The Boardwalk has been demolished and was replaced by "Project City Center" which includes Aria, Vdara, Veer Towers, and Mandarin Oriental. The Harmon, a condo tower, was improperly constructed and demolished.



Mandarin Oriental
3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
(702) 590-8888

Mandarin Oriental is one of the newest and most upscale hotels on the Las Vegas strip. They don't have a casino though. The average room rate was $275 per night when they first oepened. Weekend rates are likely to be $400 per night. Mandarin Oriental is one of the Project CityCenter properties.



Aria

3730 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
(866) 359-7757

Aria is the newest addition to the MGM/Mirage group of resorts and the main attraction of the CityCenter development at Las Vegas Blvd. & Harmon Avenue. We stayed here in December 2011 and weren't impressed. Aria is high priced like Venetian, Bellagio and Wynn but is more of a generic hotel experience than it is an upscale Las Vegas resort experience. I recall when Project CityCenter was being built, MGM Mirage suddenly decided to sell Treasure Island to Phil Ruffin for $775 million. I think they needed the money to finish CityCenter, and they finished it in a hurry. One indicator of the rush is that the Harmon was condemned shortly after construction. I don't think it ever opened.

Vdara Las Vegas

Vdara 2600 W Harmon Ave, Las Vegas (702) 590-2111 is at the back (Dean Martin Drive / Industrial Ave. side) of CityCenter. It's a "boutique hotel" averaging $150 per night and does not have a casino.

Veer Towers Las Vegas


Veer Towers

3726 Las Vegas Blvd. South #3603
702-748-8285

Veer Towers are condos ranging in price from $250,000 for a studio, to $1.7 million for a 3 bedroom and $2.1 million for 2 bedrooms (which probably have nicer views due to the price being higher than a 3 bedroom).

The Harmon, Las Vegas

The Harmon was already demolished in 2014 shortly after being constructed. It was structurally unsound



Crystals Mall is a super upscale mall in CityCenter.
Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom are not even upscale enough to get in there.


  

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
3708 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 651-2432

Cosmopolitan opened in January 2011 in between the Jockey Club and Monte Carlo. This place was going to be condominiums while it was being built, but instead it's a resort hotel & casino since condos are not selling very well right now. The Cosmopolitan towers appear to be part of Project City Center, but are not. We visited Cosmopolitan in December 2011. It's somewhat fancy and upscale but also kind of plain and unremarkable. Once in awhile you run into a giant shoe... but otherwise there isn't any apparent unifying theme to the property. The main attraction of Cosmopolitan is going to be its newness and center strip location. Cosmopolitan is also one of the few strip properties that isn't owned by Harrah's or MGM Mirage. Phil Ruffin's Treasure Island, Sheldon Adelson's Venetian and Palazzo, the SLS (formerly Sahara) and Steve Wynn's Wynn and Encore are the others.



One of the giant shoes in the Cosmopolitan.





The Jockey Club
3700 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas NV 89109
800-634-6649

We checked in to Jockey Club the last day of February 2006 based on an incredibly low rate of $65 per night for a one bedroom condo. A condo, right on the strip next to Bellagio, for $65? We couldn't pass that up although we suspected a catch. Which was, the heavy construction going on next door at the Project City Center and Cosmopolitan sites. The Jockey Club parking lot was basically being used as a storage and staging area for all the construction. Las Vegas strip construction crews typically work 24/7 so the noise was relentless. BUT the construction is finished, so Jockey Club is a nice place to stay once again. We expect prices will be much higher as well. Also, Jockey Club has NO CASINO. Which you might like, or not like. Always check the Las Vegas Tourist Bureau web site for unadvertised special rates before making a reservation. We stayed at Rio Suites in December 2000 for a ridiculously low price of $25 per night, which was only advertised on the LVTB site.




Bellagio
3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89109
1-888-987-6667

Bellagio was briefly the "number one" most upscale strip resort casino until Wynn was completed in 2005. Rarely will you get a rate below $200. Walking around this place is like being in an absurdly luxurious museum. The most famous feature here is the musical water fountain show in front. Bellagio is one of the few properties you should choose if cost is not a concern and you want to experience top level luxury. Ironically, Bellagio doesn't allow children on the property unless they're guests of the hotel, but they have the best video arcade on the strip.





Caesars Palace

3570 Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109
877-427-7243

Caesars Palace is still an upscale property and is doing well at holding off the effects of age. (That's the correct spelling, no apostrophe. The intent of Jay Sarno when he built Caesars Palace was that every guest was to be a "Caesar" and therefore it is "Caesars Palace", a palace of multiple Caesars.) Caesars has a huge maze of casinos plus the Forum Shops, which is a shopping mall connected right to the Forum Casino. You could live here for years and never have to go outside. Caesars also houses the Shadow Bar, Pure, and Cleopatra's Barge. We finally stayed at Caesars Palace in December 2012. The Augustus and Octavius towers are definitely the best option, they are the newest room towers and have a private check in desk and taxi stand on Flamingo Rd. Guests also say that the Palace Tower is nice but you have to check in at the main desk with the long line. The Forum Tower and Roman Tower are less expensive and of course less upscale. The Centurion tower has been converted into a separate property called the Nobu Hotel and is owned by actor Robert DeNiro. I really liked the upscale food court in Caesars casino, it gives you a third option between low quality fast food and expensive high quality sit-down long line restaurant food.







Mirage
3400 Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas Nevada 89109
800-374-9000

Famous for its volcano eruption shows (which are natural gas flames; there's no molten lava), Mirage is a mid level property. Like many hotels, it was upscale for about ten years before being outdone by newer properties. I've never stayed there but have walked through many times. The casino and hotel scenes in National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation (with Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid) were filmed here. This DVD can be bought new for around $10 in many stores, it's a perfect movie to watch before going to Las Vegas for the first time.



Cromwell Las Vegas

Cromwell
3595 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Phone: (702) 777-3777

Barbary Coast was a well kept secret for many years: a center strip location next to the Flamingo, very nice rooms, and amazingly low prices. Barbary Coast became Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon for a few years. That entire block is owned by Harrah's and was known as a row of budget hotels (Bill's, Flamingo, Harrah's, Casino Royale, and Imperial Palace which is now the Linq.) By late 2014 the entire block had undergone major renovations and was far more upscale than it used to be. The "high roller" ferris wheel and a long row of shops leading to it from the Las Vegas Blvd. area was also added. Cromwell and the LINQ are high priced luxury hotels, while Harrahs, Flamingo and Casino Royale remain moderately priced.



Flamingo
3555 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
800 342-7724

Bugsy Siegel allegedly started the Las Vegas Strip with the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in 1946. It was renamed Fabulous Flamingo in 1947, then became the Flamingo Hilton in 1974. The Hilton name was dropped in 2000. Flamingo is a mid level (not too fancy and not too low budget) property on the center of the strip. Unlike Las Vegas strip megaresorts that are set back a mile from Las Vegas Blvd., the casino in Flamingo exits directly to the Las Vegas Blvd. sidewalk, a feature shared with nearby neighbors on the same block, and Paris across the street. As is the case with most midrange Las Vegas hotels, you can book an inexpensive room with no frills for under $50, or upgrade to a fancy room for $100 or more. In addition to the quality and furnishings found in the room, the noise level (low floors are noisy, high floors are quiet) and the view outside your window also impact prices in all Las Vegas properties. You'll pay more for silence and you'll pay more for a colorful view of the strip lights. Mountain view rooms are less expensive, and views of the side of a parking garage or 50 ton air conditioner units are the least expensive.



Harrah's
3475 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
800-214-9110

Harrah's used to look like a giant riverboat on Las Vegas Blvd. The fake paddles were removed in the mid to late 1990s. This entire block was renovated in 2014 to keep up with the trend started by Sheldon Adelson with the Venetian and Steve Wynn with Bellagio to focus on making the Las Vegas strip more upscale and luxurious. Most of the old time "lowroller" resorts like Riviera and Sahara have disappeared in favor of more luxurious properties like those found in CityCenter (Aria, Vdara, Veer Towers, Mandarion Oriental) which was completed in 2010.



The LINQ
3535 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
800-634-6441

This building had been Imperial Palace for a LONG time. Imperial Palace briefly became The Quad before their parent company (Harrah's) decided to redo the entire block as an upscale cluster of properties, including the LINQ. The IP had a long standing reputation as a lowroller place with cheap rooms, $20 or so. The rest of the block was also in decline, becoming more popular as low budget properties. That has been changed by converting the two lowest priced properties on the block (Barbary Coast/Bill's Gamblin Hall and Imperial Palace) into the two highest priced, Cromwell and LINQ.



Casino Royale
3411 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(800) 854-7666

Casino Royale is similar to Slots A Fun (next to Circus Circus) in being one of the few places you'll find on Las Vegas Blvd. that offers fair deals on food and beverages. Something like $3 for a beer and hot dog while most of the strip casinos charge $10 for just a beer. While they still serve free drinks to gamblers, it's unlikely that you'll lose less than $10 while waiting for your "free" beer, if you decide to gamble. There's also a Denny's Restaurant and Outback Steakhouse at Casino Royale. It's a small property that feels like it belongs downtown on Fremont Street rather than on the strip.

O'Sheas has the same address as the Flamingo, and is also owned by Harrah's; but it does not have hotel rooms. It's a small casino which seems to be an extension to the Flamingo's casino.

A new addition we encountered in 2014 was Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Casino, next to the Flamingo.





Next up is the Venetian. ( 3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas NV 89109. 877-857-1861). We've been a guest there twice and it's a very nice place to stay. It's an upscale (usually $199 or more for standard rooms) property but sometimes they have slightly lower rates around $149. Modeled after Venice, Italy; the Venetian is as extravagant as the Bellagio. Everywhere you look you see reproductions of Renaissance art, marble sculptures, marble floors and columns. There are even canals with gondolas you can ride in. An added bonus is that every guest room is a suite. For a romantic atmosphere, we strongly recommend Venetian, Palazzo or Bellagio.




I shot this photo August 13, 2007. It's the new 3,025 room, 53 story Palazzo at Venetian - which is being marketed as an independent property although it's under the same ownership as Venetian.



       Across the street is Treasure Island. (3300 Las Vegas Blvd South Las Vegas, NV 89109-2692. 800-288-7206). They toned down the Caribbean pirate theme in 2003, taking down the skull and crossbones sign to replace it with a giant "TI" (the old and new logos are both shown to the left), and discontinued the pirate battle show in front. (Now the show is called "Sirens of Treasure Island" and doesn't involve pirates so much.) It used to be impossible to walk past Treasure Island while the "Sirens" show was going on; but a bypass sidewalk was built to resolve that problem. Treasure Island is a mid-level property comparable to Luxor. We stayed here in December 2007 and it was nice overall but the room was smaller than expected. We've now learned that if you want a nice room in most of the MGM/Mirage Corporation properties you have to upgrade to a suite. Bellagio, Mandalay Bay/THEhotel and Aria are the exceptions.

Update: December 2008, MGM Mirage sold Treasure Island for $755 million to billionaire Phil Ruffin.



   

The northernmost "upscale" property is just north of the Venetian - Wynn (3131 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas NV 89109. 1-888-320-WYNN) opened for business April 28, 2005. The Venetian outdid Caesars Palace, only to be outdone by Bellagio, which has now perhaps been outdone by Wynn; which may be outdone by the Cosmopolitan and Echelon. Las Vegas strip developers seem to be very competitive; trying to outshine the last place that was built rather than simply building a resort that is comparable to the existing resorts. Styles vary, however, so opinions may differ as to which resorts are more luxurious and "upscale." Wynn has a clean, modern, linear look both inside & out while Bellagio and Venetian are over-the-top in their mimicry of classic European art and architecture with frilly curves & flourishes. Wynn basic rooms average 640 square feet and include flat screen high definition LCD TV, fine linens, and a second LCD TV in the bathroom. Room photos on their web site are impressive. We visited Wynn briefly in early 2006, it's extremely elegant and so unreal in its perfection it feels like being in a dream or fantasy. Their parking garage roof, like MGM's, is a good photo shooting location. When Wynn opened across the street from the New Frontier, it helped change the old "north strip = cheaper, older hotels" rule of thumb. Stardust, Frontier, and Westward Ho were all demolished shortly after Wynn's construction; leaving only Circus Circus, Sahara, and Riviera as the remaining "old Las Vegas" north strip budget properties. We don't think Stratosphere falls into the "old Las Vegas" category anymore, since all traces of its prior existence as Bob Stupak's Vegas World are gone. UPDATE: June 2009 we checked into Encore at Wynn for two nights. See our Las Vegas #9 photos. Encore is absolutely fantastic.




Here's a photo we shot of the new $2.3 billion 2,000 room "Encore at Wynn" tower, nearing completion on August 13, 2007. Wynn demolished a two year old parking garage to make room for Encore.



       Directly north of Treasure Island, across the street from Wynn, is Fashion Show Mall. An escalator at the north end will take you directly up to the food court if you want to avoid walking past all the stores where you may be tempted to spend money. This is a fairly standard medium sized shopping mall. The food court now has public Internet terminals with printers (I first noticed these in December 2007) so it's a handy place to stop if you want to check in for a flight and print out your boarding pass.




The north Las Vegas Strip




The north strip is in a state of flux; with older, inexpensive properties being replaced with new construction. Sahara closed in 2011. Frontier was demolished in December 2007, Stardust was imploded in March 2007, and Westward Ho was demolished in 2006. Nothing has opened in place of these resorts as of July 2012. Five years, nothing. Fontainebleu was constructed at the old El Rancho site across from Circus Circus but remains unopened and in a questionable position. It's a big ugly cylinder that cost $3 billion to construct and apparently nobody wants to do anything with it. Taking the place of the Stardust will be the "Echelon" or "Echelon Place" (a Boyd Gaming project), which has been described as being similar to Mandalay Bay. Construction began five years ago then was halted and remains halted.



Las Vegas Strip tour continued --->



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