Stellar talent raises awareness and funds to combat opioid crisis through ‘Victoria’s Voice Foundation’
Ah, freedom…it feels so wonderful. Gone are the capacity limits, mask requirements and temperature checks. Restaurants are back to serving great meals, clubs are opening and entertainers have taken to the stage. As Las Vegas welcomes back conventions, sporting events and concerts, one of the first fundraisers out of the gate is MUSIC FOR LIFE: An Evening to Save Lives at Westgate Las Vegas.
If you caught my article from a few days ago, you know that June 5th will be an exciting evening with actor Mark Patton (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2) to benefit LGBTQ youth. As luck would have it, the star’s host hotel Westgate will have their own spectacular show on the same evening. On June 5th at 7 pm, a collection of world-renowned names will donate their talented vocals for Victoria’s Voice Foundation.
The story behind Victoria’s Voice is one of tragedy and inspiration. Westgate Resorts patriarch David A. Siegel and wife Jacqueline lost their lovely daughter Victoria to a drug overdose in 2015. Only 18 years old at the time, Victoria left behind a secret diary that her parents found with the help of a friend. The grief-stricken parents decided to publish the diary, along with helpful resources, as a book. Their hope is that Victoria’s first-hand account might change the path of other youth facing the same demons.
In the ensuing six years, Victoria’s Voice Foundation has grown into a a massive initiative of projects, events, videos and resources. They’re aimed at ultimately ending the tragedies that result from drug dependency and abuse, especially in our young population. You can learn more about the services available from Victoria’s Voice Foundation by visiting here.
After the chaos of 2020, the nation needs charities like Victoria’s Voice more than ever. That’s why Westgate Las Vegas is bringing the power of entertainment to their International Theater for a one-night concert like no other:
Music For Life
A tribute to life, this momentous program aims to feature the country’s top talent and recognizable artists to parents and kids alike, such as AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys, Chris Kirkpatrick of NSYNC, and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees, in one of the most exclusive venues in all of Las Vegas, The International Theater of Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
Known to be the home of music icons Elvis Presley, Dionne Warwick and Barry Manilow, this venue now becomes the site where David and Jacqueline’s friends and partners will come together once again to take the mission to the next level.
An Evening to Save Lives: MUSIC FOR LIFE is a special event to support the critical mission of the Victoria’s Voice Foundation to end the opioid crisis and save our youth. The work of the foundation is even more urgent now as the current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an alarming increase in the number of overdose-related deaths. All of your support and donations from this invitation-only event will help us continue our fight.
Music for Life is being produced by Johnny Wright, one of the most successful music executives in the industry. Wright has played a key role in the careers of multi-platinum acts like Janet Jackson, Menudo, Jonas Brothers, Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake and NSYNC. The concert line-up definitely reflects his background, with the inclusion of some significant performers from the boy band era.
World’s greatest party rocker DJ Lux will bring the crowd to its feet. Then Chris Blue, one of the brightest new stars on the scene, will take to the stage. Chris is the winner of season 12 of The Voice and is rising up the charts with his new single “Moon”. Watch the video here.
The roster of entertainers should thrill a broad spectrum of attendees. Fans of Detroit-style R & B can groove to the smooth, sultry sounds of Soul of Motown. This five-person act, which sets a new standard for tribute groups, just returned to Westgate Cabaret with their residency show. In addition, members Sean and Brandon Godfrey have risen to new heights with their NPerson duo gigs at Westgate’s International Bar.
Vocalists include Chris Kirkpatrick of NSYNC, AJ McLean of Backstreet Boys, and my personal favorite….Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees. Jeff and I go back a number of years, and this Sin City mega-hunk is always ready to dive into charity events…especially ones that take place in his hometown.
To reserve your seats for this one-of-a-kind evening, follow this link. Tickets start at only $39.95 (plus taxes/fees). If you’d like to learn more about Victoria’s Voice Foundation, head here.
MUSIC FOR LIFE will be held Saturday June 5th at 7pm inside Westgate International Theater. Tickets start at $39.95 (plus taxes/fees).To better accommodate accessible ticket needs, Westgate Las Vegas Resort has requested that all special seating accommodations be solicited only through their representatives. Please contact a Westgate Las Vegas Resort representative for further help with your ticket purchase. Advance ticket purchase may be required. Telephone Number(s):702 732-5755 OR 800 222-5361
I’m not going to pretend that it’s been easy to continue this blog since the pandemic struck. Things are pretty bleak out there, and a never-ending flow of bad news tends to take its toll. Combine that with the fact that my freelance work has dried up….in other words “no income or unemployment”…and a positive outlook has been tough to maintain. But like so many in this position, I soldier forward with the hope that better days are ahead.
As I was about to post my most recent piece (Station Casino closures and Miracle Mile Shops landlord demands), it was a pleasure to find upbeat news in my in-box. So I hit “publish” on that dour article and sailed straight into this one. I hope you can appreciate a little good news as much as I did.
First up is a surprise from MGM Resorts in the form of a letter to its associates:
In contrast to the devastating termination letter that was sent out to thousands of Station Casino associates, this one offers a shred of long-term hope. MGM Resorts promises to provide health care coverage to furloughed employees through the end of August. In addition, the company is issuing grants to cover their living expenses by way of an $13 million Employee Emergency Grant Fund.
Photo: New Break/LV Review-Journal
The notification is optimistic yet filled with realistic limitations and apparently a great deal of transparency. Given the notorious and massive profit-driven layoffs this company has instituted in the past few years (including four hotel presidents) and more on the way, it’s nice to know that MGM Resorts is finally having a heart for their employees. What a shocker.
While MGM Resorts is usually at the front of the line when it comes to games of “Follow The Vegas Leader”, it was Wynn/Encore that apparently set this precedent. As Baily Schulz of Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on March 17th:
Wynn Resorts Ltd. has guaranteed all Wynn and Encore employees payroll coverage for the next 30 days. The company’s two Las Vegas properties are set to start a two-week shutdown at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and its Massachusetts property was ordered to close by Sunday afternoon.
Wynn had previously stated that all full-time Las Vegas employees would continue to be paid during the shutdown. But a letter sent to employees Tuesday from CEO Matt Maddox shows that coverage has been expanded to include all current employees. The letter, obtained by the Review-Journal, was addressed to employees at Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Boston Harbor and Wynn Design and Development.
Tipped employees will receive an average tip compliance rate, or “distributed tips/tokes since the beginning of the year,” according to the memo.
“I need you to focus and work on a singular task: stay home and keep your family healthy and safe,” Maddox said in the letter. “In the coming days, our Company will be paying all Wynn and Encore employees to do the work of staying home and eliminating all non-essential external social contact for you and your family. I know it will not be easy to do, which is why we will pay you to do so.”
Las Vegas Sands (Venetian/Palazzo) put forth similar measures and they’ve continued to pay associates, at least for now. From USATODAY.COM on 4/23/20:
Casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson is extending COVID-19 shutdown pay for Las Vegas Sands employees until at least May 17, according to a letter obtained by the Reno Gazette Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.
“This pandemic is unlike anything I have seen in my business career,” Adelson wrote in the April 23 letter. “That said, we will get through it. … Until that time arrives, this company is firmly focused on the health and safety of our Team Members and supporting each of our host communities in Macao, Singapore and Las Vegas.”
While it remains unclear when the Strip will be able to re-open, Las Vegas Sands, which owns The Venetian, will continue to pay 9,300 employees through the shutdown.
We are always incredibly grateful for healthcare workers, but especially during this time. Our resort is lit blue to honor all of the essential workers currently out there working hard to serve their communities. – Westgate Las Vegas
Westgate Resorts, which owns and operates two Las Vegas properties, has been another contributor to the “good news” department. Unlike the big three, Westgate is a very “human” company that puts their faces, personalities, strengths, and flaws out there for everyone to see. When they have problems, they strive harder. When things succeed, they share their triumphs with all who contributed.
My history with Westgate reaches back several years. Things started awkwardly when they were still a new name in town. A less-than-ideal stay turned into an open dialog of “We didn’t live up to your expectations. Can you give us a second chance?”. Since then, the historic casino/hotel on Paradise Road has become my home away from home. And their team feels very much like a family…all because they reached out and committed to striving harder.
When the pandemic situation was just starting to take hold, Westgate proactively began ramping up their sanitation procedures. They then took the bold step of shutting down some of their locations on the east coast, even before it was mandated.
Since our highest priority has always been the health and safety of our owners, guests and team members, we moved quickly to do everything possible to help flatten the curve. Before COVID-19 even reached any of the destinations where we operate, we implemented a detailed action plan to boost community safety, based on the recommendations and directives from the CDC, as well as federal, state and local health agencies.
We immediately enhanced our sanitization protocols at all our resorts, including daily deep cleaning of all public areas and back of house team member touch points. We greatly increased the number of hand-sanitizing stations at touch points for our guests and team members. We even made the difficult decision to proactively close resorts through the end of May out of an abundance of caution.
Founder, CEO & President
Now Westgate is extending its reach beyond resort guests and employees…to their counterparts in the hospitality industry. Westgate CARES is a new program spurred by the pandemic crisis. The initiative consists of protocols created to protect guests and associates from COVID-19…and of course, any other contaminants of concern.
In an open letter, Chief Operating Officer Mark Waltrip laid out the program, which will enable their resorts to operate smoothly and safely.
On behalf of the entire Westgate Family of Resorts & Team Members, we want you to know that when you are ready to celebrate life again, we are fully prepared to provide you a safe and enjoyable experience. From the very beginning of this crisis, we organized a dedicated team of professionals to rapidly develop and implement comprehensive procedures to protect our resort guests and Team Members.
These include advanced cleaning procedures, strict personal hygiene protocols and a long list of operating procedures necessary to mitigate the risk of this virus as much as possible. Every decision we made was based on one simple premise: do whatever it takes to protect our Team Members, guests and our local community, regardless of the impact to our business. – Mark Waltrip, COO
The Westgate CARES initiative goes into a great amount of detail, broken down into categories. Common spaces, guest rooms, restrooms, pool/spa areas, offices, shuttle buses, and administrative areas are all addressed. Methods of disinfection are elaborated on, including the use of safe ultra-low-volume disinfectant foggers and sanitizing solutions.
Changes to common operations such as check-in/check-out, housekeeping, vendor screening, repairs/maintenance, laundry, bell service/bag storage, child play areas, and food/beverage service are all spelled out within individual documents. Every procedure is posted in its entirety and can be examined/downloaded by clicking here.
All major resorts have been ramping up their safety protocols in recent weeks, so why am I focusing on Westgate? Simply because the company has freely shared its investment and research with every colleague, counterpart and competitor in the hospitality industry. It’s a move that’s indicative of their many programs that honor patrons and the public in general.
While Westgate is fortunate to have the resources to navigate this challenge, we also recognize that our local communities are only as strong as the weakest link in our chain. There are thousands of small businesses in our community who may not have the know-how and resources to put together a plan that helps them successfully and safely operate their business as the country emerges from this pandemic.
Therefore, in the spirit of helping our communities, we are sharing in its entirety, all of our plans, procedures, and protocols that outline exactly how we intend to keep our Team Members, guests and communities safe, including the procedures for our resorts, hotels, restaurants, spas, fitness centers, water parks, call centers, and offices.
These documents…represent hundreds of man-hours of research and intellectual capital from some of the hospitality industry’s most skilled leaders, and we hope that local businesses find them a helpful resource. – Mark Waltrip, COO
It’s also worth noting that the primary Vegas location on Paradise Road is one of twenty-nine destinations in the Westgate family, yet their only one with a casino. When the resort reopens on June 18th, it will follow Westgate CARES protocols in addition to stringent casino-specific guidelines as mandated by Nevada Gaming Control Board. You can learn more about those requirements by heading here.
In last week’s column, I described devastating corporate decisions during this crisis that will define their role in Sin City’s future. MGM‘s choice to extend employee benefits won’t undo the heartache they’ve unleashed in recent years, but it’s a start.
As for Westgate, offering their COVID-19 program for free exemplifies the company’s history of goodwill. You’re free to spend your discretionary income wherever you choose, but I know who’ll be getting my money going forward.
As a valued guest in the Westgate Resorts family, I want to thank you for your patience, understanding and loyalty during this difficult time. We look forward to the day that all our communities can return to good health, and we can welcome you back home to a refreshed Westgate Resorts that’s even better than before. – David Siegel, Founder, CEO & President
Do you know of any positive actions being taken by Vegas-centric corporations related to the pandemic shutdown? Feel free to tell us about it in the “COMMENTS” section or drop me an email – Sam@VegasUnfiltered.blog. Be safe. Be smart. Be strong – Sam Novak
Iconic hotel casino is Sin City’s first mega-resort…
Many historians consider Mirage to be the first super-sized hotel concept in Las Vegas. The truth is that the resort now known as Westgate Las Vegas began the era more than 20 years earlier. Opened in the summer of 1969 as International Hotel, this massive structure became the largest hospitality destination in the world.
Full of superlatives and packed with luxurious amenities, the International was created with a goal of supplying top-quality accommodations and stellar entertainment with the best staff ever assembled. A dream project of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, the 30-story structure was fast-tracked from ground-breaking to grand opening in under 17 months, an amazing feat even by today’s standards.
Many of today’s visitors still refer to Westgate as “the former Las Vegas Hilton“, the name it carried from ’71 through 2012. During that time it would become associated with Elvis Presley’s landmark residency and later, Star Trek: The Experience. It was also home to dozens of legendary performers like Barbra Streisand, Liberace, Suzanne Somers, Charo, Wayne Newton, The Commodores, Sheena Easton and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Starlight Express.
Five years ago the property was acquired by Westgate Resorts and CEO David Siegel pumped millions of dollars into a massive restoration project, keeping the entire resort operating as renovations took place. The new owner refused to allow his staff to lose their jobs during the transition, protecting thousands of workers from financial hardship.
Siegel’s dedication and longtime love for the property was in full display during an epic 50th anniversary celebration on August 3rd. Invited guests strolled down an ornate corridor festooned with images of historic moments, pausing for photographs on the carpet before a pre-party cocktail reception.
Glass cases of memorabilia lined the perimeter of the room, recognizing noteworthy events and moments of the last five decades. Mr. Siegel joined Mayor Carolyn Goodman and President/GM Cami Christensen onstage to toast the legacy of the hotel. They also recognized the thousands of people who have contributed to its ongoing success.
Dignitaries from the worlds of entertainment and media then joined high-rollers and honored staff for a spectacular meal in the main dining hall. Guests enjoyed an appetizer of lobster tail and prawns, a main course of beef wellington and champagne as performers like Frankie Scinta and Zowie Bowie provided music and laughter.
Christensen then honored longtime employees including theater usher Angel Lopez Rosas. Mr. Rosas has been part of the service team since the hotel opened, working an estimated 12,000 shows. The party then moved to famed International Theater for a stunning performance by Elvis tribute artist Ted Torres Martin and “Sweet Inspirations”, which included a performer who had shared the very same stage with Presley during his sold-out residency.
Looking forward, Westgate continues to… (Click HERE to continue reading)