Business trip: Las Vegas
Once the Cosmopolitan began to draw in the young, hip crowd, other developers quickly took notice and initiated re-dos focused on a younger demographic. For example, The Delano Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay -- sister to the mod, design-driven Delano South Beach in Miami -- will renovate, re-design and re-brand the 1,100-room tower that is currently THEhotel in late 2013. Also, the Palms Casino Resort and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino are revamping to maintain their trendy vibe in the face of mounting competition.
Nearly all the biggest celebrity chefs have established outposts in Las Vegas, which has helped elevate food quality throughout the city. But despite the big culinary names, the sizzle here is in the scene more than the cuisine. For example, at the new two-level Gordon Ramsey Steak, guests enter through a “Chunnel”-themed entrance and dine on aged beef, fish and chips and shepherd’s pie under a giant Union Jack mural.
Seafood such as caviar parfait, phyllo-crusted sole and lobster pot pie are the stars at Michael Mina, located in the conservatory at the Bellagio. Enjoy meaty favourites such as maple-brined pork chops, Colorado lamb or charcoal grilled filet mignon in a clubby atmosphere at Charlie Palmer Steak in the Four Seasons. And Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina inside the giant CityCenter complex is a great spot to people watch while enjoying a casual business lunch of rustic Italian fare such as handmade pasta, mushroom pizza with béchamel and fontina cheese or penne carbonara.
For a special event, ask for the private “pagoda table”, which floats over a koi pond at Mizumi, inside the elegant Wynn Las Vegas, home to the city’s best Japanese robatayaki, teppanyaki and sushi.
Off the clock
One of the most common refrains you will hear from convention delegates in Las Vegas goes something like this: “I’ve been here for two days and I haven’t been outside once.” Due to the size and inter-connectedness of hotel lobbies, casinos and convention facilities, you can walk for hours and never see the light of day or get a breath of fresh, unprocessed air. Las Vegas casinos are designed to keep patrons indoors gambling, shopping or dining, so when you have a chance, look for the hard-to-find exit signs and get outside for a walk up and down Las Vegas Boulevard.
Outdoor sights include the spectacularly choreographed (and free) “Fountains of Bellagio” performance, which takes place every hour in front of the Bellagio hotel/casino on the Strip. Starting next year, visitors can walk to two 500ft observation wheels (similar to the London Eye) for dramatic views: SkyVue Las Vegas (located on the south end of the Strip) and the more centrally located High Roller in the Linq Center shopping centre, adjacent to Caesar’s Palace.
If you grow weary of the flashy, plastic Strip, grab a cab and step back in time with a visit to the place where it all began: downtown Las Vegas, located a few miles to the north. In this fun, walkable part of town, you can enjoy a vintage experience and maybe even encounter a few locals. The giant online shoe retailer Zappos.com (with 1,200 employees) is leading the charge of local businesses relocating back into the historic core of the city. Downtown is also where you will find the brand new Smith Center for the Performing Arts, home to the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Nevada Ballet Theatre.
Don’t do this!
Money talks in Las Vegas. While most business travellers know that tipping is the custom throughout the US, it is even more important in Las Vegas if you want to ensure promptness. A tip to the front desk clerk at the hotel or maitre d’ at a restaurant can result in a room upgrade or a “see and be seen” table in a top restaurant. So be sure to account for heavier-than-usual tipping in your budget, and you will quickly discover that a few dollars here or there can make your visit much more pleasant in this service-focused city.