Access Vegas Insider Vibe – October 24, 2001

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THIS ISSUE: The State of Las Vegas Tourism

EDITOR’S NOTES: Fall is the season for change, and we are changing this newsletter from a comprehensive weekly to a monthly digest version starting next issue. This isn’t due to the temporary slump in tourism or any failure. Quite the contrary: Las Vegas visitor numbers are already back to normal. We personally took a hit last month but it wasn’t bad. (We’ll discuss the layoffs, rumors, cheap room prices and such in this week’s feature article).

The simple fact is that I’m a “victim” of my own success! When I started this in May of 1999, I just had the site and the weekly newsletter was my main outlet for news and reviews. Now that I have expanded to publishing a number of sites, pretty much all the information published here is available on one of them. I can’t continue my responsibilities of building, updating, and expanding them and also find the 15-20 hours a week this has been taking unless I continue working 7 day weeks (which has taken a toll).

Let me outline where your favorite parts of this newsletter are available online:

Las Vegas News: Every single day, is updated with the latest Las Vegas news. Make it your start page or at least bookmark it (add it to favorites).

Editors Notes: I’m renaming these “Newkirk’s Notes” and they will continue to be a part of the newsletter. In fact, I’ll be able to spend a little more time than before commenting on the latest Las Vegas news, rumor, taking more stabs at our lousy cab drivers, and giving you my outspoken commentary that you won’t read in those glossy tourism magazines.

Concerts, Shows, Events: We have already moved most of these listings online as linked from the newsletter. To fill in any gaps, we will soon start a “Press Pass” page where we’ll be posting many of the weekly press releases get. This page will be free. The newsletter space was limited, forcing me to pick and choose what to include. We want to make more info available to those interested.

Reviews: We have a comprehensive selection of reviews at now, and we’ll continue to add to them on a monthly basis. We’ll note the additions each month’s newsletter, but if you can’t wait you can scroll down toward the bottom of that page, enter your email address, and be sent a note every time we add a new review!

Feedback: I never had enough room to print all of the great feedback, which was a shame because your comments when you return from Las Vegas are a huge help to those getting ready to visit. That prompted me to build the Comment Las Vegas site at

It is a great place to share your thoughts and (providing you stay on topic and don’t post anything in bad taste) you are guaranteed that tens of thousands will enjoy your comments over time. I’ll still be here via email to answer specific questions — just hit reply anytime you have a question that needs a personal reply. Unless out of town, I should be able to get back to you promptly.

So what will be in the monthly newsletter? We’ll let you know about the big coming events, highlight the new content we put online, have specials, giveaways, and a lot of fun. In fact, the very grind of getting this out weekly in the past took away the time I needed to make the phone calls and cut the deals so I could offer better specials and giveaways. I’ll be on the horn the next few weeks setting stuff up!

Speaking of …

VEGAS SPECIAL: Las Vegas MGM Grand from $75.95, Sun. – Thurs., Now – 10/31/01:

One more very important note: If you have installed About.Com Bar, NetZero, or Kazaa, you very may have unknowingly installed a virus-like spyware program that overwrites web pages with extra links that webmasters like myself did not place and have no control over (and are certainly not endorsed by us). If you have, details about this virus-like program and info on getting rid of it are at

LAS VEGAS NEWS – of interest to tourists:

LOCAL NEWS – updated daily at

PREFER NOT TO FLY – and Vegas is too far to drive but you still want to visit a REAL casino (not one of these cheesy Indian operations)? We offer the same great discounts, guaranteed lower rates, and the $100 Rebate Spectacular for rooms in both Atlantic City and Gulfport / Biloxi as we do in Las Vegas! Neither is quite having our beautiful 85 degree weather (although Biloxi is close) but both have the seaside to enjoy. Click to enter your dates and check the rates:

Atlantic City:
Gulfport / Biloxi:

$100 REBATE SPECTACULAR! Our partners at Hotel Reservations Network are giving you up to $100 back on any stay in Las Vegas or any major city they reserve. (Full details and list of all eligible cities at ). Claiming your cash is simple:

1. Print out:
2. Book a room online at
3. Send in for your rebate when you get home.

It doesn’t get any easier than that, and you get their low price guarantee
to boot!

Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Scenic Southwest Tours – by plane, bus, or even helicopter! You’ve seen the glossy ads in the tourist brochures. You’ve thought about it. You come all the way to Las Vegas — why not see one of the some of the most famous landmarks in the world! Don’t by tricked by web sites & magazines that offer discount tours. Taxes, park fees, permits can almost double the price. Our prices are inclusive – no hidden charges! Best Las Vegas Tours


Las Vegas Commercials — Unless you live in Los Angeles or a few other selected markets, you may never get to see the exciting television commercials that many of the casinos produce. These commercials do a fantastic job of highlighting the excitement of Las Vegas and we’ve been able to put a number of them online at Go enjoy!

Desert Inn Implosion — is still set for 2 a.m. Oct. 23. In light of the WTC, they aren’t making any kind of big deal about it, but if you are in town you might want to head over and watch.

Las Vegas Salutes the Spirit of America — This one-time benefit for the USO will be 2 PM Sunday Nov. 11, 2001 at Mandalay Bay. Scheduled to appear are a variety of both national and Las Vegas performers including Lance Burton, Tony Curtis, Robert Goulet, Clint Holmes, Jimmy Hopper, cast of Jubilee, Mac King, Rich Little, McGuire Sisters, Melinda, Wayne Newton, Siegfried and Roy, Jessica Simpson, Rick Springfield, and many more.

Tickets are $25 and available by dialing (702) 632-7580. Wayne Newton is active in the USO and is putting together a cast of national celebrities to take on a USO tours (similar to what Bob Hope did for years). Thus, the benefit for this cause. With the 2 PM start, many of you can attend and still have time to drive home or get to the airport if you have an evening flight. Mandalay Bay discount rooms are available at (Mandalay Bay link).

* SHOW TICKETS – See which shows are playing during your stay and book reservations EVEN if the tickets aren’t on sale yet. Search by date at

Spears coming to MGM’s arena for live HBO special

SHOW REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Mac King (Harrah’s) –


* SHOW REVIEWS – Read our unbiased, archived show reviews at
* GOLF RESERVATIONS – Grab that tee time GUARANTEED before you get to town! Search by date, see prices at
* DINING RESERVATIONS – For a small service fee, you can now lock up reservations for that “special night out” during your visit at


* SHOWS – listings available at
* HEADLINERS – listings available at
* CONCERT – listings available at

RESTAURANT REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Nectar (Bellagio) –

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NEWKIRK’S NOTES: The State of Las Vegas Tourism

Las Vegas is just about back to normal. N-O-R-M-A-L. Hotel occupancy rates are normal. The amount of air traffic in and out of town is just a hair off, but normal for all intents and purposes. The only “abnormal” thing are lower than usual room rates. With sunny weather in the 80’s, hotels often get top dollar for rooms during the fall. Those in town the past few weeks can attest to enjoying our beautiful fall weather at summer prices (the “low” season because of the heat).

I can already read your mind. You are thinking “This guy is a PR idiot who is full of crap — I keep reading about how hard Vegas has been hit, about the hotel layoffs, and how nobody is traveling.” Longtime readers know I base my reputation on the facts, but I’ll still be happy to defend my statements.

Things were indeed rough for a short period of time. The first week after the attacks was bad. The only other time the Strip is that empty is the week before Christmas. The second week was still rough, but the slashed rates started to attract people and business climbed quite a bit. By the third week, things were getting pretty close to normal and now are back to normal.

Remember, 1/5 of the population of the United States lives within a long days drive of Las Vegas, and most of those are in Southern California or Arizona, just a few hours away. We saw the same thing happen that we experience during a recession: People from other parts of the country (and the world) who opt to vacation closer to home (or skip a vacation) are replaced by drive-ins who had to skip the trip to Hawaii or Mexican Cruise due to cost, and jumped in the car for Las Vegas instead.

Yes, The hotels are hurting a bit. They are filling their rooms but the cut rates are attracting the bargain travelers who gamble much less, don’t go to shows, and don’t eat at the high end restaurants. If you enjoyed the “old” Las Vegas where you could get a $50 room on the Strip and see low limits even on the weekends, the past month was the time to be here. If you enjoy the fine dining and higher-end shows, you will find much shorter lines and more ticket availability.

So what about the layoffs? Just clearing out the dead wood. The hotels have always supposedly had a great relationship with the main union that most of the employees at the major hotels are affiliated with. I say supposedly because let’s face it … when management has a gun to their head to pay $18 an hour to somebody they could otherwise hire for $15, they can’t be truly happy. On the other hand, they don’t want to risk a huge labor problem. Shutting down much of Las Vegas’ tourism would be more damaging (in the long run) than the Sept. 11 events.

After business plummeted, the hotels went to the union and said “We can either work everyone 32 hours a week, or we can do layoffs.” The union contract dictates that full time workers must get 40 hours a week and the union didn’t budge. Hence, the layoffs. Two weeks later, the union came back to the table and said “We’ll go for the 32 hour weeks to get everybody back to work” and the hotels said “Too late — we offered that and you said no — we already did the layoffs and reorganized.”

Does it sound like I’m siding a bit with management? Perhaps. Why? Because I am very upset about the rising complaints of poor service that I get from you and the visitors to my websites. Too many hotel employees are taking you for granted. I have personally overheard hotel employees chat in local watering holes about customers.

An example: a slot floor attendant (the guy who brings machine fills and pays jackpots) was complaining that a lady didn’t tip him very much when she hit a jackpot. I politely asked him why someone should be required to tip when hitting a jackpot in a situation the odds are against them and they have probably lost more than that jackpot on her visit. He said “I only make $12 an hour (plus benefits) and so I need the tips, and besides … if a customer wants to make sure we are quick with the machine fills and the jackpot payoffs, we remember who the tippers are and aren’t.”

On another occasion, I heard a bartender complaining that someone hit a Royal Flush at his bar ($1000) and only tipped him $20. Granted, $12 an hour isn’t an executive wage, but we are talking a job requiring very little skill. And yet this is how all too many people look at you visitors — punishing you if you don’t cough up a gratuity that meets their expectations.

Let me interject that I believe in tipping in the appropriate situations and I am a generous tipper. In the case of bartenders, it is customary to tip per round whether you are paying for a drink or getting it “comped” (free) because you are playing.

But many slot attendants and bartenders (I kid you not) believe and expect that they should get a 10% tip on any hand pay jackpot and anything less than that, they sniff at. Do they remember that you may be down hundreds or thousands of dollars for the trip and this win doesn’t even bring you even? That $20 was more than he bad before!

It is unfortunate that the layoffs were arbitrary (done on seniority instead of merit in most cases), but in the long run I believe this will be good for you, the Las Vegas visitor. The workers have had a harsh reminder that their jobs are only there because YOU come to town. No visitors = no jobs.

Too many people have moved to town hearing about the good wages for regular jobs with no attachment or commitment to the community or understanding that their great new job is 100% dependent on you visitors. If you are a local who fits that category, I have a message for you: The rest of us are living here because we love Las Vegas, and those of us who are selling the rooms so you have people to service (and thus a job) are tired of you taking our customers for granted.

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We encourage you to post comments about specific Las Vegas hotels, shows, attractions, and general trip reports to our Comment Las Vegas message board at

For comments or questions regarding topics in the newsletter, write us a “letter to the editor” at (click) We do certainly read them all. They help shape our content and we do personally answer specific Las Vegas related questions!

Have a request for a review? Confused when you come to town and see the hundreds of dining, attraction, and show opportunities? Let us know what you’d like to hear about! Unlike the tourist magazines where the “articles” are tied in with paid ads, our sites give you the honest scoop.

If you appreciate this service, please consider booking your rooms and rental cars for ALL destinations with us using the travel links listed at the top of each issue. You get secure ordering with the convenience and savings of booking online!

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All contents copyright 2001 Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
October 24, 2001 ISSN: 1529-2770

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