With the exception of the Aladdin, which is awaiting completion this spring, Las Vegas' latest crop of Strip properties opened between October 1998 and September 1999. Each has more than 100,000 square feet of meetings and convention space: Bellagio with 125,000 square feet, Mandalay Bay with 190,000 square feet, The Venetian with 1.7 million square feet (including The Sands Expo convention center), and ParisLas Vegas with 130,000 square feet. The city now has 121,800 rooms, compared with 109,469 in 1998--an 11 percent increase in just one year.
Up north, Reno is expanding its convention center to more than 500,000 square feet and is embarking on a master plan that includes a downtown conference center, retail shopping complex, and a two-level promenade along the Truckee River.
Lake Tahoe is enhancing its appearance along the 1.25-mile stretch of Highway 50 from the Stateline casinos into California. From this summer through 2003, construction will be under way to create a gondola linking Stateline/South Lake Tahoe to Heavenly Valley ski resort, a 110,000-square-foot movie-and-ice-rink combination, a new convention center and hotel, and an intermodal transit center. Reconstruction of major roads will also be part of the effort. The South Lake Tahoe Airport, closed to passenger traffic since 1993, has reopened, with Tahoe Air providing daily connections from San Jose and Los Angeles.
Las Vegas Hotel News * Mirage CEO Steve Wynn, who opened Bellagio in October 1998, plans his next Strip venture on the 55-acre site of the current 654-room Boardwalk Hotel. Construction on the unnamed parcel is anticipated to begin this year, with completion in 2003.
* Four Seasons Hotel opened in March 1999, along with Mandalay Bay. As the Strip's first nongaming luxury hotel, it has six out of 10 Nevada members of Les Clefs d'Or, the highest recognition category for concierges.
* Suburban Sites: The Resort at Summerlin, half an hour northwest of the Strip, opened in June with two Regent Hotels: the 286-room Regent Grand Spa and the 255-room Regent Grand Palms. It has a 50,000-square-foot conference center and a spa and is surrounded by three golf courses. Seventeen miles east of the Strip, the 496-room Hyatt Regency Las Vegas opened in December with 40,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa, and a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
* Caesars World Inc.'s sale to Park Place Entertainment, a spinoff of Hilton Corporation, has been approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission. The $3 billion gaming transaction is the largest in Nevada history. In Las Vegas, Park Place now runs Caesar's Palace, Bally's, the Las Vegas Hilton, Flamingo Hilton, and Paris-Las Vegas.
* Riviera Hotel & Casino expanded its convention center to 150,000 square feet and opened in spring 1999, with a second phase with 12 meeting rooms set for completion this year.
important info Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Association * (702) 892-0711 Fax: (702) 892-2824
Las Vegas Convention Center * (702) 892-0711 Fax: (702) 892-2824
* The Las Vegas Convention Center will expand by 1.1 million square feet for an overall total of 3 million square feet, "very close to the size of Chicago's McCormick Place," said LVCVA spokesman Robb Powers. Completion is set for late 2001.
* Hotel Tax: 11 percent downtown, 9 percent on the Strip.
Reno/Lake Tahoe Hotel News * In downtown Reno, the Club Cal-Neva has purchased and reopened the Virginian and the Riverboat Hotel Casinos. They are now known as The Club Cal-Neva's Virginian and Club Cal-Neva's Riverboat Hotel/Casino. Also soon to reopen: the Holiday Hotel-Casino on the banks of the Truckee River.
* Peppermill Hotel Casino in Reno is undergoing a $65 million expansion that will include restaurants, a 1,700-seat entertainment complex, a 85,000 square-foot convention center, expanded concierge and VIP services, a multistory parking garage, and a new 17-story tower, bringing the hotel's total rooms to 1,702.
* Atlantis Casino Resort spent more than $75 million on its expansion, completed in July 1999. It includes a 27-story tower;20,000 additional square feet of convention, meeting, and special event space (total: 32,000 square feet); additional restaurants and lounges; an indoor/outdoor pool; and health spa. The hotel has 1,000 rooms, including Reno's only concierge floors.
* Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort & Casino is spending $47 million to renovate all its guest rooms, adding a 14,000-square-foot spa and a 300-foot pier (it is the only major casino property fronting the lake); revamping its 25,000 square feet of meeting space; and adding 3,000 square feet of prefunction space. The resort will introduce a traditional Tahoe theme. It is anticipated that the project will finished by year's end.
* Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino remodeled its Nevada Room to provide meeting space for up to 450.
* Caesar's Tahoe completed its $200,000 spa renovation in summer 1999.
important info Reno Convention and Visitors Association * (775) 827-7600; (800) 443-1482
* Fax: (702) 827-7666
Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority (South Lake Tahoe) * (530) 544-5050; (800) At Tahoe
* Fax: (530) 544-2386
North Lake Tahoe Resort Association * (530) 583-3494; (800) Tahoe4U
* Fax: (530) 581-4081
Village/Crystal Bay Visitors & Convention Bureau * (775) 832-1606; (800) GoTahoe
* Fax: (775) 832-1605
* Hotel Tax: 10 to 12 percent in California. 12 percent in Reno, 11 in Sparks, and 10 on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.
Too big to be ignored, but always skirting the fringes of acceptance, Las Vegas appears to have finally won over the conservative pharmaceutical industry.
When Anne Marie Murphy, corporate meeting planner for Glaxo Wellcome Inc., Research Triangle Park, N.C., learned that a major competitor, Hoffman LaRoche Pharmaceuticals, had successfully launched one of its new pharmaceutical products at Mandalay Bay in March 1999, she decided to investigate the hotel for a Glaxo product intro. Murphy said, "Part of the resistance to Las Vegas was an image by the executives who were concerned with the gambling. It had a reputation as a place where we would not choose to take people."
What changed her mind? "The new properties and all they could offer: a really good rate, the ability to house 2,600 attendees at a single location, and being able to have our executives (directly adjacent to Mandalay Bay) at the Four Seasons. I didn't have to bring any of my top executives through the casino to get to the meeting space. That was a big deal."
"It was the best out of five dealer business conferences I've ever experienced," said Cindy Parkhill, project manager for GM Marketing Services, Detroit, Mich.
Parkhill was referring to The Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Cadillac 2000 Dealer Conference, a 10-night event for 12,000, arranged in five waves of 2,500 each.
It was the very first in-house conference group for Paris-Las Vegas, which opened September 1, 1999. Paris housed 2,000 wholesale and field employees, with the balance from each wave at Bellagio; the Las Vegas Convention Center was the primary meetings site.
"We worked hand-in-hand with [all of] them to make sure that General Motors was satisfied, and it exceeded their expectations," said Jackie Rogge, account supervisor for Carlson Marketing Group, which worked on advance planning for more than a year.
Getting There-- Reno/Tahoe * Reno Air became part of American Airlines in August 1999. The carrier had served as Reno's hometown airline for seven years.
* United Airlines added three flights between Reno and Los Angeles in the summer of 1999.
* Reno/Tahoe International Airport updated its Web site, www.renoairport.com, to include links to local hotel and casino resorts, aviation, and local government authorities.
* Reno/Tahoe is served by Southwest, United, Delta, TWA, Northwest, America West, Alaska, American, and Skywest.