In a city just now recovering from the recession, but still dealing with both a pandemic and 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 that’s quickly changing.
One beautiful brand new hotel casino opened in Las Vegas in 2020, and another, even bigger one is on the way.
Work is in full force on the $4.3 billion Resorts World mega-resort being built across from the Wynn on the site of the old Stardust. It’s reportedly still on schedule to open in the summer of 2021. Originally designed to be a full-out Asian-themed resort, the developers say now they are scaling back the theme, proclaiming the hotel/casino will have “Asian inspired touches.”
Resorts World will have two 59 story hotel towers with a combined hotel room count of 3,500 rooms, while the casino floor will stretch out over 110,000 square feet. In addition, there will be a 14,000 square foot sports book.
On the non-gaming part, there will be seven different swimming pools, a 75,000 square foot day club/night club, and over a third of a million square feet of convention space.
Resorts World’s distinctive red and gold design will have an immediate impact on the Las Vegas skyline. Until then the brand new Circa Las Vegas holds the title as the newest casino in Las Vegas.
Circa Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
Downtown’s newest hotel, Circa Las Vegas, opened on October 28th, 2020, becoming the first brand new casino to open in Las Vegas in a decade.
Situated on the site of the since-imploded Las Vegas Club Casino, Circa isn’t just a new hotel/casino; it’s the new star of Fremont Street casinos, with a glitzy 44 story hotel tower consisting of 777 rooms. The 1.25 million plus square foot property also includes six restaurants, and five bars, including the 165 foot long Mega Bar – the longest indoor bar in Las Vegas.
Circa’s enormous 3-story sportsbook is the largest sportsbook on Earth (with 1,000 person capacity), while boasting the largest TV screen in the world.
There’s also a new 9-story parking garage (cleverly dubbed “The Garage Mahal”), and a multi-tiered rooftop pool amphitheater, (dubbed “Stadium Swim”), complete with a 134 foot by 31 foot tall TV screen. The pool will be open all year-round, thanks both a heated pool and climate controlled system.
The casino itself is two stories, with 1,350 slot machines/video poker machines, and 55 table games.
Derek Stevens, the popular, personable owner of The D Hotel & Casino and Golden Gate Hotel/Casino is the owner of Circa and continues to revitalize downtown Las Vegas.
Newest Hotels in Las Vegas
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.
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 brief descriptions of these formerly “new” resorts. These just include Strip and downtown Fremont Street hotel/casinos, and not somewhat newer local Las Vegas casinos, such as the Aliante Casino and Hotel (opened in November 2008).
March 2021 – Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
It seemed like yesterday this author was in awe visiting the then-brand new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. But that was in 1995 – a lifetime ago by Las Vegas standards.
The Hard Rock closed in 2020, to make way for a full remodel and rebranding as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Opened in March of 2021, this resort just east of the Strip boasts 650 slot machines and 50 table games. There are just over 1,5000 hotel rooms spread throughout the three different hotel towers. The former Hard Rock’s noteworthy and popular 5 acre swimming pool complex remains.
May 2018 – Park MGM
The Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino, which opened during the Strip building boom of the mid-90’s, was functional, and in a good location, however it never caught the public’s imagination.
Hence, MGM Resorts (owner of the Monte Carlo), engaged in a half billion dollar renovation and re-branding of the resort – converting it to the Park MGM in May of 2018.
This wasn’t just a refresh, but rather, a complete top-to-bottom transformation with a new layout, design, theme, along with entirely new restaurants and bars.
Included in the project was the construction of the 5,000-plus seat Park Theater, the Eataly Food hall, and the NoMad – an upscale hotel within the hotel.
August of 2014 – Sahara Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
A new resort called the SLS Hotel and Casino Las Vegas opened in the summer of 2014 at 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 wouldn’t have recognized 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 hoped was going to be a hip casino/shopping/nightlife destination frequented by wealthy young Southern Californians and other visitors to Sin City.
The shiny, new modern SLS contrasted 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 pointed out that Sahara guests and performers included the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, and the Beatles.
The new hotel boasted 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 had seven (yes seven) boutiques from trendy LA based retailer Fred Segal.
The SLS Hotel and Casino was owned by the SBE Corporation, which owned many successful nightclubs and restaurants – many of which are in Southern California. The SLS Las Vegas had eight restaurants and a coffee stand.
Its signature night club was Sayers Club, with the usual expensive drinks, rich interior decor, and not so usual patio with views of the Strip.
Some time after the SBE Corporation sold the SLS, the new owners announced plans to renovate the resort. In August of 2019, the SLS was re-branded back to the Sahara Las Vegas.
October 2014 – The Linq Hotel and Casino
Formerly the long-standing Imperial Palace, this resort was remodeled and re-opened as the Quad Resort and Casino in December of 2012 before becoming the Linq in 2014.
The Linq Hotel and Casino remodeled every room in the hotel, and changed 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
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.
Newest Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip
Until the new Resorts World opens in the summer of next year, the honor of being the newest, completely brand new casino on the Las Vegas Strip belongs to the Cosmopolitan.
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.
Hotel/Casinos To Be Built in Las Vegas
Besides the aforementioned Resorts World on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, there are other major casino projects on the table.
The mostly-built towering building previously known as the Fontainebleau has a new owner, who promises to finish out the 67 story building. The resort, right across from Circus Circus, will have over 3,780 rooms, convention space, and will be called “The Drew.” Opening is expected in 2022.
New Hotels & Casinos in Las Vegas that have since closed
Lucky Dragon – December 2016
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 was very unlike your traditional Las Vegas hotel/casino.
For starters, this boutique property had just 203 rooms and 27,500 square feet of casino space – both of which are very low by Las Vegas standards.
Another way it was 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 spoke Chinese. There were no craps games to be found, but rather, plenty of baccarat tables available.
The nine-story resort was 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 have thought you were in China’s gambling province of Macau.
With its Chinese marketing efforts, Asian decor, and slightly off-strip location, the Lucky Dragon wasn’t a massive draw for most of Sin City’s annual 42 million visitors. It closed in early October 2018.
(By Steve Beauregard. Photos courtesy of Mike Durkin via Flickr.)