LAS VEGAS -- Another billion-dollar baby has been born on the Strip
here, and this one, too, has an Italian accent.
Just seven months after Mirage Resorts opened the 3,005-room,
$1.8 billion Bellagio resort -- its tribute to northern Italy's
Lake District -- the $1.4 billion Venetian Resort Hotel Casino
opened its doors to the public May 3.
Constructed on the site of the former Sands Hotel, the property
"was built to be the most luxurious hotel in the world," according
to Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Inc., the resort's
developer. While that claim may seem grandiose, the fact is that
the Strip's first all-suite property offers top-notch hotel and
convention facilities, several gourmet restaurants, tony shops and
even a Canyon Ranch spa.
Like the Bellagio, the Venetian celebrates the romance of Italy
by packing within the complex versions of Venetian landmarks,
including the Doge's Palace, Campanile Tower, Rialto Bridge, Ca
D'Oro, Bridge of Sighs, Contarini Palace and St. Mark's Square.
Also like the Bellagio, the Venetian uses water as one of its
attractions. To that end, the property's exterior facade includes
gondolas bobbing in the Grand Canal that runs in front of the
Doge's Palace casino entrance.
Inside the resort, the canal meanders through the Grand Canal
Shoppes retail area, where guests -- for $5 per person -- can hop
on a passing gondola, listen to the gondolier's serenade and take
in the authentic-looking storefronts under a ceiling painstakingly
painted to recreate the sky. That is where the Venetian's obvious
similarities to Bellagio end.
Sure, the Venetian offers more than 3,000 guest accommodations
-- 3,036 to be exact -- but they are all suites. The 2,718 standard
king or double queen suites all average 700 square feet in size,
while the 318 Renaissance, Doge and Penthouse suites range in size
from 1,300 square feet to 5,500 square feet.
The rooms all offer minibars -- an in-room amenity that is more
scarce in this city than a million-dollar jackpot -- a fax machine
that doubles as a copier and computer printer, and lighted safes
large enough to accommodate a laptop computer. "I stole that [idea]
from the Peninsula [hotel] in Los Angeles," Adelson said.
Adelson also admitted that he was an admirer of the Forum Shops
at Caesar's, upon which the Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes area,
boasting nearly 80 stores such as Movado and Mikimoto, is loosely
modeled. "We have taken a page out of their book," he said.
That type of thinking illustrates another element necessary in
creating a truly luxurious property -- not only incorporating
numerous bells and whistles into the design but also finding out
exactly what clients want and need. In designing the Venetian,
Adelson said he drew on his personal experiences at hotels around
the world as well as on his experience as the owner of GWV, a
Needham, Mass.-based travel company, and input from those in the
meetings and conventions market "to find out what people like and
For example, Adelson said, every second level of the 35-floor
Venetian hotel tower contains a pantry "with [food and beverage]
carts like those found in airplanes so that we can guarantee anyone
a continental breakfast in 10 minutes." The carts, he added, can be
stocked up ahead of time with all the rudimentary elements of a
continental breakfast so that all the waiter has to do is take them
off the vehicle.
In addition, the property's 500,000 square feet of meeting
space, which is located in the new Venetian Congress Center, is
nowhere near the 120,000-square-feet casino, because those in the
meetings market that Adelson talked to indicated it was
inconvenient to constantly have to navigate the crowds that
inevitably collect in a property's gaming area. Instead, the
congress center, which includes the 85,000-square-feet Venetian
Ballroom, is directly linked to the Sands Expo and Convention
Center, which offers 1.7 million square feet of exhibition
Only time will tell if the Venetian lives up to Adelson's praise
and its numerous roles as a luxury resort, meetings and conventions
magnet, and must-see tourist attraction. Adelson has no doubts:
"The Venetian will combine the romance of Venice, the luxury of
Beverly Hills and the excitement of Las Vegas."