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2011 has been a big year for hotels—we’ve scooped dozens of exciting hotel openings across the globe. On the flip side, we must bid farewell to a few monumental hotels that have closed. Here are a few of the goners we’ll miss most. A moment of silence, if you will.
Sahara Las Vegas (closed May 16)
One of Sin City’s last Rat Pack-era hotels has closed for good. The landmark casino-hotel held court on the northern Strip for 59 years. Scads of musical legends had graced its ballroom stage (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, and Liza Minnelli, to name a few).
Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya (closed June 6)
We know Mexico tourism has taken a beating these last few years, but is the Mandarin’s closing an upshot? The luxury beach resort had been enduring increasingly low occupancy rates. Perhaps there’s hope—the property’s website indicates that the hotel will re-open in due course. We shall see.
The Chelsea Hotel (closed in August)
The historic artist enclave was sold to developer Joseph Chetrit and closed in August, save for its 100 permanent residences. Future plans are vague but Chetrit intends to keep the Chelsea a hotel. Phew! We can only hope that the history-packed rooms retain their legendary rocker grit post renovations.
The Plaza’s Oak Room (closed in May)
The celebrity-loved Oak Room will no longer host its famously outrageous afternoon parties, thanks to a rent dispute between restaurant operators and hotel owners. No word yet of what will become of the historic space.
Ritz Paris (temporarily closing in summer for renovations)
The oh-so-fancy Parisian landmark is, in truth, not so ritzy at the moment. The old gal is looking a little tired and will close for two years this summer for an extensive refresh.
We’ve seen our fair share of unique hotel design elements, but the sheer number and grandiosity of on-property hotel aquariums took us by surprise. While some are in locations where you might expect to find elaborate shrines to the local ocean flora and fauna – Hawaii, the Bahamas, the Philippines – mega-aquariums have turned up in some unexpected places, like central Berlin and midtown Manhattan. A pair of Vegas showstoppers, a duo of Florida hideaways, and a monstrous aquatic playground only possible in everything-to-the-extreme Dubai round out our list of the largest and most extravagant. And unlike the tanks you may have encountered during grade school field trips, these 10 hotel aquariums aren’t just for pressing your nose against the glass: Some allow guests to plunge right in through scuba or snorkeling sessions, stingray feedings, or dolphin encounters. So take it from us – it really is better down where it’s wetter, under the (artificial) sea! Check out our Top 10 Hotel Aquariums to get a sneak peek of these watery wonders.
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Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Caesars Palace. Already one of the largest hotels on the Strip, the property will add 668 more rooms with the opening of the new Octavius Tower. The sixth tower at the resort complex promises a level of exclusivity over the other accommodations at Caesars, with a private entrance and separate lobby as well as primo access to the Garden of the Gods pool area.
Sporting dark wood furniture and marble floors covered by patterned carpets, Octavius rooms start at 550 square feet and boast pillow-top mattresses with Anchini linens and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. Marble-tiled bathrooms come complete with whirlpool baths, glass-enclosed showers, and Gilchrist and Soames bath products.
The five-star, bronze-tinted tower of Encore Las Vegas and its neighboring big sister, The Wynn (just a corridor away), mark the de facto northern end of the Central Strip. The Encore’s swank rooms afford fabulous views through wall-to-wall windows and remote-controlled lighting and drapery. The resort’s casino gets great light, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto pools and greenery (a rarity in gaming destinations). There’s also a 60,000-square-foot beach club, a gorgeous spa, several trendy nighttime spots like Tryst and Blush, and topnotch restaurants like La Cave and Wazuzu. From now through March 23, you can knock an additional 25 percent off regular room rates when you book two nights or more at Encore Las Vegas. Rates start from $134/night. Reservations must be made 60 days in advance. Click www.vegas.com/resosrts/encore to book.
What’s new in Sin City? Take a spin through our updated Las Vegas Travel Guide to find the latest on where to stay, eat, and play under the bright lights of the neon skyline. Here at Hotel Buzz, we’ve got the dirt on the hottest hotels around:
- The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the newest hotel on the Strip and has earned a following with younger guests thanks to a concert venue that hosts free, multi-night mini-residencies for emerging musical acts.
- Though the Tropicana may be one of the older casinos on the Strip, a 2011 makeover means the hotel stays fresh – stay tuned for the opening of the Nikki Beach nightclub and pool club later this month.
- The Palms wins points for its outrageous Fantasy Suites, like the 4,240-square-foot Kingpin Suite with its own regulation bowling alley.
Want more? Check out our Last Vegas Hotels guide.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights to Las Vegas.
Sin City’s latest resort casino – The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas – opened last week five years after construction originally began. With a prime location between the year-old CityCenter and the Bellagio, the hotel is the only one to open in Vegas this year.
The Cosmopolitan boasts nearly 3,000 rooms in two towers, many with luxe extras like private terraces and Japanese soaking tubs, and all promising sleek design and the latest in hi-tech gadgets. A slew of celebrity chefs, including David Myers and Scott Conant, have jumped on board for the hotel’s current 9 restaurant offerings.
When it comes to play time, the 100,000-foot Boulevard Casino – with windows facing the Strip (Windows? In a Vegas casino? Unheard of!) – should suffice, along with the extravagant Marquee nightclub and five bars. During the day, guests can take advantage of three pools (including one adults-only) and a full spa.
A focus on contemporary art manifests itself in four commissioned murals/graffiti works in the Cosmopolitan’s garage. Look for other examples of visual art, new media, and design throughout the hotel.
The hotel currently lists rates starting at $135/night, though note rooms are booked solid through New Year’s. www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com
Find the best offers to Sin City with our Las Vegas Travel Deals.
Wynn Las Vegas debuts a new wine bar, La Cave, this week. The cavernous hangout is located next to the casino floor and spans 4,000 square feet between its three rooms. In addition to a broad range of vintages from across the globe, La Cave will also offer artisanal beers on tap, cocktails, and small bites like charcuteries, cheeses, and tapas. The bar’s design seems to be getting most of the buzz – don’t expect the traditionally teeny, cozy wine bar from Wynn. 555 International, also behind Moon Nightclub and N9NE Steakhouse in Vegas, designed the space with striking contemporary features like a bar made of LED-lighted reflective tiles, a dark red burlap wall, and a custom-made steel gate riddled with Latin phrases. La Cave opens to the public this Friday, December 3.
The shiny new Vdara (www.vdara.com) hotel in Las Vegas boasts a sleek, curved glass exterior. Is it architecturally impressive? Yes. Does the powerful desert sun reflect off the glass and into the pool area scorching hotel guests like ants under a magnifying glass? Uh, yes. The hotel’s architects did anticipate problems resulting from the intense glare that beams off the concave façade, and, as a precautionary measure, they draped a film over most of the building’s windows to counter the effect. Unfortunately, the film is no match against Nevada’s sizzling rays (or the “death ray” as hotel employees call it). Even with umbrellas and SPF, laying by the pool in one of the bona fide “hot spots” means you might walk away looking like a lobster. The “death ray” has reportedly melted plastic bags so you can imagine the effect it could have on human skin. Come to think of it, the cast of The Jersey Shore just might have found their heaven.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.
Normally, we’re all about bringing you news of exciting new hotel openings, updates, expansions – but what of the hotels that haven’t made it through the economic storm? Despite the influx of good news on the travel front – destinations bouncing back (hello, Mexico), beaches seemingly unscathed along the Gulf, spurts of hotel openings in cities across the globe (New York’s 2010 hotel boom alone brings over a dozen newbies) – there is also the sad reality that some great properties are on the fast road to ruin. Herewith, the ugly truth . . . Read more
To escape some of the hype and commotion of the Las Vegas strip, spend your nights at The Signature at MGM Grand. The MGM Grand’s casino-free, nonsmoking baby sister inhabits a trio of towers near the MGM and Planet Hollywood. The vibe at the condo-hotel is relaxed yet refined. Rooms come outfitted with dark-wood furnishings, a kitchen or kitchenette, and marble and granite bathrooms and 10 percent of the junior suites and all one-bedroom suites have balconies with killer Strip views. Outside, the pool is circled by cabanas. For everything else, guests can hop on a moving walkway to the MGM Grand. Now through September 30th, Discounted Jacuzzi Suite rates for Sherman’s readers start at $76/night (plus the $20 daily resort fee and taxes) and cover a free upgrade to a Vista Suite (when available).
THE VALUE: Save 30 percent off the price of a Jacuzzi Suite.
THE CATCH: The offer is not valid over Labor Day weekend.
THE DETAILS: Call or book online with the code TRAVEL; 877-574-4685; luxurysuitesintl.com
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search comparison tool to find low round-trip fares to Las Vegas.
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