Keeping up with tourism development in Las Vegas is a full-time job, with hotels, casinos, restaurants, clubs, galleries, golf courses, shops, shows, spas and more to keep track of. Here are some things to look for on your next trip.
Wynn Las Vegas' Wynn Tower Suites have put the property in the record books: It's the only casino resort in the world with both the AAA Five Diamond and the Mobil Five Star awards for 2007; in fact, the resort is the first Las Vegas property in Mobil's 49-year ratings history to earn the Five Star recognition. Here, patio dining at The Country Club overlooks the golf course and waterfalls (so do the extraordinary Villa Suites) and dinner at Daniel Boulud Brasserie features an imaginative light show over the Lake of Dreams.
Complementing its acrobatic La Rêve show is the smash hit Broadway musical Monty Python's Spamalot , which just opened starring John O'Hurley (best known as J. Peterman of Seinfeld fame) and directed by Oscar-winning director Mike Nichols. The show that won the most Tony Awards in Broadway history—Mel Brooks' hit The Producers —is moving west to Paris Las Vegas this year and Phantom of the Opera is now at The Venetian.
Speaking of awards, Skylofts at MGM Grand, a private sanctuary with 51 two-story accommodations with expansive views of the Las Vegas skyline—is another 2007 AAA Five Diamond winner, as is its restaurant, Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
On my latest pre-Thanksgiving stay in Las Vegas, I enjoyed a couple of personal "firsts" at newly opened restaurants. At StripSteak, Michael Mina's just opened restaurant at Mandalay Bay, I ate my first slowly poached-in-seasoned-butter porterhouse that was seared on a mesquite-stoked fire just before serving (and it was fabulous). At the new Japonais, I tasted my first Robata (beef, scallops or vegetables grilled on a skewer).
There are some "firsts" that I saw, but didn't experience, for example: the city's first indoor/outdoor pool at the Platinum Hotel & Spa, a quiet, non-smoking, non-gaming, 255-suite near The Strip; the city's first pool-sized, infinity Roman bath at Qua and the first-of-its-kind, 55-degree Arctic Ice Room at the new spa in Caesars Palace, where you can (but I won't!) exfoliate with ice. Also at Caesars Palace, I missed the debut of Rao's, the 10-table, 110-year-old, Neopolitan-family-style Italian restaurant that is certain to be a hit. Chocoholics should note that Payard Patisserie, which is known as the place for chocolate on Madison Avenue in New York, will also arrive at Caesars this year. Brand new at The Venetian is Bouchon by "America's Best Chef" Thomas Keller.
MGM Mirage's $7 billion CityCenter will be built on 76 acres in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, with a prospective opening date of 2010. At its center will be the 4,000-room, 60-story CityCenter resort tower with a Mandarin Oriental hotel, casino, residences and a retail/entertainment space. The monorail will link McCarran International Airport to downtown by 2011.
On the boards closer in, the Aladdin Casino and Resort's $50 million transformation into the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino will be completed this year. In the fall, the Town Square shopping center will open with 150 new stores and 12 restaurants at the junction of I-15 and the 215 Beltway.
The debut of the Palazzo, an over-the-top 50-floor hotel and casino, is also scheduled for 2007. You can expect the spectacular: marble floors, a glass dome in the lobby, soaring fountains, bronze case columns and a theater large enough for a Broadway show. You'll be able to enter through the Venetian Casino Resort via a glass-topped octagonal structure. Expect seven pools, sculpture gardens and and an adjacent spa. All rooms will have multi-functional living and sleeping spaces for business or leisure.