Las Vegas is in full swing for 2012, ready to blow visitors’ minds yet again.
Las Vegas, the one-time Mormon outpost that grew out of nowhere and from nothing into America’s undisputed adult playground, will not let minor inconveniences like a sluggish economy slow its growth. Its hackneyed reputation is that of a destination unconstrained by limits within its city limits, where the improbable becomes the probable in a setting bathed by blinding desert sunlight by day and cloaked under the glow of bright neon after darkness takes over.
For years, it swaggered its image as a place where care was extraneous and as a haven for sybarites where time had no meaning and life partied 24/7 to the whirl of clanging slot machines and the swish of a croupier’s rake. Through the years, Las Vegas has changed and adapted to current lifestyles. Today, it’s still unlike no other, the envy of lesser destinations that measure their success by the high bar that Las Vegas has set. Again, it has adapted by polishing its already appealing resorts, casinos and other tourist allures.
“In the last decade,” says Art Jimenez, senior director of leisure sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), “Las Vegas has evolved from a regional gambling destination to a global resort destination, and 2012 just may prove to be our best year yet, as we’re projecting an increase of about 4.7 percent of visitors over the 39 million visitors that came in 2011.”
Jimenez adds that travel agents are an integral part of this expected hike. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without travel agents,” he says. “More than 12 percent of visitors, or 4.5 million, used a travel agent to plan and book visits in 2010. One of our aims is to identify, cultivate and reward top U.S. travel agents,” he says. “We run booking incentives throughout the year and currently work with travel partners and their new programs to provide tools for automated tracking of bookings made on global distribution systems and on wholesaler websites.”
At first glance, the picture Jimenez paints seems overly rosy, except that the facts are there: Las Vegas is offering such a multitude of attractions and improvements to make it a newer and improved Las Vegas for 2012 that those planning a breather in the desert might want to take a closer look at this most improbable of cities.
“Of course, we were hit hard,” Jimenez continues, “but we’re well into a recovery phase. We’ve had 19 consecutive months of room occupation increases and the business community is booking an increasing number of groups and conventions for 2012, which promises to be a strong year.”
It takes only a cursory look around town to see first-hand the many ambitious projects reflecting how the city is bracing for the expected flood of visitors.
Caesars Palace and Nobu Hospitality have conceived the first Nobu Hotel, Restaurant and Lounge on the Las Vegas Strip. Replacing the Centurion Tower, it will be a singular 180-room boutique-style hotel slated to open this summer and offer up an innovative concept combining the world’s first Nobu Hotel with the first Nobu restaurant and lounge. An 11,200-sq.-ft. restaurant serving the tantalizing Asian-Continental fusion cuisine that has made Nobu restaurants synonymous with elegant dining will anchor the hotel.
Caesars Palace is also in the final stages of completing an $860 million expansion of its Octavius Tower, a 668-room annex including 60 suites and six luxury villas with private entrances and direct access to the resort’s Garden of the Gods pool oasis and gardens.
Farther down The Strip, the Vegas facelift is manifest in the bronze towers of the Wynn and Encore, boasting refurbished rooms and ultramodern accommodations that are iconic to the “new” Las Vegas.
The emphases of the Wynn and Encore are on customer service and eye-popping decor. The twin bronze towers loom over The Strip and have ultramodern accommodations in pleasing earth colors. The public areas are veritable museums full of rare sculptures and paintings. Custom-made red glass chandeliers emitting a glow from real gold highlight Encore’s casino. Its Sinatra restaurant displays Sinatra’s Oscar for “From Here to Eternity.” Wynn and Encore tower suites are the only lodgings to hold a five-star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide, while Encore’s spas feature 51 treatment rooms reached past brass Moroccan lanterns and relaxation rooms. The Wynn and Encore, like other major resorts, run at more than 80 percent capacity.