Las Vegas

Did You Know?
Harrah's now manages, and hopes to buy, the 2,496-room Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Local Update:
The 1,495-room Vdara Hotel
& Spa kicked off business at CityCenter when its doors opened at the beginning of December 2009. Most units in the 57-story condo-hotel are suites with full kitchens; deluxe suites and one- and two-bedroom units also are available. The nongaming property offers 10,000 square feet of meeting space, an 18,000-square-foot spa, a 40,000-square-foot pool deck and a signature restaurant, Silk Road.

A ribbon cutting and feng shui ceremony marked the opening of the 392-room Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, early this past December in CityCenter. The 47-story, nongaming hotel offers dining options such as the French signature restaurant Twist by Pierre Gagnaire. Also on-site is a two-story, 27,000-square-foot spa and more than 12,000 square feet of event space.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott opened two properties in the Las Vegas area. Last September, a 120-suite property opened in Henderson, Nev., about 10 miles from McCarran International Airport. The following month, the 299-room SpringHill Suites Las Vegas Convention Center opened on Paradise Road. The Henderson property offers 365 square feet of meeting space, while the convention center hotel has 4,522 square feet, across nine meeting rooms.

Celebrity chef Charlie Palmer's
long-awaited hotel in Symphony Park in downtown Las Vegas will be awaited a bit longer. The City Council voted in February to allow the developer to delay construction for at least two years and as many as four. The nongaming hotel is slated to offer 426 rooms.

MEET, a 30,000-square-foot, three-story exhibition and event space downtown, is scheduled to open this month. The venue, which can accommodate up to 2,000 people, promises highly configurable first and second floors with a built-in rigging and technology infrastructure, along with a third floor that serves as an executive concierge lounge for corporate training and VIP events. 

Planet Hollywood Resort
& Casino opened the new 1,229-room PH Towers at the end of December 2009, bringing the property's room total to 2,496. The 52-story, all-suite glass tower offers luxury accommodations with full kitchens, home theaters, and washer and dryer units. The landscaped pool area features a sandy beach with 32 private cabanas and a poolside bar. The tower connects directly to the Miracle Mile Shops.

January marked the five-year anniversary of the 548-room Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel, which the property celebrated by unveiling recent renovations. Improvements include a refurnished pool deck; remodeled VIP Club Lounge with new meetings technology, such as hideaway presentation boards and 52-inch flat-screen television displays; and a made-over ENVY The Steakhouse, including not only new fixtures but also new menu items and a more affordable wine list. For meetings booked by the end of this month and held by the end of the year, Renaissance will provide inclusive catering as part of the room rate.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas opened the exclusive 359-room HRH Tower at the end of December 2009, complete with its own VIP entrance and check-in. The new tower offers a spa, Reliquary, with 21 treatment rooms and a coed Roman bathhouse, as well as a 14,000-square-foot club, Vanity. The Hard Rock unveiled the 490-room Paradise Tower last summer, nearly two months ahead of schedule. That 18-story tower includes a 3,500-square-foot penthouse and 10 pool suites that overlook the Beach Club Pool. The hotel now offers 1,496 guest rooms.

Rush Tower poolThe 2,425-room Golden Nugget Las Vegas opened its $150 million Rush Tower last November, a 500-room luxury addition to the downtown property. The Rush Tower's regular rooms are 20 percent larger than those in the other towers; four Penthouse Suites and 70 Junior Corner Suites also are available. The new tower also offers a two-level pool with six cabanas, as well as the 200-seat Chart House Aquarium Restaurant.

Yes, Icahn
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn's company, Icahn Nevada Gaming Acquisition LLC, made the winning bid in January to purchase the bankrupt Fontainebleau Las Vegas Resort. Icahn's $150 million offer was the only qualifying bid, in fact, and it was subsequently approved by a Miami bankruptcy court. Many insiders call the purchase a bargain, given the scope of the $2.9 billion resort development into which the original owners have already poured $2 billion. The 3,800-room hotel remains about 70 percent finished on the Las Vegas Strip, and in interviews Icahn indicated he will wait for the market to improve before resuming construction. The property's previous owners filed for bankruptcy last summer, following the lending banks' decision to cut off approximately $800 million in financing. Stay tuned for further developments.

The Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino opened Hotel32 last August, a "boutique hotel" on the property's top floor. Guests of Hotel32 receive VIP treatment, including roundtrip limo service to and from McCarran Airport; curbside greeting from a dedicated "suite assistant"; private check-in; and access to Lounge32, which offers complimentary morning and evening food and beverages.

An ice lounge in the desert must keep evolving, and minus5, which opened in September 2008 in Mandalay Bay, is holding to this rule. The first permanent ice bar in the U.S. unveiled a complete makeover at the end of last year, courtesy of 19 tons of fresh Canadian ice and a new $40,000 laser lighting system. New ice statues include an "ice showgirl." The venue can accommodate private or semiprivate events for 10 to 200.

Casablanca Event CenterThe Eastside Cannery Casino & Hotel, a 307-room property on the Boulder Strip, completed a new concert venue at the beginning of the year. The Casablanca Event Center seats 1,100. 

Loews Lake Las Vegas, a 493-room property in Henderson, renovated a 4,000-square-foot outdoor terrace called Andalusian Gardens last spring. The space now can accommodate as many as 600 guests for outdoor meetings and receptions. Loews also has struck a deal with the nearby South Shore Golf Club to provide golf for hotel guests. The course, which offers sweeping views of the lake, previously was accessible only via private membership.

Work on Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport, part of a $2.4 billion construction project, is more than halfway complete. The 14-gate terminal is on schedule to open in mid-2012.

Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas,
a 348-room luxury resort in Henderson, will permanently close on May 2 because the hotel's owners will cease funding. The property's business suffered greatly over the last year and a half. As a result of the closing, the nearby Casino MonteLago at Lake Las Vegas also will cease operations.

Las Vegas Meetings by Harrah's created a new position dedicated specifically to meet the needs of third-party planners. Jennifer Martini Abdinoor, formerly the director of sales for the western region, became the director of sales for strategic partnerships. Abdinoor is now the single point of contact for planners who work for planning companies such as ConferenceDirect, Experient, HelmsBriscoe, HPN and Maritz.

The Sahara Hotel & Casino temporarily shuttered two of its three towers last December, due to low occupancy. The property's 1,100-room Tangiers Tower and casino still are open for business.

Commercial real estate and business development company The Siegel Group foreclosed upon the 64-room Artisan Hotel in January. The owners of the boutique hotel already had placed the property in bankruptcy. The Siegel Group will continue to operate the hotel under the Artisan name and will reposition the property by correcting "long-standing operational issues."

Last December, Canadian airline WestJet launched nonstop service five times per week between Las Vegas and Montréal. The airline now flies 10 routes between Las Vegas and Canada.

Las Vegas Tech

Aria app

Las Vegas properties have unveiled a variety of technological enhancements of late. The 3,348-room Caesars Palace, to take one example, launched an iPhone/iPod touch app in December. Using the application, hotel guests can consult restaurant hours and hotel information, read the property's Twitter feed, select a spa or salon treatment, and check show time information. More unique, however, is the app's opt-in GPS functionality, which can deliver customized, location-based marketing offers to guests -- even as they stroll through other Harrah's resorts in town. Caesars also offers Texpress to its U.S. guests -- an SMS service for which they can register, and through which they can check in up to one day in advance. Guests simply respond to a text message to do so, and then bypass the front desk upon arrival and pick up room keys from the bell desk.

Other resorts are experimenting with mobile devices dedicated to gaming. Guests of the 390-room M Resort, Spa & Casino can pick up an eDeck, a palm-sized mobile-gaming device, or an in-running gadget, which allows them to bet on sporting events in progress. They can use the gadget in various locations on the premises. Guests of the 3,066-room Palazzo and 4,027-room Venetian have access to a similar gizmo called PocketCasino, developed by Las Vegas-based Cantor Gaming.

CityCenter, meanwhile, is touting the high-tech smarts of many of the guest rooms in the 4,004-room Aria Resort & Casino and 392-room Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas. Those rooms are equipped with Control4 Suite Systems, technology that allows guests to customize lighting levels, room temperature, television/video systems, music, drapes and guest services -- all through an interface on their in-room TV screens. Guests save their preferences after arriving in the room, and the system maintains the settings for wake-up, bedtime and any time in-between. The environmentally friendly system shuts down all energy-consuming systems when the room is unoccupied.

Meeting Hotels: As of last December, Las Vegas had a room inventory of nearly 149,000, a 6 percent increase over 2008.

Properties with more than 3,000 rooms include the 5,044-room MGM Grand, 4,400-room Luxor Las Vegas, 4,027-room Venetian Las Vegas, 4,004-room Aria Resort & Casino, 3,981-room Excalibur Hotel Casino Las Vegas, 3,933-room Bellagio Las Vegas, 3,767-room Circus Circus Las Vegas, 3,460-room Flamingo Las Vegas, 3,348-room Caesars Palace Las Vegas, 3,211-room Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, 3,066-room Palazzo Las Vegas and 3,044-room Mirage.

Hotels with more than 1,000 guest rooms include the 2,992-room Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino; 2,916-room Paris Las Vegas; 2,914-room Las Vegas Hilton; 2,885-room Treasure Island Las Vegas; 2,814-room Bally's Las Vegas; 2,716-room Wynn Las Vegas; 2,640-room Imperial Palace Las Vegas; 2,563-room Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Las Vegas; 2,560-room Stratosphere Las Vegas; 2,550-room Harrah's Las Vegas; 2,496-room Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino; 2,425-room Golden Nugget Las Vegas; 2,163-room South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa; 2,075-room Riviera Hotel & Casino; 2,034-room Encore; 2,024-room New York-New York Hotel & Casino; 1,886-room The Orleans Hotel & Casino; 1,876-room Tropicana Las Vegas Resort & Casino; 1,728-room Signature at MGM Grand; 1,496-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas; 1,495-room Vdara Hotel & Spa; 1,117-room THEhotel at Mandalay Bay; 1,100-room Sahara Hotel & Casino; 1,037-room Plaza Hotel and Casino, and 1,007-room Palace Station Hotel and Casino.

Meeting properties with fewer than 1,000 rooms include the 826-room Westin Casuarina Las Vegas Hotel, Casino & Spa; 781-room California Hotel & Casino; 711-room Gold Coast Hotel & Casino; 703-room Palms Casino Resort; 696-room Hooters Casino Hotel; 690-room Four Queens Hotel & Casino; 646-room Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall; 638-room Fitz Casino & Hotel; 599-room Palms Place Hotel & Spa; 548-room Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel; 495-room Alexis Park Resort Hotel; 447-room Fremont Hotel & Casino; 424-room Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas (in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino main tower); 406-room Main Street Station Casino, Brewery and Hotel; 392-room Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas; 390-room M Resort, Spa and Casino; 307-room Eastside Cannery Casino & Hotel; 286-room Embassy Suites Convention Center Las Vegas; 255-room Platinum Hotel; 202-room Aliante Station Casino + Hotel; 202-room Greek Isles Hotel & Casino; 200-room Cannery Casino & Hotel; 200-room Santa Fe Station Hotel Casino; 147-room Homewood Suites by Hilton Las Vegas Airport; 118-room Staybridge Suites Las Vegas, and 51-room Skylofts at MGM Grand.

Summerlin, about five miles north of Las Vegas, is home to the 814-room Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa; 545-room JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa; 427-room Suncoast Hotel & Casino, and 123-room Element Las Vegas Summerlin.

In Henderson, which is about 17 miles southeast of the Strip, properties include the 527-room Sunset Station Hotel & Casino; 493-room Loews Lake Las Vegas; 490-room Green Valley Ranch Resort; and 300-room MonteLago Vil­lage Resort, Lake Las Vegas.

Laughlin, Nev., about 90 miles south of the city, is like a quieter, smaller Las Vegas. Properties here include the 1,907-room Aquarius Casino Resort; 1,505-room Harrah's Laughlin; 1,495-room Tropicana Express Hotel & Casino; 1,405-room Don Laughlin's Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino; 1,355-room Edgewater Hotel & Casino Resort; 1,169-room Colorado Belle Hotel, Casino & Microbrewery; 1,000-room River Palms Resort Casino; 416-room Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall, and 300-room Golden Nugget Laughlin Hotel and Casino.

Convention Centers: Las Vegas Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 2 million square feet; number of meeting rooms, 144; (702) 892-0711;

Sands Expo & Convention Center; exhibit space, 1,005,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 23; (702) 733-5556;

Mandalay Bay Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 1 million square feet; number of meeting rooms, 75; (877) 632-7800 or (702) 632-7777;

Cashman Center; exhibit space, 98,100 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 12; (702) 892-0711;

Cox Pavilion; exhibit space, 23,870 square feet; number of meeting rooms, two; (702) 895-3761;

Thomas & Mack Center; exhibit space, 22,220 square feet; number of meeting rooms, five; (702) 895-3761;

Henderson Convention Center; exhibit space, 10,080 square feet; number of meeting rooms, six; (702) 267-2171;

Grand Canyon, Priced Right

Papillon Airways  

Grand Canyon tour operator Papillon Airways made some changes in late 2009, dropping all package deals in favor of a streamlined pricing system. Under the new structure, designed for planners with restricted budgets, customers can book trips by helicopter, plane or bus, then add on amenities as desired. A basic tour begins at $127 per attendee, with options such as ATVs, kayaking or a stroll on the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Papillon can accommodate groups up to 1,000. (888) 635-7272;

Airport Transit: McCarran International Airport, about one mile west of the Las Vegas Strip and five miles from the downtown district. Transfer cost by taxi, $12-$18 to the Strip, $17-$27 to the downtown district; by shuttle, $6-$6.50 to Strip hotels, $8-$8.50 to downtown properties

Taxes: On the Las Vegas Strip: room tax, 12%; sales tax, 8.1%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%. Downtown: room tax, 13%; sales tax, 8.1%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%. Sales tax is not applied to guest rooms, but it is applied to other hotel charges.

Large Group Venues:
 Groups are encouraged to come on down to The Price is Right Live, a program developed by FreemantleMedia, producers of the legendary game show (as well as the near-legendary American Idol). With a corporate buyout of the show, the producers can tailor content to incorporate company trivia and even the company's products, which can appear in the show's pricing games. Groups also can select from among several experienced hosts (none of whom is Bob Barker or Drew Carey, for the record). The theater can hold about 1,000 people; groups of more than 200 can do a corporate buyout, while smaller groups can get special pricing. Regular shows run Tuesdays to Thursdays and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m., and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. (818) 748-1127;

Lagasse's Stadium, which opened this past fall in the Palazzo, combines a high-end sports bar and casino with cuisine from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. (Game-day classics like nachos and Buffalo wings share menu billing with Emeril's New Orleans BBQ shrimp.) Games are projected on a 9 x 16-foot main screen, as well as on 100 additional HD TVs. That, combined with luxury boxes, plush-yet-stadium-style seating, gaming tables and billiards lends the venue well to sports-themed events. Three semiprivate sky boxes can each hold eight to 14 people, and five private luxury boxes, complete with billiards and video games, accommodate groups of 30 to 50. (702) 607-2665;

Long Live the King

Aria's Elvis

In a sense, Elvis never really left the building, but his highness has been back in the limelight of late. Viva Elvis, the latest Cirque du Soleil production, officially opened at the Aria Resort & Casino in late February. This tribute to the life and music of Presley was developed in partnership and with the good blessings of the King's estate and former wife Priscilla herself. A theater was built specifically for the show at Aria, as was an accompanying Light Group-managed bar, The Gold Lounge, where attendees can sip Blue Suede Shoes or TCB signature drinks before or after the show. Tickets run from $99 to $175. (877) 25-ELVIS or (702) 590-7760;

Providing a somewhat less acrobatic Elvis presentation is The King's Ransom Museum, a multimillion-dollar collection of Presley paraphernalia on display at The Imperial Palace until April. Visitors can view personal clothing items, jewelry and even the entertainer's impressive 1977 Lincoln Continental. (888) 777-7764;

Aria's SageSmall Group Venues: Shawn McClain, a celebrated chef who has garnered accolades for his work at four Chicago venues, ventured west to open Sage in the new Aria Resort & Casino. McClain has plenty of celebrity-chef competition at Aria, but his Sage presents a truly unique ambience. The entrance opens into a dimly lit 49-seat bar area, a strangely alluring mix of stately and modern -- think Victorian library meets VIP lounge. The 112-seat dining room is similarly styled, but the space between tables creates an even more relaxed atmosphere. Many of Sage's dishes likewise combine seemingly disparate elements to great effect --  like Kushi oysters with tequila and piquio pepper mignonette and Tabasco sorbet, or roasted scallops with braised oxtail and wild mushrooms. Like the décor, the combinations sound forced at first but turn out to be just right. McClain's menu is built around fresh produce and sustainable seafood from California and the Pacific coast, as well as artisanal meats from various locales. A semiprivate area in the back of the dining room seats 50. (877) 230-2742;

Perched 23 stories above the Strip, Mandarin Bar is a swanky cocktail lounge with floor-to-ceiling views of the scenery outside and the action below. The bar is, of course, part of the new Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, and to arrive there one must wander through the property's impressive lobby area, also on the 23rd floor. The 82-seat venue is suitable for groups of up to 150 people, and an exclusive VIP room, The Edge, holds 40. Signa­ture drinks such as the Lemongrass Mojito are served alongside a menu of light Mediterranean- and Asian-influenced snacks. (888) 881-9367;

Wynn Golf courseGolf: The Las Vegas area has plenty to offer when it comes to greens meetings. Tee up at the following: Aliante Golf Club (702-399-4888, 877-399-4888;, Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock (702-258-2300, 866-934-4653;, Badlands Golf Club (702-363-0754;, Bear's Best Las Vegas (702-804-8500;, Desert Pines Golf Club (888-427-6678;, Durango Hills Golf Club (702-229-4653;, Eagle Crest Golf Club (877-669-4653;, Las Vegas Golf Club (702-646-3003;, Las Vegas National Golf Club (702-734-1280;, Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (702-658-1400, 800-711-2833;, Painted Desert Golf Club (702-645-2570, ext. 2;,  Royal Links Golf Club (702-450-8123, 888-427-6678;, Silverstone Golf Club (702-562-3770, 877-888-2127;, TPC Las Vegas (702-256-2500;, and Wynn Golf and Country Club (702-770-7100, 888-320-7122;

The nearby city of Henderson is home to a number of courses, including the Black Mountain Golf & Country Club (702-565-7933, ext. 113;, Desert Willow Golf Club (702-263-4653;, The Legacy Golf Club (702-897-2187, 888-446-5358;, The Revere Golf Club (702-259-4653, 877-273-8373;, Tuscany Golf Club (866-887-2269; and Wildhorse Golf Club (702-434-9000;

Laughlin offers the Mo­jave Resort Golf Club (702-535-4653;

CVB Services: Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, (702) 892-0711 or (877) 847-4858;

Henderson Convention Center & Visitors Bureau,  (702) 267-2171 or (877) 775-5252;

Laughlin Visitor Information Center, (702) 298-3321 or (800) 452-8445;


City Center at a Glance
CityCentre exterior
CityCenter's opening in December 2009 was big news: The scope of the project translated to 12,000 new hospitality jobs, not to mention many questions regarding just how the new inventory would affect Las Vegas. Here's a by-the-numbers rundown of the CityCenter properties and what they have to offer.

Crystals Retail & Entertainment District
Opened: Dec. 1, 2009
500,000 square feet of retail/entertainment space
F&B outlets: 5 restaurants, 1 club

Vdara Hotel & SpaOpened: Dec. 1, 2009
Guest rooms: 1,495 suites
(866) 745-7767
Meeting space: 10,000 square feet
F&B outlets: 1 restaurant, 2 bars/lounges
Spa: 18,000 square feet (2 levels); 11 treatment rooms

Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas Opened: Dec. 4, 2009
Guest rooms: 392
(702) 590-8888
Meeting space: 12,000 square feet
F&B outlets: 3 restaurants, 2 bars/lounges
Spa: 27,000 square feet; 17 treatment rooms

Aria Resort & Casino
Opened: Dec. 16, 2009
Guest rooms: 4,004
(866) 359-7757
Meeting space: 300,000 square feet
F&B outlets: 14 restaurants, 8 bars/lounges, 1 club
Casino: 150,000 square feet
Spa: 80,000 square feet (2 levels); 62 treatment rooms

The Harmon Hotel Opening: TBD
Guest rooms: 400
Meeting Space: TBD


Restaurant Beat

Las Vegas has come to be known almost as much for its array of top-notch restaurants as for its gambling and entertainment. Here's a taste of some recently opened and soon-to-open selections.

• Wynn Las Vegas is planning to open a new wine bar this fall, in partnership with restaurant and entertainment entrepreneur Michael Morton, the son of restaurateur Arnie Morton and co-founder of the N9NE Group, a restaurant and nightlife company. The intimate venue will focus on handcrafted wines from around the world but also promises a "chef-driven" food menu that will feature farmhouse cheeses, artisanal charcuterie, tapas and gourmet desserts. The venue will open next to Terrace Pointe Cafe. (877) 321-9966;

Pierre Gagnaire's Twist• Pierre Gagnaire, a three-Michelin-star chef in his homeland, made his U.S. debut in December 2009 with Twist in the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas. Each dish promises classic French cuisine with said "twist," courtesy of Gagnaire's innovative approach to fusion (side dishes, for instance, include potato ice cream and osetra caviar). The Adam D. Tihany-designed interior is likewise innovative, featuring 300 illuminated hanging globes and a glass staircase that leads to a suspended wine loft. (888) 881-9367;

• Also promising a twist, this on the classic American steak house, is Rare 120, which opened last spring at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The twist here comes primarily in the ambience, which is contemporary glitz instead of the dark-wood sophistication one might expect from a steak house. The restaurant emphasizes organic meat selections and offers everything à la carte so that diners can build their own meals. Match your 10-oz. Kobe flat iron with mac and cheese (with four cheeses, smoked bacon and sautéed onion, that is) or your braised short ribs (marinated in Newcastle Brown Ale) with creamed spinach (featuring apple-smoked bacon). Groups can choose from three predesigned menus. (702) 693-5500;

Restaurant Guy Savoy, the cel­ebrated French chef's two-Michelin star (2009) restaurant in Caesars Palace, opened the country's first "Krug Room" last June. The private dining room, patterned after Krug Rooms in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo, is an exclusive hideaway that serves a rotating seasonal menu of dishes paired with various vintages of Champagne from the House of Krug. The six-course meal, for a minimum of six people, runs approximately $750 per person. The room seats up to 16 guests. (877) 346-4642; for groups of more than seven, (702) 967-4000;

• That enormous treelike sculpture you noticed in Crystals shopping center is no sculpture; it's the "tree house" patio of Mastro's Ocean Club, in demand for small groups since its January opening. Three private rooms overlooking the tree house also are available for groups at the high-end seafood restaurant, which seat from 18 to 40 guests, or may be combined for parties up to 100. Buyouts are available, with seating for up to 300. (702) 798-7115;