By Judy Thorburn

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Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance



From all of us at Las Vegas Round the Clock

Grand Opening of ARIA Resort at CityCenter

The highly anticipated, extraordinary CityCenter development on the Las Vegas strip made its initial debut a few weeks ago with celebratory unveilings of Vdara Hotel & Spa, Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas and Crystals retail and entertainment district. ARIA Resort & Casino took a little longer, finally opening its doors on Wednesday, December 16. It was the icing on the cake, signifying the Official Grand Opening of CityCenter and its completion.

Photo courtesy of City Center

During a morning outdoor press conference company executives including Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO, MGM Mirage, Bobby Baldwin, President and CEO, City Center, Bill Grounds, Infinity World Development Corp, Cesar Pelli the designer of ARIA from the world-renowned architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, and Rick Fedrizzi, the President/CEO of the U.S Green Building Council were on hand to pay tribute to CityCenter’s significant milestone in the arena of sustainable design, construction and operations. Among its sustainable distinctions, ARIA commissioned the first fleet of clean-fueled CNG stretch limousines that run on natural gas, a less polluting alternative to traditional gasoline.

“ARIA and CityCenter reflect a combination of innovation, energy and visionary design that we believe will reshape how the world views the destination resort experience and attract visitors from around the globe as a landmark of taste and style,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM MIRAGE, which developed CityCenter in partnership with Infinity World Development Corp." He then added, “CityCenter will become the benchmark by which all new developments will be measured, and it won’t be surpassed in scope and grandeur for decades.”

Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

ARIA stands as the centerpiece of the $8.5 billion urban resort destination. At 61 stories high, the resort is huge and the biggest in Las Vegas. Encompassing 4 million square foot, ARIA houses the only casino at CityCenter and features over 4000 rooms, (starting at $150 for a standard room night, and sky suites priced from $1200 - $1500 per night), along with several restaurants, bars, lounges, the Spa at ARIA, HAZE Nightclub and entertainment including Cirque du Soleil’s newest show "VIVA Elvis", a tribute to the life and music of Elvis Presley.

Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

It is obvious the creative men and women behind ARIA had a clear vision what they wanted the resort to offer and they went all out to make it happen by partnering with some of the world’s most talented visionaries. As an example of ARIA’s spectacular amenities, a collection of some of the world's most critically acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs were recruited including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Michael Mina, Sirio Maccioni, and Julian Serrano, Masayoshi Takayama and Shawn McClain whose enticing cuisine is bound to satisfy the taste buds of any food connoisseur.

Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Besides the striking architecture, works of art can be found everywhere in the display of fountains, sculptures, waterfalls, and water features designed by WET (which also constructed the torch for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics).

Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Photo courtesy of City Center

The impressive fine art collection that promises to engage the public features groundbreaking works by international artists including Antony Gormley, Jenny Holzer, Tony Cragg, Henry Moore and Maya Lin (her work includes the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C). Suspended over ARIA’s registration desk is Maya Lin’s 84 long piece of artwork weighing 3,700 lbs. made of cast reclaimed silver titled “Silver River” that represents the winding topography of the Colorado River. Sculptor Tony Cragg’s work, three towering columns – “Bolt,” “Bent of Mind” and “Untitled” can be seen at ARIA’s self-park entry lobby. Sculptor Henry Moore's reclining forms is located in the outdoor park area which can be seen from behind the registration desk. And, at the north entrance of Aria is Nancy Reuben's eye boggling sculpture made of 200 canoes and rowboats, called "The Big Edge 2008".

Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

In keeping with City Center’s environmentally conscious, green-theme, Control4, a Utah based company specializing in home and hospitality control systems has installed its family friendly energy-saving systems in every guest room at ARIA. Easy to use, with the touch of a screen or a remote control, guests have complete power over their environment with the ability to set lighting levels, room temperatures, television and video systems, music, drapes and guest services to their liking. The system also allows everything in a room to be turned off, saving energy as well as money. In fact, ARIA is the first resort on the Las Vegas Strip to generate its own electricity.

Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

On another interesting note, during a guided tour of the property, I was informed that the slot machines at ARIA's 150,000 square foot casino are an example of how innovative technology has been implemented to keep the indoor air clean and healthy, which should please non smokers and other health conscious gamblers. Vents at the base of each slot machine send air upward, which not only whisks away smoke from players, but acts to save on heating and air conditioning costs.

Photo courtesy of City Center

There are so much to take in at ARIA and CityCenter that in order to appreciate its many amenities, you really have to experience this one of a kind city within a city for yourself.

As a member of the reporting media I was able to preview ARIA during the day and attend the invite only Gala Opening Night Party which began at 7:30 p.m.

Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

The Grand Opening celebration was capped by a brilliant display of fireworks at 11 p.m. that lit up the evening’s sky before ARIA opened its doors to the eagerly awaiting public.

Photo courtesy of City Center/Denise Truscello

Only time will tell if ARIA and CityCenter will be a money making, as well as architectural success.

CityCenter still has one property left that has yet to be revealed.
The Harmon, a 400 room hotel is scheduled to open in late 2010.

Additional recent and upcoming “happenings” in and around Las Vegas include:

During these hard economic times, it is great to hear about some employers who have stepped up to help some of our returning soldiers in need of employment. In cooperation with the Harrah’s Entertainment employment center and internal departments, Bally’s has offered seven returning local Marines full-time front of house positions in either Security or Front Desk. An additional six Marines are completing the interview and hiring process at the resort.

Pollstar Magazine has nominated The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for the prestigious Best New Major Concert Venue award. After having been operating for only eight months, the venue’s incredible sound system, great sight lines, and artist-friendly back of house has paved the way for new industry standards. The Joint is among only five venues nationwide nominated for the award.

On Tuesday, December 15, the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel hosted its 4th Annual Holiday Reception and Christmas Tree Silent Auction. All the proceeds, which came to more than $10,000 from the silent auction, were donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas.

On Friday, Dec. 18, The Cupcakery, Las Vegas’ premier cupcake-only bakery, opened its third Las Vegas location.The newest Cupcakery is the first on the strip and is located on the Street of Dreams at Monte Carlo Resort & Casino.

Two of the smoothest male voices on The Strip, Josh Strickland of PEEPSHOW and Terry Fator of Terry Fator & His Cast of Thousands, sang at the 2009 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas on Tuesday, December 22 at Sam Boyd Stadium prior to the heated matchup between Brigham Young University and Oregon State. Strickland sang“God Bless America” and Fator sang“The Star Spangled Banner,” starting the game off on a high note.

Well-known restaurateur Gino Ferraro has opened a second location of his Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar with an expanded menu and wine cellar at 4480 Paradise Rd, on the corner of Harmon, south of Flamingo, which formerly housed the Rainbow Bar and Grill.

The Cannery Casino & Hotel will celebrate New Years Eve with a concert by the legendary Frankie Avalon. The Hollywood Icon will entertain guests with his classic hits and will lead the crowd in counting down the final seconds of 2009. The festivities will be held at The Club inside the Cannery Casino & Hotel on Thursday, December 31 with a performance at 10:30 p.m.

Purple Reign, the Ultimate Prince Tribute Show, has extended its run in the Night Owl Showroom at Hooters Casino Hotel throughout 2010.

The Sopranos Last Supper closed on December 30th at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. "We are aggressively working as a new partnership and will bring back the show under the name "SOPRANOS FAREWELL PARTY", late January early February," said the show’s producer Maggie Cupp. The show had been running for the last three and a half years.

Starting on January 1st, comedian Todd Paul is adding Friday nights to his performance schedule in the Night Owl Showroom at Hooters Hotel and Casino. Guest will be able to catch his act Wednesday through Monday. During the month of January, Hooters Casino Hotel is offer a special to celebrate Todd’s foray into Fridays. Tickets will be only $8.95 and include one free drink!

Two music acts have been added to Suncoast Entertainment lineup for 2010.

Beginning January 6, popular classic rock tribute band Yellow Brick Road will play the Suncoast Showroom on Wednesday evenings from 9 to 11 p.m. Envy, a group of energetic performers originally hailing from Scottsdale, Arizona, bring their seamless fusion of modern and classic medleys to the Suncoast Lounge on Friday and Saturday evenings at 10 p.m. beginning January 15. Admission is free to both Yellow Brick Road and Envy. Must be 21 or older to attend.

Worlds Collide, a high octane boxing and mixed martial arts championship tournament will be held on 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9 in the Star of the Desert Arena at Buffalo Bill’s Resort and Casino in Primm Valley. The championship includes five bouts with five contenders coming from Las Vegas and five hailing from California. Tickets are $50 and $20.

Clinton Jackson heads the lineup at The Riviera Comedy Club January 11 – 17.Joining Clinton is comediennes Nancy Reed, winner of “The Funniest Person in Austin Contest and Sandy Stec. Show times for the Riviera Comedy Club are 8:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $24.99 plus tax and fee.

January 8-10, Winchester Cultural Center will host the first-ever, countywide 48-Hour Dance Competition between dancers ages 11 to 19. Participants will have 48 hours to choreograph an original piece, gather costumes and prepare their performance for the show at 6 p.m. Jan. 10 inside the Winchester Cultural Center Theater, 3130 S. McLeod Drive. Online registration begins Jan. 1. Walk-in registration begins Jan. 5. The competition is limited to the first 20 groups with $20 entry fees. Public admission to the final performance is $5. Those interested in the 48-Hour Dance Competition can call the Winchester Cultural Center at 455-7340 or visit the Web site at

Celebrity sightings:

Saturday night, December 19…

Birthday celebrations took center stage at LAVO, Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter, who turned 28 on Wednesday, was joined by friends for the party, including actor Ivan Sergei, her co-star in the upcoming Starz series “Gravity”.

Krysten Ritter
Photo Credit: Al Powers

Also blowing out the candles for his 28th birthday was E! Entertainment correspondent Jason Kennedy. Accompanied by a bunch of guy friends.

Jason Kennedy
Photo Credit: Al Powers

Jason Kennedy celebrates his birthday
Photo Credit: Al Powers

Sugar Ray rocker Mark McGrath and producer/director McG were spotted dining at TAO.

Taking over the private dining room at TAO was Wayne Gretzky, throwing a 21st birthday weekend celebration for his daughter Paulina.

Friday night, Christmas December 25, actress and comedian Kym Whitley (made guest appearances in several television sitcoms, including "The Parent 'Hood," "Married... with Children," "Moesha," and "Curb Your Enthusiasm") arrived at ghostbar, inside the Palms Casino Resort with three other guests including her mother.

Saturday, December 26…

Shane Victorino, MLB outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, was at Playboy with a group of six friends.

Victorino was also spotted playing blackjack with UFC president Dana White inside the club. White was joined by a group of friends at a private table.

Australian skateboarder Jake 'Ironman' Brown was spotted at Moon Nightclub with a group of ten friends.

Sunday December 27…

PEEPSHOW star Holly Madison checking out the 4 p.m. performance of Untamed Illusions, starring The Fercos Brothers, at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Holly Madison with Ferdinand Fercos
Photo credit: Arlene Richie

Just hours after ex-girlfriend Holly Madison saw the show, illusionist and BELIEVE star Criss Angel was spotted checking out the 8 p.m. performance of Untamed Illusions.

Playboy Club inside Palms Casino Resort hosted the Miss Playboy Club Model Search. Illusionist Steve Wyrick hosted the event and named Las Vegas local Shannon Kelly Miss Playboy Club January 2010.

Steve Wyrick
Photo credit: Shane O'Neal

Shannon Kelly with Playboy Bunnies Jessa and Tiffany
Photo credit: Shane O'Neal

Baseball player Jason Giambi was spotted at LAVO.

Singer, Tony Orlando was at the new Las Vegas Rocks Café downtown visiting with its founder Tony Sacca. While there he tasted his namesake menu item Tony Orlando Opah! lamb shank with linguini accompanied by Gambler’s Garlic Bread.

Tony Orlando visits with Las Vegas Rocks Café founder Tony Sacca

Tony Orlando gives his sign of approval at Las Vegas Rocks Café after tasting his namesake menu item Tony Orlando Opah!

Tuesday, December 29…

Tommy DeVito, original member of the legendary group The Four Seasons, spotted eating dinner at Mr. Lucky’s inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Actor, Thomas Dekker (who was last seen in Fox TV’s Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles and is in the upcoming film A Nightmare on Elm Street) was spotted dining at LAVO inside The Palazzo.

Evan Longoria, MLB third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, had dinner at N9NE Steakhouse, joined by ten guests.

Also at Moon Nightclub, UFC President Dana White was joined by Diego Sanchez, winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality series. White and Sanchez were joined by a small group at a table on the dance floor inside the club.

Diego Sanchez
Photo credit: Shane O’Neal/N9NE Group

Wednesday, December 30…

Andrea Lowell, the host of the Playboy Morning show on Sirius Radio got married to James Kim. They had their wedding dinner at Simon at Palms Place and afterwards they went to party with friends and family in the Playboy club where they were greeted with bunnies, champagne and a beautiful cake. The newlyweds stayed in a one-bedroom suite at Palms Place Hotel & Spa.

Andrea Lowell and James Kim with Playboy Bunnies
Photo credit: Denise Truscello

Shane Victorino, MLB outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, and UFC president Dana White had dinner at N9NE Steakhouse inside the Palms Casino Resort. Victorino and White were also spotted Saturday (12.26.09) playing blackjack together at Playboy Club.

Recording artist IYAZ spotted hanging out at Wasted Space at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Photo credit: Cody Boor / Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Also at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was Nicky Hilton and friend DJ Jon Alagem. The two dined at Nobu and then headed to Wasted Space.

Nicky Hilton
Photo credit: Cody Boor / Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Mixed martial artist Tito Ortiz was spotted at LAVO with a big group of friends. Actor Wilmer Valderrama arrived after midnight with friends and joined Ortiz’s table.

Thursday, December 31…

Reality star, NeNe Leakes and her husband Gregg from The Real Housewives of Atlanta were spotted lunching at Dos Caminos inside The Palazzo on Thursday.

American Idol winner Kris Allen & his wife Katy had New Year’s Eve dinner at Simon at Palms Place.

Kris Allen & his wife Katy
Photo courtesy of the Palms Resort & Casino

Maroon 5 welcomed in the New Year with thousands of their closest friends inside The Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms Casino Resort. Guests including Kirsten Dunst & Jason Segel counted down as hundreds of balloons fell at midnight.

John Mayer dined at Nobu with friends, then rocked The Joint with his blues band John Mayer Trio - during which he toasted his father who was in the audience. Mayer brought friends Bob Saget, Jeff Ross and James Smith on stage for some laughs before leading the New Year’s Eve countdown. He then celebrated at Vanity afterwards with friends/family.

John Mayer
Photo credit: Scott Berry

Also seen partying with friends at Vanity Nightclub was Nicky Hilton. The heiress hung out in the DJ booth with DJ Vice and friend Jon Alagem.

Christina Aguilera and Nicole Richie helped Las Vegas ring in 2010 at TAO and LAVO at the Venetian and Palazzo Hotels. Aguilera arrived at the red carpet looking stunning in a Moschino dress with jewels by Stephen Webster and chatted about how excited she is for the New Year with her album dropping in March and her movie Burlesque premiering in November. Aguilera, who was joined by husband Jordan Bratman, her sister Rachel and all of her dancers, dined in TAO’s private dining room before heading upstairs to a sky box in the nightclub. The pop star was so excited to lead the packed club in the countdown to 2010 that she took to the stage a few minutes early much to delight of the crowd. After pronouncing "Happy New Year" she left the stage and gave her husband a special kiss before heading back to the skybox to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Christina Aguilera and Nicole Richie
Photo credit: Denise Truscello

Christina Aguilera
Photo credit: Denise Truscello

At LAVO Nicole Richie and boyfriend Joel Madden were on hand to celebrate with revelers at The Palazzo. Richie took to the catwalk at LAVO two minutes before midnight. After counting down the last seconds of 2009 she joined Madden in the DJ booth as he spun a special set for the packed nightclub. The pair then headed back to the kids in Southern California right after Madden finished his DJ set at LAVO.

Nicole Richie and Joel Madden
Photo credit: Jacob Andrzejczak

Ryan Gosling, who was spotted chatting with Jaime Murray from the Showtime hit Dexter, a very single Sum 41 rocker Deryck Whibley, model Devon Aoki and Wilmer Valderrama of That 70’s Show fame and Michael Steger from the CW’s 90210 along his wife Brandee Tucker were all spotted ringing in 2010 at LAVO. Valderrama got on the microphone at LAVO, while Gosling, Murray, Whibley and Aoki all headed to TAO after 2 am to finish their New Year’s celebration.

Deryck Whibley
Photo credit: Al Powers

Jason Strauss and Devon Aoki
Photo credit: Al Powers

Partygoers bid farewell to 2009 and rung in 2010 with N9NE Group at a series at spectacular parties inside the Palms Casino Resort on New Year’s Eve.

Evan Longoria, MLB third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, had dinner at N9NE Steakhouse with a large group of 18 guests including sports agent Mead Chasky. Diego Sanchez, winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, also had dinner at N9NE Steakhouse with a group of 10 guests.

Following dinner, the Longoria and Sanchez parties both headed upstairs to Moon Nightclub where Resident DJ and mastermind behind Z-Trip’s Revolution, Z-Trip showcased his genre-blurring style at the exclusive penthouse nightclub.

Guests turned back the hands of time and rocked in the New Year in 80s style, as they enjoyed a unique performance by nationally-acclaimed cover band, Flashback Heart Attack at ghostbar. Cypress Hill was spotted inside the lounge joined by a few friends.

I will be back next week with more of what’s “happening” in and around Las Vegas.