by Maya Dollarhide | November 17, 2016

Beyond the Casino Floor
Gaming may be a big draw in Vegas, but it has more to offer than world-class casinos. "Las Vegas has evolved into such a dynamic destination, offering so much more than gaming," says Meyer. "Our guests can enjoy outdoor activities year-round with easy access to national parks. And downtown Las Vegas has grown into a cultural arts scene with a walkable district featuring eclectic restaurants and museums."

MGM Resorts' T-Mobile Arena is part of The Park

MGM Resorts International and other businesses are supporting the city's desire to be walkable, eco-friendly, and stacked with outdoor destinations. Case in point: As of this past spring a new open-air dining and entertainment district called "The Park" opened to an enthusiastic response. The district allows visitors to venture into a central gathering place, dine and drink al fresco at casual dining establishments like New York favorite Shake Shack or California's popular Bruxie waffle house. Enjoy a pint of ale or specialty sausage at Beerhaus, which also serves farm-to-table dishes and other organic and local products. Attendees can watch a show or sporting event in The Park, too: The 20,000 seats in the 650,000-square-foot T-Mobile Arena, which is part of the district, opened this spring. The venue will be host to between 100 and 150 events annually, and group tickets are available. The arena will also host an NHL expansion team for the 2017-18 season. (The city also has its fingers crossed that the NFL will soon approve the Oakland Raiders' bid to move to a new on-Strip stadium.) The Park is designed with sustainability in mind and the restaurant corridor recently earned a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Another new addition to The Park is MGM's 5,000-seat Park Theater, opening in December.

"One of MGM Resorts' strongest values is offering destinations that create exceptional guest experiences while reducing environmental impact," says Cindy Ortega, MGM Resorts International's chief sustainability officer. "For us, environmental responsibility is a commitment that extends across all levels of our organization. The Park exemplifies our dedication to environmental leadership in Las Vegas."

For groups who are interested in staying near The Park, MGM Resorts reports that plans are under way to spend nearly $450 million to convert the Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino into two hotels -- the Park MGM (2,700 rooms) and NoMad Las Vegas, (with 292 rooms). The project will begin in late 2016, and is expected to debut at the end of 2018.

For those hoping to stay at Monte Carlo before then, no need to panic. According to reports, the property plans to remain open throughout the renovation and will continue to operate under the Monte Carlo name until the rebranding is complete. The Luxor Las Vegas' hotel tower will be getting a top-to-bottom renovation, upgrading it to take overflow groups from the Mandalay Bay and adding 20,000 square feet of meeting space, for a total of 60,000 square feet. Aria's Zarkana Theater will be converted to a three-level meeting facility.

The 289-room W Hotel Las Vegas is set to open on Dec. 1 in the LUX Tower of SLS Las Vegas, which entered into a partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (before it merged with Marriott) to bring the hip boutique W to the Vegas Strip. The acquisition of the LUX Tower isn't the only deal going on in Vegas, of course. On Oct. 3, the sale of the Palms Casino Resort to Red Rock Resorts was completed, according to Station Casinos, the parent company of Red Rock. This $312.5 million acquisition will bring the number of Station Casinos to 20 in the Las Vegas area.

Reservations are being accepted as the finishing touches are under way. For groups seeking venue space, the W offers seven sites with a combined 45,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, plus an additional 50,000 square feet of outdoor function space. In the spring, the W's WET rooftop pool will open, complete with private cabanas and a poolside bar.

In early 2017, Treasure Island Las Vegas will finish a $6.5 million expansion to its conference and meeting facilities. The new convention space will total over 30,000 square feet and offer a panoramic view of the resort's tropical outdoor pool. The new space will accommodate nearly all budgets and group sizes, up to 1,200 guests.

Every Cuisine Under the Sun

Mandalay Bay's new Libertine Social

For culinary excitement, the LVCVA is always ready to assist in finding the perfect venue to accommodate groups. "Most clients can't believe the number of culinary choices available to them. Las Vegas has something to suit everyone's needs," Meyer says. Mandalay Bay recently opened the funky gastropub Libertine Social, offering small and large plates as well as craft cocktails. "You just step off the show floor or walk out of your meeting room and you've got this great place to unwind or socialize with your group," says Meyer. "And there are so many other great places just opening up, or scheduled to open this year."  

Later this fall, Japanese culinary superstar Masaharu Morimoto will open his contemporary Japanese restaurant serving, among other menu items, signature sushi creations and original cocktails, with selections exclusive to the Las Vegas location, in the MGM Grand.

This October, Chef Gordon Ramsay cut the blue ribbon on his British takeaway-style restaurant called Gordon Ramsay Fish and Chips, located at the LINQ Promenade, Caesars Entertainment's open-air dining, entertainment, and shopping district. The Park District may be home to Shake Shack, but this winter, visitors can head to the LINQ to grab a famous L.A. burger, when In-N-Out opens on the promenade.