Las Vegas Destination Guide

Top Tier
Las Vegas placed third in Cvent’s top 50 U.S. meeting destinations, based on data from Cvent’s Supplier Network from July 2011 to July 2012. For the full list, see bit.ly/Nq3Y1B.

Local Update
The 1,600-room Tropicana Las Vegas, which recently completed a $200 million transformation, is now the Tropicana Las Vegas-a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, thanks to a strategic partnership with the chain. Tropicana Las Vegas continues to own and operate the property, but now guests can earn and redeem Hilton HHonors points and airline miles at the resort. The partnership marks Hilton's return to the Las Vegas Strip after a nearly 14-year absence.

McCarran International Airport officially debuted its new international hub last summer, the $2.4 billion Terminal 3. Seven of the new terminal's gates were designed to accommodate international air service, including secured access to a U.S. Customs & Border Protection area capable of processing up to 2,000 international passengers per hour. The new terminal is expected to significantly ease congestion in the airport. Terminal 1 was built to handle 42 million passengers annually, a figure that has been exceeded in recent years.

The 2,973-room LVH casino hotel, formerly the Las Vegas Hilton, was sold in a foreclosure auction last November. The hotel is now managed by casino development and management firm Navegante Group. The hotel-casino has continued to operate throughout the foreclosure and sale, and no significant changes to the property are planned.

The former Imperial Palace has been rebranded as the Quad Resort & Casino. Renovations to the 2,545-room resort should wrap up by late 2013. The front desk and bell desk have been redone, and a new main entrance and porte cochere debuted on the north side of the building last fall. The casino will expand by an additional 15,000 square feet, to 35,000 square feet, by this spring. In phase two of the construction, an additional 30,000 square feet of gaming space with a central bar will be added, to debut by late this year. The resort will remain open throughout the renovations.

The former Sahara Hotel & Casino, on the North Strip, is on track to become the SLS Las Vegas. Development company SBE and real-estate/investment firm Stockbridge Capital Group secured funding for the project last spring. The new resort, a collaboration among hotel owner Sam Nazarian, designer Philippe Starck and award-winning chef José Andrés, will offer more than 1,600 guest rooms as well as a number of SBE's restaurant and nightlife brands. The property is scheduled to debut in 2014.

Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, a 199-room property owned by Caesars Entertainment on the Strip, is temporarily closing Feb. 4. A major renovation will ensue, converting the venue to a boutique lifestyle hotel and casino that should open in early 2014 under a new name. The new hotel will offer a new 65,000-square-foot rooftop pool and a dayclub/nightclub, as well as completely remodeled guest rooms and common areas, along with a revamped casino. A new second-floor restaurant will debut as well.  

MGM Sky TerraceThe 5,044-room MGM Grand completed a $160 million room remodel last fall in the main tower. Included in the upgrade were 3,570 Grand King and Queen rooms, as well as 642 suites, including the Skyline Terrace, right, and Skyline Marquee suites. The rooms and suites feature not only new designs, but also environmentally sustainable features such as LED lighting, improved thermostats and solar shades. In late October the resort unveiled its 42-room Stay Well collection, outfitted with health and wellness features like vitamin C-infused shower water, advanced lighting and water purification systems, and antibacterial surface coatings. Also at the resort, construction has begun on the Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, an upscale venue that will fill the space of the former Studio 54. A spring opening is being planned.

The 703-room Palms Casino Resort unveiled the first phase of its $50 million renovation last October, which includes an "ultra-chic" remodel of all 428 guest rooms in the Palms Tower. The new room design features warm wood tones and velvet, as well as 16-foot-high wall-to-wall murals hung over each bed. The bathrooms have been completely redesigned as well. Each redesigned room is outfitted with a 46-inch high-definition LED television and a multimedia hub for connections to cameras, laptops, media players and game systems. Upcoming renovations, to be unveiled later this year, call for a new central bar in the casino and a new sports bar, Heraea, as well as a pan-Asian restaurant called XISHI.
 
Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, within the Mandalay Bay Resort, wrapped up renovations on all 424 guest rooms at the end of 2012. The new rooms sport a chic, art deco-inspired design. Additional highlights include a multimedia hub on all guest-room TVs, ergonomic chairs, pull-out sleeper sofas in all suites, backlit mirrors and classic marble flooring.

The Spa at Wynn reopened in late September 2012, following extensive renovations. The 45,000-square-foot facility has new décor in 45 treatment rooms, as well as an updated menu of services. In addition to treatments such as the new "Muscle Melt," the spa offers a fitness center, a full-service salon and barbershop, a steam room, saunas, whirlpools and relaxation lounges.

The 152-room Casino Royale, on the Strip between the Venetian and Harrah's, became the Best Western Plus Casino Royale last month. All guest rooms were recently renovated in preparation for the conversion.

Downtown property Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel has rebranded as the D Las Vegas Casino Hotel following extensive renovations. The image overhaul included a revamp of all 638 guest rooms. Other highlights include a two-level casino, with the ground floor featuring contemporary slots and gaming tables, and the upper level showcasing vintage slots and "an original Vegas vibe." A new casino bar, dubbed Longbar, stretches the entire length of the casino. The property also debuted a new Freemont Street Experience venue, the D Bar. The D Las Vegas has 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a ballroom and four breakout rooms.

The 650-room Downtown Grand hotel is under construction, an overhaul of the former Lady Luck. The project calls for a new pool and spa, 50,000 square feet of casino space and 20,000 square feet of retail shops. The new venue is expected to open at the end of 2013.

The 327-room off-Strip Terrible's Hotel and Casino recently wrapped up $7 million in renovations. Guest rooms have new furniture and furnishings, and a hospitality suite was created for meeting guests. The property, which is just north of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, also renovated the gaming pit and added 1,000 new slot machines.

The 493-room Loews Lake Las Vegas became the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa last spring. Changes at the property include the addition of Westin's signature Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Shower to all guest rooms, as well as the debut of a new WestinWorkout fitness center.
 
JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and SpaThe 468-room JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa, right, merged operations with the adjoining Rampart Casino. The two properties have been marketed under the umbrella name Resort at Summerlin, but previously were operated by two different companies. Planned upgrades for the casino include an expanded coffee shop, an expanded race and sports book, and more F&B outlets.

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the centerpiece of the Symphony Park development in downtown Las Vegas, opened last spring. The venue has a wide variety of event spaces, among them three theaters, including the 2,050-seat Reynolds Hall. The Smith Center is home to the Nevada Ballet Theater and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. 

Pop Visit
Opening Feb. 8 at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, "Warhol Out West" is the artist's biggest-ever Las Vegas exhibition. On loan from Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum will be prints, paintings, sculptures and film.

Meeting Hotels

Las Vegas has a little more than 150,000 guest rooms in its inventory. Among mega-properties on the Strip are 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, 3,696-room Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, 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 1,000 to 3,000 guest rooms include the 2,995-room Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 2,992-room Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino, 2,973-room LVH-Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, 2,916-room Paris Las Vegas, 2,885-room Treasure Island Las Vegas, 2,814-room Bally's Las Vegas, 2,716-room Wynn Las Vegas, 2,550-room Harrah's Las Vegas, 2,545-room Quad Resort & Casino, 2,522-room Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, 2,427-room Stratosphere Las Vegas, 2,425-room Golden Nugget Las Vegas, 2,075-room Riviera Hotel & Casino, 2,034-room Encore, 2,024-room New York-New York Hotel & Casino, 1,600-room Tropicana Las Vegas-A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 1,496-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, 1,495-room Vdara Hotel & Spa, 1,276-room Signature at MGM Grand, 1,242-room Buffalo Bill's Resort & Casino, 1,117-room THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, 1,037-room Plaza Hotel and Casino and 1,007-room Palace Station Hotel.

Meeting properties with fewer than 1,000 rooms include the 826-room Westin Las Vegas Hotel, Casino & Spa; 703-room Palms Casino Resort; 696-room Hooters Casino Hotel; 646-room Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall; 638-room D Las Vegas Casino Hotel; 548-room Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel; 424-room Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas (in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino main tower); 392-room Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas; 390-room M Resort Spa Casino; 286-room Embassy Suites Convention Center Las Vegas; 200-room Cannery Casino & Hotel; 152-room Best Western Plus Casino Royale; 181-room Nobu Hotel and Restaurant and 51-room Skylofts at MGM Grand.

Summerlin, Nev., about five miles north of Las Vegas, is home to the 814-room Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa; 468-room JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa, and 123-room Element Las Vegas Summerlin.

In Henderson, Nev., about 17 miles southeast of the Strip, properties include the 527-room Sunset Station Hotel & Casino, 493-room Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa, 490-room Green Valley Ranch Resort and 349-room Ravella at Lake Las Vegas.

Laughlin, Nev., is about 90 miles south of the city. 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, 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, 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

Pour Sugar
Def Leppard takes up residence at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (bit.ly/SdOIGy) next month for a nine-show "Viva Hysteria!" performance.

Airport Transit
McCarran International Airport, approximately one mile west of the Las Vegas Strip and five miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $12-$18 to the Strip, $17-$27 to downtown; by shuttle, $6-$9 to Strip hotels, $8-$12 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.

Group Venues
A new venue in the Luxor, Score! is an interactive sports exhibit that has collaborated with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Boxing Hall of Fame and the U.S. Soccer Federation, among other institutions, to display one-of-a-kind memorabilia from each. The 10,000-square-foot exhibit has more than 300 pieces on display, as well as a broadcast studio and various interactive sports challenges. Events can be hosted here for groups of 30 to 300 people, and can include use of the studio, celebrity-athlete appearances and sports-themed activities, among other options. Team-building efforts can be tested with a NASCAR pit-stop challenge, and questions as to who has the fastest fastball or highest vertical leap can finally be put to rest. (702) 262-4200; scorelv.com

Attendees staying on the Strip often see the regional topography only on the short ride in from the airport and, if they're lucky, through their hotel room windows. Death Vally Tours provide a sensory break from the casino stimulation, transporting participants through a ghost town and to major vistas in the desert. The daytrip runs from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and includes lunch, snacks, and a guide well-versed in the history and topography of the region. Tours are scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, or can be booked any day for groups of four or more. (702) 664-2599; bit.ly/VaKmin

Dining Out
Andrea's opened in late December at Encore, the first Wynn Las Vegas restaurant to be fully integrated into a nightclub. The "vibe dining" concept, as Wynn has dubbed it, places this upscale Asian-fusion eatery in the Surrender club. It's a unique way to straddle both restaurant and nightclub atmospheres for an event; the 6,194-square-foot restaurant has hexagon-shaped tables for larger group dining, as well as private dining spaces and a 2,100-square-foot terrace. bit.ly/12Jp3Zs

Pub grub:  Yorkshire ale battered fish and chips at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & GrillMeanwhile, short-tempered celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was busy this past December opening both the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill (bit.ly/OFa3qJ) at Caesars Palace and Gordon Ramsay BurGR (bit.ly/W6MIym) at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. The 290-seat Pub & Grill serves both lunch and dinner, and offers two different menus and atmospheres, depending on whether one wants an English pub (Yorkshire ale battered fish and chips, 36 beers on tap, televised sports) or a casual grill (pan roasted snapper, Cornish chicken, friendly conversation). Executive chef Jeremy Berlin comes by way of Church and State in Los Angeles. The 200-seat BurGR elevates the burger/fries/milkshake combo to gourmet heights, with choice cuts of beef, freshly made brioche buns, sweet potato fries and pudding-infused shakes, among other Ramsay fluorishes.

Golf
The Las Vegas area is a haven for golfers. 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).

Contact
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, (702) 892-0711 or (877) 847-4858; fax: (702) 386-7818

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

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

Hike Here
Guests of Aria (arialasvegas.com) can take an indoor hike with a fitness instructor, touring the resort with a Yoga mat for a unique workout. 

Casual Eats On or Near the Strip

If you feel like dashing off for a bite between meetings, consider one of these eateries, recommended by Steve Carlson of the restaurant review site Food Smackdown (foodsmackdown.com).

All the cool kids in town get their slices from Secret Pizza, a 24-hour joint hidden on the third floor in the Cosmopolitan (cosmopolitanlasvegas.com). Once you've found it, place your order in the tiny, garlic-scented waiting area and then take your food to a table or a nearby couch. The white pizza is especially popular. (702) 698-7860

The Earl of Sandwich in the Planet Hollywood Resort (planethollywoodresort.com), also open around the clock, features both classic and original sandwiches. A favorite is the Full Montague -- freshly roasted beef, turkey, aged Swiss and sharp cheddar, lettuce, Roma tomatoes and the Earl's own mustard sauce. Too much? Choose a creative salad from the menu. (702) 463-0259; earlofsandwichusa.com

The Fukuburger Truck whips up Japanese-influenced items such as the Kinoko mushroom burger -- a beef patty piled with grilled shiitake mushrooms, pickled red ginger, teriyaki and wasabi mayo. Look for the distinctive red truck sporting a giant burger on its side at various spots around downtown (Fukuburger's Twitter page, @fukuburger, is updated regularly with the vehicle's current location). And it's pronounced "foo-koo burger," in case you wondered. (702) 217-0758; fukuburger.squarespace.com

On the second floor in The Shoppes at The Palazzo (palazzo.com), First Food and Bar is known throughout Vegas for its mouthwatering lollipop Buffalo wings, though the menu includes a full complement of creatively restyled comfort food. The owners describe its trendy atmosphere, with furniture ranging in style from modern to gothic, as "intimate and edgy." (702) 607-3478; firstfoodandbar.com -- Hannah Laymon






Back to School
Food University at Caesars Palace (fooduniversitylasvegas.com), a foodie fantasy camp, takes place March 27–29. Top names like pastry chef Francois Payard will teach classes and lead seminars.   

For Your Amusement
In keeping with the "Disney-for-grownups" label oft applied to Las Vegas, a number of amusement-park-like attractions are under construction in the city -- with an unmistakably Vegas air about them, of course.

Dueling wheels. There actually are two Ferris-like observation wheels being built in town, each having claimed to be the world's largest when first announced. The 550-foot High Roller, part of Caesars Entertainment's new open-air Linq development, will allegedly become the tallest in the world when it opens in the first quarter of 2014. The wheel will have 28 cabins, each with a 40-person capacity. The cabins can be booked in any quantity, including a complete buyout for group events. An adjacent building will have 2,500 square feet of meeting space, which can be divided into three rooms, for gatherings before or after the ride itself. thelinq.com

The 500-foot-high Skyvue, which is under construction across the street from Mandalay Bay, is now slated to be the world's third largest wheel in this suddenly competitive category. The wheel will be a high-tech billboard as well, with 50,000 square feet of LED digital signage per side. Gondolas will come in two sizes  -- either 24- or 32-person --  and are available for group events. A 21,000-square-foot convention center and 140,000 square feet of retail space are being developed alongside the attraction, which should open in early 2014. skyvuelasvegas.com

A Vegas-style zipline. Those who venture downtown will soon see a new spectacle in the Freemont Street Experience -- or, rather, above it. The previous zipline over the street, which just wasn't Vegas enough, is making way for SlotZilla, an $11 million, 11-story zipline structure that resembles -- surprise! -- a giant slot machine. Willing participants will be spewed from the machine, jackpot-style, using propulsion technology not previously seen in ziplines. Two rides will be offered: The Zoomline, on the upper level, will be more than 100 feet aboveground and propel participants 1,700 feet under the Freemont Street Experience canopy. The lower zipline, meanwhile, will be about 70 feet above ground and take more conservative riders approximately 850 feet to a midpoint landing platform. vegasexperience.com -- M.J.S.

New Boutiques on the Strip
Two behemoth resorts on the Strip are debuting smaller boutique properties this year within their broad confines. As of this month, the 3,348-room Caesars Palace is now hosting the 181-room Nobu Hotel and Restaurant in its Centurian Tower. The opening marks the expansion into the lodging industry for the Nobu brand, which originated with the eponymous chef's first Manhattan restaurant. David Rockwell, the New York-based architect who designed the first Nobu Restaurant, also designed this location, with the help of owners Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Meir Taper and actor Robert DeNiro. The hotel features the largest Nobu Restaurant and Lounge in the world, at 12,775 square feet, and offers high-end room service to sushi-loving guests. Nobu Hotel guests receive priority reservations and VIP access to the Nobu Caesars Palace restaurant, complimentary VIP access to the Pure Nightclub, private pool access and in-room iPad registration.

South Beach Transplant
Late this year or early next, the 1,100-suite Delano Las Vegas will open in place of THEhotel at the 3,211-room Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. MGM Resorts International, the owner of Mandalay Bay, will operate the new hotel on behalf of Morgans Hotel Group, which owns the Delano brand. The second Delano in the country will take some design cues from the South Beach original but adapt the style for its new location. All of the current guest rooms will be remodeled, as will the on-site bars, lounges, spa and restaurants. Morgans will open several new F&B spots on site, including a casual American bistro by chef Brian Massie, a Japanese restaurant by chef Akira Back and a transformation of the Red Square nightspot. All of the venues, which will be managed by The Light Group, are expected to open in 2013. Mandalay Bay is hoping the Delano cache will draw Latin American and European travelers, in particular. -- H.L.