Nevada's seemingly never-ending growth spurt continues. “Living large” — literally and metaphorically — is still the mantra for hotel developers in Las Vegas. And the phenomenon is happening increasingly in the Reno, Sparks, and Lake Tahoe area, where planners will find 20,000 guest rooms and 1.5 million square feet of meeting space.
Until now, the options for getting from one hotel to another on the Vegas Strip were limited to a taxi, rental car, or a long walk. But that's changing, too. In March, the $360 million Las Vegas Monorail will debut with four miles of track linking seven stations; the monorail will offer visitors direct access to eight major resorts and more than 24,000 hotel rooms. The stations will be at the MGM Grand, Bally's/Paris, Flamingo, Harrah's/Imperial Palace, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas Hilton, and the Sahara.
The monorail will travel at a top speed of 50 mph and will run from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., year-round. In addition to being convenient, an end-to-end trip will be inexpensive, costing about $3. Roundtrip fare will be $5.50. Plans are under way for the monorail route to extend eventually to the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas and to McCarran International Airport.
Also keeping visitors on the move and out of long lines are the new SpeedCheck kiosks at McCarran International Airport. Passengers with carry-on baggage can check in and receive a boarding pass at one of the 25 kiosks, which are strategically located near security checkpoints and in the center of the airport's ticketing lobby.
Six SpeedCheck kiosks can also be found at the Las Vegas Convention Center, making the facility the only convention center in the United states to offer attendees the ability to obtain a boarding pass before arriving at the airport.
For ski meetings in the Lake Tahoe area, Diamond Peak Ski Resort, Incline Village, has finished work on its high-speed lift, Crystal Express, cutting the old lift time to the 8,540-foot summit in half.
THE PHANTOM PLANNER
Some planners are surprised at how many activities Las Vegas has to offer within a small area. Attendees can literally go in all directions — fishing, to the Grand Canyon, on helicopter rides, on tours of the “back of the house” at Paris and Bellagio — as part of a regular meeting format. That makes it economical to meet in Las Vegas, because you don't have to add days, and expense, in order for attendees to enjoy the options.
Because of strong demand, Las Vegas is a city where having contacts gives you an advantage. The importance of cultivating long-term professional relationships in this market cannot be underestimated.
After spending several years marketing itself as a family friendly destination, Las Vegas is returning to its roots in adult entertainment. Some shows, such as Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity, can be quite risqué. Be certain that you understand your attendees' preferences before buying a block of tickets.
LAS VEGAS — New
The $2 billion Wynn Las Vegas will open in spring 2005. The Wynn will feature flat-screen plasma televisions in all guest rooms, an 18-hole, Tom Fazio-designed golf course, a spa with 45 treatment rooms, and 200,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas has opened with 349 guest rooms and suites, a 30,000-square-foot spa, 36 holes of golf, and 33,000 square feet of meeting space.
A $40 million renovation has transformed the former Maxim hotel into the new 17-story Westin Casuarina. The facility now offers 815 guest rooms and suites, a casino, an 11,000-square-foot spa, and 15,000 square feet of meeting space.
Rio Hotel & Casino is undergoing a $31 million expansion that will add 60,000 square feet of meeting space, bringing total meeting capacity to 160,000 square feet. Completion of the project is scheduled for December 2004.
A $110 million project, slated for completion in late 2004, will add meeting and spa space, as well as 296 new guest rooms, to Green Valley Ranch.
At Bellagio, the $375 million Spa Tower is scheduled to open in December 2004. The tower will add 928 guest rooms, a larger spa, restaurant and retail space, and 60,000 square feet of new meeting space to the resort.
A recently completed $275 million expansion at the Venetian includes a 1,013 all-suite guest room tower and 150,000 square feet of new meeting space, including three ballrooms, 64 meeting rooms, and three boardrooms.
RENO — Renovation
Eldorado Hotel Casino has finished the first phase of a two-year, $4 million guest room renovation. When the entire project is completed in summer 2005, all 817 rooms will feature new paint, wallcoverings, decor, furniture, and soft goods.
The Atlantis Casino Resort has renovated all of the guest rooms in the renamed Royal Dolphin Tower. All of the guest rooms in a second tower are now being remodeled, with completion of the project expected this spring. And early this year, the hotel will complete the renovation of its 12,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom.
RENO AREA — Expansion
In November, Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort completed a $60 million, four-year expansion. New facilities include 130 guest rooms and suites, lagoon-style swimming pools, and a 20,000-square-foot spa. A concurrent renovation project resulted in 23,000 square feet of refurbished meeting space.
CONTACT THE CVB
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
(702) 892-0711; (877) MEET-N-LV
• Fax: (702) 892-2824
Total Hotel Tax: 9% (11% for hotels along the Fremont Street Experience)