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All it took was a phone call from his best friend and fellow chef, Michael Symon, and Bobby Flay was all in. Las Vegas' Palms Casino Resort, amid a $690 million refresh, would be the home of Flay's first new restaurant in five years and his debut fish concept. And when he caught sight of British artist Damien Hirst's massive shark sculpture The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded) swimming above the Palms' center bar, also a Hirst design, inspiration struck. "When I saw the shark, I knew that was going to be the name of the restaurant," Flay says. Opening April 1, right on time for the Cinemacon movie theater conference, Shark is just one of the desert city's new hotspots.
Where to Eat
Next door to Shark, Las Vegas now has a Banksy. The controversial acquisition, Smiley Coppers Panel I (2002), can be found within new restaurant Greene St. Kitchen, which boasts an extensive street art collection — Kenny Scharf and VHILS were among those commissioned to create works for the space fronted by a video arcade — and food by Andy Masi's Clique Hospitality. Next door, grab a late-night pizza at Clique's Side Piece. Over at Bellagio, chef Mario Carbone opened a Vegas version of Manhattan favorite Sadelle's in late 2018. The elaborate Ken Fulk-designed, 18-hour-a-day restaurant serves towers of smoked fish, perfect sandwich squares and fluffy blueberry-packed hotcakes, with pastry carts and Bloody Mary carts encircling the space.
Where to Sip
Bravo star Lisa Vanderpump unveils Vanderpump Cocktail Garden — a lush space that "feels like heaven on earth," she says — at Caesars Palace on March 30. Vanderpump's daughter Pandora created 95 percent of the cocktail menu with the spot's bartenders, but Vanderpump herself has to try every one. "That can be quite a challenge when you're trying to stay sober and be creative at the same time," she says with a laugh. Insta-ready sips to enjoy in the chandeliered spot include the Nut Job (dark rum, fresh mint, lime, coconut, creme de cacao) and Checkmate Bitch (vodka, jalapeno vodka, pineapple, bitters and pink peppercorns). Back at Palms, cocktail maestro Francesco Lafranconi revealed a new hidden luxury cocktail lounge in January called Mr. Coco — named after his dog — where guests can sip cocktails and spirits while nibbling on bites by Robuchon alum and Jean-Georges/Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills chef Steve Benjamin and listening to live entertainment from the Steinway baby grand piano. View nine unique Albert Watson Polaroids, Marilyn Minter's Pink Mist, Thomas Ruff's Substrat 5 III, and Damien Hirst's The Warrior and the Bear. And at The Cosmopolitan, The Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails — a drinks and live music parlor fronted by a working trim-and-shave salon (helmed by Lxve Studios' Jose Sosa, "Las Vegas' best barber") — bowed mid-March, rocking its debut with a special performance by Bush.
Where to Stay
If you aren't flush enough to book Palms' new 9,000-square-foot, two-bedroom Empathy Sky Villa — filled with six original artworks, furniture, and pill-and-butterfly motifs by Hirst and, at $200,000 for a two-night stay, billed as the most expensive hotel suite in the world — a few floors down and with a few less zeros try the Cinema Suite. Screen unlimited movies, sporting events or just pop on Netflix in the theater for nine. Over at the new NoMad at Park MGM, where Jeremy Renner and Chloe Moretz have stayed since its October opening, check into the 2,000-square-foot Suite Royal Premiere on the 32nd floor. This apartment-sized accommodation (starting at $5,000 a night) sleeps up to six and has a dining room, bar and pool table.
Where to Party
Celebrate XS Las Vegas' 10th anniversary March 30 with DJ Snake as the kickoff to its "10 Dates Over 10 Months," a monthly themed party that will run from March to December, featuring the Wynn nightclub's artist roster's biggest names such as Kygo, Diplo, Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and The Chainsmokers. KAOS Dayclub and Nightclub, a 100,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor entertainment experience at Palms, celebrates opening weekend April 5-7 with performances by Travis Scott and Skrillex, Cardi B, G-Eazy, J Balvin, Kaskade, Marshmello and Zac Brown Band. "Diversity in the lineup is the next evolution in Las Vegas nightlife," says Palms general manager Jon Gray. "People want to see live performances from all categories and an incredible lineup of DJs — you need to show that range now." On April 12, NoMad Hotel at Park MGM ventures into the pool scene with the opening of Jemaa, a weekend day party (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) featuring talent such as Mark Ronson, Questlove and Mayer Hawthorne. Designed by Jacques Garcia, like both the L.A. and NYC NoMad Hotels, this space is inspired by the Majorelle Gardens in Morocco. Make It Nice, helmed by Chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, which creates all the food and beverage for the NoMad brand, works its magic on the food, while bar director Leo Robitschek gives his take on day drinking with creative booze presentations like a cocktail fountain, which is a replica of the venue's water features, as well as a bottle tree that holds multiple spirits and serves 150 cocktails. Try the Tropicana Avenue (Elyx Vodka, Campari, Lemon, Strawberry, Vanilla, Mint) — an homage to the neighboring thoroughfare and one of the Strip's most heavily photographed intersections.
What to See
Hometown boy Jimmy Kimmel will broadcast five original programs from Planet Hollywood's Zappos Theater April 1 to 5. The Kardashians — Kim, Kourtney and Khloe —Tiffany Haddish, CHVRCHES, Seth Rogen, James Taylor and Kevin Hart will appear. And no Las Vegas broadcast would be complete without fellow natives The Killers, Strip headliner Celine Dion and KAOS nightclub resident Marshmello. Kimmel's comedy club, which will feature a range of talent from up-and-comers to household names, opens late spring at the adjacent LINQ Promenade across from Brooklyn Bowl, and near the High Roller — the world's tallest observation wheel. On April 6, America's all-time top-selling rock 'n' roll band, Aerosmith, joins Lady Gaga, Cher, Bruno Mars and the soon-to-debut Janet Jackson with a residency at Park MGM's Park Theater. "Deuces Are Wild," which runs 35 dates until December, will be one of Vegas' top audio/visual spectacles with new content from Aerosmith recording sessions. The team includes director Amy Tinkhim (Paul McCartney, James Taylor), producer Steve Dixon (Guns N' Roses, Justin Timberlake) and Grammy Award-winning producer Giles Martin.
A version of this story first appeared in the March 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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