Dear Triple Pundit: I respectfully disagree

Hi Vegas fans,
I read this morning, with some mild agitation and confusion, an article by Triple Pundit that described the new Linq project as a means of pedestrian sustainability in Las Vegas. The article states that Las Vegas' "dangerously narrow sidewalks and confusing pathways is enough to challenge even sober pedestrians. The fact that most casinos’ entrances are designed grandly for cars only makes matters worse when the vast majority of people are trying to walk, or at least stumble, to the next casino"

Then the article points out that purpose of the Linq "is to create something of a side street, safe from the chaos and traffic of the Strip."

Um. Ok. Well, here are some thoughts:
  1. I don't disagree that pedestrian traffic is a problem in Las Vegas. But while Sin City is the 13th most dangerous city in the U.S. to pedestrians, studies have shown that the causes are not all very clear and that accidents happen all over the city, particularly away from the Strip and downtown. Visitors can avoid problems by using the overpasses, as I do whenever I'm on the Strip, which keep you safe from street traffic. They are positioned at most major intersections on the Strip, and if you do any amount of walking, they are essential.
  2. Sidewalks are not narrow. There's just a lot of people walking on them. 40 million people visit Las Vegas every year. It's going to be crowded, so you have to be aware of your surroundings and you understand that it may take a while to get from point A to point B because lots of folks are probably going where you are, too.

    Downtown, foot traffic is typically centered around the Fremont Street Experience, which is closed to car traffic. At night, it is very crowded with street performers and is much like a block party. But you can still get around, if you are patient, by following the flow of traffic on the sidewalks near the casinos.
  3. Pathways are not confusing. The Strip is... well... a strip of land. It is pretty much a straight line, except for the bend in the road at TI, and even at that you just keep... walking... straight. Downtown, you are pretty much in a central grid-like area. Look for the giant canopy called "Fremont Street Experience." Pretty simple.
  4. Casino entrances are not really designed for cars. True, many casinos have grand port-cohere designs in the front of the casino, used mainly for cabs and limos. But, getting to them is often a lesson in patience as these vehicles must wait for the swarm of people going into the front entrance of the casino. And if you are parking in a garage, as I often do, you must go around the back of the casino to get there, not the front entrance.
  5. While the Linq is a side street, away from the hustle-and-bustle of the Strip, it is really just a space for retail shopping and entertainment. Which leads me to wonder about the intentions of the Triple Pundit article. Is it simply advertisement for the Linq? The writers can't really believe that the Linq is means of sustainability, can they?
Regardless, it is important for all visitors who are walking or driving on the Strip or downtown to be safe, just as it is in any major city. There are lots of people out there. Look out for others. If you are walking, use the overpasses to cross the Strip. If you are driving, be patient. Consider using Paradise Rd and Industrial Road as alternatives to the Strip. Of course, don't drive if you've been drinking. Don't even walk if you've been drinking. Get a cab, take the Monorail, ride the bus, or treat yourself to a limo. 

Personal Choice

Hi Vegas fans,
I read a great article this afternoon on Yahoo called Stop Asking What Your Waiter Likes. It's Pointless. It's a very short article, and I encourage you to read it. It really hits home and confirms the major premise of my book: you know what you like, so don't let other people tell you what is "good" or "bad" about something for which you are going to spend your hard-earned money.

In Simplifying Las Vegas 2014, I share my ideas and tips, including a new itinerary section. But I always note that these are my thoughts and that you should really use my guide as just that: a tool to explore what you will like about the most exciting city in the world. If it's one thing my 20+ years of experience has taught me, it's that I learned that I loved Las Vegas because I have so many opportunities to have fun doing activities that I enjoy. It's my money and I'm going to make the most of it! I hope you do the same.


Of Resort Fees and Good Times

Hi Vegas fans,

As I write you today, I consider myself very blessed. It's my 43rd birthday, and although I'm not in Las Vegas right now, I'm happy. I'm in a great relationship, my day job is great, my book is selling like hot cakes, and I'm healthy. What else could I ask for?

I know what you're thinking: "A trip to Vegas!" Yes, and it's coming in August. And as I plan my trip, I'm constantly looking at rates, flights, and what's going on in Vegas. The latest is that Caesars Entertainment Corp (CEC) is going to charge a resort fee. Most casinos on the Strip charge somewhere around $15 per day for this type of fee, which covers the pool, workout room and other amenities. If you don't use them, your loss. Most of us Vegas travelers find this annoying, but there's really no way around them right now. In all fairness, I have a win-win proposal for casinos. Execs, please listen up:

Make the resort fee an optional add-on fee. If you want to use the pool or workout room or other stuff, inform the guest at check-in that he or she must pay this fee. This will be added to your hotel bill per day per guest per room and is non-negotiable after you sign the agreement. If you sign, your room key allows you to access the stuff you paid for. If you do not agree, then your room key only gets you into your dwelling. Simple enough. It's a win-win. The guest cannot complain that he or she is paying an extra fee, and the hotel can cover expenses for all things that are extra.

Let's end this discussion about resort fees and get on with the fun. Pool season is coming up in Vegas, and good times are about to roll. We have more important things to discuss.

Thanks for your continued support. When all else fails, remember my motto... Go to Vegas. It's that simple.

Las Vegas Resolutions for 2013

Good Morning Vegas fans!
As we wrap up 2012 and forge into 2013, I must say I'm excited for the possibilities for the new year. I hope you are, too. A new year is always full of hope, and my wish for you is much prosperity in your lives and, if you are so inclined, your travels to Las Vegas.

In the past I have typically written about either my New Year's resolutions or my wishes for Las Vegas (kind of like the city's resolutions), but this year I'm going to do both. So here are my five combined resolutions for 2013:

  1. Get more exercise. This should be easy for me because I usually do a ton of walking in Vegas. Now I just need to add a few more aerobic routines a few more times a week.
  2. Eat healthier. This one is harder. Food tastes good. And when I'm in Vegas, it tastes even better.
  3. Help as many people as possible with my travel guide. 2012 was a great year for Simplifying Las Vegas. I hope 2013 is even better. For those of you interested in my guide, please visit
  4. Less nagging about Caesars Entertainment Corp (CEC). So I wish swift construction and great success for the Linq project. While I'm not a huge fan of more retail space and a ginormous Ferris wheel on the Strip, it is important for CEC and Las Vegas that this project goes well. Completion is estimated for 2014, but there will be a lot of activity this year.
  5. Finally, I resolve to update my site, blog and book more frequently. This one tough because I don't have as much time as I'd like to do this, but in the end it will save me time when I'm ready to publish next year's travel guide. However, it's a labor of love, so I certainly won't mind this task much at all!
Las Vegas continues to thrive, although the latest numbers are a bit down and visitation is starting to slide a bit after several months of positive numbers. The economy is still a huge question mark, and despite fiscal cliffs and foreclosures, an estimated 40 million people will visit Las Vegas in 2013. That's a lot of folks, folks. So if you see that the numbers are down, it means that you may be able to get better deals to Sin City. If the numbers are up, it means there will probably be more activity in Vegas. Either way, enjoy it and remember my motto... Go to Vegas. It's that Simple.

Wishing you a prosperous 2013!

Re-reinventing a casino

Hi Vegas fans,
For the past few years, the Riviera and Tropicana have both been undergoing renovations and reinventions. The Trop has struggled with the Havana theme and, quite honestly, has been a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping that it would keep its charm yet add a bit of pizazz. It hasn't really worked out yet, but they are still tweaking the concept.

To be fair, their competition is pretty tough. They are surrounded by a high end joint (Mandalay Bay), several middle of the road casinos (NY NY, Luxor, MGM), and a low roller haven (Excalibur).

On the other hand, the Riviera has Circus Circus and the Stratosphere to compete with, which are both lower end properties. They used to compete on price, much like the now defunct Sahara. But the Riv has a rich history and can compete on its unique position in the market. With few changes, it can go from low roller rust to mid market madness. CEO Andy Choy has already made some significant changes (check out some of them in the Desert Companion). 3:2 single deck blackjack, single zero roulette, and gazillion times odds in craps will help draw in the gamblers. Better food and fun (such as a pinball museum) will remove the dive stigma. I think they are finally turning it around.

I'll be checking it out soon to see its progress. In the mean time, if you visit and have comments, please share them with the rest of us.