How Las Vegas Is Looking to Build on Its Record Year

A 90-foot waterfall is just one of the highlights of Wynn’s new Intrigue nightclub.
A 90-foot waterfall is just one of the highlights of Wynn’s new Intrigue nightclub.

Las Vegas welcomed a record number of visitors last year and is off to an even better start in 2016. Statistics from MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers indicate Millennials and affluent clients may be leading the surge. The youngest and the most well-to-do respondents made the highest percentage of visits in the past two years and expressed the greatest degree of interest in going there in the future, according to Portrait statistics.

Here is a look at the latest developments on the Las Vegas scene that should appeal to these two demographic groups, beginning with the future opening of a boutique hotel and new upscale digs at two well-established properties.

Starwood Hotels has taken over the SLS Las Vegas’s 289-room Lux Tower and will convert it into the city’s first W Hotel. Starwood is renovating the building with the goal of opening later this year. The hotel-within-a-hotel will have a dedicated entrance for W guests, a signature spa, a fitness center and an exclusive pool deck and bar, as well as nearly 14,500 square feet of new meeting and event space.


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At Caesar’s Palace, the Julius Tower underwent a $75 million renovation this winter. Decked out in a warm neutral palette and a pop of golden yellow, the remodeled Julius Luxury Rooms and Executive Suites now have custom-upholstered headboards that incorporates mirrored panels, while the stone-and-glass bathrooms provide a double sink vanity and hand-held showerhead. The custom artwork reflects Caesars’ history of Roman-inspired sculpture and architecture. 

The Cosmopolitan’s new City Studio offers guests an oversized living area and panoramic views of the Strip and the mountains beyond.
The Cosmopolitan’s new City Studio offers guests an oversized living area and panoramic views of the Strip and the mountains beyond.

The Cosmopolitan has added two new room types. The 630-square-foot City Studio has an oversized living area, suitable for entertaining; a plush sleeping area with king-size bed; double vanity bathroom; minibar and panoramic views of The Strip and mountains beyond. The Executive Suite comes with a six-seat conference table, spacious living area and two bathrooms, including a full bath and separate powder room. The art collection in the new suites is inspired by The Cosmopolitan’s dynamic visual art program in partnership with Artspace.

More Trendy Restaurants

With new rooms come new dining experiences at The Cosmopolitan. Four new restaurants will soon join the hotel’s other 12 eateries. Beauty & Essex, a partnership between the TAO Group and acclaimed chef/restaurateur Chris Santos, opens this month, offering sharing plates and new twists on classic cocktails in a speakeasy-like setting. ZUMA, created and co-founded by Chef Rainer Becker, will serve modern Japanese cuisine when it opens in the fall. The menu is designed to be shared and will offer dishes from a sushi counter, a main kitchen and a robata grill. Later in 2016, Celebrity Chef David Chang will debut his Momofuku restaurant and Milk Bar bakery.

The two newest restaurants at Aria Resort & Casino play to trends popular with Millennials: the farm- and ocean-to-table Herringbone, serving naturally sourced seafood, meats, poultry and vegetables, and the soon-to-open Burger Lounge, offering sustainably sourced grass-fed beef and other health-conscious cuisine.

Harvest by Roy Ellamar, which opened this winter in Bellagio Resort & Casino’s Spa Tower, is another trendy farm-to-table experience. Popular selections include farmer’s salad, pork belly paired with pickled apple and braised radish and roasted baby beets topped with yogurt and pickled Asian pear. Harvest also has a stone oven to cook dishes such as daily whole fish and Maine lobster.

James Beard Award-winning Chef Shawn McClain is set to open Mandalay Bay’s newest hotspot, Libertine Social, this summer. This next-generation gastropub will specialize in New American bar food paired with a cocktail program by modern mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim and a range of compelling atmospheres to fit diners’ motivations. Libertine Social will be housed on the casino level, next to Charlie Palmer’s Aureole.

The LINQ Promenade – Caesars Entertainment’s center-Strip, open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district – will introduce more new restaurants this summer. These include In-N-Out Burger, Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips, Canter’s Deli, Virgil’s Real BBQ and the Amorino gelato shop, as well as the Purple Zebra daiquiri bar.

World Tea Expo and Dinner

The truly dedicated epicures among your clientele may be interested in the Las Vegas’s first tea pairing dinner taking place June 16 at Alizé at the top of the Palms Casino Resort’s Ivory Tower. Host Barbara Fairchild, former editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit, and Chef Mark Purdy are partnering with tea purveyor Seven Cups Fine Teas to create this one-night-only experience.

The dinner is just one highlight of the 2016 World Tea Expo taking place in the city June 13 to 17. Tickets are $225 per person; for the VIP reception, the price is $300, which includes bottomless champagne, a special gift bag, VIP seating and a pre-event meet and greet with Fairchild and Austin Hodges, founder of Seven Cups.

For Night Owls

Jewel Nightclub is scheduled to debut at Aria on May 19. Spanning more than 24,000 square feet of precisely designed space, the Hakkasan Group’s newest nightlife experience promises to be as inviting as it is evocative. Whether the headliner is a world class DJ or performer (Jamie Foxx will entertain at the grand opening weekend), Jewel will offer a multi-faceted experience for guests. Dress code is smart casual.

Wynn has also added a new experience to its array of nightclubs: Intrigue. Enhanced by state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, Intrigue’s high-energy dance mix is paired with a luxe setting that includes an exclusive social media-free VIP area for private partying. A glass-enclosed patio, meanwhile, offers a spectacular view of a 90-foot waterfall and dazzling pyrotechnics show. For a somewhat more traditional Las Vegas experience, the Encore’s brand new Encore Players Club provides innovative gaming action.

New ‘WhereToVegas’ App

Las Vegas’s newest travel app, WhereToVegas, provides visitors with a social heat map of trending locations and events. It is designed to help visitors maximize their Vegas vacation experience by informing them of the city’s ‘hot spots,’ which are determined by the most active conversations happening at that specific time; the more people talking about a certain Las Vegas experience, the higher in rank it becomes on the app’s home screen.

By sharing real-time social posts on Twitter and Instagram, visitors can use WhereToVegas like a touristic compass. Users can also share images on Instagram and tweet their own Las Vegas experiences to potentially be featured on the app. The WhereToVegas app is available for desktop, iOS and Android platforms and is free to download. Visit