Last year we saw some properties with a lot of history close. The biggest one was the 48-year-old Stardust, which will be torn down to make room for the $4 billion Echelon Place. The other Strip resorts that shut their doors were the Westward Ho and the Boardwalk that occupied land that is under development to become the MGM Mirage's $7 billion, mixed-use Project CityCenter. In addition, the Castaways and Bourbon Street no longer exist.
Building on the Strip continues front and center with the Las Vegas Sands Corp. growing the $1.8 billion Palazzo next to the Venetian and Wynn Resorts constructing the $1.74 billion Encore next to Wynn Las Vegas.
Some shows came and went in 2006 too. Broadway didn't fair very well with "Hairspray" at the Luxor and "Avenue Q" at Wynn having to close. However, "Phantom, the Las Vegas Spectacular" at the Venetian seems to have the "wow" factor needed to sustain a Las Vegas presence.
This year Broadway will get a couple more chances to succeed with "Spamalot" opening at Wynn and "The Producers" debuting at Paris.
Last year we gained another Cirque du Soleil show, the Beatles tribute spectacular "LOVE," at The Mirage. We also saw the return of some name headliners such as Prince at the Rio and Liza Minnelli with a couple appearances at the Luxor.
One thing is for sure, Las Vegas is never boring. Happy New Year!
At the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), work began on the building of the Neon Garage and new media center immediately following the last year's March 12 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and will be completed in time for the March 9-11, 2007 NASCAR Weekend.
The Neon Garage is being positioned in the center of the LVMS infield. It is comprised of four buildings - constructed in the shape of a diamond - in which the NASCAR Nextel Cup teams will prepare their cars to race. Each building is two stories, which will allow race fans to watch the teams work from ground level or from an elevated position.
The center of the Neon Garage will be open to race fans. There will be a sports bar with big screens to watch the on-track action, concession stands and continuous entertainment acts that represent Las Vegas' best shows. Some acts will include Blue Man Group, Sirens of the TI and several tribute artists including Elvis, Madonna and Elton John impersonators. As an added bonus, the speedway is moving its Winner's Circle into the Neon Garage as well.
Four of the five original statues that once stood in front of Circus Circus and were photographed by thousands of visitors were hauled away in the middle of last year and buried in a landfill. The only remaining one is "The Clown." All the statues were created by artist Montyne in 1967 and erected the following year. Montyne lived much of his life in Las Vegas and died in 1989. The best-known of the statues was of an acrobat balancing on a single finger and it was actually a self-portrait of the artist, who was also a stage and circus performer. Another statue was of a young female acrobat balancing on a board atop a cylinder and the pose was based on Montyne's wife. One statue that kid's loved was of Gargantua, the "World's Largest Gorilla" that was once exhibited by the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The New American Theatre Project is presenting its second production, the Las Vegas premiere of "Wake Up And Smell The Coffee" at the Las Vegas Little Theater located at 3920 Schiff Drive near Spring Mountain and Valley View. The New American Theatre Project is comprised of actors who trained at the prestigious Guthrie Theater and performers from Franco Dragone's latest creation, "Le Reve" at Wynn Las Vegas. Performances will be Jan. 9-17 with matinees on Jan. 14 and 21. Tickets are $20, call 702-360-9959.
A new Westin hotel brand, called "Element," will be built in the southwest part of the valley. The $19 million, 125-room, extended-stay facility will be located at the southwest corner of Town Center Drive and the Beltway and next to the Nevada Cancer Institute.
Las Vegas will be one of the first markets in the country to have an Element hotel. Ground breaking is anticipated for July this year with the property opening by summer 2008.
Element will be an upscale boutique concept. The four-story, 80,000-square-foot hotel will have a sleek look, with metal paneling, glass and stone finishes. The 400-square-foot rooms will have kitchens with stainless-steel appliances, wireless Internet access, flat-screen TVs and Westin's signature Heavenly beds.
Wine dinners are starting up again this year. Sazio's restaurant at the Orleans will hold a wine dinner on Tuesday, Jan. 16 and feature Ravenswood wines. Cost is $39, call 702-948-9500. Another Gustav Mauler eatery is Spiedini at the J.W. Marriott in Summerlin and Ruffino wines will be highlighted with the gourmet dinner on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Cost is $63, call 702-869-8500. Mauler is one of the American Culinary Federations 54 Certified Master Chefs.
Nightlife innovator Pure Management Group will open a PURE Lounge at the freshly renovated Fontainebleau Resort in mid-2008. The PURE Lounge will be smaller than its 40,000-square-foot Las Vegas namesake. In early 2006, the original 51-year-old landmark Fontainebleau resort closed its doors and is now undergoing a $500 million renovation and expansion project.
In the meantime, this February Pure Management Group will bring the PURE Lounge to life at the Wine Spectator's Best of the Best, which is the South Beach Food & Wine Festival in Miami. A fully-themed lounge area complete with the club's signature sleek design will be created inside the American Airlines Arena for the Feb. 23 event.
PURE Nightclub in Las Vegas opened to nation-wide acclaim on Dec. 31, 2004, with a New Year's Eve countdown by Mariah Carey.
Additional properties under Pure Management Group include PURE Nightclub, the Pussycat Dolls Lounge and Venus Pool Club at Caesars Palace, Tangerine Lounge & Nightclub and sushi concept Social House at TI, Coyote Ugly Las Vegas at New York-New York and Fat Tuesdays inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.
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