Las Vegas is rolling the dice, betting this time on the young and the hip. Buoyed by the success of boozy party pools, bachelor/bachelorette blowouts and celebrity club events — not to mention the free advertising Sin City got during Prince Harry's headline-making romps in August — the ever-morphing playground now is aggressively courting well-heeled younger visitors with more boutique hotels, cutting-edge cocktail lounges, dining and entertainment options. USA TODAY's Kitty Bean Yancey explores the scene.
As Sin City finishes what the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority predicts will be a record year, with about 40 million visitors, its rep as a must-go destination rises with the young. Themed resorts that drew their elders are being supplemented by edgy "lifestyle hotels." A sampling of what's in the cards:
- Mandalay Bay is swapping out THEhotel, a boutique component of the huge resort, with an offshoot of the Delano South Beach in 2014. The aim: to transport that sultry Miami vibe to the desert. Vegas speaks "to the vibrancy" and "non-cookie-cutter social experience" associated with the Delano, says CEO Michael Gross of Morgans Hotel Group.
- Young hotel kingpin Sam Nazarian, whose SLS hotels in Beverly Hills, South Beach and New York are hot spots, is turning the venerable Sahara resort into Hipster Central. Due in 2014, the SLS Hotel Casino promises to kick it "up about 1,000 notches," its website boasts.
- The first Nobu Hotel, an offshoot of the celeb-favorite Japanese restaurants, is due Feb. 4 in a tower of Caesars Palace. With partners including chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro, the 181-room luxury lodging targets "a new demographic for Caesars Palace," says Caesars spokeswoman Celena Haas. Rooms start at about $250, and there will be a Nobu eatery.
- Less pricey properties appealing to "what happens in, stays in"-minded visitors include the new D Las Vegas in increasingly desirable downtown Vegas, known for budget hotels. The D, formerly Fitzgeralds Casino Hotel, boasts an outdoor bar and two-story casino.
- On the Strip, Caesars Entertainment's Imperial Palace is becoming The Quad Resort Casino. Imperial is a value venue known for singing and dancing dealers; renovations will be done in stages while the property remains open.
Hoteliers are encouraged by the success of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas resort, which just turned 2. Chic but affordable restaurants, creative design, hot nightlife and concerts, and the saucy slogan "just the right amount of wrong" have made it a must-do for Gen Y and Millennials. It countered "an image of Vegas that was not appealing" to some, says CEO John Unwin. "It's fun and authentic."
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The Cosmo "raised the bar" and issued "a challenge to everyone else," says Mandalay Bay president Chuck Bowling. Tweaks to his resort include a nightclub (replacing Rumjungle) that's a novel partnership with Cirque du Soleil and due in March.
Those who doubt that Vegas sees dollar signs when it looks at the young (many of whom save for a wild experience and don't blink at dropping hundreds on bottle service) need only check the roster for this year's New Year's Eve parties:
Kim Kardashian is due to pop corks at The Mirage's 1OAK club.
Nicki Minaj is the host at Pure in Caesars Palace.
The Black Keys are at The Hard Rock Hotel Casino's The Joint.
Big-name DJ Avicii is at XS at Steve Wynn's Encore resort.
Wynn, better known for his business sense than love of rave music, is in tune with musical trends, with dozens of resident DJs at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. Red-hot spinner deadmau5, is playing at XS Dec. 30. (XS' summer-season Sunday night pool party is where Harry raced Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte.)
MGM Grand's Studio 54 is transforming into a giant Hakkasan restaurant/club. A year ago, Bellagio brought in an outpost of L.A.'s club Hyde to replace its Fontana Lounge, which appealed to an older demographic.
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The Hard Rock ramped up its party image with "Rehab" pool parties that draw thousands. It just added Vinyl Lounge, an intimate live-music venue. Paul Davis, vice president of entertainment for the property, says it's aiming "to attract guests and locals in their mid-20s to mid-30s."
Sin City's veteran youth magnet — the Palms Casino Resort — attracted twentysomethings ever since MTV's The Real World was set there in 2002. Last year, it opened ghostbar Day Club on Saturdays after pool season for bashes featuring bottle service, confetti guns and more.
It's chasing a higher age and income with a $50 million renovation that includes redone bars and "fun and sexy" rooms with images of women's eyes over the beds, which will start at $79 rather than $59. Says Palms president Joe Magliarditi: "We're not saying we don't want 21-year-olds, but Palms customers have been getting older, and we haven't been speaking to them."
Cocktails, pub grub
Cocktail culture, featuring hand-crafted creations using esoteric liqueurs, herbs and syrups, also is guzzled up by the young.
Downtown has become a mecca for stand-alone, high-end cocktail bars. A new addition: Commonwealth, with a speakeasy-style back room and rooftop bar.
Every month brings more bars or restaurants with youth appeal, such as the new Gordon Ramsay Pub Grill at Caesars Palace, where hostesses wear frocks covered with faux newsprint and the British flag.
Vegas is a "competitive market" that is ever evolving, Mandalay Bay's Bowling says. "You never can rest ... We're not abandoning the older folks. The good news is how many different markets we can attract."Source: http://www.news.theusalinks.com/2012/12/21/vegas-trends-toward-the-trendy-crowd/