Travel Weekly's Las Vegas E-letter: May 31, 2005

LAS VEGAS is winning the numbers game, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority (LVCVA). The city last year hosted 37.4 million visitors, handily beating the previous record of 35.8 million visitors that was set in 2000. By the end of this year, the city is projected to host 38.2 million visitors.

NOT CONTENT TO rest on its laurels, the LVCVA has unveiled a five-year plan designed to capitalize on the explosive growth of the city as a tourist destination while at the same time addressing increased competition from cruise lines and tribal gaming destinations. That said, the LVCVA has set a goal of 43 million visitors per year by 2009, which would maintain current occupancy levels in an environment that promises to add more than 15,000 rooms to the citys inventory within the next five years. Other facets of the plan include market expansion to grow the Las Vegas brand, improvements to the Las Vegas Convention Center, new sales approaches, customer-service initiatives and research programs as well as deeper community and resort industry relationships.

NO OVAL OFFICE HERE: The White House isnt the only major tourist attraction with a West Wing. The MGM Grand recently opened its own West Wing featuring its own lobby, 700 guest rooms, a bar, a gift shop-boutique located near the Studio 54 nightclub, the new Centrifuge Bar, the race and sports book and the smoke-free poker room. All of the new guest rooms feature king-size beds with pillow-top mattresses and body pillows; flat-screen TVs; DVD players; safes; cordless telephones; and Bose radio-alarm clocks. In addition, the bathrooms have oversize showers and TVs mounted in the mirrors. Room rates range from $109 per night to $499 per night. For reservations or more information, call (800) 929-1111 or (702) 891-7777.

ITS A HOPPIN PLACE: Playboy Enterprises opened its first U.S. Playboy Boutique at the Forum Shops at Caesars. The 2,000-square-foot store features Playboy apparel, fashion accessories and lingerie (no surprise there) as well as a memorabilia area that offers items for sale such as Hugh Hefners pipe and slippers, vintage bunny costumes and paintings and sketches done by Alberto Vargas and LeRoy Neiman. The boutique features such decorative touches as cufflink-detailed tables, rabbit-head chairs, a plasma-screen video wall showing archival and contemporary footage and a customized pebble cash-point countertop inspired by rocks from the famed Playboy Mansion grotto. Last fall, Playboy also announced a partnership with the Palms Casino Resort and the Nine Group to develop and operate an entertainment venue that would be located in the expansion of the property currently under construction. That Playboy venue is scheduled to open early next year.

FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T get enough of the lingerie scene, the Forum Shops at Caesars also is hosting a retrospective of Victorias Secret fashions from June 9 through July 9 at the reflecting pool near the Las Vegas Boulevard entrance to the mall. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen will be on hand to unveil The Victorias Secret Fashion Show Exhibit: Ten Years of Sexy to celebrate the May 19 debut of the companys flagship Las Vegas store located you guessed it at the Forum Shops.  

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