LAS VEGAS -- The economic downturn and the sputtering travel
industry mean that agents have an opportunity to sell the
spontaneity of Las Vegas, according to Alan Feldman, senior vice
president of public affairs for MGM Mirage, which owns Bellagio,
MGM Grand, the Mirage, Treasure Island and the Golden Nugget.
Unlike in recent years, agents can successfully pitch a Vegas
trip to their clients on a Tuesday, and the customer could be
rolling the dice at the craps table that Saturday.
"From the customer's point of view, it's a great time to come,"
said Feldman, who added that the firm is focusing more on drive
markets, particularly Arizona and California, and short-haul air
markets like Denver, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
Rates also are down compared with last year. MGM Mirage rates
from late October were as low as $159 for midweek accommodations at
Bellagio and $79 at the Mirage. Although business might be off,
there are still things happening in the desert, with an assortment
of new restaurants and attractions at Vegas hotels, not to mention
some new rooms.
At the Mirage, MGM Mirage recently began a major room renovation
that is projected to be finished in March. It is the second
full-scale room renovation since the hotel opened in 1989.
The $32 million cost covers all of the hotel's 2,767 rooms,
which will be given one of two color schemes -- soft yellow or
cranberry. Among furnishings added will be armoires placed in all
rooms and two phones with dual lines.
The Mirage also opened a 90,000-square-foot events center in
April, bringing the property to more than 170,000 square feet. The
center can be subdivided into ballrooms of 10,000, 30,000 or 60,000
At Bellagio, the firm's most upscale hotel and casino, new
features include a restaurant called Nectar and a nightclub named
Light. Light is based on clubs of the same name in New York and the
Hamptons on Long Island.
Nectar, which opened in late August, has a diverse menu, with
such items as fried green tomatoes, spare rib salad and buffalo
Through Jan. 6, Bellagio will host Cheval, an equestrian show
that features 30 horses and 27 human performers. Tickets start at
$49 for adults and $30 for children.
MGM Grand added a new restaurant of its own, Nobhill, which
opened its doors in July. The venue tries to replicate a dining
experience from San Francisco, with cuisine created mainly from
ingredients from the Bay Area.
Art fans have a new attraction to consider in Las Vegas, the
Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, which is housed at the Venetian. The
exhibition space, which opened in early October, has more than
63,000 square feet and is hosting the "The Art of the Motorcycle"
The museum is a collaboration between the Guggenheim Foundation,
which operates the New York museum of the same name, and the
Hermitage, the massive collection in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Exhibitions at the space, at the front of the Venetian, will last
about six months.
Another exhibition focuses on impressionist and early modern
paintings from the collections of both museums. The show will
feature works by Chagall, van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso and Cezanne,
among others. Admission is $15 for adults, $11 for students and $7
for children ages 6 through 12.
For more information, visit www.guggenheimlasvegas.org.
Caesars Palace, which is owned by Park Place Entertainment, will
pay 12% commission to agents for stays completed by the end of the
year. Park Place also is investing $65 million to build a
4,000-seat theater, scheduled for completion in 2003.
The facility will be known as -- what else? -- the Colosseum.
The property recently finished remodeling 600 guest rooms. Caesars
Palace also added two new restaurants and a 49,000-square-foot
event pavilion. For reservations, call (800) 634-6661.