New and Improved


King room at MGM Grand
One of the newly renovated King rooms at MGM Grand


New renovations and tools for travel agents will make it easier than ever to sell travel to Las Vegas, as leisure and convention travelers flood back to Sin City.

Already under way at the MGM Grand is a $160 million renovation of its guest rooms and suites slated for completion next September. Dubbed The Grand Renovation, the refresh will aim to make a guest’s transition from the comforts of his home to the hotel room as seamless as possible.

“For us, a guestroom should be your home away from home,” said Tim Kelly, VP of hotel operations for MGM Grand. “Just like homes are evolving, so should our guest rooms. We have to make sure we have the comforts, functionality and technology one would find in his home today.”

By upgrading the technology in each guest room, the MGM Grand hopes to accommodate travelers who want to bring entertainment back to their room. “The renovation actually extends beyond the room to encompass the guest elevators hallway,” said Kelly. “The renovation is really comprehensive as it involves all 4,212 guest rooms and suites. We’ve started and anticipate being completed by the end of September 2012. The design is transitional and the look is more or less traditional, but we are also blending in some contemporary colors that are very warm and relaxing while capturing the energy of what MGM is all about: entertainment.”

Substantial and far-reaching, the MGM Grand will upgrade its product to appeal to new consumer expectations. High-definition movies, for instance, will be available in every room.

“We’re upgrading to flat-screen TVs with a media hub to plug in various devices and allow guests to do presentations right over the TV,” said Kelly. “We have added minibars to the guest rooms, a new thermostat, a new lock system, and at the conclusion of the renovation, there will also be upgraded Internet and bandwidth availability. This is comprehensive in the fact that we’re addressing about eight different designs that range from various colors to upgraded fixtures.” Increased functionality will appeal to business and group travelers, as well.

“The key is that it’s much more functional than what the room was historically and meets the needs of the customer of today,” said Kelly. “The customer of today is very different from the customer of 10 years ago, and technology has certainly evolved, so there are new fundamental expectations. Instead of traditional drapes, for instance, we have electronic shears and drapes that flow down with great blackout shades that open up our rooms to let guests take advantage of the beautiful view of Las Vegas.”

So, when can travel agents expect to be able to book the new rooms for their clients? “Our first rooms will be released near the end of November,” said Kelly. “We’ll actually start releasing rooms in the next couple of weeks and start selling future dates in Q2 online. Then, probably as we tighten down the schedule, we’ll start opening up more rooms in March. Expect to be able to book as soon as January.”

Hail, Caesars

Octavius Tower
King room at Caesar’s new Octavius Tower


Caesars Entertainment has begun accepting reservations for its newest Las Vegas property, the luxurious 668-room Octavius Tower set to open on January 2, 2012.

“The Octavius Tower is going to be a unique, luxurious experience,” said DAnna Malbrough, senior manager of partner marketing, Caesars Entertainment. “It has its own private entrance, a separate lobby, and will have the most direct access to the Garden of the Gods pool oasis. The rooms are all 550 square feet with all upgraded amenities. It is our sixth hotel tower, so we’re going to hit just under 4,000 rooms.”

This marks the first step in Caesars’ efforts to modernize its presence on the Las Vegas Strip. “Compared to the Augustus Tower, Octavius is a more boutique experience,” said Malbrough. “You can be in a massive hotel but not feel like it.”

High-tech amenities will also appeal to younger, more tech-savvy travelers.

“With the iPad and iPod Touch, you’ll be able to do things like order room service or even check out of your room,” said Malbrough. “We’re also opening the first Nobu hotel next year, which is a very exciting project that will complement and enhance the Octavius Tower.”

New Agent-Only Portal

Malbrough also detailed Caesars’ new effort to collaborate with and empower travel agents: “ is a portal for agents only and shows the latest and the greatest from Caesars in one place,” said Malbrough. “You do need to log in as a travel agent to access the promotion page. We’ve got pages on our total experiences, our customized experiences for groups of five or more, and they are commissionable to travel agents at 10 percent. Agents can submit and RFP as well. We are looking toward phase two to make the site even more travel agent-friendly.”

In Time for the Holidays

The Venetian Las Vegas and Cantor Gaming have opened the new race and sports book at The Venetian after the completion of a three-month multimillion dollar refurbishment project. It is equipped with the world’s largest high-definition 4mm black video screens dedicated to multiple sports games and races.

The Tropicana Las Vegas is eager to show off its recent renovation to travel agents. Through December 29, agents who book two nights can get the third night free. The offer is available from Saturday to Wednesday. Mention code WGIFT11.

A New Year’s Eve gala will celebrate the grand opening of Hyde Bellagio, a new luxury lounge and nightclub at Bellagio. This spectacular 10,000-square-foot, indoor/outdoor venue is the first nightlife venture in Las Vegas by the award-winning SBE Entertainment Group.

Speaking of New Year’s, performers on hand to help Las Vegas revelers usher in 2012 include Stevie Wonder at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan and Will.i.a m of the Black Eyed Peas at Encore at Wynn’s Surrender Nightclub, while the bash at Planet Hollywood’s Gallery Nightclub will be hosted by reality TV personality (and star of the resort’s PeepShow) Holly Madison.

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