Las Vegas has been referred to as one of the modern wonders of the world, and for good reason. Gone are the days when Las Vegas was a cheesy, seedy place filled with casinos and endless Elvis memorabilia. Today, Las Vegas is an ultra-modern party city that is fast becoming luxurious, with more attractions per square mile than anywhere else in the world, and hotels and casinos that simply take your breath away.
Even more remarkable is the scale of the remodel that is taking place within 3.5 miles of the Las Vegas Strip. More than $ 30 billion is being injected into developing new mega hotels that make existing ones look like sheds. If you’ve never been to Las Vegas before, go now for a glimpse of 20th century Vegas before the 21st century arrives.
The birth of Las Vegas
Las Vegas, as we know it today, has its roots in 1941, when El Rancho, the first hotel-casino on the Strip, opened its doors. The success of El Rancho spurred the first construction boom on the Strip in the late 1940s and early 1950s, with the construction of legendary casinos such as Flamingo, Desert Inn, The Sands, The Tropicana and The Stardust. all hastily built to capitalize on the huge profits gambling brought to the city. Needless to say, these early casinos were owned by the mob, and Vegas really earned its reputation as the City of Sin.
The 1960s: Howard Hughes and the end of the mob
The presence of the mob in Las Vegas declined with the arrival of Howard Hughes in 1966, who, over the next four years, bought out many of the mobsters. First the Desert Inn, then the Sands and the Frontier, plus several smaller casinos, all became the property of Hughes. His presence in the city encouraged other legitimate entrepreneurs to follow suit and also invest in the city. The most prominent was billionaire Kirk Kirkorian, who built the International (now the Las Vegas Hilton) in 1968, followed by the MGM Grand in 1973. Hughes furiously competed with Kirkorian and built the Landmark Hotel, a 346-foot monstrosity that took ten years to build. build, it never made any money, but it was taller than Kirkorian’s International Hotel, which was everything Hughes was after.
The 1990s: the rise of mega-resorts
However, after the opening of the MGM Grand, construction on the strip stalled. It wasn’t until 1986 that work began on the next great new hotel. The Mirage, a $ 630 million hotel and casino built by Steve Wynn, was a big gamble as he had to make $ 1 million a day just to pay off the debt incurred to build it. However, its opening in 1989 brought great success and helped usher in the next big wave of construction in the city: the rise of Mega-Resorts.
In 1990, Circus Circus Enterprises built the 3,991-room camelot-themed Excalibur hotel on the South Strip for $ 290 million. At the time, the Excalibur was the largest hotel in the world, but this record would not last long. Just three years later, Kirk Kirkorian, who had sold his existing MGM Grand (later renamed Bally’s), built another MGM Grand across from Excalibur with more than 5,000 rooms.
1993, the opening year of the new MGM Grand, was a watershed year for Las Vegas. The Dunes Hotel collapsed, Steve Wynn’s new 2,885-room Treasure Island Hotel opened, and Circus Circus Enterprises (now called Mandalay Resort Group) opened the new 4,407-room Luxor Hotel, designed as a gigantic black hollow pyramid. The era of the themed mega-resort had really arrived in Las Vegas, as these hotels were followed by Stratosphere, New York New York, Paris, and The Venetian, which opened in the 1990s.
However, it was not just themed resorts that were opening. Las Vegas was also turning upscale, with more upscale and non-themed hotels, such as Mandalay Bay and Bellagio, also opening during this period. At $ 1.7 billion, Wynn’s The Bellagio was the most expensive hotel ever built in Las Vegas and set the standard for the next construction boom that would begin in the early 2000s.
However, all this construction had come at a cost to old Las Vegas. The Sands was demolished to make way for The Venetian, the Dunes gave way to The Bellagio, while Landmark, Hughes’s failed attempt to beat Kirkorian, was demolished to become a parking lot for the Las Vegas Convention Center. Las Vegas was never sentimental!
Coming Soon: $ 30 Billion in New Las Vegas Hotels
The five years from 2000 to 2005 saw another brief pause in construction. However, this came to an end in 2005, with the opening of the new Wynn Las Vegas, a $ 2.7 billion luxury hotel with 2,716 rooms. The Wynn was built on the site of the old Desert Inn, which Wynn had demolished in 2001, just four years after a $ 200 million renovation and expansion of the old hotel.
The Wynn follows in the footsteps of the Bellagio by being a high quality luxury hotel. Their success has helped trigger the biggest construction boom Las Vegas has ever seen, with the last of the old hotels falling like dominoes, and new super-luxurious, multi-billion dollar hotels taking their place. Las Vegas is transforming like no other city in the world.
In the two years since the Wynn first opened, five new mega-hotels have begun construction, each of which makes the Wynn seem cheap in comparison. Between 2007 and 2010, the following mega-resorts will open:
- The Encore at Wynn, a 2,054-room $ 1.74 billion sister hotel to the Wynn that will soar to 653 feet
- The palazzo, a $ 1.8 billion, 3,025-room hotel that will be a sister hotel to The Venetian. With more than 7,000 rooms between them, the new Venetian / Palazzo complex will become the largest hotel in the world.
- Echelon Place, a $ 4 billion hotel, casino and condo complex, currently being built on the ashes of the old Stardust (which collapsed in early 2007)
- Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a $ 3 billion hotel being built across from Circus Circus that will rise 63 stories high
- City Center Project, a $ 7.7 billion hotel complex comprising more than 7,000 hotel rooms, located between New York New York and Monte Carlo.
These hotels are currently under construction and will open between early 2008 and 2010. However, they are by no means the end of the story. Hotels that are about to begin construction include The Plaza, a $ 5 billion hotel to be built on the New Frontier site, which will collapse later in 2007; and the Crown Las Vegas, a new hotel that will be built next to the Fontainebleau and that will rise to an incredible 1,888 feet. Additionally, MGM Mirage, the company behind Project CityCenter, plans to build another mega-resort of a similar scale north of Circus Circus, while Steve Wynn has plans to rebuild the golf course behind The Wynn, and turn it into, yes, in other. billionaire hotel!
In all, more than $ 30 billion is being injected into Las Vegas, making it the largest construction boom in the city’s already stellar history. If you’ve never been to Las Vegas before, go now for a glimpse of 20th century Vegas before the 21st century rushes in and transforms you forever.