some of the longstanding newsgroup posters who thought that they were “the stuff” when it came to Las Vegas.

Note: I didn’t set out to overshadow anyone. I was just this guy going out and having fun, keeping my ear to the ground, following closely Vegas news and (when you live here) sometimes ending up getting deeper information on things than the newspapers published. Las Vegas was still a small town in many aspects back then. Seemingly everybody knew everybody and word of just about anything traveled quickly.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

In 1996, I purchased the name just to put some Vegas info and links up at. No idea where it would go and at the time, no real way to make any money off of it. (Affiliate programs were brand new and Google Adsense did not exist). I learned some basic HTML and put four pages of Vegas links up.

In 1997 I got tired of people mistaking the name of the site (don’t buy a site with a dash in it) and found that was available. ( was also available but at $35 each, I made the foolish decision to only buy Money was tight, but I should have spent it anyway). The internet was booming, more and more people were searching for Las Vegas information online, there was a way to sell rooms and shows for a cut of the action, and I decided to build it out as a comprehensive Las Vegas travel site.

I continued to contribute to alt.vacation.las-vegas as much as ever. I’d now end my posts

Ted Newkirk


Now, a handful of the “I’m Mr. Vegas” guys (especially this one guy who went by Chuck K and claimed that Access Vegas would never amount to anything) who also posted there started calling me a spammer and trying to make life rough for me. Here I’d spend 30 minutes typing up a post that was full of first-hand info from what I was out doing and seeing. I simply put my website name after my sig (no other promotion for it in the post), and they were just throwing flames at me.

I started to realize that I’m producing tons of content, seeing nothing for it, not even putting it on my site, and getting darts thrown at me in the process. So… I took my marbles and went home.

In 1999, I posted that I was going to start up a weekly Las Vegas email newsletter. It would include the exact info that I had been posting to alt.vacation.las-vegas newsgroup, that it would be free, and that I would keep my subscriber list confidential. And… that for the most part, the info would not be posted to the newsgroup. Only one way to get it.

Over 400 people emailed me to subscribe. While that is now a drop in the bucket compared to present numbers, it sure shocked me. I was hoping for maybe 30!

The first issue went out to subscribers on May 20, 1999 and was simultaneously posted online. I was blogging before the term existed.

Since then, we’ve found our niche. I’m very proud that 26% of our readers are international (from outside the U.S.) with around 11% from Europe alone. When you have the interest and trust of those coming that far and spending that much money to get here and they are depending on vacation information, that is very gratifying.

I’m also pleased that about 25% of our readers make over $100k per year and another 25% or so make over $60k. We always carry information for people on every budget (and I’m not immune to enjoying some of the great cheap specials, especially downtown) but when you can appeal to an upscale clientele, that never hurts.

I’m also proud that my modest crew has (mostly) been with me for quite a while. I believe Robert (our IT guy from has been a partner for 10 years and continues to build great, custom behind-the-scenes stuff for us as well as keeping us running “on the cloud”. Amy Rayner-Cooley has been compiling and editing newsletter information for over 5 years and also plays a big part in our content. Prior to Amy, Rick Ziegler played a major role there. Mark Jacobs has been doing various work wherever needed for about 3 years. I’ve had some great interns over time, and now we’ve taken UNLV grad Jennifer Miller (who has an impressive intern resume in local media) and hired her on as Junior Managing Editor. You’ll see and hear a LOT more from her starting in the fall.

What is next? Minor redesign of and complete redesign of all our blogs and sister sites to match. Also, we’ve recently acquired,, and and we plan to meld them all into an network of “Access” sites featuring American’s top gaming cities. We also own (not sure what we’re doing with it yet) and (which may just get melded into the gaming resort cities network).

We also have some other major projects (and excellent domains) but were keeping those under wraps. We’ll let you know if they see the light of day. One thing at a time!

Past that, who knows? We’re not owned by a newspaper or TV station or other media conglomerate. I have no outside investors (we grow out of profit). We get $0.00 in public funds or convention authority funds or help of any kind. We simply do what we feel is best for you, our loyal readers!

I do know this: It is going to continue to be a lot of fun. So thanks for reading, keep telling your friends, and keep hanging out with us. It’s going to continue to be a fun ride!

Ted Newkirk
CEO/Managing Editor
Public Email: [email protected]

A New Las Vegas Arena – On The Strip Next To The Sahara?

Controversial Las Vegas blogger Vegas Rex recently noted the following:

Not only would this benefit me from an entertainment standpoint, but property values in my neighborhood would almost certainly go up, more businesses would sprout to serve stadium visitors, and transit options would probably increase as well.  At the very least, the monorail would be re-tooled and probably even expanded.  I am so excited about this arena, that if they want me to, I’ll use my own cock as a shovel to break ground.  Hell, I might even do this without even being asked.

Now, with everything above noted, I have to unequivocally concede that my excitement over this stadium is purely selfish.  Deep down, I know that there exists no demand in Las Vegas for a new stadium.

I’m not even convinced that the “10,000 new jobs” being touted by the developers are a good thing.

First of all, when you build something solely to create jobs, then the assumption should be that whatever being built is not needed.  Jobs should not exist for the sake of jobs, they should exist because they fill a needed void.

Second, once the stadium has been completed … then what?

This location is the front-runner because of the involvement of Sue Lowden. (If her name does not ring a bell, google it). Worst location for everyone would be on the FAR south Strip down by South Point. Great area, lived there until 1.5 years ago. But a new arena needs to be tourist accessible.

Hate the Harrah’s idea simply because parking would be a mess. We don’t need a Madison Square Garden. (CityCenter is showing us how well New York concepts work here). I guess people could park at various hotels that serve as monorail stops and then use the monorail to get to the Harrarena. (Hey, guess what, I coined a new word. Kind of like WynnCore. I’m sure that every podcaster and out-of-town blogger will immediately pick up on it and start using it. NOT).

A downtown one would really help revitalize that area, and the central location to freeways leading in four directions is a big help.

At the end of the day, though…

The only reason for a new arena is to get us a major league sports team. I don’t want a pro sports team. Don’t get me wrong: I love sports. But sports teams are for cities like Cleveland and Detroit. Or Sacramento. They give people with no other reason for living who live in an otherwise mundane city a chance to bond together and get all excited.

Hell, half of the spectators at each game would be rooting for the opposition! And as someone who promotes tourism, I guess it would be nice to give people even more excuses to visit Las Vegas. But here, we don’t like anything mediocre. (Look at the support UNLV football gets). We are winners and will not tolerate anything less. And a Las Vegas franchise of a sports team that doesn’t kick ass every year isn’t going to get much community support. (Plus, most people living here retain loyalties to their “home” teams. I’m one of the few people I know living here who has really become loyal to all things Vegas).

On a selfish note: Building it south of The Sahara would assure no high-rise going there. The Strip used to have open spaces with short buildings and you could see the beautiful mountains from many spots on The Strip. Now it is becoming a corridor of high-rises, taking away the stunning desert terrain views that visitors from other places love.

Four L.A. To Las Vegas Trains Proposed – Which One Is Best?

The maglev is not going to happen. The concept is barely out of sci-fi and WAY too expensive.

The DesertXpress is not going to happen. Building a separate high-speed rail line to Victorville is ridiculous. Las Vegas locals (including myself) believe it will make the Las Vegas monorail folly look small in comparison.

Z-train is going to try to be much too upscale. Art and fashion shows on the way to Las Vegas? Trying to rival private jet service? Good luck.

X Train has the best chance of success. Gambling or not, technology unavailable in the 90’s will keep people amused during the trip. Watch TV, go to the bar for a few “Pre-Vegas” drinks, relax in seats more comfortable than airplanes. I imagine they will have free wi-fi so you can actually finish up your office work on the way to Vegas then Twitter and Facebook and surf part of the trip away. On your departure day, place a sports bet before you leave town and watch the game on the train on the way home.

The biggest hurdle is working with the Union Pacific to make sure the train has priority over freight trains. Push comes to shove, someone might have to pony up some money to double or triple track certain sections of the route. But, that is far cheaper than building an entirely new railroad.

Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas $100 Million Expansion Details

The Hard Rock has completed their expansion, dramatically improving and upgrading the entire resort. They have added 320 new rooms and suites, the Rock Spa, Baby’s nightclub (a subterranean dance club that is a visual assault of purple, yellow, and metallic blue) and four new restaurants. They have also expanded and enhanced our world famous pool and Beach Club with a bar, grill and swim up casino.

Most notable are the addition of four new restaurants, including: NOBU, PINK TACO, AJ’S STEAKHOUSE and THE COUNTER. Along with the Hard Rock Hotel’s two original restaurants, MORTONI’S and MR. LUCKY’S, the hotel finally has the kind of variety offered by other major resorts. Here’s the rundown:

NOBU – Already open in New York and London, the opening of Nobu in Las Vegas represents one of the more interesting additions to Las Vegas’ ever-burgeoning culinary landscape. Nobu presents an unusual brand of Japanese cooking with Latin American influences. (Reader reviews are welcome — as noted, we aren’t much for Japanese cuisine).

PINK TACO – Combining Mexico and East L.A., this contemporary take on Mexican classics also features a Tequila Bar as well as an open-air taqueria adjacent to the exposed kitchen.

AJ’S STEAKHOUSE – Every casino has one. We prefer the Binion’s $3 steak special or Carver’s in Green Valley if you plan to break out the credit card.

This article originally appeared July 7, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe

Review: Activities for Kids (And Adults) At Luxor Las Vegas

FEATURE STORY – Attractions of the Luxor Hotel

The Attraction Level (second floor) of the Luxor Hotel contains a
number of interesting diversions both for those under 21 and adults
who need a break from the tables and slots. I made the mistake of
going down and thinking I could do ALL of them in an abbreviated
afternoon and opted for the all-inclusive $22.95 ticket. Don’t try
this at home, folks! While the $22.95 is a good deal, doing these
adventures back to back is time-consuming and taxing. Either plan to
do everything over the course of two days or just pick a couple of
things to enjoy.

IMAX THEATRE – If you have never experienced IMAX 3D (as I had not),
you are in for a treat. Sitting with a close-up, unencumbered view of
a screen about the size of a drive-in movie theatre screen, you don
special glasses that actually have speakers built into them to
argument the surround sound. This isn’t the old-time 3D experience
with the funky glasses that make everything fuzzy. This experience
brings the images SO close to your face that you try to reach out and
touch them.

I saw the T-Rex show, which mixed educational information about
dinosaurs and archeology with a "touching" story about an archeologist
and his teen daughter. We were taken back in time throughout the
show, viewing dinosaurs and other reptiles that were literally in our
face time and time again. In addition, the walks through the woods
and terrain of the old world forests were brought amazingly to life
through 3D. The other two shows currently playing are Mysteries of
Egypt and The Olympics. Each show lasts almost an hour and is well
worth the $8.95 admission. (That’s less than a roll of quarters or a
couple of red chips when you think of it in gambling terms). Also,
the 9:00 AM showing only runs $6.50

IN SEARCH OF THE OBELISK – This $6.00 motion simulator ride is just a
little short on bang-for-the-buck. You are led into a futuristic room
where you see a video of a "security alert" which sets up the
adventure. Then to a waiting room where another 5 minute video further
preps you for the ride. This state-of-the-art motion simulator with
wrap-around screen does engulf you in the experience, which includes a
hair-raising ride through the Obelisk, trying to escape from the "evil
forces". At around 5 minutes, the ride was a little short, although
having just had lunch, I was happy to see it end. One of the better
standard motion simulator rides in town, even if a bit short and
pricey, but go on an empty stomach.

KING TUT’S MUSEUM – A $5.00 rip-off unless you are REALLY into this
sort of history, you take a guided tour of replicas from King Tut’s
tomb. Seemingly historically accurate, this tour takes about 20
minutes because of the narration you receive from the provided
headset. Otherwise, it would take 5. Interesting, but something that
should cost $2 tops.

WORLD’S GREATEST PHARAOH’S – This 20 minute movie, shown in the same
theatre as "Lasting Impressions" starring Bill Acosta, provides a
history of the Egyptian period of pharaohs that the theme of the Luxor
is based around. Interestingly historical, it’s a nice reprieve from
the bells and whistles of the casino. Not something to take the kids
too, but at $4.00 not a bad change of pace for an adult.

How To Win In Las Vegas: Slot Machines vs. Table Games

SLOT PLAYERS VS. TABLE GAMES – Slot machine wins on the Strip for
April 1999 were up 15.4% (over April 1998) while table game wins were
off 3.4%. No surprise as the old mantra of "loose slots" has been
replaced by come-ons for themed slots. And somebody has to pay those
licensing fees. On the other hand, intelligent table game play can
cut the casino’s edge down to virtually nothing. If you have always
been interested in the joining the fun at the tables, but are too
timid for lack of knowledge, let us suggest the book Beat the Odds :
How to Win at Gambling! by J. Edward Allen. It’s a great primer,
inexpensive, and available online at
With the
book in hand and one of those inexpensive casino software programs
available at most stores, you can practice at home and play like a pro
when you get here!