Las Vegas has a long history of reinventing itself to fit the times. Going back to the 1950s until the present day, Vegas transforms every decade or so into something different. From being the home of the Rat Pack in the 60s and Elvis’ comeback in the 70s, the casinos didn’t change the basic formula. During this time, they just expanded and opened new locations.
Then came the 80s. People didn’t want that old look anymore. It took until 1989 for The Mirage to open and change the entire hotel/casino/entertainment/restaurant game. Las Vegas needed to regenerate and no city makes more of a spectacle over demolishing the old to bring in the new. Hotel implosions are entertainment in Vegas. I don’t think any of them were more spectacular than the show put on to destroy The Dunes.
Vegas went full-on with the themed casino hotels in the 90s with Luxor, New York New York, Paris, The Venetian, Treasure Island, Mandalay Bay and Planet Hollywood. The goal was to attract more than gamblers. Casinos tried to become themeparks, with many of them opening rollercoasters. This was also the time where Cirque du Soleil became a fixture at many hotels on the strip.
The one hotel that stood out during this boom was Bellagio. With the signature fountains (here’s how they work!) and sophisticated design, this was not your everyday casino. People visited just to see the Chihuly covering the lobby ceiling, the conservatory and fine art collection.
Vegas was growing up and getting fancy. Between the swanky party vibe of The Palms or the Wynn trying to one-up Bellagio, things were changing again. Gone was the family vibe to be replaced by the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” mantra.
High-end luxury hotels moved in with the opening of Mandarin Oriental/Waldorf-Astoria, Vdara, Delano, Aria, Encore, The Cosmopolitan and SLS. Some of these locations did well and others not-so-much. By the end of the 10s, Las Vegas was already feeling the winds change direction again. Gone were new big production shows replaced by artists in residence. Elton John, Celine Dion, Bruno Mars, Brittney Spears, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Diana Ross and Lady Gaga all performed (or had plans to do so) before coronavirus.
Now that Las Vegas had to close down for months and is still trying to figure out how to operate in a COVID-19 world, what’s next?
Even if things go back to the way they were, which is unlikely, people were already starting to get tired of what Las Vegas had become. Some of the ideas of what’s to come were already on the drawing board and getting ready to open. Circa, the first adults-only casino-resort, is opening at the end of this year. Rumors are swirling that the Park MGM (formerly the Monte Carlo) is considering going non-smoking, which hasn’t been tried in Vegas in quite a while. The long-awaited Resorts World is supposed to be open by summer 2021 and will be the most expensive property ever in Las Vegas.
That’s not all, as just this week, another rumor surfaced that one of the most iconic structures from the theme-hotel era might be on the way out. The Luxor Las Vegas (and the famous pyramid) might be the newest victim of Las Vegas’ obsession with recreating itself.
So what will the next era of Las Vegas bring? Will guests flock to the newest mega-resorts or are more value-oriented locations, which are more suited to social distancing guidelines, become all the rage.
One thing is sure. Once Vegas knows what people want, they’ll waste no time blowing up the buildings of the past to build new ones where people want to go to lose their money.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary