For the first time, more visitors view Las Vegas as an entertainment destination (50 percent) than as a gaming destination (48 percent), says the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. By 2001, Las Vegas hotels will add 20,000 more rooms and 2,200,000 square feet of meeting space. To the north, downtown Reno's $87.9 million redevelopment district will include the makeover of two historic hotels--the Riverside Hotel Casino and The Mapes. On the south shore of Lake Tahoe, a $450 million redevelopment project includes the newly opened Ski Run Marina Village and across from the $200 million mixed-use Park Avenue Project, a 65,000-square-foot convention center, exhibition hall, and 500-room convention hotel will be constructed lakeside.

Las Vegas hotel news * Alexis Park Hotel has completed its lobby, lounge, and restaurant renovations. It has over 50,000 square feet of function space and 500 all-suite rooms.

* Bellagio-The Resort, Mirage Resorts' 3,000-room hotel/casino, opened Oct. 15. It has 125,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 45,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom and 14 meeting rooms.

* The 3,700-room Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino debuts in March with 190,000 square feet of meeting space. With its own entrance, the Four Seasons Hotel within the resort will have 25,000 square feet of meeting space.

* With 3,036 rooms in its first tower, The Venetian plans to open April 21.When a second tower is completed in 2000, the hotel will have 6,000 rooms. Meeting facilities include the newly expanded Sands Expo Center and World Congress Center with 1.7 million square feet.

* The $760 million Paris-Las Vegas Casino Resort opens in September with 2,914 rooms and 130,000 square feet of pillarless function space.

* The New Aladdin, a 2,600-room desert-themed resort, is scheduled to open first quarter 2000.

* In mid-1998, MGM Grand opened a 380-square-foot conference center, with a 63,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 50,000-square-foot column-free ballroom. A $700 million facelift included interior and exterior renovations.

* Northwest Las Vegas, The Resort at Summerlin will open in April. Its two hotels, the 256-room Regent Grand Palms and 287-room Regent Grand Spa, will have a 50,000-square-foot conference center.

* Twenty miles southeast of the Strip, a series of new resorts includes the Hyatt Regency, due to open in late 1999 with 40,000 square feet of meeting space, and the Grand Bay Hotel, due to open in 2001 with 20,000 square feet of function space. The 2,200-acre planned community includes a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.

getting there In March, National Airlines, a new scheduled carrier, will begin flying between its Las Vegas hub and Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. In 1998, both Japan Airlines and Northwest inaugurated non-stop flights from Tokyo and the airport opened 26 gates in its Satellite D terminal.

McCarran International Airport: Major carriers: Southwest Airlines, America West, United, Delta, Reno Air, Continental, US Airways, Hawaiian Air, Midwest Express, Northwest, TWA, and American. Distance to downtown: 9 miles; distance to the Strip: 1-1/2 miles to the south end, 7 miles to the north end. Transportation to downtown: shuttle $4.75, taxi $21. Transportation to Strip: shuttle, $3.50; taxi $14 to center, $16 to north.

money matters Sales Tax: 7 percent

Hotel Tax: 11 percent downtown, 9 percent on the Strip

resources Las Vegas CVA Nancy Murphy, director of sales (702) 892-0711 Fax: (702) 892-2824

Reno/Lake Tahoe hotel news * Silver Legacy is opening a $2 million, 40,000-square-foot convention center across the street from the hotel in February.

* Reno Hilton recently added 47,000 square feet of meeting space at a cost of $6 million, to bring its total convention space to 187,000 square feet.

* Atlantis Casino Resort will complete a 392-room tower by early summer, for a 984-room total. The resort also added 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

* Just west of Reno, the 318-room Boomtown Hotel/Casino opened a $30 million, 200-room addition with 9,000 square feet of meeting space. In 2000, work will begin on a $500 million Boomtown enlargement.

* Circus Circus Hotel Casino's $70 million renovation is complete, including all 1,678 rooms and suites.

* Embassy Suites, in Lake Tahoe, recently completed a $1.5 million renovation, including furnishings, fixtures, and public areas.

* In North Lake Tahoe, California, the Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn is adding a 22-bedroom condo unit, the Resort at Squaw Creek has renovated all guest rooms and suites; this year the lobby will be refurbished, and the Squaw Valley Lodge has renovated its lobby and meeting space.

getting there Reno/Tahoe International Airport invested $42 million in enhancements, including an $11 million baggage claim expansion. The airport also made $91 million in runway improvements.

Reno/Tahoe International Airport: Major hub for Reno Air (now merging with American Airlines). Also served by Southwest, United, Delta, TWA, Northwest, America West, Alaska, and American. Distance from downtown Reno: three miles. Airport mini bus: $2.65 to $3.30, taxi $8. Distance from Lake Tahoe: 64 miles.

money matters Sales Tax:7 percent in Reno, 6.5 percent in Lake Tahoe, 7.25 percent in California

Hotel Tax: 10 percent to 12 percent throughout California, 9 percent in Reno, 8 percent in Sparks, and 10 percent in Lake Tahoe

resources Reno CVA Gloria Brow convention sales director (702) 827-7600 (800) 443-1482 Fax (702) 827-7666

Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Terry LeBan director (530) 544-5050 Fax: (530) 544-2386

North Lake Tahoe Resort Association Page Nebeker, director of sales (530) 583-3494, (800) Tahoe4U Fax: (530) 581-4081

Incline Village/Crystal Bay Visitors & Convention Bureau Mike Glover, sales and marketing manager (702) 832-1606, (800) GoTahoe Fax: (702) 832-1605

Meeting Executives Say When New York Citybased Waterhouse Securities brings its 450-person annual meeting to the Desert Inn in Las Vegas each February, there's a high comfort factor. After all, the group's been going there since 1987. They like the intimacy of the 715-room hotel, its on-site golf course, and the fact that "we are, for that weekend, a major client," said Ken Coco, Waterhouse's former first-vice president.

Las Vegas also worked well for Dataworks Users Alliance. The San Jose, Calif.based financial software manufacturer had attracted 700 to its meeting in previous years, but last April in Las Vegas it drew 2,000. Stu Clifton, president and chief executive officer, wanted a nice place, since the company had just gone public; business director Charlene Rose required more than 32 concurrent break-out rooms every hour. They settled on Caesar's Palace, with its newly remodeled conference facilities. "The whole package was a big draw--location, rates, easy access, and keynoter General Colin Powell," Rose said.