“What’s happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is taking on a whole new meaning.
Multiple casinos and resorts—including heavyweights MGM and Caesars—in the meetings capital of the United States are in various stages of expansions. Meanwhile, Las Vegas CVA is spearheading the renovation and upgrading of Las Vegas Convention Center.
While each project has different elements and timelines, the idea is the same: Make sure events that make Las Vegas home don’t develop a wandering eye.
“The increased demand for space compelled us to develop more robust and creative meeting options throughout our portfolio,” says Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer for MGM Resorts.
And while the development feels a bit like an arms race from the outside, nothing could be further from the truth. Find an official involved in any expansion and they’ll say the individual efforts will help the collective.
“There is less competition than you might think,” says Rob Svedberg, who will lead the convention center project for architectural and design firm tvsdesign. “The hotels are working together to improve the guest experience and overall success of the destination. It really is a rising-tide-raises-all-boats philosophy.”
At the very least, event planners and attendees will be big winners once all of the work is completed.
The former Monte Carlo Resort and Casino is positioning itself as Las Vegas’ answer for small meetings. The centerpiece will be the city’s first Executive Meeting Center and Ideation Labs—experiential spaces meant to match modern-day desires. Both were scheduled for completion by this spring, a few months after the 77,000-sq.-ft. “Creating a casual, comfortable gathering place that blurs the boundaries between work and relaxation will ultimately lead to greater productivity,” predicts Dominguez. In total, Park MGM sports 77,000 square feet of events space, including 43 breakout rooms. The 4,300-sq.-ft. Central Park Terrace provides an outside venue, while the 30,000-sq.-ft. Park Theater seats 5,200.
Remarkably, Mandalay Bay’s $70 million expansion, including 350,000 square feet of new exhibit space completed in January 2016, almost feels like old news. Mandalay Bay Convention Center now possesses more than 2 million total square feet and over 900,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space as it targets corporate, association and incentive groups. The cherry on top of the project is the world’s largest convention solar array, which grew from 12 to 20 acres. MGM, which owns Mandalay Bay, says the array offsets 20 percent of the resort’s peak energy demand.
JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa
The action strays 15 miles from the Strip at JW Marriott Las Vegas, which opened Palms Executive Conference Center in late 2017. The 15,000-sq.-ft. addition gives the property more than 100,000 square feet of events space. Cascade, a 10,000-sq.-ft. meeting room just off the casino floor, also opened last year. Going green was a special emphasis for the project. The new space includes hydration stations, electronic signage, linen-less tables, recycled notepads and paperless communication options.
The Drew Las Vegas
Marriott will debut this integrated resort and casino slated for arrival in late 2020. Of note, the project will mark the first JW Marriott on The Strip. The resort will hold nearly 4,000 rooms and suites and more than 500,000 square feet of convention and meeting space.
When it opens in 2020, the 550,000-sq.-ft. conference center will host the two largest pillarless ballrooms in North America. The outdoor plaza will be 100,000 square feet alone. In total, the center will accommodate 10,000 attendees. Just in case you thought Caesars was skimping, the Forum carries a $375 million price tag. But with direct access to Harrah’s Las Vegas, The Linq and Flamingo, the company is betting the investment is worth it. "Building the two largest ballrooms in the world demonstrates our continued commitment to the meetings industry," says Caesars Entertainment Chief Sales Officer Michael Massari. Groundbreaking will occur this year.
MGM Grand took advantage of hosting MPI’s World Education Congress last summer to officially break ground on a massive overhaul of its convention space. MGM Grand Conference Center will gain 250,000 square feet of events space during its $130 million remodeling.That includes a new 5,500-sq.-ft. outdoor courtyard available for private events, a 49,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, a 32,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, three junior ballrooms and 11 breakout rooms. Additionally, the Stay Well Meetings space—a collaboration between MGM and Dr. Deepak Chopra—will expand by an additional 22,000 square feet to encompass the entire second level. The project should be completed in 2018. The upgrades are just the latest work done to keep guests on MGM’s property throughout their stay. Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto opened a restaurant inside MGM Grand in 2016, and the hotel is home to the city’s Topgolf location.
A two-year, $165 million expansion of Aria’s convention center wrapped in February. The interior work—i.e., the technical hardwiring—is dramatic, but it pales in comparison to the visible changes. The glass-enclosed, four-story venue has unobstructed views of The Park and T-Mobile Arena. And with 200,000 square feet of additional meeting space, Aria can now find a way to say yes to events it once regretfully rejected. “We’re notorious for turning down business constantly,” says Tony Yousfi, CMP, Aria’s vice president of sales. “We just [didn’t] have enough space to do it.” Yousfi is perhaps most proud of the fact conference attendees won’t have to walk through the casino to reach the events space. They’ll be able to hop out of bed, grab an elevator and be ready to meet within three minutes, he vows. “You basically own the convention center,” he says.