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What’s new in Las Vegas for 2007

SmarterTravel

Las Vegas attractions are as ephemeral as your luck at the poker table. Hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and shows come and go, so there’s always something new to see each time you visit.

Here’s the early word on what’s new in Las Vegas for 2007. Remember, projects can change as fast as a roulette wheel spins. While most of these future plans will become a reality this year, some might not. Like your winning streak, they could disappear in the blink of an eye.

Hotels

The biggest hotel news is that The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino will open in fall 2007. The Palazzo will be adjacent to and connected with The Venetian, but will be its own standalone property. The 50-floor, 3,025-room luxury hotel will feature a casino, a shopping and entertainment complex, and a conference center. Many details have yet to be announced, but it is confirmed that Barneys New York will open a flagship store in The Shoppes at The Palazzo.

A typical suite in The Palazzo will be around 655 to 735 square feet and have a raised sleeping area and sunken living area. Larger multi-room suites will be available, including six 11,000-square-foot villas with private pools, Jacuzzis, spas, gyms, and putting greens.

In the second quarter of 2007, the construction of Echelon Place will begin. The resort, set to open in mid-2010, will be built on the site of the Stardust Hotel. When it is complete, Echelon Place will seek to attract the luxury traveler, as well as conventioneers and shoppers.

The complex will consist of five residential towers surrounding a central area housing the casino, shopping area, and convention center. Echelon Place will feature four distinct hotel brands: the 3,300-room Echelon Resort; 400-room Shangri-La; 600-room Delano; and 1,000-room Mondrian. If some of the names sound familiar, it’s because Boyd Gaming Corporation (owner of Echelon Place) has partnered with known hotel companies to create disparate and individual luxury experiences within a central resort.

Airport

Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is currently working on a $4 billion dollar capital improvement project, which will culminate with a new third terminal in 2011. But as early as 2007, visitors will start to see improvements.

In the first quarter of this year, the airport’s consolidated rental car center will open for business. Currently, offices for Hertz, Avis, and the like are scattered throughout the airport complex, and each company operates its own shuttle bus from the airport to the rental car counter. With the new center, all of the rental car offices will be located in one building and surrounded by a massive garage. After guests leave the baggage claim area, they can board one airport-operated shuttle bus that will take them to the main rental car building. From there, they can head to the appropriate counter.

The benefits are twofold. Switching from multiple rental car buses to one all-encompassing bus will reduce traffic at the airport. Buses will run full, rather than each individual bus carrying a handful of passengers. Plus, the old rental car areas can be converted into additional airport parking.

Restaurants

In May, Dick’s Last Resort will open at the Excalibur. The restaurant is known for its brash waitstaff, boisterous guests, and live music. The family-style service features colossal portions of finger food (think ribs, chicken wings, and crab legs dripping in sauce) and mammoth drinks.

Also look for the Aspen 702 steakhouse to open at the Luxor this spring. Plans are currently hush-hush about the restaurant’s design and menu.

Production shows

On January 31, the Tony-winning musical comedy The Producers opens at Paris Las Vegas. There’s no word on who will take over the Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick roles, but David Hasselhoff has signed on to play Roger DeBris, the flamboyant director. Mel Brooks is specially adapting the show for its Las Vegas run.

Tickets for February, March, and April showtimes are now on sale, and can be purchased by calling 877-374-7469 or online at ParisLasVegas.com. Ticket prices range from $76 to $144, including taxes and fees.

Word on the street is that Monty Python’s Spamalot may be opening at the Wynn Las Vegas this year. The P.R. folks aren’t allowed to talk yet, but Broadway and comedy fans should check back for an announcement.

Entertainment

Vegas casino-hotels are known for offering every kind of attraction, so it’s no surprise that the Rio is getting a bowling alley in March. Lucky Strikes Lanes will take over the space where Bikinis used to be. It’s an upscale bowling alley with a full menu, full bar, and 10 lanes of 10-pin.

A new nightclub will soon make its debut in Vegas. To complement Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles-inspired production of Love, The Mirage will open the Revolution Lounge this January. The nightclub’s decor will run to the psychedelic and recall the Beatles era. The lounge will be open every night from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. and each night features a different musical genre, from Beatles music to house, rock, new wave, and Brit pop.

Need to get out of your hotel? When you’re finished shopping in all the hotel boutiques, consider browsing in a retail village. Town Square—an open-air, main street-themed shopping complex—is scheduled to open by fall 2007. Located south of Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Boulevard, the complex will feature approximately 150 shops and 12 restaurants, a multiplex cinema, office space, an outdoor concert venue, and a children’s entertainment center.

Cultural attractions

Vegas visitors looking for a little culture and history may be interested in the Springs Preserve, opening in May. The historical attraction is located at the site of the original water source used by the first settlers in the area. Five minutes from the Strip, the complex includes a visitor’s center with interactive exhibits, a museum on Nevada’s state history, 2.5 miles of walking trails, a botanical garden and desert wetland, a children’s play area, and an open-air amphitheater. Also on site is the Desert Living Center, which teaches about the sustainability of a desert community such as Las Vegas.

Looking toward the future, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled to open in 2011. Expect to see the first design renderings this year, with a ground-breaking set for 2008. When complete, the complex will include a 2,000-seat main hall, a more intimate 600-seat theater, and a studio theater for children’s performances and smaller musical events. The goal is to attract world-class performances as well as nourish the local arts community in the Las Vegas area.

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