Las VegasMay 1, 2015

Always Ready to Put a New Spin on Meetings By
May 1, 2015

Las Vegas

Always Ready to Put a New Spin on Meetings
Meeting planners experience The High Roller observation wheel at The Linq during a tour of special event venues arranged by event planning firms Fancy Shindigs Inc. and Astound Group. Credit: Fancy Shindigs Inc.

Meeting planners experience The High Roller observation wheel at The Linq during a tour of special event venues arranged by event planning firms Fancy Shindigs Inc. and Astound Group. Credit: Fancy Shindigs Inc.

Considering the fact that there are so many options for meeting venues in Las Vegas, it’s all about continuing to narrow down the choices until you find the one that’s the best fit for your event. For Larry Schur, CEM, president of San Antonio, Texas-based All Baby & Child Corporation, the right choice was the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, a Caesars Entertainment property.

Schur chose the Rio for his company’s 7th Annual Spring Educational Conference & Trade Show, which gathers specialty store retailers together to learn more about the products they sell and to get updates on issues that are relevant to the juvenile products industry. The event draws approximately 125 exhibitors and 800 attendees. “Attendance is free for qualified retailers, who also can qualify to receive a rebate off their lodging and merchandise purchases,” Schur explains.

“The Rio is a perfect fit for our conference because it contains just the right amount of meeting and exhibit space to fit our program,” he continues. “The exhibit area, The Pavilion, conveniently breaks up into 10 portions, allowing for the maximum flexibility for our trade show. We will utilize two-thirds of the space for exhibits and the remaining one-third for food and beverage. The close proximity and size of the meeting rooms to the exhibit space allows us to tailor each meeting room to fit our varied program.

“We have also selected two excellent venues within the Rio to hold our receptions,” he adds. “Our welcome reception will be held poolside at VooDoo Beach, while our all-attendee reception will be held high atop Las Vegas at the VooDoo lounge and outside terrace. These two venues provide unique and completely varied networking experiences.”

The VooDoo Rooftop Nightclub occupies the 51st floor of the Rio’s Masquerade Tower and offers spectacular views of the Las Vegas Strip. It also features the VooDoo Zip Line, which takes guests on a one-minute, 10-second ride from the top of the Masquerade Tower down more than 800 feet to the Ipanema Tower at speeds up to 33 miles per hour and a height of more than 400 feet. It can accommodate up to two riders at one time, and then they ride back up to the starting point facing backwards.

In addition to 2,522 suites, the Rio contains 160,000 sf of convention and meeting space, multiple entertainment venues, including the popular Penn & Teller magic show, as well as 10 restaurants and the Rio Secco Golf Club designed by Rees Jones.

Schur summed up the reasons that make the Rio a good fit for his conference: “With reasonable lodging rates, outstanding restaurants and a contained venue, we feel that this property will allow us to help keep our attendees in-house during our scheduled programming and not wandering around Las Vegas.”

For Nancy Vince, president of Mooresville, North Carolina-based, the right fit was the 2,079-room South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa. Located just minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, the hotel includes 71,000 sf of conference space, an 80,000-sf carpeted, column-free pavilion and a 4,600-seat arena. It also contains multiple dining outlets, a 64-lane bowling center and a 16-screen movie theater. Last fall, South Point debuted a new $35 million, 90,000-sf bowling tournament facility, South Point Bowling Plaza.

Vince’s event, the American Craft Retailers Expo, also known as ACRE, is expected to draw 1,000 attendees plus hundreds of jewelry buyers coming over from other shows. “(South Point) is close to the JCK Jewelry show at Mandalay Bay each year, and they have placed our show on their official bus schedule, which is convenient for buyers,” she explains, “and we have aligned our timing at South Point to be in ‘jewelry week’ for years to come, which allows buyers a way to shop multiple shows with one low travel dollar. Our show is 40 percent handmade jewelry, and the 60 percent handmade gift/gallery artists are also appealing to jewelry stores, so being in jewelry week makes sense.”

“South Point is affordable and offers an intimate environment and is the right size for our event. They give us great service there, too.” — Nancy Vince

She gave a few other reasons why the hotel was the right choice for her expo. “South Point is affordable and offers an intimate environment and is the right size for our event,” Vince notes. “They give us great service there, too.”

It’s All About the Image

There also are times when it’s critical for the image of the venue to precisely match the image of the event. That’s the case with Couture Las Vegas, an annual event devoted to the luxury jewelry and timepiece market. The show, which attracts approximately 225 exhibitors and 4,000 attendees, is held each year at the Wynn Las Vegas. Show director Gannon Brousseau explains why. “The Wynn Las Vegas is the perfect location for hosting the Couture show. There is no other venue that is comparable to the Wynn/Encore in terms of ambience, service, staff and amenities. The high-end designers, brands and retailers who attend Couture each year are all pleased to consider these properties their home in Las Vegas.”

The Wynn contains more than 2,700 hotel rooms and suites, and its sister property Encore has 2,034 suites. Couture’s attendees likely feel right at home, since the Wynn’s two shopping esplanades include luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Cartier, Chanel, Dior, Given­chy and Louis Vuitton. The Wynn and Encore also offer three nightclubs, a 60,000-sf beach club and an 18-hole golf course. The resorts also are home to the aqua theater-in-the round show, “Le Rêve – The Dream.” Combined, the Wynn and Encore offer 260,000 sf of event space, and many of the meeting areas feature floor-to-ceiling windows that provide views of the resort’s pools and gardens.

The Encore Tower Suites and Encore Resort Tower at Wynn Las Vegas will launch a room renovation project this summer that will encompass new furnishings, carpeting and technology, including additional USB plugs and electrical outlets.

A Menu of Venues

Las Vegas also has an extensive “menu of venues” for planners to choose from when they are looking for unique spaces to “wow” their attendees. Lisa Gentilin, PhD, CMP, is president of Fancy Shindigs Inc., a corporate event planning and training services firm based in Castro Valley, California. In March, she presented a session titled “Special Event Venues – Four Exciting Las Vegas Venues That Will Dazzle Your Guests” at the ExhibitorLive 2015 Conference & Exhibition. Her co-presenter was Katie Zanardi, director of business development for the San Francisco Bay area event planning firm Astound Group.

Legends Ranch. Gentilin and Zanardi took a group of 22 planners on the tour, and their first stop was something they may not have expected to see so close to The Strip. “It’s called Legends Ranch Las Vegas,” Gentilin explains. “It’s beautiful. It’s a working ranch. They board some horses there for folks who come and ride, and they have a beautiful outdoor area where you can do daytime or evening events. They’ll work with you. They’re like a one-stop shop. You can let them know everything that you want, and they’ll work with their preferred vendors. You can do something that’s more rustic and ranch-themed with family-style seating with the big plank tables, if you like. They’ll also do high-end linens on rounds, whatever you’d like in that area.

“It’s a beautiful location,” she continues. “It’s something that is very unexpected because it’s only 10 minutes (from The Strip), and it’s so tranquil. Inside, there’s some reception space. They also have what I call the executive room. It’s a special room in the back that has its own private bathroom and actually opens out onto the patio area by the pool. They also have a space I would use for the war room, for the meeting planner’s office. It has lots of storage, and its own bathroom, as well.

“In their large patio space they have a large, built-in bandstand, so if you want to have a band play, it’s a great spot,” she adds. “People can dance in that area, and you can have seating in the lower patio area.”

The High Roller. The tour continued with stops at two Caesars Entertainment properties. The group had lunch at the wheelhouse for the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel. It’s part of The Linq, an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district. “(The wheelhouse) has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Linq promenade and then there is beautiful patio space right there, as well, where you can put outdoor furniture. You can see the pods as they go by. Our folks got to do the half-hour (ride) — 15 minutes to the top and 15 minutes down.”

Drai’s Beach Club. They also toured The Cromwell, a 188-room boutique hotel set on one of the busiest corners of the Las Vegas Strip. “There are several locations within The Cromwell where you can do small events,” Lisa notes. “They have a beautiful hospitality bar that you can take over, but for me, the most beautiful part is upstairs, where they have Drai’s Beach Club. It is spectacular. It’s a nightclub, but if you wanted to do a presentation of some type you could technically do it on the dance floor and then there’s built-in seating there already.

“There are floor-to-ceiling doors that will open from the nightclub to the pool area. From that beach club area, there are these great little hospitality cabanas that you could sell off as sponsorships that people could have their own area to invite their special VIPs in. Each one of those has its own bathroom and furniture and its own LCD television so you can run branded videos if you’d like.”

She described the venue’s flexibility. “You can go all the way to the very end of that level and have a 180-degree view of The Strip. You can take over just that back corner where it’s all lounge furniture and they have outdoor seating or you could take over the entire area including the cabanas, and its two levels. Or, you could take over the entire facility, which would include the nightclub, as well. So there are lots of opportunities if you wanted to do something from day into night. You could do a presentation during the day, then go outside for a cocktail reception. They’ll flip the inside really quick and get rid of any staging where the presenter was and set up buffets, and people can sit either inside or outside.”

Gentilin added that The Cromwell has two other event venues, Drai’s After Hours, which offers a late-night nightclub atmosphere, and Giada, the restaurant by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis. “They have two private rooms that can accommodate roughly up to 40 people (20 in each) with French doors that open between both spaces.”

Neon Museum Boneyard. Gentilin and Zanardi also treated their group of planners to a unique experience: a tour of the Neon Museum Boneyard. The two-acre outdoor museum features more than 150 of Las Vegas’ iconic neon signs, six of which have been restored. It also includes an event venue called the North Gallery, which contains additional rescued neon signs and is used for special events. “If somebody wants to take both sections over, the museum has control of the road that separates them, so that can be shut down and you can put out a red carpet or stanchions.”

She was surprised by the planners’ reaction to the Neon Museum. “They were just floored,” she says, adding that they couldn’t wait to have their pictures taken in front of the famous signs. She explained that the museum also can provide a docent to answer all of the questions guests invariably ask.

“It’s right across the street from the Cashman Center, so if you needed to have something really big and you were at the Cashman Center and then you wanted to do a private event, you could take over the entire space. It’s a great place to get a piece of history.”

Gentilin is already thinking about doing another tour of unique venues for the ExhibitorLive 2016 Confer­ence & Exhibition, which will take place next year on Febru­ary 28–March 3.

More Las Vegas News

The Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino (formerly the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino), in partnership with Elvis Presley’s Graceland, has unveiled a permanent exhibition, “Graceland Presents Elvis: The Exhibition, The Show, The Experience.” The exhibit includes hundreds of artifacts never before displayed outside of Graceland.

In other Westgate news, the resort has announced plans to do a full remodel of its 200,000 sf convention center, which will include the installation of new technology and a modern new look. The project is scheduled to begin in the fall. The resort’s newly refurbished spa and health club is expected to open this summer. Upgrades to 1,200 signature guest rooms and the pool area have been completed.

The Mandalay Bay Convention Center is adding 250,000 sf of exhibit space, more carpeted ballroom space and other amenities, which will bring its total amount of event space to more than 2 million sf. The $66 million project is now underway and is on schedule to welcome its first attendees in August, with the anticipated completion of the entire expansion and renovation in January 2016.

The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino recently completed a renovation project of all of its standard guest suites that included the installation of a media hub system to give business travelers a convenient workspace with electrical and USB charging capabilities for phones and laptops.

With the renovation of the 403 suites in Bellagio’s main tower now complete, the MGM Resorts International hotel has finished the $165 million remodeling of all 3,933 rooms and suites that began in 2011. Bellagio also recently debuted Lago by Julian Serrano — a contemporary, Milan-inspired Italian restaurant concept that boasts a new outdoor patio with spectacular views of Bellagio’s world-famous fountains through the dining room’s large arched windows.

The Tropicana Las Ve­gas – a DoubleTree by Hil­ton’s Trinidad Pavilion and Meeting Rooms, a 30,000-sf expansion of the convention area, is now officially open. The expansion brings the hotel’s total meeting, event and exhibition space to more than 100,000 sf with 38 separate meeting rooms, which does not include the outdoor venues.

The Omnia Night­club — the former Pure Nightclub — opened in March at Caesars Palace after a top-to-bottom makeover. The completely redeveloped 75,000-sf venue houses three distinct nightlife spaces: the Main Club including the Balcony level, Heart of Omnia; the sleek ultra-lounge; and the Terrace offering sweeping views of the Las Vegas Strip. Omnia is available for corporate event buyouts for groups of 200–4,000 people.

The Las Vegas Con­vention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) purchased the Riviera Hotel & Casino as part of it plans for the new Las Vegas Global Business District. The acquisition will make it possible for the project to add 750,000 sf of exhibit space and 187,000 sf of additional meeting space to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The $2.3 billion Global Business District project is the largest economic development project the LVCVA has undertaken since the Las Vegas Convention Center was built in the late 1950s. It is estimated that once this expansion initiative is completed, it will attract 20 new trade shows and conventions.

Upon the LVCVA’s approval to purchase the historic Riviera Hotel & Casino’s 26-acre site, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said, “Las Vegas has proven time and again, its ability to reinvent itself as the economic engine for Southern Nevada. For the better part of 60 years, this historic property has created memories for millions of guests and will always have a place in the history of this great city. As the storied resort makes way for the Global Business District, this site will continue to play an integral role in the attraction of visitors to Nevada.” C&IT

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