And the winner is…Vegas! Award Season 2013

Awards Seasos: Vegas Edition

January 27th, 2013

By Sal Rizza,

The Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, Grammys and, of course, the Vegas Trippies. It is awards season and Vegas awards are no exception. The people’s choice awards for Las Vegas go through where readers and Vegas fans vote, each year, on the best and worst of Vegas.  As opposed to critics, writers or columnists awards, the “trippies” are truly the people’s choice awards. Before I comment on some of the trippies’ winners, I’d like to offer some unique awards of my own.

The First Annual Vegas Expert Awards

Best TV Show, Vegas Strip- While some may select the CBS period drama “Vegas” or the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” or “Counting Cars,” I’m going to go with the documentary style show, “Vegas Strip” on TruTV,  which  follows real Las Vegas police officers on duty addressing all kinds of crazy Vegas antics. They chase college kids after they jump into Lake Bellagio, arrest hookers with warrants and deal with many, many drunks. My favorite was a tourist from England who was completely blitzed, walking around in his underwear the morning after a major bender, and begged to be arrested because he feared the cops would jump him like he had seen on American TV.  All they wanted to do was help him get to his room.  Great Vegas entertainment!

Best Street Character, Alan from The Hangover- I love a good drunk Mickey Mouse as much as the next guy. I’ve never seen as many street characters in one place and that includes in LA and NY. The collection of Hello Kitty, Elmo, Freddy Krueger, fat Elvis’s, transformers and random super heroes annoys some and entertains others.  My favorite, by far, are the Alan Garner impersonators. I swear, I think one was Zach Galifianakis just playing games.  

Most Interesting Panhandler Sign- Let me preface this by saying that homelessness is not something to find funny nor to be made fun of. However, some of the signs that these individuals come up with can be hilarious. Some great signs include, “Why lie? I just want a beer” or “Kick me in my balls! $20!” are creative and entertaining.  My favorite is the guy I’ve seen for at least two years, in his early twenties, on different bridges (Bellagio, MGM Grand and Palazzo) with a sign that reads “I’m trying to get back home to Boston.” I just think that by now he should have been able to afford a bus ticket. If I see him in April, I may offer to buy him one. If he accepts, I’ll actually feel really good that I’ve helped him. If he refuses, I’ll recommend he get a new sign.

Best Celebrity- Steve Wynn, Andre Agassi, Carrot Top, Celine Dion, Holly Madison or Vince Neil…NO! I’m going to go with Austin Russell, otherwise known as Chumlee from Pawn Stars. This was a close call between him and Pete Rose who is always set up in the sports store at the Forum Shops. I’m going with Chumlee because he’s actually from Vegas and what you see is really what you get. I met him in October when he was signing autographs at the Gold & Silver after a taping. When I was waiting for a bus to take me back, I was talking to a guy that was also at the shop. The guy told me that he asked Chumlee to autograph a t-shirt for his father in-law who was dying of cancer. He showed me the autograph Chumlee signed which read, “To Dawn…” His father in-law’s name was Don. Gotta love Chumlee.

Worst Vegas Feeling- Hangovers suck. Losing money blows. Waiting in line for the buffet is annoying. Making the mistake of attending a timeshare presentation is excruciating. And, the cab ride back to McCarran indicating the end of another Vegas vacation is depressing. However, nothing reminds you that you’re old and uncool like being ignored by the nicely dressed, incredibly good looking, young people handing out cards to clubs like Pure, Haze and XS. It definitely feels like you’re in middle school again and you were just picked last in dodgeball (which has happened to me on several occasions) except, you don’t even get picked. Then, you walk away and tell yourself some lies like “well, maybe I’m not dressed for it,” or “maybe they didn’t see me” while you turn around and see them tracking down young guys in fedoras and fancy shoes begging them to take a card. “Not like I wanted to go anyway,” we tell ourselves.

The Trippies

Now that I’ve provided some of my own awards, here are my thoughts on some of the trippie awards…

(For a full listing, visit )

Best Overall on the Strip, The Cosmopolitan– Admittedly, I haven’t spent a great deal of time in The Cosmopolitan but I have had a great meal in Scott Conant’s Scarpetta, played a slot machine for a little while, toured the casino and shops, and tried to enjoy the atmosphere. From the Chandelier Bar to the big pink shoe, the place seems like it is still searching for an identity. Does it want to be a classy place for martinis or a place for twenty-somethings to party?  I’m not sure. With The Cosmopolitan receiving nine awards, people obviously love it and critics are raving.  For an overall Vegas experience, I prefer the Bellagio.

Worst Overall on the Strip, Hooters- Well, this is tough to argue but I have to go with Circus, Circus. Both are pretty awful and the only reason I ever step foot in either is to see if they are still as bad as I recall. And, yes, they are. As opposed to Casino Royale and the Imperial Palace which, at least, have great locations both Hooters and Circus, Circus has no redeeming qualities. Where is the dynamite?

Best Buffet, The Bellagio- This year, I’ve had the opportunity to have three meals at the Bellagio Buffet and three meals at The Aria Buffet. I’m baffled as to why The Aria has revamped their buffet. The selection was great, the atmosphere was bright yet relaxing, the food was fresh and the service was outstanding. I honestly cannot say the same for The Bellagio. Granted, The Bellagio may have had more gourmet items but the service wasn’t as good, the atmosphere was a bit dark, the venue is outdated and the food didn’t seem as fresh to me.  I truly hope The Aria hasn’t changed their buffet too much but I’ll find out in April.

Best and Worst Bars- The Chandelier Bar was voted by the readers as the best bar in Vegas while the editors chose The Mandarin Bar. I completely agree with the editors on this. The view is awesome. The drinks, while pricey, are creative and incredibly good and the overall experience is quiet and classy. The readers selected Dick’s Last Resort in The Excalibur as the worst bar. Yes. Nailed it!

Best Act, Cirque Du Soleil Love at the Mirage- I could not agree with this more. As many shows as I have seen and enjoyed, I still have yet to enjoy an experience as much as this show. Good job readers!

Best App, Vegasmate- This is absolutely true without question. Great reviews, advice and information.

Best on the Web- This year, best blog, podcast, twitter, etc. went to different bloggers/social networkers who do some great things but I have to give Michelle and Tim from Minnesota credit. They do a great job and have the absolute best Vegas web name, “Five Hundy by Midnight.”  Congratulations on your awards and keep it up!

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