by Andrea Doyle | September 13, 2016
Fifty years ago, Jay Sarno opened Caesars Palace and the Las Vegas Strip was changed forever. The doors of the opulent 14-story, 680-room hotel swung open on Aug. 5, 1966, the most expensive casino ever constructed at the time.

Today, the 85-acre resort offers 25 diverse dining options including the award-winning Bacchanal Buffet, as well as restaurants by Gordon Ramsay, Bobby Flay, Nobu Matsuhisa, and many others. Caesars Palace features nearly 130,000 square feet of casino space, a five-acre Garden of the Gods pool oasis, the luxurious Qua Baths & Spa, COLOR Salon by celebrity hairstylist Michael Boychuck, and the new 75,000-square-foot OMNIA Nightclub with performers such as Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix, and Steve Angello.

This August, Caesars Palace celebrated a half-century in style. Caesars Palace president Gary Selesner was among the individuals recognized at a star-studded anniversary gala for their contributions made at the world-renowned resort. Incentive sat down with Selesner to take a look back and discuss what the future holds.
What was Jay Sarno imagining when he created Caesars Palace?

Gary Selesner: Sarno had a vision to create a resort like none before -- a monument to imperial Rome that encouraged guests to take a break from their day-to-day life and indulge in a fantasy world of luxury. With this vision, Caesars Palace changed the Las Vegas landscape as the first truly themed casino resort when it opened, capturing national and international attention.

Why did Caesars stand out when it opened?

GS: Sarno named the resort Caesars Palace based on his philosophy that every guest should have the opportunity to be treated like royalty and live like a Caesar. When the hotel opened on Aug. 5, 1966, the opulent 680-room Roman-themed fantasyland captured national and international attention as the most expensive hotel ever built at that time. It featured imported marble statuary and fountains, costumed cocktail servers, a 25,000-square-foot convention complex, 980-seat showroom, two restaurants, Garden of the Gods pool complex with one swimming pool and spa, and the Palace Casino.
Do you think Sarno would be happy with Caesars today?

GS: Sarno succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Caesars Palace is widely credited with welcoming the first true celebrity chef-driven restaurant with Wolfgang Puck's Spago in 1992, bringing luxury shopping to the Strip with the opening of The Forum Shops in May 1992, introducing the resident headliner concept with Celine Dion at The Colosseum in March 2003, opening the first Nobu Hotel in the world in February 2013 and the first mega nightclub Pure at a Las Vegas casino, and hosting over-the-top event-spectacles such as Evel Knievel's attempt to jump over the resort's fountains in 1967.

Five decades later, Caesars Palace is still the leader of incredible luxury on the Las Vegas Strip and continues to transform its hospitality, entertainment, and gaming products to offer the best experiences to guests from all around the world.

Voted "Best Strip Hotel" in 2015 by the readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Caesars Palace currently features 3,980 hotel guest rooms and suites, including the all-new Julius Tower, the 181-room Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace, and Forbes Star Award-winning The Laurel Collection by Caesars Palace.
How has Caesars Palace evolved?

GS: Caesars Palace continuously evolved through the past five decades to remain a leader on the Las Vegas Strip. From bringing the biggest names in entertainment including global superstar Celine Dion to offering [new restaurants from] celebrity chefs to serving as home to top sporting events and daredevil stunts, Caesars Palace has become synonymous with Las Vegas itself.
Why was it so important to celebrate Caesars Palace's 50th in style?

GS: During the 50th anniversary weekend celebrations -- including the Aug. 5 evening pool party hosted by Gordon Ramsay with a birthday champagne toast, cake cutting, and 10-minute anniversary-themed fireworks show with nearly 3,000 guests -- not only do we thank our great entertainers and world-renowned chefs but we also say a special thank you to our customers, employees, and community partners for helping to shape our rich history and our bright future. Our focus on innovation continues as we look ahead to the next 50 years of industry leadership.