Massive Vegas Mall, Hotel, Casino Project To Be World’s Largest

Vegas
Roger Schultz / Flickr

Las Vegas is no stranger to over-the-top attractions, hosting a variety of them over the years. In a single day, travelers can see a volcano explode, ride a roller coaster in “New York,” race cars, jump off the top of a hotel and more – in the middle of the desert. Coming up in 2014, construction will begin on a new project, designed to be largest, most engaging experience in the world.

Eurasia Vegas will feature indoor/outdoor theme parks, an 800-foot Ferris wheel (bigger than the 683-foot Dubai Eye), multiple golf courses and 15 million square feet of retail space. Anchored by six hotels, 39 casinos and a world-class convention center, Eurasia Vegas looks to have something for everyone, including “nation pavilions” featuring native food, products and entertainment from around the world.

The 1200-acre project is being put together by Eurasia Resorts International, Ltd. Of Nassau, Bahamas, and will be built on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land located not far from the Las Vegas Strip.

Believing that Las Vegas is “no longer the gaming location of choice for many of the world’s top professional gamblers and high-rolling tourists,” Eurasia Las Vegas looks to change all that by making the desert resort “the most compelling, must go and see and shop experience in the world,” says the project’s developer in an 83-page proposal.

MGM Plans Major New Development in Las Vegas

USA Today Enters the Travel-Guide Game




With its signature bold visuals and mainstream sensibility, USA Today has entered the travel-planning arena. A new online-only series called Experience Travel launched last week, aggregating the media giant’s deep bank of travel content into easy-to-use overviews of popular destinations and travel themes.

Experience Las Vegas rolled out the series. Upcoming editions will cover cruising, food and wine, beaches, skiing, New York City, the Caribbean and Florida.

If the Sin City guide is any indication, the Experience Travel format offers a simple (and free) get-in-and-get-out way to browse for travel inspiration, insider tips and trends. It’s uncluttered, abbreviated and driven by excellent, enticing photography. The best content is organized into photo galleries for different types of travelers. Tips take the form of the photos caption, often just one sentence.

There’s a booking engine, too, but it simply sends you to an official tourism board’s website to search for hotels, flights, tours and shows from square one. Experience Travel has no functionality built into its content.

That’s fine with me – there are plenty of ways to book travel online. Experience Travel shines as a place for inspiration and ideas. For instance, the Vegas edition presents seven themed photo galleries, for penny pinchers, high rollers, shoppers and the like (gamblers and elopers, you’re out of luck). The Wallet Watcher will learn of an off-the-menu steak dinner for $9 and a 48-hour, all-you-can-watch show pass at Caesars Palace for $119. There are 42 tips for cheapskates alone; unfortunately, too many are watered down and generic. Several amount to something like this: “Hard Rock’s rates can drop below $60.” Great – but when, usually? Some tips are just plugs and simply don’t belong, like the Stratophere’s observation deck for Wallet Watchers. Experience Las Vegas leaves out the admission price – it’s $18 per person, and the thrill rides at the top cost extra. It’s a great place to watch your wallet become a lot lighter.

The sections Best of Vegas and Vegas Buzz are rich with trend features and news pulled from USA Today’s travel page. On the other hand, the sections for Hotels, Restaurants and Shows aren’t curated; they’re broad, rambling lists with scant details. It appears that every accommodation in the phone book is listed, down to the Hitchin’ Post RV Park and Motel. To weed though these unfiltered sections, click “Show Only Editor’s Picks” at the top of the page.

Though the company’s release described the series as a set of “travel planning tools and information,” its strength, at least at this early stage, is on the information.

[Photo credits: Moyan_Brenn and Taberandrew via Flickr]

Hotel News We Noted: March 22, 2013

four points by sheratonWelcome to this week’s edition of “Hotel News We Noted,” where we round up the best, most interesting and just downright odd news of note in the hospitality world. As always, we welcome your tips, so feel free to leave comments below or send us an email.

Hotel Opening: Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown
Finally, after what seems like months of waiting, our “Birth of a Hotel” feature property has opened its doors. The 49-room ultraluxury hotel features personal assistants for each guest, 24-hour check in and check-out, a locally-focused restaurant, The Grill Room, and a spirits focused bar, The Rye Bar. Boasting a prime location along the C&O Canal in the city’s prime Georgetown neighborhood, the property has been called one of the States’ most exciting openings of 2013.

Gansevoort Las Vegas To Open in Early 2014
Style seekers jet-setting to Las Vegas now have more than ever before to be excited about. Along with the new Nobu hotel and the planned 2014 opening of SBE’s first Las Vegas property, Gansevoort Hotel Group and nightlife guru Victor Drai have announced plans to build their first Las Vegas property in the former Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon location. A planned $185 million renovation will transform the property into 188 Parisian-style guest rooms, including 19 suites, plus a 40,000-square-foot casino, destination restaurant and high-end retail shops. The resort will also include Drai Beach Club and Nightclub, a 65,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor nightclub/pool experience. The After Hours by Drai club will remain, and this venue will be included in the planned LINQ development, opening in late 2013.Hotels Celebrate Earth Hour on Both Coasts
March 23 (tomorrow) marks “Earth Hour,” the world’s largest single environmental event. Hotels coast to coast are turning off their lights at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow for an hour, making a commitment to the environment. Hotels are participating in the event in various ways, including:

  • Fairmont Miramar will have lighted candles around the property, which will produce a very picturesque sight under the iconic Moreton Bay Fig Tree at the hotel’s entrance.
  • The Sheraton New York Times Square is dimming the lights and offering guests several “green” treats, including a special “Green Cocktail” for guests in their 44th floor club lounge.
  • Ritz-Carlton hotels around the globe well also participate in the celebration, including candlelight yoga at the Doha property, LED candles in Barcelona and a naturalist guiding guests in constellation spotting at the Laguna Niguel property.

Something Borrowed, Something Brewed: Hotel Offers Special “Wedding Beer” Packages
Brides and grooms might not think of Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles International Airport as a great destination for beer, but they should perhaps think again. The new “Hoppily Ever After” package from the hotel leverages the trend of offering custom cocktails at the wedding reception and takes personalization one step further – the couple can work hands-on with a brewer to create a custom wedding beer through a partnership with local Enegren Brewing Company, where they can create up to 30 gallons of beer to be served on their special day. The hotel also has an onsite beer restaurant and pub, Brewster’s – a Beererie, featuring an extensive 100-beer menu including many local, regional, national and international craft beers and microbrews. The Hoppily Ever After Package must be booked at least three to four months in advance to ensure the brewing process is completed by the reception date but is just $1,500 – $2,000.

[Image Credit: Four Points by Sheraton]

Hotel News We Noted: March 8, 2013

the jefferson boardroomWelcome to this week’s edition of “Hotel News We Noted,” where we round up the week’s best, most interesting and just downright odd news of note in the hospitality world. Have a tip? Send us a note or leave a comment below.

The hotel world has been buzzing this winter with new and planned openings, extreme amenities and packages galore. Here’s our take on what you need to know this week:

Shangri-La Goes After Saudi Princess Who Skipped Out on $7.5 Million Hotel Bill
The Shangri-La hotel in Paris is going after the Saudi princess who left in the dead of the night and skipped out on her $7.5 million hotel bill, Business Insider reports. The princess spent six months on the 41st floor of the hotel, and her father, the King, has refused to pay her debts. The king has since confined the princess to a palace in Saudi Arabia after she left a trail of unpaid debts across Europe. Nothing quite says “princess” like palace confinement, hmm?

Hotel Openings: ME London
The first ME by Melia hotel in the UK and the fifth in the brand opened last week in one of the world’s hottest cities for hotel growth – London. ME London is located in the heart of the West End, on the site formerly inhabited by the famous Gaiety Theatre. The 157-room property will feature a rooftop bar, Radio, offering panoramic views of the city, as well as the brand trademark penthouse, SuiteME – a two-level superlative experience offering a fire-pit warmed private terrace, a private lounge, separate dining room, three 3-D televisions, a pillow menu and much more. (Remember the crazy Cancun penthouse from the Real World Cancun?) NYC-based The ONE Group is the hotel’s official F&B provider, with two of its iconic brands opening venues within the property – STK London and Cucina Asellina.

Luxury Hotels Coming Your Way: Four Seasons Madrid, An Aman In Venice and Multi-Billion Dollar Las Vegas
While much of our hotel news is often focused on newly opened or revamped properties, this week seemed to have much to offer in the way of “soon-to-come” luxury hotels. Four Seasons announced their first property in Spain, Four Seasons Madrid, in the next four years, Aman is coming to the Grand Canal with a new ultra-luxury property opening on this summer boasting 24 suite-style rooms, and a Malaysian investment firm has paid $350 million for a multi-billion dollar hotel complex to come in the former Echelon site in Las Vegas, USA Today reported.Tech Tips: Eventi Offers Hi-Tech Amenities For Travelers
Sick of traveling with tons of gadgets? Eventi, a New York City Kimpton property, now has a “Business Bar” where travelers can rent gadgets ranging from iPads and MacBook Pros to Kindles, Nooks and even digital cameras. This free service is geared to help travelers who like to pack light, but who would love to sample some of these gadgets as a trial before buying, particularly the cameras!

Sleep Better: Accor’s Ibis Offers a Sleep App
We’ve certainly written about hotels with great sleep programs before, but this is the first time we’ve seen a hotel brand unveil their own sleep app. ibis Styles and ibis budget are transforming your restful night into a digital work of art. Every morning, it allows iPhone users to see how their night’s sleep has been transformed into an original digital work of art. Once the Sleep Art app has been programed, the iPhone becomes a sensor that captures movements and sounds. This data is converted real-time into a virtual “work of art” as the user sleeps. Every night is different. These virtual works of art are stored in the gallery and users can therefore compare each night’s sleep and share results by email or on Facebook, so that as many people as possible can also find out about this unique digital experience.

The President Dines at The Jefferson in Washington, DC
Much buzz has been heard in the news this week about President Obama’s dining with 12 republican leaders. But we’ve got the inside scoop on where he dined – most outlets only called it a “discreet” Washington hotel. The property was, in fact, The Jefferson, a Preferred Boutique property in downtown Washington. The congressmen and President dined on everything from Blue Crab Risotto to Lobster “Thermidor” to Peanut Butter Crumble. We hear that the president picked up the tab!

[Image Credit: The Jefferson Washington, DC]

Budget Guide 2013: Las Vegas

If the thought of Las Vegas conjures up images of flashy clubs, glitzy shows, an endless parade of limousines and eye-wateringly high table limits – you’re not entirely mistaken. This is a city where high rollers come to play and $3000-a-glass cocktails or $40,000-a-night hotel rooms are on offer for those with cash to burn.

However, the good news is you don’t need to have deep pockets to enjoy Las Vegas. The city has experienced a recent surge in hotel room capacity because of a series of new properties that opened during the depths of the recession. That timing means they’ve had to discount rates in order to keep occupancy up and other hotels have followed suit.

Downtown Las Vegas – which has traditionally offered better prices than the Strip – is also drawing more visitors thanks to its ongoing renewal. Trendy bars like The Downtown Cocktail Room, The Griffin and recently opened prohibition-style lounge Commonwealth have been growing in numbers much to the delight of hipsters. Decent bang for the buck also makes them a great draw card for the budget traveler.

Hotels

When choosing a cost effective hotel, be sure to factor in the amenities and entertainment as well as the price, and remember that even upscale hotels offer excellent deals from time to time, making them a great value for the money.

A few more points to keep in mind when booking accommodation:

Hotel rates in Vegas vary dramatically depending on when you’ll be staying and when you book. Mid-week stays will be markedly cheaper than weekends, as long as there are no major conventions or events going on.

For the uber budget conscious, note that while Vegas does boast a handful of hostels, they tend to be in out of the way or in somewhat unsavory areas. So rather than paying $10-15/night for a dorm bed, share a room with friends at one of the hotels below for not much more.

To get the best rates, do a thorough search on online booking sites like Expedia and Kayak and then call the hotel to check current rates. Most will match a cheaper deal you find for their establishment online, and some will even knock off 10 percent of that price.

Beware that many hotels in the city charge a daily resort fee – it’s not always clear when booking but it can add a significant amount to your final bill, so always ask.

Here are a few options:

Main Street Station. Located just two blocks from Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, this train-themed hotel is heaven for the history buff. Packed to the brim with antiques, the hotel even has a piece of the Berlin Wall – although ladies will have to enter the men’s restroom to see it. The hotel’s microbrewery and restaurant, Triple 7, serves up award-winning brews and a free shuttle service whisks guests to and from the Strip. The hotel doesn’t have a pool, although guests are welcome to use the facilities at the neighboring California Hotel. From $38. No resort fee but a $9.99 charge for Wi-Fi. mainstreetcasino.com 200 North Main Street, Las Vegas, NV. 89101.

The Stratosphere. This 1149-foot tower situated past the north end of the Strip just spent $20 million revamping its décor, restaurants and sky-high bar. The hotel is a bit out of the way of the action, but what it lacks in location, it makes up for in price. Guests still have relatively easy access to the rest of the Strip via bus, which stops outside the hotel; monorail, which is a short walk away near the Sahara Hotel; or by driving and making use of the free valet parking. Hotel guests are allowed free visits to the observation tower, which provides great views of the Strip. They also have access to two pools and a fitness center, but will have to pay for Wi-Fi. From $31 plus $7.50 daily resort fee. stratospherehotel.com 2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV. 89104.

Luxor. This three-star hotel in the shape of a sleek black pyramid is located at the southern end of the Strip and offers a great value for the money. Guests at the Egyptian-themed resort receive free pool and gym access, two free drinks per stay, Internet access and free parking. The hotel also boasts a newly revamped food court and a new interactive center for sports fans. Rooms are located in either the pyramid itself (complete with slanted elevators that provide access to the higher rooms) or the adjacent towers, which are newer. From $38 plus $18 daily resort fee. luxor.com 3900 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV. 89119.

Eat and Drink

Tacos El Gordo. This chain, which started in Tijuana, Mexico, is known for their authentic street-style tacos. Fillings include spicy pork, carne asada and carnitas, as well as tripe, tongue and brains for the more adventurous foodie. Tacos are small but cheap at $2 each and are topped with onions, cilantro, guacamole and various sauces. You can also grab a quesadilla, tostada, or fries loaded with guacamole, sour cream and your pick of meat. Bottomless soft drinks are also on offer. Don’t expect table service here – you’ll be ordering food at various meat “stations” and then paying at the cashier. The restaurant has a location downtown as well as one on Las Vegas Boulevard in a strip mall just north of the Wynn Hotel. The Strip location is open until 3 a.m. on weekdays and 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, making it an ideal spot to grab some late-night munchies.

Secret Pizza. Inside the swanky Cosmopolitan Hotel you’ll find a cheap and unassuming pizza place sure to satisfy late night cravings. Hidden away down an alley on the third floor of the hotel, the signless restaurant serves up New York-style, thin-crust pizza to hungry clubbers. The hidden pizza joint serves up pies and slices with a range of toppings, including white pizza, homemade meatballs, cheese and pepperoni. A slice will set you back around $5.

Buffets. We couldn’t talk about eating in Las Vegas without mentioning the buffets. There are more all-you-can-eat dining options in this city than you could possibly work your way through, with just about every hotel offering at least one buffet. As a general rule, buffets are cheapest earlier in the day (so breakfast or lunch will be a better deal than dinner). If you’re eating downtown, you’ll find plenty of lunch buffets around the $7 mark, and dinner buffets for about twice that price. One notable option on the Strip is the Buffet of Buffets. This is a day pass offered by Harrah’s that gives you access to buffets across their various properties (which include Paris, The Rio, and Planet Hollywood among others). For $50 you can eat as much as you like over 24 hours. Just beware that some of the premium buffets like the over-the-top one at Caesar’s Palace will add a $15 surcharge on top of the pass.

Activities

Pool Partying. Without a doubt, gambling is the number one activity in Las Vegas, but if you’re looking for other ways to have fun, hit up one of the city’s many pool parties. These daylong parties feature sizzling beats, bronzed bodies and typically, very pricey booze; however, the good news is you can often get into the parties for free. Some of the bigger venues include Rehab, located at the Hard Rock Hotel, and Wet Republic, at the MGM Grand. A more budget-friendly (and relaxed) option is the Venus Pool Club at Caesar’s where you can throw back a beer for around $8. Admission costs $10-30 depending on the night, but ladies will almost always get in free and men are often handed free passes too.

See a half-price show. Vegas has countless shows taking place every night, including comedy shows, concerts, dance performances, magic shows and acrobatics. Popular shows include The Jabbawockeez, Absinthe and various Cirque du Soleil performances, but there’s really something for everyone. You can buy tickets for half the box office price by visiting tix4tonight, which has a number of locations along the Strip.

Free entertainment on the Strip. There’s no shortage of things to see on the Strip, and wandering through the various themed hotels is an activity in itself. Experience the canals of Venice, see the Sphinx, or take your photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. Nature lovers can enjoy the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio – the horticultural displays are constantly changed to suit the season. You can also see flamingos, along with a variety of other birds in the Flamingo Hotel’s wildlife habitat. Vegas hotels also put on a number of free performances to draw in the crowds. At Circus Circus, the world’s largest permanent circus comes alive at 11 a.m. daily, where you can see new world class acts like the Ethiopian foot juggler or the aerial silk artist from Italy. In front of The Mirage, a giant volcano erupts every hour from 5-11 p.m. The Sirens of TI is a 20-minute show featuring hip-swinging sirens and swash-buckling pirates that’s somewhat risqué. It takes place nightly in front of Treasure Island. For something tamer, take in the fountains at the Bellagio, which dance to music every 15 minutes from 7 p.m. onwards, and every 30 minutes during the afternoons. The Bellagio has begun adding new “dances” to the fountains’ repertoire.

Take a Stroll Downtown. If you venture downtown, check out the Fremont Street Experience. The historic street is home to the largest LED screen in the world in the form of a giant canopy over a pedestrian walkway. Visitors can watch a dazzling display every night on the hour, and the light show is usually accompanied by music and other live performances. While you’re downtown, don’t forget to check out the Neon Museum featuring original neon signs that once glittered across the city’s casinos. The museum is made up of several components: the Downtown Gallery at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard displays restored, illuminated signs; while the Neon Boneyard is an outdoor museum home to donated and rescued signs. The Neon Museum is just the start of a grand plan to revitalize the downtown area (after Zappos relocated to the city, it set up the Downtown Project, which aims to completely transform Vegas’ urban core) so keep an eye out for more arts, music and cultural developments in the months and years to come.

Get Around

To get to and from the airport, you can take bus routes 108, 109, or the Westcliff Airport Express. A single ride costs $2 – buy your ticket at the bus stop vending machine before boarding. Alternatively, a number of shuttle services ferry passengers between the airport and hotels on either the Strip or downtown. Most cost $7 for Strip hotels and $8.50 for downtown destinations. A taxi from the airport will cost around $15 depending on the route.

Las Vegas is well served by public transport and most visitors will be able to get around sufficiently on the double decker bus known as The Deuce. The bus runs between downtown and the Strip, making stops at most major hotels. The Strip and Downtown Express Bus (also known as the SDX) runs along a similar route but is much faster due to the limited stops. The Deuce runs 24 hours a day, while the SDX starts operating after 9 a.m. Both run every 15-20 minutes. Passes can be purchased at the vending machines located at bus stops. They’ll set you back $6 for two hours, $8 for a one-day pass, or $20 for three days.

A pricier option is the monorail, which runs from the MGM Grand on the south end of the Strip to the Sahara at the north end. The line runs behind the hotels and casinos (rather than along Las Vegas Boulevard) and takes 15 minutes to complete the route. Tickets cost $5/single, $12/one day, $28/three days, or $43/five days.

Budget Tips

Free Wi-Fi. If your hotel charges an extravagant fee for wireless Internet access, it’s worth knowing that the various MGM properties provide free Wi-Fi to the public. The hotel group offers complimentary service in its casinos, pools, lobbies and restaurants – and you don’t need a password or room key to access the network. At the time of writing, Wi-Fi is already available at the Bellagio, Mirage, Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand and is being added to the Monte Carlo, Luxor, New York New York and the Excalibur.

Day passes to hotel pools. You don’t have to be a guest at one of the upscale resorts to use their amenities. For as little as $10 per day you can gain access to the pools of many of the hotels along the Strip. It’s great if you’re trying to save on accommodation costs but still want to be able to enjoy some of the luxe facilities the city has to offer. You can see a list of pools open to the public here. A particularly notable pool is The Tank at the Golden Nugget, which boasts a 200,000-gallon shark tank with a water slide that runs through it before dumping you in the pool. Cover charge for non-hotel guests is $20.

Drinking on the cheap. One of the cheapest places to drink in Vegas is in a casino, since most of them serve free alcohol to gamblers whether they’re high rollers or only playing 1-cent slot machines. Just remember to tip the server $1 per drink or the service will quickly dry up. Many bars and vendors along the Strip also sell cheap frozen daiquiris by the yard glass – since you’ll rarely be prevented from taking a drink from one casino or bar to the next, it can be a cheap way to have a big night.

Room upgrades. Want to score a better hotel room than the one you paid for? Try the $20 trick. Simply slip the hotel receptionist $20 when handing over your credit card and ask if any upgrades are available. If you’re staying at a budget hotel, you may get away with tipping significantly less. You can read more about the success rate of this strategy at various Vegas hotels here.


[Photo credit: Flickr user David Stanley]