LAS VEGAS — While the rest of the world slowed down and shut down during two years of pandemic-related lockdowns and travel restrictions, Las Vegas continued to do what Las Vegas does best: reinvent itself.
And as travel picks up again, the destination has an abundance of new offerings, from new hotel and resort complexes, to new shows, restaurants and experiences.
“Anecdotally we’re hearing that interest in travel to Las Vegas from Canada remains strong, and we expect recent loosening of testing requirements to enter the U.S. will help bolster demand,” Fernando Hurtado, senior director of global sales with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), told Travelweek during a recent Visit Las Vegas FAM trip.
“While we don’t have an expected timetable for a full recovery of Canadian tourism to Las Vegas, we’ve been heartened to see the general recovery of visitation happen faster than expected and we’re optimistic that will be the case with Canadian travellers. We know pent-up demand for international travel remains strong and Canada is our top market for nonstop international flights.”
Since late 2020, three brand-new resort complexes have opened in Las Vegas: Resorts World, Circa Resort & Casino and Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Cirque du Soleil recently launched its newest show, Mad Apple, and a number of artists have kicked off first-time Las Vegas residencies, including Katy Perry, Sting, Silk Sonic, Usher and Carrie Underwood.
Las Vegas is also continuing to establish itself as a culinary powerhouse, with the newly opened Amalfi by Bobby Flay at Caesars Palace, WAKUDA at The Venetian Resort and plant-based Crossroads Kitchen by chef Tal Ronnen at Resorts World—with an upscale Mediterranean-inspired menu that many guests don’t realize is completely plant-based.
“Martha Stewart’s first restaurant, The Bedford, is set to open this year at Paris Las Vegas, while Peter Luger Steak House will open at Caesars Palace and Chef Martin Yan will bring M.Y. Asia to the Horseshoe,” says Hurtado.
Resorts World Las Vegas, which officially opened in 2021, is the first resort on the Strip to be built from the ground up in more than a decade. Technically, it’s three hotels in one (for a total of 3,500 guest rooms and suites): a marquee Hilton Hotels & Resorts, the largest Conrad Hotels & Resorts property in the world and Crockfords Las Vegas, one of the first LXR Hotels & Resorts locations in the U.S.
There’s also 117,000 square feet of gaming space, 70,000 square feet of retail space in The District and a 5.5-acre outdoor pool complex. Guests have more than 40 food and beverage options, like Kusa Nori, Genting Palace and Famous Foods Street Eats—and they can even place an order from the convenience of their smartphone (thanks to Resorts World’s partnership with Grubhub) and have it delivered to their room or poolside.
In Downtown Las Vegas (DTLV), Circa Resort & Casino is the first resort built from the ground up on historic Fremont Street in four decades. This adults-only property pays homage to Las Vegas’ Golden Era with vintage design and old-school hospitality in 777 rooms (all with king beds and mini fridges). Vegas Vicki, Las Vegas’ iconic 40-foot-high neon kicking cowgirl, is prominently displayed in Vegas Vickie’s bar, and an extensive art collection throughout the resort showcases the city’s colourful past.
While the rooms and suites exude Golden Era glamour with a mid-century modern aesthetic, high-tech features are infused in the resort’s two-level casino with the world’s largest sportsbook—a 78-million-pixel screen that can be viewed by up to 1,000 people. There’s also a multi-level outdoor pool amphitheatre called Stadium Swim, open 365 days a year with televised sports and live music, as well as a rooftop bar and outdoor terrace with city views.
And off the Strip, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, replaces the former Hard Rock Hotel after a US$200 million renovation—though it kept the legendary Nobu intact. Notable additions to the culinary and beverage scene include Kris Yenbamroong’s Night + Market and Michael and David Morton’s ONE Steakhouse, along with signature Virgin Hotels restaurants and bars such as The Shag Room.
Designed by L.A.’s Studio Collective, the 1,500 ‘chambers’ and suites feature a modern desert aesthetic with pops of whimsy. There’s also a Mykonos-themed beach club, a five-acre pool complex, multiple live music and entertainment venues, as well as 13,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and convention spaces.
Existing properties also reinvented themselves, like Wynn Las Vegas, which just completed a US$200 million renovation. Its 2,674 rooms and suites now offer a polychromatic palette with wood accent walls, mahogany furniture and a collection of commissioned artworks. Wynn has also refreshed restaurants such as Delilah and its collection of cocktail lounges; the new Aft Cocktail Deck transports guests to the French Riviera.
Since late 2019, Las Vegas has added nearly 3 million square feet of meeting and event space, including the 1.4 million-square-foot West Hall expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). In addition to leasable exhibit space, the West Hall features a sun-soaked grand atrium and a 14,000-square-foot outdoor terrace with views of the Strip.
The Convention Center Loop, an innovative underground transportation system, spans the 200-acre LVCC campus via a fleet of free, all-electric Tesla vehicles.
Other notable new experiences include:
- AREA15: The entrance—a spaceship airlock—opens up to a giant skull covered in 3D projection mapping. A purple and green neon corridor called ‘The Spine’ weaves together virtual reality experiences, art installations, immersive activations, restaurants, bars and shopping, anchored by Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart.
- Illuminarium: This 30,000-square-foot venue inside the AREA15 complex features Panasonic 4K laser projection technology that takes viewers on a simulated 360-degree immersive experience. Currently playing is ‘SPACE: A Journey to the Moon & Beyond’ .
- FlyOver: A 52-foot spherical screen helps to create this immersive, multisensory flight-ride experience. Two experiences are currently available: the American West and Iceland.
- Girls Night Out: Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters is offering a new ‘Girls Night Out’ experience that includes a signature night flight over the Las Vegas Strip and DTLV, after which guests are whisked to SAHARA Las Vegas to experience Magic Mike Live.
- Agents can register at TrackMyLasVegasBookings.com and enter their bookings into the system, up to 24 months retroactively, to earn points and win prizes.
Travel advisors can find sales tools—including group booking assistance, a hotel contact directory and commissionable Vegas listings—on LVCVA’s agent portal.
“The LVCVA’s Learn & Earn program is something all Canadian travel professionals should be aware of and use,” says Hurtado. “The agent portal provides Vegas insights through multiple training modules and resources that include digital brochures, guides, maps and insider PRO Tips.” Each enrolled agent can earn points toward a variety of rewards.