Preview Center Offers a Glimpse of the Venetian

Reed Travel Features

LAS VEGAS -- Call it an attraction for the attraction. A $1.5 million preview center opened on the former site of the Sands Hotel to afford visitors a glimpse of what is being planned for the $2 billion Venetian casino resort complex, whose first phase is scheduled to open in spring 1999. The preview center, which opened to the public Aug. 1, features stone walkways, a gondola and a canal as well as a fully appointed replica of a luxury suite that represents what will be a typical guest room at the Venetian.

The 700-square-foot suite boasts a marble foyer, a sunken living room, a fully stocked bar and two-line telephones in the bathroom, bedroom and living areas. A third telephone line will be linked to an in-room fax, copier and printer.

Visitors also can purchase Venetian merchandise and souvenirs at the center, which is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Plans for the resort complex include two suite hotels, two casinos, 15 restaurants, the country's largest private convention center and the Grand Canal Shoppes, which will bring 150 retail stores under one roof. The layout of the resort also will feature such classic Venetian landmarks as the Doges' Palace, the Campanile, Rialto Bridge, the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco.

The Venetian is expected to attract 8 million conventioneers, 20 million restaurant and retail customers as well as millions of hotel guests annually. Several of the 15 gourmet restaurants to be included in the project are Wolfgang Puck's ObaChine, whose menu will include cuisine from Southeast Asia; Pinot Bistro, a casual spinoff of Patina, a popular Los Angeles restaurant; Carnivale and the Grand Luxe Cafe, created by David Overton, president and chief executive officer of the Cheesecake Factory. Another eatery, as yet unnamed, will be created by Piero Selvaggio, owner of Valentino.

The entertainment area, a four-level dining and performance space called Billboard Live, is being developed in conjunction with Billboard magazine. A 1,800-seat theater is planned to host pop, jazz and blues artists. For convention business, plans call for the Sands Expo Center to be expanded to 1.6 million square feet.

For more information, the preview center can be reached at (702) 697-5922 or (702) 697-5923.

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