Las Vegas is always changing — especially on and around the Strip. The new year is bringing plenty of cool new concepts, from restaurants and residencies to renovations and even a big-ass stadium that will permanently change the Vegas skyline. But one thing’s for sure, it is all about the experience. Here are just a few of the things you might want to check out if you go to G2E later this year.
FUERZA BRUTA – IMMERSIVE DANCE PARTY & ART SHOW
It’s been a while since they did something new and exciting at the Excalibur. Fuerza Bruta opens on March 7 for a six-month run at the resort – or more accurately, outside the resort in a high-tech tent near Las Vegas Boulevard. The audience is actually on stage, right in the middle of the action, while the show unfolds around them. It’s an immersive experience with performers hanging overhead, swimming above the crowd in what appears to be a pool and doing whatever it takes to give you a ridiculously inventive and interactive stage spectacle. Fuerza Bruta got its start in Buenos Aires and has been seen by millions around the world, including a nine-year run in New York.
KIND HEAVEN – ASIAN CULTURE AT THE LINQ
Lollapalooza music festival founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell is one of the names behind Kind Heaven, a two-storey celebration of Asian culture that’s due to open at The LINQ in November. A lot of mystery surrounds the project, although a few details are starting to leak out. The experience – geared toward families during the day and adults at night – will be a multisensory journey through the music, art, and cuisine of Southeast Asia. Different environments will be recreated throughout the 10,000 square metre venue, from back alleys and train stations to temples and garden sanctuaries. In the quest for true enlightenment, Kind Heaven will be a cashless society with items paid for with cryptocurrency loaded onto wearable technology.
ICONIC STEAKHOUSE RETURNS
When Smith & Wollensky closed its longtime stand-alone Strip steakhouse opposite the old Monte Carlo casino in 2017, it promised to come back – and unlike most shuttered restaurants who make that promise, this one actually delivered. A new two-storey, 1,300 square metre Smith & Wollensky is opening inside the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian in April, ready to serve prime steaks, fresh seafood, and plenty of red wine. The green awnings, lattice work and antique lighting might be familiar to longtime Vegas and G2E visitors, but the leather booths and an in-house butcher shop will add a little extra swagger to this upmarket favourite.
WYNN GOLF COURSE RETURNS
Last year we told you about the Paradise Park project at the Wynn, where many of the Aussie contingents stay when they visit Las Vegas. The project was going to see the resort’s long-time golf course to make way for a massive lagoon surrounded by attractions, including a new hotel tower and convention centre. A lot has changed since then. CEO Steve Wynn was forced out of his own company in a #MeToo scandal and the expansion was dramatically downgraded. The new convention centre is still a go, but the waterpark not so much. So, the golf course, which closed last year, isn’t going away after all. Surprise, surprise! It turns out that people who spend money at golf courses, also spend money at casinos – as opposed to those who visit waterparks. The course will get a fresh new look with original designer Tom Fazio overseeing the project.
CELINE DION WILL FINALLY SAY FAREWELL
For some people, it’s hard to imagine Las Vegas without Celine Dion. The Canadian singer wraps up her “Celine” residency on June 8, following a run of more than seven years. Before that, her “A New Day” production ran between 2003 and 2007. That adds up to more than a thousand shows and about 4.5 million fans at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Who knows – it may be just a matter of time before another long-term signature star is signed up to fill the void.
MYSTERIOUS AREA 15 TO BRING ART, SCI-FI & NIGHTLIFE UNDER ONE ROOF
Area15 is promising a little bit of everything – art, music, retail, restaurants, bars, nightlife and corporate event space – all wrapped up in one immersive package. The massive 11,706 square metre structure is under construction near Interstate 15 and the Desert Inn. Little is known about exactly who and what will be inside just yet – so stay tuned.
THE BRITISH INVASION
Whilst not really well known in the States, British fans are already booking flights to Vegas for the rare chance to see Robbie Williams in a relatively small theatre at the Wynn. The shows have been in such high demand, three July dates were added after the initial run of shows in March sold out in a flash.
Other brand new musical residencies in 2019 include Billy Idol “Las Vegas 2019” and Lady Antebellum “Our Kind of Vegas” at the Palms, Britney Spears “Domination” & Aerosmith “Deuces are Wild” at the Park Theatre inside the Park MGM, John Fogerty “My 50 Year Trip” at the Wynn, and James Taylor at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
NEW POOL WITHOUT THE PARTY AT THE NOMAD
The NoMad Las Vegas – a hotel-within-a-hotel – opened inside the Park MGM in last year and brought along its own lobby, restaurant, bar, and gaming area. This year NoMad will also have its own exclusive pool to welcome swimmers and sunbathers for the first time. Modelled after the Majorelle Garden in Morocco, the pool deck discards noisy day club chaos in favour of a reclusive and sophisticated retreat. You can still order a fruity frozen drink, but also browse the menu for craft cocktails or choose from their expansive lineup of wines.
THE RAIDERS STADIUM WILL GET BIGGER & BIGGER
The new NFL stadium for the Raiders won’t be ready until 2020, but it’s already starting to dramatically reshape the Las Vegas skyline. You can even watch the progress live on an online camera. If that’s not enough, you can also throw $100 toward a deposit on season tickets, although that deposit only secures the chance to buy tickets and doesn’t actually guarantee the tickets themselves. Just think of 2019 as the calm before the storm, when all you have to do is enjoy the spectacle of a 65,000-seat football stadium being built from the ground up.
THE PALMS MAKEOVER
Under the new ownership of Station Casinos, the Palms is in the middle of a massive US$690 million improvement project. Everything from the rooms to the casino floor is being renovated with a crisp modern touch. New restaurants are among the best openings of last year and this year expect a new pool area, nightclub, and even more cool restaurants, including Greene St. Kitchen, which plans to mix 80’s arcade games, craft cocktails, and modern American cuisine into one big social package.
MARIJUANA SMOKING LOUNGES?
Nevada legally sells recreational marijuana but doesn’t allow public consumption. It’s kind of a Catch-22 thing for tourists who may want to light up. Expect that to change in 2019 with the introduction of smoking lounges. We’re just not sure exactly where they’ll be. The laws are still being sorted out, but the city of Las Vegas (which controls downtown) appears to be taking the lead on the issue, while Clark County (which controls the Strip) is holding back a bit. That’s because pot – still illegal in the eyes of the federal government – is considered a big no-no in the tourist corridor. You see, weed and gambling don’t mix so well according to regulators. So, if and when these lounges show up in 2019, the biggest question will be — how easily can you walk to one from your Strip hotel?