When I think of New Year's destinations two places pop into my mind: Times Square in New York and the Las Vegas Strip. I spent this past New Years holiday in Las Vegas for the first time and was blow away by the festivities and energy. A huge part of that energy was emitted by the the strips newest addition, the City Center. The City Center is located between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo Hotel/Casino and is comprised of 7 structures. I am not sure what to call this new center because within it is 4 hotels: Mandarin Oriental, Vdara, The Harmon and Aria, 2 residential towers called Voor, and high end shopping center Crystals. All of these elements are connected to one another through beautifully landscaped common spaces and plazas.
The new towers not only stand out due to their young age (opened 12/16/09) but the fact that they do not follow the traditional Las Vegas style of architecture. While all of the hotels and casinos that dot the strip have theme that beats you over the head, The City Center, like the Wynn, look like they could belong in any major metropolitan city. The first thing that came to my mind when viewing the new development was how much Crystals seemed to channel Gehry's Disney Music Hall in L.A. and Guggenheim in Bilbao. The skyscrapers tower above the strip with their clean glass facades of blue tones that make you realize that Las Vegas really HAS changed. People have been saying that for years now, Las Vegas has changed. The old Las Vegas, when I think of it, is lines of tour buses filled with geriatrics in their sequined hats sitting at slot machines collecting their nickels and then waiting in lines for disgusting buffets and cheesy shows. They have all been apparently shuttled over to watch the Fremont Experience, because what I saw during this past trip was the exact opposite. Young people, young people with money, and not just money to spend but lots of money to gamble with. Las Vegas must not have gotten the memo that we are in a recession, because all I saw during my trip were advertisements for spa treatments, the talk of more development to come, more club openings and the ever so lovely bottle service tables or private booths filled to capacity.
Las Vegas truly has changed and when I looked down the strip I wondered how long the older hotels had left. With new developments like The City Center, I am excited to see what is to become. I think that over the recent years, Las Vegas architects have discovered that people who visit the city regularly don't want to cheese but they want luxury and that is what the new Las Vegas is about, the luxury.