Convention Capital showed off during IMEX
Las Vegas welcomed the largest IMEX America ever in October and the world had a lot of catching up to do as so many new venues had opened or upgraded while the world was on pause. From some of the largest pillarless ballrooms to an underground transportation system, a permanent pop-up immersive experience and more restaurants than you can sample in a month of conference nights out, the city is bigger and shinier than it was in 2020.
The first change is visible when arriving at Las Vegas International Airport, which is now Harry Reid International Airport (LAS). The new discount airline Breeze Airways recently announced eight new weekly nonstop flights. Spirit Airlines and Delta Air Lines are both introducing new flights in time for CES in January of 2023.
Meet and Stay
“A lot has happened,” said new Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Chief Sales Officer Lisa Messina. Las Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system built by Elon Musk’s Boring Company, has started shuttling visitors to the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center with plans to expand down The Strip. Caesars Forum threw open the doors on a 550,000-square-foot conference center in 2020. Resorts World Las Vegas opened in 2021 with three Hilton properties and a 5,000-seat theater.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opened in 2021 in the former Hard Rock Hotel space on the same end of The Strip. Downtown, Circa Resort & Casino Las Vegas dove into the mix with a massive outdoor sports pool deck. Funky AREA 15 emerged as an immersive entertainment and events district with Meow Wolf. And Allegiant Stadium, new home of the NFL Las Vegas Raiders, showed off its event moves by hosting the opening reception for IMEX America.
Mandalay Bay Convention Center, new home of IMEX America, is in the midst of a $100 million remodel of its 2.1 million-square-foot convention center. In phase one, Cat6A Ethernet cabling doubled the frequency of data transmission and increases the speed up to 9,400%—the equivalent of downloading a 4K movie in 30 seconds. A total of 11 new digital walls will enhance communication. RFID locks on meeting room doors and 200 new motion-detection cameras will enhance security. And a bright, tropical design freshened the halls and meeting spaces.
The city that constantly reinvents itself isn’t done. Fontainebleau Director of Group Sales Louis Gonzales confirmed that the company will open a much-anticipated Las Vegas location in 2023, boasting 550,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 105,000-square-foot ballroom, a 90,000-square-foot theater, a 25,000-square-foot Meridian Garden, 57 meeting spaces, 3,700 guest rooms and 27 different food and beverage outlets on the 25-acre property.
Rising from behind The Venetian is MSG Sphere, a $1.66 billion, 875,000-square-foot entertainment venue being built by Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., with plans to flip the on switch for the world’s largest man-made globe in 2023.
Mid-Strip, Bally’s Las Vegas is undergoing a transformation to a classic gaming brand, Horseshoe, and hosted the World Series of Poker.
Caesars Entertainment newly promoted Vice President of Sales, Meetings and Events Kelly Gleeson Smith had a lot to promote. At the flagship Caesars Palace, a grand new lobby awaits along with Dominique Ansel Las Vegas bakery featuring creative confectionaries, decadent desserts and “Cronuts” from the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef. A Peter Luger Steakhouse is scheduled to open by the end of the year, the first U.S. location outside of the original Brooklyn, New York, address that opened as Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley in 1887.
Across the street at Paris Las Vegas, a second restaurant from Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, delivers on the celebrity chef’s “kokoro” or heartfelt approach to hospitality. Vanderpump a Paris brings garden-variety Instagrammable experiences from the English television personality and restauranteur that has drawn crowds at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden at Caesars Palace.
The Bedford by Martha Stewart is the lifestyle celebrity’s first restaurant. It draws inspiration from her New York country farmhouse approach to entertaining. Think Oysters Rockefeller and lobster bouillabaisse. Not to be left behind, celebrity chef Bobby Flay crossed The Strip after the successful launch last year of Amalfi by Bobby Flay at Caesars Palace to open Bobby’s Burgers by Bobby Flay, dispensing what he calls hand-crafted American fare and spoon-bending milkshakes.