Holiday traditions and joyful celebrations transform casinos from coast to coast
By Lisa Robertson-Dziedzic
The holidays are fast approaching, and to usher in the season many casinos across the U.S. have stuffed those stockings and prepared loads of special deals, discounts and opportunities to help players embrace the spirit of the season—and have a lot of fun too.
For many Casino Player readers, the holiday season is the perfect time of the year to head out and enjoy a well-deserved getaway and there’s no better time to make an early resolution this year to treat yourself to something different. Pack your bags, and try some of our favorite ways to spend the holiday season!
THE ICE RINK RETURNS TO THE COSMOPOLITAN LAS VEGAS
For the eighth consecutive year, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas welcomes the return of The Ice Rink as Boulevard Pool trans- forms into a winter wonderland high above the Las Vegas Strip now through Jan. 5.
Visitors will enjoy roof-top ice skating on more than 4,200 square feet of real ice, roasting s’mores by the fire, light snow showers, adult renditions of seasonal culinary classics, and breathtaking views surrounded by vibrant city lights.
All-day skating access is $25. From Monday through Thurs- day, all day skating access for Nevada residents, hotel guests and military is only $15. Skate aid seals and reindeers are available for $10 an hour.
For some extra holiday cheer, Date Skate on Mondays and Tuesdays through December 30 will feature holiday movie classics starting at 6:30 p.m. Guests can cuddle up at a fire pit and stay toasty with a signature cocktail while classic holiday films play above The Strip on the resort’s 65-foot digital marquee.
Upcoming flicks include Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (Dec. 9), Santa Buddies (Dec. 16), Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure (Dec. 17), Elf (Dec. 23), The Grinch (Dec. 24) and The Polar Express (Dec. 30).
HOLIDAY MAGIC AT THE LINQ
Whether you’re taking in a show at the Brooklyn Bowl, having a laugh at the newly-opened Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club, dining at one of 15 restaurants, taking a ride on the one and only zip line on the Las Vegas Strip, or you’re enjoying the world’s tallest observation wheel, The High Roller, there’s so much to take in at The Linq. And this time of year, the experi ence is particularly joyful now that it’s fully decorated in keeping with the Christmas spirit. Holiday Magic is a vibrant and festive celebration with lights, snow and an interactive Christmas tree that begins nightly at 6 p.m. Plus, there are free, live holiday performances at the Fountain Stage, Thursday thru Sunday.
And to warm things up a bit (so to speak), check out Ice- Bar—the coolest experience in Las Vegas. Celebrate the art of ice and get transported to a winter wonderland where everything inside the ice bar is made of ice—the walls, the seats and even the glasses that come with your beverage. They even provide all the gear to keep you nice and toasty!
The Conservatory & Botanical Garden at the Bellagio in Las Vegas is always a treat to behold, but it’s extra special during the Christmas holiday. Each season, the enormously talented horticulturalists and designers who make up the Bellagio Conservatory team transform this 14,000- square-foot floral playground into a showcase of the distinctive sights and colors of spring, summer, fall and winter—along with a special display for Chinese New Year. When the seasons turn and the displays rotate, 90 percent of the trees, flowers and plants in the conservatory are recycled, to further celebrate their commitment to the earth.
After Thanksgiving, the Conservatory is transported to a winter wonderland where you’ll find lush plants, vibrant flowers and tall trees, all designed with a magical holiday theme. At press time, the theme was not yet announced but displays from past years brought everything from ice princesses to horses pulling a gleaming carriage and a polar bear poised atop an iceberg, swaying in a pool of water. An impeccably decorated 42-foot Christmas tree adorned with 2,500 ornaments and 7,000 lights is the center attraction each year.
The Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is free to the public and is open 24 hours a day, with the holiday theme on display thru Jan. 6. Winding pathways invite guests to experience this visually stunning display at their leisure, ensuring you’ll feel transported into a magical, wonderful world for the holidays.
WALK IN A WINTER WONDERLAND AT SAM’S TOWN HOTEL & GAMBLING HALL
A Vegas tradition for 25 years, Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Las Vegas is bringing a warm, snowy sensation to the desert with the return of Mystic Falls Winter Wonderland. Long consider one of the best free shows in Las Vegas, the annual holiday display includes a large Christ- mas tree, thousands of twinkling lights, holiday decorations throughout the indoor park and a variety of festive music, including classics “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Let it Snow,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman.”
A nine-minute laser light show is the centerpiece of the display, featuring a variety of classic holiday songs. Performances run every hour, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Adding to the wintery experience, Mystic Falls Park will make it snow in the Las Vegas desert every night through the New Year. Santa Claus will also join in on the festivities to welcome families. For more information, visit samstownlv.com.
50 DAYS OF LIGHTS AT FRENCH LICK RESORT
In the heart of the Midwest, less than a half-day’s journey from Louisville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Chicago, is French Lick, Indiana, the unexpected home of an ultra-luxurious, super scenic, historic retreat: French Lick Resort.
French Lick Resort offers two stunning hotels and a grand, Vegas-style casino on 3,000 beautiful acres. The French Lick Springs Hotel, established in 1845, has been returned to its original charm and beauty after a $500 million renovation. It was here that such famous guests as John Barrymore, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Elizabeth Taylor, and the Reagans once stayed. The West Baden Springs Hotel, once dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” was originally built in 1902 and modeled after the greatest spas in Europe, complete with the largest free-span dome. Guests will find shopping, riding stables, championship golf, and the healing waters of the hot Pluto Mineral Spring—an area attraction for more than two centuries.
For the holidays, the resort is pulling out all the stops. The grounds and hotels have been transformed into a winter wonderland featuring a half million twinkling lights, larger than life holiday trees, Christmas village, music of the season and treats to tempt every taste bud.
The arrival of 2020 calls for a party to remember, and French Lick Resort is offering something for everyone. Be a part of it at the Royal Masquerade New Year’s Eve celebration in the iconic West Baden Springs Hotel atrium. Guests will start the black-tie gala with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, followed by an elegant dinner with wine service. Sarah Stivers and her orchestra will keep the party going with live musical entertainment, followed by a midnight Champagne toast to ring in the new year in style.
French Lick Springs Hotel is hosting “Reign in the New Year” with an elegant dinner, dancing and musical entertainment by the Louisville Crashers. No celebration is complete without a champagne toast and balloon drop to ring in the new year, and other special surprises are sure to make this a night one to remember.
For more information and to check out the holiday packages, call 888-936-9360 or visit www.frenchlick.
TAKE IN THE VIEWS AND COUNTDOWN TO 2020 AT THE STRAT HOTEL, CASINO & SKYPOD
The STRAT Hotel, Casino and SkyPod will count down to 2020 with festive dinners at BLVD & MAIN Taphouse, Crafted Buffet, 107 SkyLounge and the award-winning Top of the World restaurant; as well as a count- down celebration with 108 Party in the Sky on Tuesday, Dec. 31.
The 108 Party in the Sky will be held from 9:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. on The STRAT’s stylish Observation Deck. Set to a festive party mix, 108 Party in the Sky will include a premium bar and martini bar, a dessert station, and performances by DJ Godzilla and DJ Mickey. A countdown at midnight will include a champagne toast, along with magnificent views of the fireworks displays throughout the Las Vegas Valley and on the Strip. The party is priced at $265, excluding tax and gratuity, with complimentary admission for guests who dine at Top of the World.
Top of the World will offer a decadent dinner set to 360-degree rotating views from more than 800 feet high. Chef Robert Lomeli has developed an à la carte menu for $299 per person. Located on the second floor of Top of the World, 107 SkyLounge will host a celebration from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. with appetizers and party mixes by DJ CC and DJ Stephi K. The celebration is priced at $199, excluding tax and gratuity, per person.
Johannes Bernau, executive chef at BLVD & MAIN Taphouse, has prepared a three-course prix fixe menu for New Year’s Eve priced at $35 per person. McCall’s Heartland Grill will offer a New Year’s Eve dinner priced at $65 per person from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Crafted Buffet will serve a New Year’s Eve seafood buffet, priced at $34.99 per person, from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. The buffet will include snow crab, assorted seafood sushi rolls, seafood paella, mussels Fra Diavolo and New York strip steak.
Free parking and valet are always available at The STRAT Hotel, Casino and SkyPod.
CHRIS ISAAK SINGS THE HOLIDAYS
This holiday season, platinum-selling and GRAMMY-nominated singer and actor Chris Isaak brings his Chris Isaak Holiday Tour to The Show at Agua Caliente in Rancho Mirage, CA, on Dec. 13 and makes his Wynn Las Vegas debut for two nights only on Dec. 20 and 21 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas as he performs his hits and classic holiday favorites at the final stop of his tour.
Over the course of his three-decade plus career, Isaak has performed to sold-out crowds with his longtime band Silvertone, has released nine albums, 12 singles and acted in several motion pictures. Behind the scenes, Isaak has created music for multiple film soundtracks, including Eyes Wide Shut, True Romance, Wild at Heart and Blue Velvet.
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Isaak’s beloved Heart- Shaped World album, which includes his breakthrough classic “Wicked Game.” Fans can expect to hear more from the album and other favorites, including “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” and “Blue Hotel,” along with celebrated holiday songs in this intimate limited engagement.
To purchase tickets, visit www.Tickemaster.com
SANTA’S CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND TAKES THE STAGE AT ELDORADO RENO
It’s time to deck the halls of the Eldorado Resort’s showroom in Reno, NV, with Santa’s Christmas Wonderland appearing through Dec. 29. Considered the most-loved Christmas show of the season, Santa’s Christmas Wonderland has been seen by over five million people around the world. Featuring glittering costumes, sensational sets, a dazzling cast and the highest kicking chorus dancers this side of the North Pole, bring the whole family to sign along to songs like “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.”
A show that will remind its audience why Christmas is the most magical time of the year, the cast features a sensational mix of singers and dancers who have performed all over the world including on Broad- way, the West End, in Australia and on the Las Vegas Strip. Magnificent scenery, exquisite costumes and the classiest chorus line you’ll ever see, Santa’s Christmas Wonderland is simply a breathtaking production, suitable for the entire family.
Shows are Tuesday through Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday through Sunday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets start at $29.95 and can be purchased at EldoradoReno.com. Special Producer Seating is available each night and includes one signature holiday cocktail or sparkling cider. Child and senior pricing is also available.
Make a night of it! Receive half off an entrée at many of THE ROW’s restaurants with the purchase of a full price ticket on the night of the show. Restaurants include Roxy, La Strada, Sushi Sake, Pho Mein, The Brew Brothers, Millies24, Pearl Oyster Bar, Café Central, Canter’s Delicatessen and El Jefe’s Cantina.
STOP AT THE TROP
The winter wonderland and holiday musical light show created in the Quarter isn’t the only must-see holiday event going on at the Tropicana in Atlantic City this month. The free Holiday Musical Light Show features a 35-foot ornately decorated tree with festive lights synchronized to the sights and sounds of the season. Through Dec. 27, daily shows are presented every hour on the hour starting at noon.
The fun continues with Jingle: A Whimsical Wonderland, dazzling audiences in the Tropicana Showroom through Dec. 20. The Tropicana showroom is transformed into a joyful holiday wonderland with the family-friendly holiday show, Jingle. Witness grace and glamour as dancers twirl across the stage in dazzling costumes to holiday classics performed by live singers. Tickets are $10 for children (16 and under) and $30 for adults (plus taxes and fees).
Ring in the New Year starting with a bang at Trop’s free NYE fireworks at 9 p.m. on the Boardwalk. Shortly before midnight head over to the Palm Walk on the casino floor to countdown 2020 with a balloon drop and thousands of balloons being released at midnight— a sight you don’t want to miss.
There’s also a lot of dining specials and New Year’s Eve menus at an array of Trop’s famed restaurants, all complete with champagne toast. Check out Il Verdi ($95 per person); Olon ($85 pp), Chelsea Five Gastropub ($85 person) or Cuba Libre ($99 per person).
The party doesn’t stop here. Head over to Boogie Nights for a 2020 NYE bash that includes a 2-hour open bar and hors d’oeuvres and the star-studded cast of Boogie Nights performers. Kiss Kiss Nightclub is hosting DJ Vito spinning dance, Top 40 and hip hop that includes an open bar. And for a night to remember, Anthem Lounge is hosting Burlesque NYE 2020 which includes three-hour open bar, complimentary party favors, boas & beads and a champagne toast at midnight.
Tickets include After Party hours, 3 a.m. –sunrise. For more information on all the festivities, visit www.tropicana.net.
WELCOME WINTER AT OCEAN CASINO RESORT
Cold weather may be rolling in through Atlantic City, but Ocean Casino Resort is just getting warmed up with enough parties, giveaways and entertainment to last the whole winter long.
Stop by the hotel lobby for a festive holiday display featuring a Menorah, gingerbread houses and a Christmas tree sand sculpture. Vote for your favorite gingerbread house via Facebook and be sure to share your photos using the hashtag #The OceanAC for a chance to win an overnight stay. And while you’re there, the Lobby Bar is serving up holiday-themed drinks to toast the season. Treat yourself to a Sugar Cookie Martini featuring Bailey’s vanilla vodka, amaretto, vanilla frosting and a sprinkled rim or a Winter Blues Martini featuring flavors of coconut, Blue Curacao and pineapple. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the firepits at Lobby Bar.
Make this magical time of year even more spectacular and celebrate the feast of the Seven Fishes at Dolce Mare. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a Christmas season dining tradition featuring fish and other seafood items. Experience this dining exclusive at Dolce Mare from Dec. 19 to Dec. 22 for $47 per person.
Enjoy the holidays at Ocean with a special Bed and Breakfast package including a two-night stay Monday through Thursday, including a $50 dining credit for only $99.
Celebrate winter solstice with a special room package that includes ocean views, the award-winning Exhale Spa + Bathhouse, Eclipse Pool and more. Pamper yourself and spend the day at Exhale Spa + Bathhouse and warm those chilled bones lounging in a hot sauna. Relax in a Himalayan Salt Grotto where salt ions purify the air, boost energy and keep the body healthy during flu and cold season.
The Spa-cation room package includes a massage or facial for you and one guest, plus one-day Bathhouse access for both. Rates start at $269 (plus taxes and fees). Or try the Ultimate Bathhouse Experience Package for $139 (plus taxes and fees), which includes a one-day Bathhouse day pass for you and one guest with this room package.
‘Tis the season for giving! Donate a new or gently used coat at the Ocean Reward Club Center through Dec. 20 for Ocean’s Coat Drive and receive an entry to win $500 FSP and a free cruise. Drawing to be held on the first day of winter; Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. Visit the Ocean Reward Club for complete details.
Ocean is doing New Year’s Eve in style with property-wide parties at 1927 Lounge & Speakeasy, the William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean, live music at Amada and rock n’ roll music hall Villain & Saint, and an unforgettable night at HQ2 Nightclub. For more information visit www.theoceanac.com.
TAYLOR DAYNE NEW YEAR’S EVE SHOW AT RESORT ATLANTIC CITY
Get ready to dance the night away at Resorts Atlantic City as American pop icon, Taylor Dayne, kicks off a New Year’s Eve party like no other inside the Superstar Theater starting at 10:30 p.m.
Taylor’s groundbreaking debut single “Tell It To My Heart” turned her into an overnight international star in 1987. She followed the smash hit with seventeen Top 20 singles over the course of her three- decade career, including #1 songs like “Love Will Lead You Back,” “Prove Your Love” and “I’ll always Love You.” Taylor has sold over 75 mil- lion albums and singles worldwide, earned three GRAMMY nominations, an American Music Award, multiple New York Music Awards, received New York Music Hall of Fame honors and ranked as the Number 18 Female Dance artist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.
Equally recognized for her songwriting talent, Taylor wrote many of her own hits as well as Tina Turner’s “Whatever You Want.” With a truly distinctive vocal style and powerful range, she created a unique vocal sound all her own that defined an era by her music. As the late 80s moved into the 90s, her chart-top- ping songs came with her. Her cover of Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love” and “Send Me A Lover” brought a strength and power to a female voice seldom heard in history.
By the late 90s, Taylor’s career grew further as an actress. She appeared in film, TV and stage, from Broadway favorites like Elton John’s award-winning production of Aida, and Mel Brooks Archie and Mehitable, to working with legendary composer Jules Styne to reprise the role of Fanny Brice on Broadway. Taylor also appeared in movies including Love Affair with Warren Beatty and Annette Benning and co-starred in Denis Leary’s TV drama Rescue Me.
In 2018, Taylor celebrated her 30th year anniversary release of Tell It To My Heart, offering her fans a 30-year Deluxe Edition greatest hits release with additional mixes and two new songs.
For more information, visit www.resortsac.com
BEAU RIVAGE EMBRACES THE MAGIC OF THE SEASON
The magic of the holidays has become synonymous with Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, MS, with its whimsical winter wonderland, exquisite shopping, holiday entertainment and even visits from Santa Claus himself.
The South’s premier resort destination is transformed into an enchanted holiday experience with spectacular twinkling displays through Jan. 3.The 1,740-room resort’s décor features larger-than-life nutcrackers, magnificent oversized ornaments, classic winter scenes, more than 200 frost-covered trees, thousands of red poinsettias, and Santa’s sleigh and reindeer soaring over the atrium leading to a stunning 20-foot Christmas tree, all offering keepsake and selfie-worthy photos with friends and family.
“Holiday tradition in Coastal Mississippi starts at Beau Rivage. Each year our guests marvel at the ever-changing festive holiday displays, décor and entertainment options,” said Beau Rivage President and COO Travis Lunn. “Our team enjoys this time of year and sharing it with our guests from around the country. Preparations begin months in advance and we take tremendous pride in creating unforgettable guest experiences.”
It wouldn’t be Christmas at Beau Rivage without the holiday production show Christmas in the Air!, performing through Dec. 27 in the Beau Rivage Theatre. Rand Productions brings renowned New York City-based director/choreographer and veteran Radio City Rockette, Ann Cooley, to Biloxi to choreograph a first-class Broadway-style song and dance review featuring Rockette-style dancers, wrapped up within a warm, fun and feel-good holiday storyline, told by Santa’s favorite elves. Tickets start at $12.95, plus tax and facility fee. Show times are 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., including performances on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Entertainment abounds at Beau throughout the month as New Orleans native, Aaron Neville will perform two special Christmas shows on Dec. 12 and 13, while the sounds of the seasons are echoed through the atrium Dec. 18-20 with live performances by local choral groups from 5-6 p.m. nightly.
As the calendar closes on 2019, partygoers can ring in the New Year in style, with special dining options in many of the resort’s restaurants on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s revelers can ring in 2020 at Black Clover Lounge, TAP Book, Bar & Bistreaux, EIGHT75, Breeze Bar or the Beau Rivage Theatre where The Molly Ringwalds will perform and lead a champagne toast at midnight. After midnight, the Beau Rivage Theatre turns into the ultimate dance party with free admission. New Year’s Day brunch will be offered in the Buffet and Stalla Italian Kitchen.
More information is available at www.beaurivage.com or by calling 888.567.6667.