A Jewel in the Mojave
In 2014, Las Vegas greeted 41 million visitors from around the globe, the greatest number the city has ever seen. Why do so many people keep coming back to this gleaming beacon of neon in the middle of the Mojave Desert?
Text: PJ Perez @PjPerez | photos: stuart isett @stuartisett
Back in the day, Las Vegas was the hangout for Hollywood’s elite, and the top entertainers of the day would set up shop in casino showrooms for extended stays – think Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack at the Copa Room of the historic Sands Hotel or Elvis Presley at the International Hotel. Now, more than 40 years later, it seems like every celebrity and performer wants to call Vegas home once again. Artists ranging from Mariah Carey to Guns N’ Roses have established residencies in venues on and off the Las Vegas Strip, performing their biggest hits night after night to fans coming from around the world.
Vegas nightclubs are no strangers to the residency game, of course. They’ve been host for years to long-term weekly appearances by the world’s top DJs, including Tiësto, Calvin Harris and Kaskade. But now Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub at The Cromwell is stepping up the game with the recent announcement of residencies for popular electronic music acts Capital Cities, Chromeo and The Weeknd, as part of its Drai’s LIVE concert series.
The rooftop nightspot, located 11 stories above the Las Vegas Strip, is one of the newest players in the increasingly crowded Vegas nightlife scene. The Cromwell itself is a relatively new addition to the Strip, its 188-room boutique hotel rebuilt from the bones of the venue formerly known as Bill’s Gambling Hall. The elegant, Parisian-inspired resort is also home to GIADA, the first restaurant by celebrity chef and television personality Giada De Laurentiis.
Old Is the New Hype
The Cromwell isn’t the only “everything old is new again” spot on Las Vegas Boulevard. SLS Las Vegas opened in August 2014, transforming the former Sahara Hotel and Casino into a hip, modern resort capping the north end of the Strip. The hotel-casino features an impressive collection of restaurants, including Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Katsuya by Starck (which pairs sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi with designer Philippe Starck) and Cleo, an innovative, contemporary Mediterranean restaurant.
Over at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, entirely different sorts of artists take residence inside the stylish Strip resort, which is known for its cutting-edge program, including street artists like Shepard Fairey (whose work is seen on the parking garage walls) and the “Art-O-Mat” vending machines throughout the property. On the third floor of The Cosmopolitan, P3Studio is home to the artist-in-residence program, which invites a different visual artist (or artists) to take over the space each month.
Stripside Dining & Dancing
There are few more iconic Vegas sights than the “Fountains of Bellagio.” This show of dancing waters, choreographed to a variety of music ranging from Frank Sinatra to Tiësto, emerges from an 8.5-acre, man-made lake that separates the European-style resort from the bustling crowds on Las Vegas Boulevard. It makes perfect sense that Bellagio placed a number of its finest restaurants along the front of its property, overlooking the aquatic spectacle of 1,200 fountains. The latest culinary offering to take advantage of this breathtaking view is LAGO, a new Italian restaurant created by Chef Julian Serrano, the Madrid-born sensation who also oversees the award-winning Picasso restaurant at Bellagio.
Right next door, on Flamingo Road, one of Las Vegas’ oldest and best-known casino-hotels, Caesars Palace, continues to reinvent itself. This spring, the space formerly known as PURE Nightclub became OMNIA, a 75,000-square-foot nightclub and ultra-lounge with an expansive rooftop patio overlooking the Strip (and a DJ lineup that includes the likes of Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren and Martin Garrix). Elsewhere on the property, Top Chef finalist and The Taste star Brian Malarkey just opened a Las Vegas location of his popular New American casual restaurant, Searsucker.
But the Strip isn’t the only place to find entertainment. Although it played second fiddle for many years to the action happening southward on Las Vegas Boulevard, downtown Las Vegas has experienced a massive resurgence in the last decade, with a mix of public and private redevelopment initiatives helping make the urban core of the city a vibrant, booming place once again. Most notable is the explosion in dining options, many of which are near Fremont Street.
Glutton is a casual restaurant created by Chef Bradley Manchester, who previously led culinary programs at major resorts in Las Vegas, Chicago and Houston. This cozy eatery offers an industrial-chic environment inside a renovated mid-20th-century building, with exposed brick and original 1955 oak ceilings, as well as an outdoor herb garden patio.
About a mile south of Fremont Street is the 18b Las Vegas Arts District, where previously run-down warehouses and storefronts are being steadily transformed into artists’ studios, galleries, boutique shops, bars and restaurants, most of which are small, bootstrap operations.
Why do so many people keep coming back to Las Vegas? They know that there’s always something new to discover. This city, so well-known for continuous reinvention, is seeing its oldest and most historic areas coming back to life with renewed vigor. Change, baby. That’s what keeps Las Vegas interesting. in
Daily flights from Santiago (via Lima) and Lima to Los Angeles, followed by oneworld connections to Las Vegas.
More information lan.com
3595 S Las Vegas Blvd
SLS Las Vegas
2535 S Las Vegas Blvd
616 E Carson Ave #110
Bellagio Las Vegas
3600 S Las Vegas Blvd
3570 S Las Vegas Blvd
Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub
3595 S Las Vegas Blvd
Hop Nuts Brewing
1120 S Main, Suite #150
3570 S Las Vegas Blvd
Downtown Container Park
707 Fremont St
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
3708 Las Vegas Blvd