Shopaholics to benefit from city's retail boom

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LAS VEGAS -- Shopping, third in the triumvirate of major visitor attractions here along with slots and shows, has risen to the ranks of a delicious addiction, fed by a flurry of new high-end retail venues and the expansion of some well-known stores and boutiques.

In a town where nothing is a sure thing, shopping seems to be an odds-on favorite, and now people are just as likely to spend their money at the cash registers as they are at the slot machines.

In fact, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), visitors last year rang up an average of $83.53 per capita in retail sales -- nearly double the amount they spent on seeing shows and more than four times the amount spent on sightseeing.

This interest in shopping has spawned a virtual retail boom, resulting in the creation of 3 million square feet of new and expanded high-end and specialty retail space within the past five years, according to the LVCVA.

The following is a rundown of some of the newest places hoping to entice visitors to spend some of their casino winnings:

Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.Expanded Forum Shops. By next fall, the Forum Shops at Caesars, already one of the highest-yielding retail spaces in North America with approximately 110 retailers and restaurants, will offer a total of 675,000 square feet.

The three-level, 175,000-square-foot expansion, which will extend the venue out to the Strip, will include three or four more restaurants and 25 to 30 stores and other retail outlets.

So far, Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab and Donald Pliner are among those committed to setting up shop in the new expansion, and two existing stores, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, are using the expansion to enlarge their space.

Mandalay Place. Mandalay Resort Group's 100,000-square-foot shopping venue, slated to open this month, will offer more than 40 boutiques and restaurants inside -- and get this -- a sky bridge that connects the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino with the Luxor on the south end of the Strip.

Visitors will be able to enter Mandalay Place from either Mandalay Bay or the Luxor -- making it the first retail center in the world directly attached to two major casino resorts, according to Mandalay Bay officials.

Visitors also will be able to get to the mall from a new valet-parking area, which enables them to enter midway through the center beneath a large, circular skylight.

From the Strip, would-be shoppers can access the mall on foot or by a tram that runs between Mandalay Bay and the Luxor.

Some of the 41 retailers and eateries that have signed on to become a part of Mandalay Place are Urban Outfitters, GF Ferre, Fornarina, Oilily, Samantha Change, Sauvage, Elton's, Max & Co. and Musette, which offer men's, women's and/or children's apparel, and the Burger Joint and Cafe Giorgio, both places to grab a bite to eat.

The mall's specialty stores include 55 Degrees Wine + Design, a wine shop with a wine-tasting bar; the Art of Shaving Shops & Barber Spa, the city's first barber spa and retail emporium for men; the first Nike Golf store; a chocolate shop called Chocolate Swan; the Reading Room, an independent bookstore; Davidoff, known as a tobacco specialist but also offering perfume, writing instruments and fashion accessories; Lunettes, eyewear; Mulholland, leather goods; Portico, bed, bath, gift and decorative accessories; Shoe Obsession; Godt-Cleary Gallery, fine art; Robert Cromeans Salon; Forever Silver, silver and white gold jewelry; and Le Paradis Fine Jewelry.

Hawaiian Marketplace. Inspired by the International Market Place on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, the $140 million Hawaiian Marketplace, which is scheduled to open in February, aims to bring a touch of the tropics to the desert.

The 80,000-square-foot, Polynesian-themed shopping and entertainment venue is located on the Strip at the site of the former Polo Plaza shopping center in front of the Polo Towers, just south of Harmon Avenue and within walking distance of the Bellagio and MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

The decor promises to be unusual: Visitors will be greeted by a 17-foot-tall statue of King Kamehameha the Great -- a larger-than-life version of the famed statue that is located at the Iolani Palace in Honolulu.

Those entering the shopping area from the Strip will find themselves on a green-pebbled pathway lined with tiki torches.

The path meanders through the complex under a roof structure that re-creates the feel of an open-air market within a climate-controlled environment.

Other tropical touches will include a man-made banyan tree -- similar to a century-old tree that is at the heart of its Hawaiian counterpart -- as well as a fountain that will be lighted at night to resemble a volcano.

Grass shacks with artificial thatched roofs will serve as kiosks for some of the center's retail and restaurant outlets.

Among the gift, clothing and specialty retailers that will be located at the Hawaiian Marketplace are Zebra Shoes, Stitch It On, the Stogie Shop and Hawaiian Tropics.

Restaurant tenants will include Hamada of Japan, Asian Buffet and Gandhi's Restaurant; 12 other eateries will find a home in the fast-food pavilion.

While they are shopping and eating, visitors will be able to enjoy such live entertainment as hula and Tahitian dancers.

Las Vegas Premium Outlets. So what do characters from the Las Vegas Hilton's "Star Trek: The Experience" attraction, a stilt walker, a mime and an Elvis impersonator all have in common?

They were on hand to celebrate the August grand opening of the Las Vegas Premium Outlets, a high-end shopping center located about 2.5 miles from the north end of the Strip.

The 435,000-square-foot, village-themed center, a joint-venture project of Chelsea Property Group and Simon Property Group, features more than 100 name-brand stores.

A visitor center presents information about the city and the outlet center's merchants and offers stroller and wheelchair rentals, foreign currency exchange and the use of an ATM. A tour representative is located in the visitor center to provide services to the group market.

Located on South Grand Central Parkway -- the shopping mall is accessible from Interstate 15, Exit 41B, as well as via the local CAT bus line -- the outlets feature a designated tour bus pick-up and drop-off point and have a taxi stand with pick-ups behind Ann Taylor and drop-offs between Adidas and Brooks Bros.

In addition, guests at the Golden Nugget can take a shuttle to or from the new shops for $1 each way; they also are eligible for VIP discounts.

The outlet center is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. For more information, the shopping center can be reached at (702) 474-7500 or at www.premiumoutlets.com.

Las Vegas Outlet Center. Chelsea Property Group, which teamed up with Simon Property Group to develop the Las Vegas Premium Outlets, acquired the Belz Factory Outlet World in August for $104 million.

The facility, which has been renamed the Las Vegas Outlet Center, is located south of the Strip near McCarran Airport.

The 477,000-square-foot shopping venue opened in 1993 with 255,000 square feet and was expanded to its current size in 1996.

It offers approximately 130 stores, including Bass, Jones New York, Lenox, Liz Claiborne, Mikasa, Nautica, Nike, Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger, Waterford, Wedgwood and Etienne Aigner.

The Las Vegas Outlet Center is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call (702) 896-5599 or visit www.premiumoutlets.com.

To contact reporter Amy Baratta, send e-mail to [email protected] .

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