by Tom Isler, Michael J. Shapiro and Hunter R. Slaton | June 01, 2008

The Palazzo Hotel-Resort-CasinoOpulence continues to define the landscape of the nation’s gaming destinations, from the majestic marble of the Palazzo and gold glass of Trump International in Las Vegas, to the proposed skyscraping towers of MGM and Revel in Atlantic City, to the increasingly upscale properties opening in California.

A few construction delays and scrapped mega projects appear to indicate that these destinations aren’t quite immune to the effects of an economic slump. On the other hand, some would argue that the glitz, pampering and escapism offered by casino-resort destinations just might be the perfect antidote to financial stress.

Developers certainly are counting on that. A roundup of news from meetings-friendly gaming destinations follows, as prepared by M&C’s editors.


Despite opening the year with at least two consecutive months of lower gambling revenues than in the same period the previous year, the city of sin and conventions sees building continue at a feverish pace. In a place where projects increasingly are measured in the billions rather than millions of dollars, two behemoth endeavors stand out above all others.

The first is the $8 billion CityCenter, a mixed-use development and a joint venture between MGM Mirage and Dubai World. Stretching across 76 acres on the Strip, between the Monte Carlo and Bellagio resorts, the sprawling project will feature as its focal point a 61-story, 4,000-room hotel tower with an integrated casino and convention center. That property alone promises 300,000 square feet of meeting space, including four ballrooms that will accommodate anywhere from 10 to 5,000 attendees. The venue already is accepting reservations for 2010.

CityCenter also will be home to a 400-room Mandarin Oriental (the first in the city), as well as the 1,543-unit Vdara Condo Hotel, which will offer space for executive meetings and banquet events for 10 to 400 people. And yet more swanky living space will be offered by the 207-unit Harmon Hotel, Spa & Residences and 337-condo Veer Towers. A 500,000-square-foot complex called The Crystals will be home to plenty of dining, retail and entertainment establishments. What’s more, MGM Mirage is attempting to secure LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for the whole project, which will make use of reclaimed water and on-site power generation, among other sustainable practices. CityCenter venues are expected to begin opening in late 2009.

Work also progresses on the city’s other gigantic development, Boyd Gaming Corp.’s Echelon. This $4.8 billion complex covers 87 acres on the north Strip and will be home to five hotel and residence properties. The 2,500-room Hotel Echelon and 650-room Suites at Echelon will share the Spa at Echelon. The 550-room Delano promises the South Beach ambience of its namesake; the 860-room Mondrian Las Vegas lays claim to the Hollywood chic of its forebear. These two properties will be joined by the Agua Spa. Finally, the 350-room Shangri-La Las Vegas will offer the luxury associated with the Asian hotel group, featuring the CHI Spa. The Echelon properties will share a 140,000-square-foot casino, one of the largest in Vegas, as well as theaters seating 4,000 and 1,500, respectively, and 300,000 square feet of retail space.

Of special interest to planners will be the 650,000-square-foot Meeting Center at Echelon, which will offer more than 110 meeting rooms and a 180,000-square-foot exhibit hall. The Shangri-La, Delano and Mondrian also will offer meeting space, for a grand total of 750,000 square feet in the complex. Boyd hopes to open Echelon in the third quarter of 2010.

Las Vegas Convention CenterThe Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is doing some home improvement of its own and this spring stepped up work on the $890 million renovation scheduled for the Las Vegas Convention Center. When the facelift is complete in 2012, the venue will increase its total area by nearly 20 percent, to 3.8 million square feet. Among the improvements will be a new lobby that connects all three halls of the convention center; a South Hall expansion; wireless connectivity and video signage throughout the venue; revamped taxi and shuttle facilities, and additional food options.

Officials from Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns the Venetian and Palazzo hotel-casinos, announced to investors in February plans to replace the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The new $680 million convention center would be built across the street. Plans call for 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space and 1,800 parking spaces, as well as moving sidewalks connecting the new venue to the Venetian and Palazzo hotels. An official opening date hasn’t been set.

Sands opened the 50-story, 3,000-suite Palazzo Hotel-Resort-Casino in January, next to the Venetian and current Sands Expo. The property, which this spring received LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, offers 450,000 square feet of meeting space for a total of 2.25 million square feet in the Palazzo-Venetian-Sands complex. The Palazzo also opened a 1,800-seat theater, as well as 450,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space known as The Shoppes at the Palazzo.