Hanging with sharks at the Golden Nugget

Hanging with sharks at the Golden Nugget

June 27, 2017 3:01 AM


I knew when I said “yes” to writing for GamingToday I would do a few things out of my hockey element, which is welcomed because sometimes your mind has to go in a different direction other than worrying about expansion and amateur drafts 24/7.

However, when asked to cover, what I thought was another pool party at the Golden Nugget, my inner recluse went into effect. Pools haven’t really been my thing since I chose eating over abs 20 years ago, but thankfully I’m somewhat familiar with the Nugget. During the winter I co-hosted “Vegas Hockey Hotline” with Brian Blessing and Sportsbook Manager Tony Miller, in an area just outside the Shark tank that literally allows you to say you swam with sharks. I’ll explain later.

I spent my walk from the parking garage to the evening’s event, called “Coco Nugget,” trying to devise a way to conjure up some coolness; after all, I envisioned a typical party where the patrons would identify the uncomfortable guest like a buzzard to be followed by body surfing and Jell-O shots. Okay, I’d do the Jell-O shots.

I knew something was different when I didn’t see the mandatory ambulance parked outside surrounded by an avalanche of SOLO cups and shattered Vegas dreams.

I tried to smoothly glide in with my fake “I belong” confidence.

The greeter to Coco Nugget was in visual range. I took a deep breath knowing this is usually the person who sucks away whatever bravery I could muster during my self-pep talk time.

This is always the person who seems surprised you’re walking toward them or doesn’t say a word as you approach because they’re too busy doing fake work. Then when they are forced to speak they always ask “How can I help you?” with their lips and eyes pointing in opposite directions.

I love when I get this response as I stroll in to get my haircut; I mean, do you offer any other services other than firing up the two guard? What on earth do you think I’m here to do? My interaction with these people usually leaves me with the same feeling I get when verbally concocting an unusual sandwich at Subway, while the five people behind you watch in disgust.

Here goes nothing.

I made eye contact with a young lady who seemed genuinely happy I was there. This must be a trap. She then coupled her friendliness with the unspeakable: she smiled, causing her lips and eyebrows to move in the same direction. 

This was not what I expected. I secretly wanted to hug her because A, she was cute and I’m at the age where a hug is a win, and B, she did her job and did it well. 

Director of pool operations, Jordan Mazuryk, is the man behind the great introduction to Coco Nugget. He’s responsible for hiring, training, and programming. Jordan gets a big checkmark.

I walked into the party area and was immediately overwhelmed by how comfortable the atmosphere was. Perhaps I won’t be thrown in the water with my shoes on.

I moved around the party like a boss, quickly realizing this wasn’t a place where a paramedic was needed. The house band was rolling through what seemed like an endless catalog of Jimmy Buffett songs while the guests were all using two feet rather than a gurney to move about. There didn’t seem to be one hint of the classic three people carrying one person, who seems to be laughing and crying at the same time, to their Uber.

This was so chill!

“We wanted to create a friendly, pleasant, atmosphere where even kids could feel comfortable,” said Cindy O’ Keefe the senior vice president/assistant general manager. “We wanted to appeal to a demographic that coincided with our amenities; our goal is to secure a comfortable spot for our guests while starting a new weekend tradition.”

Kids are allowed in a separate area only but it’s always nice to not exclude guests who have children.

After an hour I thought to myself, mission accomplished, Cindy.

“We want to showcase our partners, Ketel One, Heineken and Bacardi while encouraging guests to take advantage of our Jacuzzi’s, hot tubs, and cabana’s.”

Coco Nugget provided a welcoming atmosphere from start to finish.

Oh, I forgot, The Tank. It houses over 300 exotic fish and sharks that are up to eight feet. Yes, there is a divider and they’re well fed.

Built 11 years ago for $30 million dollars, The Tank attracts over 250,000 people, according to the Travel Channel. Of course, no shark tank would be complete without a water slide, which must appear as if a ham sandwich just flew by to their fishy tenants.

Although the pool is closed for Coco Nugget you couldn’t help but want to come back during the day to experience Nugget life with it open.

I will say this: I sincerely want to recommend the hotel and this weekly gathering every Friday and Saturday from 8 to 11 p.m., through Labor Day.

There is nothing better than a great view with a few drinks to wash down some evaporated, preconceived ideas about what pool parties are like in Sin City.

Now, let’s see if I can get that hug.