Las Vegas: What's New on the Strip, From Hot Shops to Hologram Dealers
This story first appeared in the June 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
In a town where anything with less than 5,000 rooms is considered a motel, the teeny CROMWELL, with only 188 rooms (from $179 a night), is an anomaly. But being small is sort of the point of The Strip's first boutique hotel, opened in May. Unlike Vegas' sprawling luxury resorts, you don't need a map to find your room. It's also got a killer location, across from the Bellagio fountains, as well as Giada, celeb chef Giada De Laurentiis' first restaurant. The rooms have all those boutique-y appointments you won't find at Caesars: hardwood floors, upholstered wall panels and quaint phrases stenciled onto the bathroom walls ("You cannot desire what you do not know").
On the other side of The Strip, THEHotel at Mandalay Bay will reopen in September as THE DELANO, counterpart to the Miami Beach hotel. At the 1,100-room property, expect desert-inspired elements, including a locally quarried 45,000-pound boulder at valet.
And come Labor Day, the trendy SLS -- with locations in Los Angeles and South Beach -- will add a third property on the north end of Las Vegas Boulevard with the opening of the 1,600-room SLS VEGAS, built on the bones of the old Sahara. Rooms are designed by Philippe Stark (with Lenny Kravitz helping with four of the suites).
Shoppers can get their kicks at limited-edition sneaker shop 12 A.M. RUN co-owned by rapper Nas at The Linq shopping complex, also home to the new Vegas flagship of milliners GOORIN BROS., which sells the fedora style worn by Breaking Bad's Walter White. Francophiles get their fix at The Shops at Crystals, where both CELINE and French skincare brand SISLEY have opened. At Aria, the Swatch-owned HOUR PASSION watch store, with such brands as Longines and Hamilton has made its debut, while at the Wynn, high rollers are splurging at GIVENCHY's only U.S. location.
Back in March, The Cosmopolitan unveiled the world's first virtual croupiers in its new INTERBLOCK HOLOGRAM GAMING LOUNGE. Since it's Vegas, the artificial dealers are designed to look like showgirls in clingy sequined gowns -- something CNN execs might consider next time they trot out the technology -- but the interaction with players is still pretty limited. The electronic dealers can't speak or hear, though flirtatious eye contact seems to be part of their programming. The games, notes David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, "are less intimidating for novices. And from a labor perspective, they're cheaper." Unless, of course, the holograms gain sentience and revolt.