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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com
(unsolicited and not “promoted”,  all unpaid for!)

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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! Another Benchmark!

Many thanks to our loyal readers and all the “drop-in” visitors since February 2013!

There are almost 600 Previous Blog Posts (BLOGS) archived for your enjoyment!
Use the Search Box at the top of the page or just read though (there’s an “Older Posts” link at the bottom of the page) to find fun and interesting stuff.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! More to come!

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F*CK YOU MORELS LAS VEGAS (at the Palazzo)

F*CK YOU MORELS LAS VEGAS! (at the Palazzo)

YOU SERVED THIS SH*TTY BREAKFAST TO A TRAVEL AND FOOD BLOGGER!

This sh*tty breakfast cost $23 at Morels with a french pressed coffee included:

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Breakfast at Morels Las Vegas at the Palazzo

WE WERE SERVED THIS SH*TTY BREAKFAST LAST AUGUST AT MORELS LAS VEGAS AT THE PALAZZO AND WE ARE STILL ANGRY!

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Coffee with Breakfast at Morels Las Vegas at the Palazzo

 

Complain to them about sh*tty food on Twitter and you’ll get BLOCKED!
How’s that for customer service and care?

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So we wrote a REVIEW ON FACEBOOK and gave them 1 STAR:
(because no stars was not an option)

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Screenshot of Our Review on facebook

Emily wants to know “Why’d you block him?” on March 31st.
And there was NO RESPONSE.

DON’T EAT HERE. There are many other good choices in Las Vegas!

Morels is inside the Palazzo Las Vegas. One more reason not to go there.

NOTE: We started this Blog before the Mass Shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, where 50 human beings were murdered and 53 other people were injured. This horrible event, combined with the reaction to the event, and the constant INSANITY of Donald Trump, we thought we’d channel our negative energy into something positive and finished this negative Blog about a negative experience.

 

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Best “Weekend Getaway” From Los Angeles?

Best “weekend getaway” from Los Angeles?

Here’s a Q&A from another saved draft. This is a Travel Blog.

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Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: My mom is coming to visit me in Venice for a week in April and we want to getaway! We’re looking for a destination to relax, hit up the spa, wine taste or have a great meal, do some boutique shopping, and maybe go for an easy hike? Since this will be for 1-2 nights, would like to keep it within 3 hours (one way). Out of all the amazing places, if you have to pick 1 destination for a visitor to see, what is the best destination for a weekend getaway from L.A. and why?

A: A fantastic Spa Weekend “Getaway” that meets your description can be experienced at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. It’s a beautiful full-service, luxury four star resort just north of Los Angeles with free self-parking.

The hotel has an amazing spa and pool facility with all the amenities. There’s fine dining on-site and in Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Agoura, Moorpark, Malibu or the Pacific Palisades (and the hotel also provides a shuttle that will take you to the beach).

Watch the sunset and enjoy a cocktail on the deck at Moonshadows Malibu or have an amazing $u$hi meal at Nobu Malibu. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner at the Saddle Peak Lodge, Cafe Firenze or one of the many fine restaurants nearby. We’ve heard about (and seen pictures of) the fabulous desserts at CHOCOLATINE Café French Pastries.

There is great easy hiking nearby in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. We recommend the Paramount Ranch (“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” filming site), Malibu Creek State Park (“MASH” filming site) or Point Dume State Beach.

There are also some nice wineries to visit nearby: Malibu Wines, SIP Malibu, Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards, Cornell Winery & Tasting Room and others are open to the public.

Horseback riding, shopping of all kinds, beach activities, nightlife options and more are all available locally. The hotel also offers cooking classes, other educational programs and fun activities.

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Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Good hikes in LA or surrounding areas?

Q: I have done a few in Malibu and Hollywood but looking for more ideas!

A: A great place to hike in Los Angeles is the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills and other trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Park entry and parking are free! Topanga State Park, Malibu Creek State Park, Rocky Oaks Park, Stunt Ranch State Park, Will Rogers State Historic Park, Temescal Canyon Park and Point Dume State Beach all have great hiking. Entrance fees and parking vary by location.

To Paramount Ranch: Exit Kanan Rd off the 101 freeway, turn left towards the beach, just past Agoura Rd make a left on Cornell Rd and drive to the park entrance. Park near the Ranger Station and enter through the Western Town film location.

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Paramount Ranch Park in Agoura, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

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Throwback Thursday! Four Seasons Westlake Village!

Throwback Thursday! Four Seasons Westlake Village!

Handmade chocolate truffles after lunch. Love the Four Seasons!

Four Seasons Westlake Village (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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Four Seasons Westlake Village (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)



“Vegas Baby! Las Vegas!”

“Vegas Baby! Las Vegas!”

Las Vegas, Nevada in August on a two night trip to “Sin City” for my birthday!

NOTE: This Blog is unfinished…and will likely remain unfinished.

Enjoy!

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Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – Bally’s, Paris & The Cosmopolitan

“ROAD TRIP!” We left Los Angeles on Thursday Morning, made two stops along the way, and arrived in Las Vegas a few hours later. It was a beautiful day to make the drive.

Glendora Sky at the Donut Man

Glendora Sky at the Donut Man

Our first stop was in Glendora at the famous Donut Man shop just off the 210 freeway. They are known for their Strawberry Glazed donuts, but all of their creations are great.

Strawberry Glazed Donuts at Donut Man in Glendora

Strawberry Glazed Donuts at Donut Man in Glendora

We bought a half dozen, a strawberry glazed, 2 chocolate custard filled, 2 glazed old fashioned and a cinnamon roll. We enjoyed the custard filled and took the rest “To Go”.

Half Dozen Donuts

Half Dozen Donuts “To Go” at Donut Man in Glendora

We stopped for gas and to stretch our legs somewhere between Barstow and Vegas, and I ate the strawberry glazed donut…it was a good donut, but they make such a fuss about them, I guess I expected something more.

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip”

The drive was without incident, and we arrived in Las Vegas and drove directly to our destination. We stayed both nights at The Palazzo Hotel at The Venetian-Palazzo Resort.

The Venetian Hotel & Casino (pic from a previous trip)

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel & Casino (this pic from a previous trip)

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Bypassing the regular line for Invited Guest Check-In

We valet parked the car, and proceeded to the Invited Guest (VIP) Check-In desk. After a short wait we were given our room assignment and keycards.

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Invited Guest Check-In

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Invited Guest Check-In Front Desk

Guest Suite at The Palazzo:

The Palazzo Hotel - 9th floor

The Palazzo Hotel – 9th floor

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel -

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel – “Wanna take a bath?”

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View! The view from my room.

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Poker Room at The Venetian Hotel

The Poker Room at The Venetian Hotel

The Race & Sports Book at The Venetian Hotel

The Race & Sports Book at The Venetian Hotel

After the long drive into Las Vegas, and after checking in at the Palazzo and dealing with the room, luggage and housekeeping, we decided to grab a bite at the Grand Lux Cafe.

READ THE BLOG NOW! Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel: (Right Click and “Open in New Window”) http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1P4

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe – Fried Chicken Strips & Waffle with Maple-Pecan Syrup

READ THE BLOG NOW! Late Dinner at Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar Original Buffalo Wings at The Venetian Hotel (Right Click and “Open in New Window”)  http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1Qb 

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Food Court at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel – Original Boneless Buffalo Wings $12

Dinner at Mario Batali’s Carnevino on Friday Night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Mario Batali’s Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

READ THE BLOG! Birthday Dinner at Mario Batali’s CARNEVINO Italian Steakhouse at the Palazzo Hotel (RIGHT CLICK AND OPEN IN NEW WINDOW)  http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1NX

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Carnevino Bar at The Palazzo Hotel

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

“Vegas, Vegas, Vegas!”

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – I can see the “High Roller” from here!

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Linq (Wanna knish?)

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

HAIL CAESARS PALACE! (they ruined this place). Evel Kneivel ate it big time on this spot:

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – Caesars Palace

Welcome to Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Welcome to Caesars Palace Las Vegas!

The Poker Room at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

The Poker Room at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

The

The Statue of “David” at Caesars Palace (NSFW or is it Art?)

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Cosmopolitan & Bellagio from Caesars Palace

Craps!

Craps!

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Flamingo

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View at Night!

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All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

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The

The End… “David” at Caesars Palace – Nice Butt. “Take a picture it’ll last longer.”

Had a great time. Will return shortly…

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

After the long drive into Las Vegas, and after checking in at the Palazzo and dealing with the room, luggage and housekeeping, we decided to grab a bite at the Grand Lux Cafe.

The restaurant is “Casino adjacent” at both The Venetian and the Palazzo hotels, the food is good and it’s reasonably priced for luxury hotel restaurant dining.

We were quickly seated in the dining room and I ordered the Fried Chicken & Waffles and the Asian Nachos. We received a basket of their fresh baked bread and drinks, and the food was delivered in a very short time.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – The Bar!

The portions are huge! It’s a Cheesecake Factory enterprise, so you know it’s going to be good and there will be leftovers. The fried chicken strips were tasty and the waffle was cooked just right. It was served with a maple-pecan syrup which was a little sweet, but that’s what syrup is all about.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe – Fried Chicken & Waffles with maple-pecan syrup

The Asian nachos are really good too. I only had a taste, but I would order them again.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe – Asian Nachos Appetizer

We enjoyed our meal, and ate quickly, anticipating the Las Vegas adventure ahead! The service was excellent and the food was tasty and delicious. A good start to the party!

AND

Before leaving Las Vegas on Saturday, we had another late lunch. I had the Asian Chicken Salad. The “lunch size” was enough for two people and it was very good.

Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel – Asian Chicken Salad (lunch size)

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

NOTE: You can get food “TO GO” and take it up to your room for a private dining experience or any-hour meal. I like their pizzas.

Grand Lux Cafe – Locations at both the Palazzo and Venetian Hotels 

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The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View!

Vegas baby! Vegas!

Here’s the view from my suite on the 9th floor of the Palazzo Hotel:

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View!

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of the Pool & Treasure Island Hotel!

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of Trump Hotel & Fashion Show Mall

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of Treasure Island & Trump Hotel at night!

MORE TO COME!

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Hiking in Maui and other Travel Answers about Hawaii

Hiking in Maui and other Travel Answers about Hawaii

Road to Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Road to Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Best spots for hiking in Maui?

I’m looking to escape the cold for a bit sometime in the next couple of months. Where can I find the best hiking trail in Maui? Willing to drive far for a beautiful hike and I’m not worried about the difficulty or length. Thanks!

A: Hiking in Maui?

HIKE THE PIPIWAI TRAIL to Waimoku Falls in Hana, Maui

Waimoku Falls - Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Waimoku Falls – Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Take the long drive on the Road to Hana and continue to Haleakala National Park and the Seven Pools aka Pools at Ohe’o.

Come prepared and bring your towel, for a beautiful hike on the Pipiwai Trail through the tropical rainforest, across (dry) stream beds and into the bamboo forest. Eventually you’ll come to Waimoku Falls. It’s a beautiful waterfall, a wonderful journey and well worth the trip.

Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: Don’t try to make the hike if there is heavy rain because there are flash flood warnings along the trail.

Top: Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls Bottom: Road to Hana (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Top: Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls Bottom: Road to Hana (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

While in Hana, be sure to visit the Hasegawa General Store and the Travaasa Hana (the original Hana-Maui hotel).

Hana Bay - Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Hana Bay – Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Hiking in Maui? (part 2)

A: Wai’anapanapa State Park in Hana Maui is an amazing place!

Black sand beaches, beautiful natural sea arches created from lava flows and ocean weathering, and camping/picnic areas. Very nice hiking trails in the park along the ocean and lava cliffs!

Wai'anapanapa State Park - Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai’anapanapa State Park – Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Tell me your favorite secluded beach in the islands?

My girlfriend and I are looking to explore some secluded beaches during our honeymoon to Hawaii. We don’t mind hiking into a remote area to visit a secluded beach. Can someone suggest some places we can explore? Secluded beaches on Maui?

A: The Road to Hana-Maui and Waianapanapa State Park Black Sand Beach.

If you take the Road to Hana you’ll come to Waianapanapa State Park and it’s black sand beaches and amazing polished lava rock shore.

http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/maui/waianapanapa.cfm

Wai'anapanapa State Park - Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai’anapanapa State Park – Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai'anapanapa State Park - Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wai’anapanapa State Park – Maui, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Have lunch at the Travaasa Hana Hotel (which once was the original Hana-Maui Hotel)

Be sure to stop at Hasegawa General Store before you visit the Seven Sacred Pools.

Seven Sacred Pools - Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Seven Sacred Pools – Hana, Maui (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

If you’re feeling adventurous there’s a great day hike to Waimoku Falls across dried river beds and through tropical and bamboo forests.

Drive the long road on the Piilani highway on the backside of Maui and visit the Palapala Ho’omau Congregational Church where Charles Lindbergh is buried before heading back to central or west Maui.

Hana-Maui Sunrise - Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Hana-Maui Sunrise – Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Q: Most remote beach?

A: Southpoint – Kalae on the Big Island Hawaii is a green sand beach and the southern most point in the United States.

p.s. You’re not supposed to drive your rental car down the dirt road.

Waikiki Beach - Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii - CLICK TO ENLARGE!

Waikiki Beach – Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Oceanfront Hotel?

We are staying 4 days in Honolulu and would love an oceanfront hotel without all the extra charges—ie. internet, parking, etc.  Can anyone recommend one?

A: A great value in Honolulu on the beach is the The Kahala Hotel & Resort Oahu.

It’s on the other side of Waikiki and Diamond Head, and far away from the major strip traffic, but close enough (10 minutes) to be convenient. You get free daily buffet, free WiFi and there’s NO RESORT FEES! Book direct with them online or by telephone. I always recommend telephone and get the name of the person you book with.

Great reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor too.

See my other answers for more about Hawaii.

Hiking to Waimoku Falls in Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Hiking to Waimoku Falls in Hana, Maui, Hawaii

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Duke Kahanamoku Statue on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Duke Kahanamoku Statue on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Today, May 4th, 2015, is the last day for the Riviera Hotel & Casino, once one of the finest “carpet joints” in Las Vegas. The hotel and casino will close at noon today…forever.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

*NOTE: THIS BLOG IS NOT YET COMPLETE BUT I WANTED IT POSTED BEFORE THE RIV ACTUALLY CLOSED. I’LL BE ADDING MORE HISTORY AND MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES SOON. PLEASE READ AND COMMENT!*

Sixty years ago, when the Riviera opened on April 20, 1955, it was the very first high-rise and the ninth resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Liberace was the featured headliner at the resort’s opening and for many years afterward.

4/20/55  L-R James Cashman Sr. and Liberace at Riviera opening

 

liberace-streisand

The casino was first proposed by Detroit mobster William Bischoff as the Casa Blanca, and received a gaming license in 1952. Bischoff later withdrew from the project, which was taken over by Miami businessman Samuel Cohen. By March 1955, Cohen, was identified as a member of Miami’s S & G gambling syndicate and was no longer part of the investment group, though rumors persisted that he secretly maintained an involvement. Harpo and Gummo Marx held minority interests in the resort at the time of the opening.

The opening of the new Riviera hotel and casino, along with The Dunes and the Royal Nevada resorts within a month in 1955, was the subject of a famous issue of LIFE magazine asking “Las Vegas – Is Boom Overextended?”

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas - Is the Boom Over-Extended?

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas – Is Boom Over-Extended?

The Riviera casino went bankrupt just three months after opening. A group led by Gus Greenbaum took over operation of the property for the Chicago Outfit. Greenbaum started in the rackets with Al Capone and was in charge of the TransAmerican wire service on the west coast for the Chicago mob beginning in 1928. After the Outfit whacked Bugsy Siegel in June of 1947, Greenbaum was appointed the Flamingo Hotel and Casino’s next manager and by 1950, he was managing the Tropicana. Known and respected in the underworld as a reliable source of information on Las Vegas real estate, he had planned to retire to Arizona and initially rejected the offer to run the Riviera, but after his sister-in-law was murdered, he accepted the job. Greenbaum’s womanizing, drug and gambling addictions led to his embezzling from the casino and in December 1958, after refusing to step down and sell his interest in the resort, Greenbaum and his wife were found murdered in their home in Phoenix, Arizona. “That was Meyer’s contract” Johnny Roselli said years later.

Gus Greenbaum - Johnny Roselli - Meyer Lansky

Gus Greenbaum – Johnny Roselli – Meyer Lansky

Sidney Korshak, a lawyer for powerful businessmen, both legitimate and illegitimate, played a major role in the Riviera’s management. His reputation as the Chicago mob’s man in Los Angeles made him one of Hollywood’s most fabled and influential fixers. Korshak was heavily involved with Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters’ west coast operations when organized labor was at the peak of its activity. Law enforcement agencies suspected that he represented the Chicago Outfit’s interest in the Riviera, and was responsible for skimming the casino’s revenue and delivering the proceeds to Chicago.

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHICAGO OUTFIT:

The Chicago Mafia began on the South Side Chicago with James “Big Jim” Colosimo. From modest beginnings in the 1890s, Colosimo, who was involved in vice, gambling and labor racketeering, became Chicago’s most powerful gangster during the period before Prohibition. Colosimo was reluctant to pursue the rich opportunities in the liquor trade that Prohibition offered. In May 1920 he was shot and killed in his café reputedly on a contract from Johnny Torrio.

“The Outfit” rose to power under the control of Torrio and Al Capone in the 1920’s during Prohibition. Their criminal activities including loansharking, gambling, prostitution, extortion, political corruption and murder. Following Capone’s conviction for income tax evasion in 1931, the Chicago mob was run by Frank Nitti, who committed suicide in 1943 after being indicted for extortion, and then Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo for over 60 years.

During the 1940s and 1950s, when the national syndicate was dominated by what was called the Big Six, Accardo and Jake Guzik, a trusted advisor and fixer for Capone and the Outfit, flew east weekly to meet with Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky and Longy Zwillman.

The Outfit’s biggest moves in the 1950s concerned casino gambling outside of Chicago. Chicago invested in hotels and casinos in Havana, Cuba and later went into Las Vegas in a big way and built the Vegas Strip. By 1961 Chicago had major interests in the Stardust, Riviera, Fremont and Desert Inn. Their Vegas holdings, partly in cooperation with Moe Dalitz, were overseen by Johnny Roselli, while the Teamsters’ Pension Fund provided financing. The Justice Department under Robert Kennedy investigated the Mob dominated Teamsters Union and its national leader Jimmy Hoffa, who was convicted of manipulating the pension fund in 1964.

Around 1957, Tony Accardo turned over the official position as boss of the Chicago Outfit to Sam Giancana, and became Consigliere. Giancana still had to obtain the sanction of Ricca and Accardo for all major business. Around 1966, Giancana was replaced as boss by Sam Battaglia. In 1967, Battaglia was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Giancana was still living in exile in Mexico. Felix Alderisio took over as acting boss in the late 1960s, was convicted of extortion, sent to prison in 1969 and died from natural causes in 1971. Then Jackie Cerone became acting boss. Cerone was convicted on gambling charges in May 1970 and later convicted of skimming $2 million from a Las Vegas casino in 1986 along with Aiuppa, Carl Civella, Angelo LaPietra and Carl DeLuna. Milwaukee organized-crime boss Frank Balistrieri was sentenced to 10-years in prison in the same case in December 1985. Cerone died of natural causes in 1996 six days after his release from prison. He was followed by Gus Alex, Samuel Carlisi and Joseph Aiuppa. Alex died of a heart attack in federal prison in 1992. Carlisi was convicted of racketeering, loansharking, and arson in connection with an illegal gambling business in Chicago in 1996 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He died there of a heart attack in 1997.

Paul Ricca died in 1972, leaving Tony Accardo as the ultimate authority in the outfit. Giancana was murdered in the basement apartment of his home in Oak Park, Illinois in 1975 after returning from Mexico. The FBI alleged that Aiuppa conspired with Johnny Roselli to kill Giancana because he refused to share his offshore gambling profits from Mexico, but another theory states that Giancana’s murder was connected to the U.S. Senate Church Committee’s investigation into the CIA’s role in the conspiracy to assassinate Castro. Giancana was subpoenaed to testify on his knowledge of alleged government-mafia cooperation just before he was murdered.

In the 1940s Johnny Roselli was involved in the Outfit’s extortion in Hollywood of the motion picture industry. By 1956, he had become the Chicago and Los Angeles mob’s man in Las Vegas. In the early 1960s, Roselli was unknowingly recruited by the CIA. In April 1976 he was called before the Warren Commission to testify about a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Three months after his first round of testimony the Committee wanted to recall him. Roselli went missing in July and his decomposing body was found  shot, dissected, then stuffed in a 55-gallon steel fuel drum floating near Miami in August 1976. Roselli was killed on Santo Trafficante Jr.’s orders and he would have needed permission from Outfit bosses Accardo and Aiuppa for the murder. Bill Bonanno, the son of mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, claimed in his 1999 memoir, Bound by Honor: A Mafioso’s Story, that he had discussed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with Roselli and implicated him as the primary hitman in a mafia conspiracy. According to Bonanno, Roselli shot Kennedy from a storm drain on Elm Street.

Joseph Aiuppa was convicted of skimming profits from Las Vegas casinos in 1986 and received 28 years in prison. On January 19, 1996, Aiuppa was released from prison and died of natural causes three days later. In June 1986, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and his brother Michael were beaten and strangled to death and buried in a cornfield five miles away from Aiuppa property near Morocco, Indiana. It was assumed that the Outfit ordered the murders because of Tony’s misbehavior in Las Vegas. It was also rumored that Aiuppa ordered the executions because he blamed Spilotro for the skimming conviction. In a 2010 interview with Maxim magazine, Tony Spilotro’s son Vincent claimed that the real target was his uncle Michael, and Tony was killed to prevent any revenge.

Tony Accardo bought a home in Palm Springs, California in the late 1970s, flying to Chicago to preside over Outfit “sit-downs” and mediate disputes. He died of heart failure at age 86 in Barrington, Illinois in 1992.

1975

Howard Hughes and Las Vegas:

Howard Hughes began the move into Las Vegas by legitimate operators and large corporations in the 1960s, resulting in the sale of many mob owned casinos. On November 24, Thanksgiving Day in 1966, Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad and moved into the Desert Inn. Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967 and then bought the Castaways, New Frontier, the Landmark and the Sands. He also bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to reposition the hotel’s trademark neon silver slipper, which was visible from Hughes’ bedroom and had been keeping him up at night. Hughes spent at least $300 million on his many properties and real estate in Las Vegas.

The Riviera sold in June 1968 to a group of investors tied to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp., owner of the Aladdin, Stardust, and Fremont casinos. In 1969, a deal was made to sell the Riviera to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp. but the sale was blocked by the Gaming Control Board.

Dean Martin was hired in 1969 to perform in the casino’s showroom in exchange for a 10 percent interest in the Riviera. They bought back his shares after Martin left in 1972, because management refused to cut his performance schedule from two shows a night to one.

Dean Martin - The King of Cool!

Dean Martin – The King of Cool!

In 1973, the Riviera was purchased for $60 million by AITS Inc., a Boston-based travel company controlled by Meshulam Riklis and Isidore Becker. The Riviera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1983. Riklis pledged money to keep the business in operation and appointed Jeffrey Silver as the new CEO to turn the Riviera around. Silver shifted the Riviera’s marketing away from high rollers towards middle and working-class gamblers.

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A Burger King franchise opened in the Riviera in 1983, the first fast-food chain outlet in a Las Vegas casino, inspiring the phrase “Burger King Revolution” which referred to the trend of hotels and casinos targeting middle-class customers.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

The Riviera underwent an expansion from 1988 to 1990 which went significantly over budget, leading to another Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991. The resort emerged from bankruptcy in 1993 owned by Riviera Holding Corp.

In 2006, Splash, a traditional Las Vegas showgirl revue, ended an extended run at the Riviera. And in 2009, An Evening at La Cage, featuring female impersonators including Frank Marino as Joan Rivers, ended one of the longest runs in Strip history.

On July 12, 2010, Riviera Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The decline of the Riviera was caused in part by the recession of 2008. The Riviera was once surrounded by the Stardust, New Frontier and Westward Ho which were demolished to make room for construction of the unfinished Fontainebleau and Boyd Gaming’s Echelon Place projects. Under the terms of the bankruptcy reorganization agreement negotiated by Starwood Capital Group and the other secured lenders the property was leased to Paragon Gaming.

In February 2015, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the Riviera hotel and its land for $182.5 million. The hotel will be demolished in the name of progress and the planned expansion of LVCVA’s Las Vegas Global Business District exhibit and meeting center.

"Crazy Girls" at the Riviera Hotel

“Crazy Girls” at the Riviera Hotel (the show and the statue will move to Planet Hollywood)

“Crazy Girls” is immortalized with a bronze sculpture based on a promotional photo for the show at the front of the casino. It was unveiled in 1997 with the phrase No “Ifs”, “Ands” or…. Since then, the thong-clad buttocks have been worn to a shine by visitors rubbing them. Riviera ads with the same photo used to appear on Vegas taxicabs back in the day.

crazy-girls

Vegas Matchbooks! Some are long gone now, some still remain…but for how long?

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

“It’s a sucker’s game. You can’t win out there, you understand. We got the percentages rigged all in our favor. The longer you stay, the more you play, the more chances you got of losing. I don’t let nobody around me who gambles. A couple thousand, okay, but no gambling!” – Chicago Outfit Boss Gus Alex on the subject of Las Vegas Casinos

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Rivera Hotel & Casino

Rivera Hotel & Casino

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

Sign of the Times! Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

 

UPDATED JANUARY 7, 2017:
Going through boxes in storage, came across a matched set of Riviera coffee mugs>

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A Matched Set of Riviera Coffee Mugs

 

 

Lots of Free Things to do in Las Vegas!

Lots of Free Things to do in Las Vegas!

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Walk the The Strip and the Fremont Street Experience downtown. Lots of “Only in Las Vegas” things to see day or night!

Visit Circus Circus Hotel & Casino (great for kids).

Watch the Fountains of Bellagio (and visit the Bellagio Gardens) and catch the Volcano eruption at The Mirage. Walk around the The Venetian, the MGM Grand Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan or any of the other large resorts.

Most of the Casino lounges still have live entertainment. The Carnaval Court at Harrah’s is happening. The Rio Hotel & Casino has live music in the Masquerade Bar on Friday and Saturdays.

Art and architecture at City Center, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign, Wildlife habitat (flamingos) at the Flamingo Las Vegas, Auto collection at The Quad Resort & Casino (get free tickets on the website), the Downtown Container Park giant treehouse, and visit the Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden.

Window shop at Forum Shops at Caesars, The Grand Canal Shoppes or the Fashion Show mall.

Visit the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon or The Valley of Fire.

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