Vegas Room Boom Continues Into '98

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LAS VEGAS -- For a place that thrives on superlatives, this city had a pretty good 1997.

That's when the number of hotel rooms in Las Vegas broke the 100,000 mark, more than any other city in the U.S. House of Blues

By year's end, the official room inventory figure stood at 105,347, according to statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). And it will just keep growing, according to LVCVA officials. They estimate that by the turn of the century, Las Vegas will have more than 125,000 hotel rooms to offer -- not all that surprising when you consider the number of megaresorts on the drawing board.

The following is a look at some of these projects, a few of which are off the drawing board and into the construction stage:

  • One of the latest announcements comes from Circus Circus Enterprises and House of Blues Entertainment, which jointly revealed that House of Blues will develop a live music venue, restaurant and 99 deluxe guest rooms and suites at Circus Circus' $950 million Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, located on the south end of the Strip next to the Luxor.
  • According to officials from both companies, the live music venue at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay will accommodate up to 2,000 people, while the 600-seat restaurant will be located just off the resort's 135,000-square-foot casino floor. The 99 themed guest rooms, meanwhile, will be located on the 34th floor of the 43-story resort and will feature gothic, Moroccan and East Indian design elements as well as original pieces of folk art.

    Guests staying in these rooms, as well as other resort VIP guests, also will have access to the International House of Blues Foundation room located on the top floor of Mandalay Bay. This 18,000-square-foot room will offer sweeping views of the Strip and the rest of the city as well as fine dining. It will be open for special events as well as to members of the foundation, a not-for-profit organization established to increase racial harmony through educational outreach programs and to help expose public school students to the blues culture through music, art and history.

    The House of Blues at Mandalay Bay is scheduled to open the first quarter of 1999, according to a company spokesman.

    The rest of the Mandalay Bay resort, also slated to open early next year, is no less spectacular. Planned as a luxury destination resort on 60 acres of the Strip, the property will feature a 12,000-seat sports and entertainment complex; a 1,500-seat showroom; the Rum Jungle nightclub and restaurant; an 11-acre tropical water environment with swim-up shark tank, sand-and-surf beach and a lazy river ride; a 30,000-square-foot health spa, several restaurants and lounges and a 100,000-square-foot convention center.

    Utilizing a unique "hotel-within-a-hotel" concept, the resort will include a 400-room Four Seasons hotel located on the 35th through 39th floors. The Four Seasons will have its own entrance, check-in, two five-star dining facilities, pool, spa and 20,000-square-foot convention area.

  • Another project, the Aladdin Hotel & Casino, was ushered in with a bang, so to speak, with the April 27 implosion of the original 31-year-old Aladdin Hotel & Casino. The new $826 million resort will anchor a $1.3 billion casino, entertainment and retail complex being developed by Aladdin Gaming LLC on the southern end of the Strip between the MGM Grand and Hilton Hotel Corp.'s Paris-Las Vegas, yet another new project.
  • Aladdin Gaming is a joint venture between New York-based Sigmund Sommer Trust and London Clubs International PLC, a publicly owned gaming company headquartered in England. The new Aladdin Hotel & Casino will offer 2,600 rooms, a 1,500-seat showroom and 100,000-square-feet of casino space, including a premium European-style gaming salon. The existing 7,000-seat Aladdin Theater of the Performing Arts will undergo an $8 million renovation.

    Another joint venture partner with Aladdin Gaming is Planet Hollywood International, Inc., which is planning a $250 million hotel and casino property within the new Aladdin complex. The 1,000-room hotel and 50,000-square-foot casino will feature a music and entertainment theme.

    Also planned is Desert Passage, a high-end entertainment and shopping venue offering 462,000 square feet of specialty stores, boutiques, themed restaurants and other entertainment facilities. The 34-acre complex is expected to open the first quarter of 2000.

  • With the spate of upscale megaresort debuts expected in Las Vegas the next couple of years, Mirage Resorts' Bellagio -- located across the Strip from the Aladdin site on 122 acres that formerly contained the Dunes Hotel and Golf Course -- owns the distinction of being the first. Oct. 18 is the scheduled opening date for this $1.4 billion property which takes its design from the village of the same name in northern Italy's lake district.
  • Like its namesake, which overlooks Lake Como, the Las Vegas Bellagio, with its 36-story hotel tower, will overlook nine acres of water. That, however, is where the similarity ends, for this manmade lake will feature an array of lights and water jets, props in a $30 million extravaganza. The aim here is for it to be a signature attraction, like the Mirage's volcano and Treasure Island's pirate battle.

    The resort's 3,000 guest rooms, which include 400 suites, will be decorated with European antiques and artwork, and bathrooms done in imported marble will have separate showers and bathtubs. Besides the lake, the grounds of the property will contain classical gardens, a swimming pool area and European fountains and pools. Indoor and outdoor dining venues will be available as well as formal restaurants, such as Le Cirque.

    Not to be outdone by the Forum Shops at Caesars, Bellagio will offer upscale retail outlets such as Chanel, Hermes, Tiffany & Company, Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Fred Leighton. In addition, Bellagio will feature two ballrooms -- one with 45,000 square feet of space and the other measuring 25,000 square feet -- as well as several smaller meeting rooms that will have outdoor balconies overlooking the pool and gardens.

    A monorail is being built for guests who want to travel between Bellagio and Monte Carlo, another upscale casino property located to the south on the Strip.

  • The City of Lights meets the city of lights in Hilton Hotels Corp.'s latest Las Vegas venture. The $750 million Paris-Las Vegas -- complete with a 50-story replica of the Eiffel Tower -- will put a decidedly French accent on the southern end of the Strip.
  • The 2,914-room property will offer an 85,000-square-foot casino; 13 restaurants, including a gourmet room on the mezzanine level of the Eiffel Tower and the late-night Brasserie on the Strip; 31,000 square feet of retail space including a perfumery; 120,000 square feet of convention space; a 25,000-square-foot health club, and a swimming pool on the roof of the casino that will resemble a French garden.

    The decor in the casino and guest rooms will reflect turn-of-the-century Paris, while the resort's 300 suites will be modeled after rooms in the palace of Versailles. Other Paris landmarks that will be re-created on the Strip are the Arc de Triomphe, the Paris Opera House, the Louvre and Rue de la Paix.

    Continuing the Paris theme, the resort, slated to debut in mid-1999, will be connected to the monorail that links next-door-neighbor Bally's with the MGM Grand via a re-created Paris metro station.

  • Like Bellagio, the Venetian, which will be located across the Strip from the Mirage, Treasure Island and the Fashion Show Mall, celebrates the romance of old world Italy. Planned as part of a $2 billion luxury casino, convention, resort and entertainment complex located on the 63-acre site of the former Sands Casino, the 6,000-suite property will feature classic Venetian architecture, including arched bridges, canals, piazzas and cobbled stone walkways.
  • Several Venice landmarks will be incorporated into the design, including a 1,200-foot-long reproduction of the Grand Canal; the Doge's Palace, which will be recreated as the main entry to the property's 200,000-square-foot casino; the 315-foot-tall Campanile Tower; the Rialto Bridge; the Bridge of Sighs; the Ca d'Oro, and the clock tower, whose portal will leads to the Grand Canal Shoppes. The focal point there will be St. Mark's Square, which will feature a 70-foot-high ceiling and 150 stores.

    Directly adjacent to the hotel complex will be the Sands Expo Center, which, when expanded to 1.6 million square feet, will be the second-largest convention center in the U.S. A four-level showroom, pool, spa and fitness center also have been planned for phase one, which is slated to debut next spring.

    The second phase of the project will borrow its architectural style from structures found on the island of Lido and will feature a lagoon and a marina to represent the isle's seaside atmosphere.

  • Rather than open yet another casino in the city, MGM Grand will welcome two nongaming properties to its 114-acre site. Plans call for construction on the 500-room Ritz-Carlton at MGM Grand to begin by 2000, officials said.
  • The Marriott Marquis at the MGM Grand -- only the third Marriott to carry the Marquis flag -- will offer 40,000 square feet of meeting space, a business center and two restaurants and lounges. The 1,500-room hotel, schedule to open next year, will be connected to the new 380,000-square-foot MGM Grand Conference Center.

    For high-end guests, the MGM Grand is developing the Mansion at the MGM Grand, with 30 private suites and villas.

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