by Leo Jakobson | February 06, 2014
The High Roller observation wheel might not be quite ready to turn yet, but the first stage of The LINQ, Caesars Entertainment’s new outdoor project between the Quad Resort & Casino and the Flamingo Las Vegas, is open for business, and for meeting and incentive planners, it's worth a look.

Also coming soon is Caesars neighboring boutique hotel, which will be named The Cromwell. Opening at the end of February, the 188-room property will be the Strip's first standalone boutique hotel.

The LINQ is a 200,000-square-foot outdoor dining, shopping, and entertainment zone, and like many of those, the style is an urban city street with individual buildings of varying styles. There will be an emphasis on outdoor dining patios and rooftop lounges, it will also have a fountain that can double as a stage, and all the tenants are either new to Las Vegas (excluding one Starbucks) or flat-out new businesses — a rarity for this kind of project.

Dining choices will include Haute Doggery, an upscale frankfurter joint and the (quite good) Chayo Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar, as well as an Asian-themed street market, cupcake bakery, and brew pub, among others. Nightlife options suitable for groups include a forthcoming outpost of New York’s trendy Brooklyn Bowl, a live music venue with 32 lanes (think of them as kitschy VIP tables), and the Purple Zebra daiquiri bar. Already open is a resurrected O'Sheas Casino leading into the Quad gaming floor. Built with some of the architectural remnants of the old school, yet beloved Irish pub/casino that once stood there, it's a small space but one suitable for groups as well.

Looming large over all of this is the 550-foot High Roller, and when construction has made its way down that far it will be a can't-miss attraction, and one particularly well-suited for groups. The 40-person, spherical cabins will take 30 minutes to make a full rotation, and unlike the London Eye and other large observation wheels, the cabins are on the exterior — rotating on ball bearings — rather than stuck hanging between two rims, so nothing will impede the best views of the Strip in town. The cabins will have plenty of video screens for branding or private messages, and a bar and hors d’oeuvres can be added as well.

As a recent hard-hat tour showed, it's an impressive structure, even unfinished, and offers meeting space beyond its cabins. The base building includes a divisible meeting space suitable for up to 500, which has a dedicated kitchen and an outdoor deck facing the LINQ’s impressive machinery. This space can be used as a staging areas for large groups that are sending people up on the LINQ in waves, but can stand by itself, too.

Lighting will be an important element of the LINQ’s look, beginning with the 130-foot tall LED billboard marking the LINQ's entrance — a spot which 20 million visitors walk past each year. Then there's the Vortex an undulating LED lighting element atop the Quad, as well as the many screens in the High Roller’s cabins. So there are many ways for a group to brand the LINQ.

The Cromwell

Opening this spring, The Cromwell is the result of a $185 million project to turn Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon into a boutique lifestyle hotel and casino.

Inspired by the Coste Hotel in Paris, The Cromwell will feature a blended vintage/modern look with black Parisian-style awnings and gold window fixtures. The porte cochere opens into a lobby inspired by a Parisian parlor, featuring shelves of leather-bound books.

Located on the far side of The Flamingo from The LINQ, The Cromwell’s main features are the first restaurant by Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis, which will feature an outdoor patio space offering views of one of the Strip’s top visual attractions, the Fountains of Bellagio. Nightlife will play a big part with the addition of Drai's Beach Club and Nightclub, a three-story, 65,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor nightclub and rooftop pool by nightlife impresario Victor Drai. It will also have a 40,000-square-foot casino.