Travel Happiness: Las Vegas Part 1

Travel Happiness
Las Vegas Part 1

See the Stardust? Going...going...gone. Remember the Dunes? Recall the Sands? Dust in the wind. For those who want to catch thelast glimpses of what Las Vegas used to be, time is running short. Like the mighty Yangtze gushing from the Three Gorges Dam and burying 500-year-old fishing villages in its wake, a new Vegas of sorts is emerging from the sand to take over the old Vegas. But along this river of concrete and steel the call of the future - Las Vegas-style - is only more dazzling and fabulous than what has ever been.
The future of Vegas, at least through 2010, might be characterized as cities within the city. Pods of gargantuan developments containing star-power hotels, super-luxe retail cooridors, monumental resort/casinos and residential lairs for the rich and restless will dot the Strip course. Visitors will go from one veritable village to another, possibly divvying their vacations to Vegas by experiencing one mega-pod per visit. Meanwhile, non-gamers who want a bit of the Scottsdale experience will have more and more condetels to choose from, all located close to the action but not "in" the action and offering a luxurious "home-like" retreat from the neon, often at comely rates.
More than a dozen hotels and mini-city projects are set to see sky by 2010. These include the Charlie Palmer Hotel and the Wynn Encore in 2008; the MGM CityCenter with a Mandarin Oriental, a Harmon Hotel and an MGM Grand-branded hotel in 2009; also a W Hotel and a Conrad Las Vegas in 2009; the Echelon Place with Shangri-La, Delano and Mondraian hotels plus a Boyd-branded hotel in 2010 and a cast of maybes with no dates set, including Montreux, Fontainebleau and Maxim hotels.
"New" is definitely the operative word in Vegas. If it is not new it is old so restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, and attractions are constantly reinventing themselves into the next big thing. With the new year comes new plans; the opening of the Planet Hollywood, the openingof the Palazzo at The Venetian, as well as several restaurants, spas, clubs, and Broadway shows.
For starters, Planet Hollywood, that long-anticipated redo of the venerable but financially troubled Aladdin Hotel and Casino, is preparing to open in mid-2007. The redesign of the hotel's Nights-themed interiors are under the vision of the Dougall Design firm, which conceived and designed The Forum Shops at Caesars as well as the Monte Carlo Hotel, among others. The plan is for clean, sleek lines and open areas in the lobby and the expanded casino, a VIP check-in area, a new race and sports lounge and new dining, nightclub, entertainment offerings, and retail offerings.
The exquisite Levantine dĒcor of the Desert Passage shopping promenade is slowly disappearing into the unremarkable Miracle Mile Shops, the retail center's new name. Again, streamlined, clean and modern is the call. New here are funky and trendy Urban Outfitters clothing. Trader Vic's, which brought us the original Mai Tai, is closing in Beverly Hills and making a come-back in Vegas, the chic British menswear of Ben Sherman, the sports lifestyle company, Quicksilver, the trendy women's fashions of Marciano and the "churrasco"-style Brazilian restaurant, Pampas Churrascaria. Also United Colors of Benetton, Sisley, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, BEBE Sports store and the Modern Watch Co. have signed on.
The $1.8 billion, 50-story Palazzo at The Venetian with 3,025 suites will open this year, all connecting to the Venetian, the Sands Expo Center and the Grand Canal Shoppes. When that project is completed, The Venetian will command 7,000 rooms and suites and top the charts as the largest hotel in the world. In attractions and features, the Palazzo will present a similar opulence to The Venetian, marked by sky lights and domes, and add a 105,000-square feet casino, more than 400,000-square feet of retail (including an 85,000-square feet Barney's New York, Las Vegas) with the Shoppes at the Palazzo, which will be connected to The Venetian via The Grand Canal Shoppes, a 2,000-seat theater and six new restaurants. Completetion is scheduled for the third quarter of this year.
In 2008, Wynn Las Vegas will add Encore to the mix of 240 acres of prime resort and gold property at the center of the Las Vegas Strip. Encore, with 2,000 rooms and ADRs comparable to Wynn's $300 rates, will be a second-fill-scale hotel on that site and will be fully integrated with the Wynn property containing all the usual elements of a Las Vegas resort experience with convention and meeting space, more casino space, restaurants, nightclubs, spa and salon, retail outlets and swimming pools - although one detail that has leaked is the advent of a rectractable glass roof one of the pools.
[Article continued in the March 4th issue.]

Written by Richards World Travel, Inc. in Hagerstown.