Vegas poised to raise the stakes in new year
DECEMBER 10, 2004
By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY
Vegas is on a winning streak, baby!
The bawdy, gaudy gaming capital is dealing out new attractions and expecting a record number of visitors - 37 million - by year's end. New Year's weekend, when the city kicks off its 100th anniversary celebration, also could to be a record breaker. (Photo gallery: Las Vegas)
Hotels and attractions are "continually amping up ... and there's no doubt about it, the rebound (since 9/11) is complete," says Erika Yowell of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Those racy, award-winning "What happens here, stays here" Vegas TV commercials didn't hurt, either.
Yowell says the average daily room rate in Vegas from January through September was $89.19 this year, up from $82.20 for the same period of 2003.
New Year's Eve is traditionally the busiest night in Vegas. A cork-popping 300,000 visitors are expected to ring in 2005, adds Howard Lefkowitz, president of VEGAS.com, a one-stop-shopping Web site for hotel/air deals, shows and party reservations. Demand is so strong that the cost of Dec. 31 hotel rooms is up 15% over last year, he says.
Wednesday, the only rooms available at the popular Bellagio and Venetian hotels started at $699. VEGAS.com was offering a $179 New Year's Eve rate at Palace Station.
The Convention and Visitors Authority's VegasFreedom.com site is touting a two-night, $699 package for two at the Flamingo that includes an open-bar New Year's Eve dinner and party. Deals also are available on LasVegas.com.
Other New Year's Eve highlights: the city's largest-ever fireworks display up and down the Strip and a downtown street party, also heralding the centennial. The city officially turns 100 May 15.
Meanwhile, a three-level expansion of the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace just opened and Cirque du Soleil unveiled a martial-arts-themed spectacle called KÀ at the MGM Grand. This month, 51 luxury loft accommodations will open atop the MGM Grand; 928 new rooms and suites are due in a Spa Tower at the Bellagio. The 548-room Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel just arrived next to the convention center, and big-name restaurants (such as a branch of Miami Beach favorite Joe's Stone Crab in the Forum Shops) keep opening.
There are "something like $6 billion in construction projects" right now, Yowell says. Coming attractions include:
- 3,025 suites in a tower next to the Venetian. Affiliated with the Venetian, the hotel will have its own identity.
- 949 new rooms at Caesars Palace.
Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn also has a card up his sleeve. It's the 2,700-room Wynn Las Vegas, a much-awaited mega-resort due on the Strip in April.