by Michael J. Shapiro | February 01, 2012
Las Vegas
The 3,000-room Las Vegas Hilton changed its name to LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on Jan. 3. The hotel's franchise agreement with Hilton ended, and as a result the property is no longer tied to the Hilton reservation or rewards systems. Little is due to change beyond that, according to the hotel. The property's lender, Goldman Sachs, has sought to potentially foreclose on the property, however. The hotel, which is next to the Las Vegas Convention Center, has a 200,000-square-foot convention center of its own.

Octavius Tower at Caesars PalaceThe 3,960-room Caesars Palace opened its sixth tower last month, the 668-room Octavius Tower. The debut of the new accommodations, delayed for a couple of years due to the recession, marks the completion of the property's $860 million expansion. The Octavius Tower seeks to provide a boutique, luxury hotel experience within the larger resort. It has a private entrance, a separate hotel lobby, and direct access to the Garden of the Gods pool and gardens. Guests have access to a web-based mobile app that allows them to communicate directly with the concierge, housekeeping, room service and other hotel services, as well as to make requests from anywhere on the premises.

The 703-room Palms Casino Resort changed ownership this past November. The former owner, nightclub magnate George Maloof, will retain 2 percent ownership and become chairman of the board of the new company. The property ran into financial trouble last year and was forced to restructure its debt.

The 3,460-room Flamingo Las Vegas is refurbishing more than 2,300 standard guest rooms into "FAB" rooms, stylishly redesigned accommodations with retro art, upgraded beds and linens, and new plasma TVs. The first 500 redesigned rooms came online last month, and plans entail adding 100 more to the inventory every 11 days until complete, by late 2012. The FAB room refresh will conclude the final phase of standard room upgrades at the recently renovated Strip resort. In October 2011, the resort opened the Margaritaville Casino at Flamingo Las Vegas, which features 22 gaming tables, 220 slot machines and the 5 O'Clock Somewhere bar.

The 5,044-room MGM Grand is in the midst of a $160 million renovation, to finish by September. All 4,212 rooms in the main tower are being remodeled. The new room designs incorporate environmentally responsible elements such as LED lighting, improved thermostats and solar shades, upgraded bathroom fixtures and biodegradeable bath amenities. Two resort venues are closing as part of the renovation, the iconic lion exhibit and the Studio 54 nightclub.

Caesars Entertainment has consolidated all U.S. meetings business into a single department under one leadership team. The reorganization, which affects 38 properties across the country, is patterned after the Las Vegas Meetings by Caesars program. That department has handled meetings business for the company's eight Las Vegas properties. The new structure essentially expands that, extending the Meeting Diamond and Alternative Venue programs to all of Caesars properties in the United States, and it allows meeting planners to mix and match properties and venues within a destination with a single contact, contract and minimum. A central clearinghouse of the gaming company's meeting information can now be found at
Last month, the 3,933-room Bellagio finished remodeling the 2,568 rooms in its main tower. The goal of the six-month, $70 million redesign was to provide an updated, elegant feel to the guest rooms. King Rooms now have color palettes of either indigo and silver or green tea and plum, while Queen Rooms sport an amber and butterscotch motif.

The 1,242-room Buffalo Bill's Resort & Casino recently wrapped up extensive renovations to its guest rooms, restaurants and the casino. The latter was completely redesigned and now offers a party pit on the gaming floor. In addition, new fixtures and furniture have been installed throughout the property, and the retail area has been expanded.

The downtown Western Hotel and Casino shut its doors last month. The 117-room property catered primarily to locals but was once known as the world's largest bingo parlor upon its debut in 1970. Hotel owners released a statement indicating they would be enhancing the area around the shuttered property on Fremont Street.

The LinqCaesars Entertainment announced plans for The Linq last August, a $550 million urban entertainment district to be developed on 200,000 square feet of space across from Caesars Palace. The project will include retail, food and beverage, and entertainment venues, as well as a giant observation wheel, dubbed the Las Vegas High Roller. The 550-foot high wheel is designed to have 28 transparent-sphere cabins, each with a 40-person capacity. The cabins will be available for individual or group rentals. Plans call for pedestrian connections between the Linq and two other Caesars resorts, Harrah's Las Vegas and the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino. The complex is scheduled to open in 2013.