Vegas Answers

We get asked questions. A lot of questions. Mostly about Las Vegas – I’m sure you are the same if your friends and colleagues know that you’ve been there more than a few times.

We like to think that we can answer most questions about Las Vegas, or at least give an opinion.

When we decided to clear the website archive and start again, one of the things the team was most excited about was the opportunity to answer any and all questions about Vegas. So send your questions in and we’ll give you our opinions.

What happened to Johnny Smalls at the Hard Rock?

What happened to Johnny Smalls at the Hard Rock? It was one of my favorite restaurants and a nice change from Mr Luckys.

We liked Johnny Smalls too. They offered a small plate, tapas-style menu covering a variety of comfort food staples and more modern options. They also offered a relatively keenly priced All You Can Eat option that made the experience more enjoyable. On the half dozen times we ate there the servers were good, the food came quickly and the atmosphere was buzzy (what else would you expect at the Hard Rock?). We were not massive fans of every item on the menu, but there we liked more items than we could eat in a single visit, so it made for a good place to grab some food before an evening involving alcohol.

From what we can tell, it closed its doors for the last time in July and won’t be re-opening. We can’t help but wonder if its closure is related to the fact it is one of the restaurants that was covered by a law suit that involved the HRH management company and a group of investors including Jason Giambi, the baseball player.

Our old review of Johnny Smalls questioned whether the food was higher quality than a $24 buffet and whether it was just a triumph of presentation and delivery over actual content, but ended with the fact we liked the “uniqueness of menu and format”. Unfortunately, even now in mid 2012, we are not aware of anything comparable (if only Firefly would offer an AYCE option!).

Do Vegas hotel pools open to non-residents?

Do Vegas hotel pools open to non-residents?

The short answer is generally not as the hotels either want to use their pool complex as a reason to get you to stay/gamble with them, or want to make sure that their residents have a good pool experience. Most of the hotels with great pools have staff scanning room keys at the entrance to the pool areas to prevent non-guests from entering.

However, there are a number of exceptions:

  • Hotels such as the Tropicana do allow non-guests to use their pool as they offer swim-up blackjack tables. I’m sure you may already be considering how they can possibly police that distinction…
  • Many hotels have pool parties through the Summer months and are happy to sell tickets to you. Just be aware that it won’t be a restful day at the pool that you’ll be experiencing, but rather a standing-room only experience with loud music, louder guests and liberal amounts of alcohol.
  • Very rarely a hotel will promote and sell tickets to their pool. Paris recently offered pool tickets for August/September on the Groupon site that started at $15 which covered entry for 4 guests and $30 credit at the pool café. (They also offered cabana rental starting at $149 that included entrance for 8 people, a bottle of vodka and a fruit platter).

If you really want to spend time at the pools that most people want to get into – MGM, Mandalay Bay and the Hard Rock – then the safest way is to actually book a room at those hotels.