By Steve Beauregard
In a town still recovering from the recession, and dealing with increased competition from local and Indian casinos in nearly every state, it’s understandable that Las Vegas hasn’t seen the type of massive building boom seen in all previous decades.
However when it comes to new resorts, there are some signs of life.
Preliminary ground work has begun on the $4 billion Resorts World mega-resort to-be-built across from the Wynn on the site of the old Stardust.
Resorts World is soon to be the newest casino and hotel in Las Vegas
Its scheduled opening is for an undisclosed date in 2019. Owners have even obtained gaming and construction approvals for this red-colored Asian-themed complex.
Until then, the newest hotel/casino in Las Vegas is the Lucky Dragon.
Opened on December 3rd, 2016, this Chinese-themed hotel sits approximately 500 feet west of the Las Vegas Strip, on Sahara Avenue. It is near both the Stratosphere and SLS Hotel and Casino.
In many ways, it is very unlike your traditional Las Vegas hotel/casino.
For starters, this boutique property has just 203 rooms and 27,500 square feet of casino space – both of which are very low by Las Vegas standards.
Another way it is different is the extreme degree to which it has themed and marketed the resort to a Chinese audience.
Here, most of the dealers and employees speak Chinese. There are no craps games to be found, but rather, plenty of baccarat tables available. The nine-story resort is home to five different Chinese restaurants, as well as the only tea sommelier in Las Vegas. If you didn’t know any better when walking in, you may think you are in China’s gambling province of Macau.
With its Chinese marketing efforts, Asian decor, and slightly off-strip location, the Lucky Dragon won’t be a massive draw for most of Sin City’s annual 42 million visitors, but either way, it stands of now, as the newest casino/hotel in Las Vegas.
Other “New” Casinos
If your definition of “newest” hotel includes a newly refurbished, rebuilt casino with a new name, then there are several new incarnations of Las Vegas hotels that fit the bill.
The SLS is one of the newer Strip properties
Some of these are older casinos that have changed hands but have otherwise stayed nearly the same, (other than their name), while others have been gutted, renovated, and offer guests a completely new look and feel similar to brand new, newly constructed resorts.
Below are our original descriptions of these formerly “new” resorts. These just include Strip and downtown Fremont Street hotel/casinos, and not newer local Las Vegas casinos, such as the Aliante Casino and Hotel (opened in November 2008).
August of 2014 – SLS Hotel & Casino
You’ll recognize the SLS Hotel and Casino Las Vegas as being the former home of the iconic Sahara Hotel and Casino on the far north end of the Las Vegas Strip. But other than sharing the same location, you won’t recognize any trace of the old Sahara at the new SLS. That’s because SLS ownership poured $415 million into renovating the resort into what they hope is a hip casino/shopping/nightlife destination frequented by wealthy young Southern Californians and other visitors to Sin City.
The shiny, new modern SLS contrasts sharply with its Sahara past, even as the new resort’s marketing efforts appeal to the glamour of the Sahara’s former days of glory. The SLS website points out that Sahara guests and performers included the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, and the Beatles.
The new hotel boasts 1,600 rooms, two pools, and a 60,000 square foot casino with 80 table games, 800 slot machines, and a William Hill computer-operated sports book.
On the shopping front, the resort has seven (yes seven) boutiques from trendy LA based retailer Fred Segal.
The SLS Hotel and Casino is owned by the SBE Corporation, which owns many successful nightclubs and restaurants – many of which are in Southern California. The SLS Las Vegas has eight restaurants and a coffee stand.
Its signature night club is Sayers Club, with the usual expensive drinks, rich interior decor, and not so usual patio with views of the Strip.
October 2014 – The Linq Hotel and Casino
Formerly the long-standing Imperial Palace, this resort could technically be called the newest hotel and casino in Las Vegas (because of its Fall 2014 opening), if not for the fact that the casino was remodeled and re-opened as the Quad Resort and Casino in December of 2012. My theory is you can’t be the newest hotel casino in Las Vegas every year.
Nonetheless, the new Linq Hotel and Casino has remodeled every room in the hotel, and is changing the look and facade of the entire building from the dated, Asian-themed Imperial Palace into a more contemporary-looking resort.
April 2014 – The Cromwell
Another Caesars Entertainment property, The Cromwell Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, opened on April 21st, 2014, after a $185 million dollar renovation of what was previously Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon, next door to the Flamingo.
As a “boutique hotel,” it’s now much fancier (and expensive) than its prior version as Bill’s, yet the layout and floor plan of the casino essentially remains the same.
The Cromwell is home to a hot new popular restaurant, Giada – The Restaurant (from TV’s Food Network fame), as well as the 65,000 square foot Drai’s Beach Club nightclub on the roof of the resort.
October 2013 – Downtown Grand
Formerly the Lady Luck Casino (where I loved their variation of blackjack in which the dealer showed you both of her cards), this downtown Las Vegas hotel sat as a vacant eyesore for years before millions were put into its elaborate renovations. The Downtown Grand has 650 rooms and sets just a block off of the busy Fremont Street.
April 2013 – Nobu
I’m not sure it this counts, since it’s actually a hotel inside Caesars Palace (which is not new).
Nobu is, however, part of the new hotel-within-a-hotel trend. At just 181 rooms, this visually-pleasing boutique hotel is entirely within Caesars Palace, and makes the notoriously-pricey Caesars’s rooms seem cheap by comparison.
October 2012 – The D Las Vegas
As of now, the Cosmo remains the newest brand new casino on the Las Vegas Strip
The D Las Vegas Casino and Hotel, situated on Fremont Street in old downtown Las Vegas, sits on the corner of Fremont Street and 3rd Street, at the east end and start of the Fremont Street Experience canopy. It opened in October of 2012, after a $20 million complete renovation of what had been previously Fitzgeralds.
In July of 2014, the iconic casino formerly known as the LVH, and more famously as the Las Vegas Hilton, changed owners and changed their name to the Westgate Las Vegas. The owner, David Siegel, made famous from the hit documentary, “Queen of Versailles,” has initiated room and casino renovations. However we’re not counting this as the newest casino, considering the resort has not changed significantly in aesthetics.
So until the new Resorts World opens in 2019, the honor of being the newest, completely brand new casino in Las Vegas belongs to the Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip.
Construction on the Cosmopolitan began in 2005. It suffered many financial obstacles along the way, as the Las Vegas economy nose-dived in the late 2000’s. The Cosmopolitan eventually opened to the general public on December 15, 2010, after a controversial, widely-panned (be me at least) odd television advertising campaign. It opened almost exactly one year after the it’s neighbor, The Aria, which opened on December 16, 2009.
Other major casino projects, like the mostly-built Fontainebleau north of the Wynn, remain in limbo.
(Photos courtesy of Kennejima, Mike Durkin and Billy Kerr via Flickr.)