Las VegasSeptember 15, 2023

Always A Winning Choice By
September 15, 2023

Las Vegas

Always A Winning Choice
The Forbes Travel Guide 2023 Summit was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and held at Resorts World Las Vegas. Resorts World provides 250,000 sf of meeting and banquet space. Photo by Darren Hardy

The Forbes Travel Guide 2023 Summit was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and held at Resorts World Las Vegas. Resorts World provides 250,000 sf of meeting and banquet space. Photo by Darren Hardy

When Melissa Vilders and her staff began helping software firm SAP, headquartered in Walldorf, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, to plan a recent event, they had no problem deciding on Las Vegas as the host city.

“Las Vegas is a top destination for corporate events for several reasons,” Vilders, the head of global events strategy and experience for the company, based in Newton Square, PA, said. “First, it offers the convenience of having everything in one place, making it easy to coordinate and manage events. Additionally, the city is easily accessible from many major destinations, making it a convenient meeting point for attendees. Lastly, Las Vegas is known for its exceptional service, ensuring that corporate events are executed flawlessly.”

The choice of venue was also no problem, as SAP has held several meetings and events at the Venetian Resort Las Vegas and The Palazzo at The Venetian. The meeting took place over the summer at the property’s Venetian Expo Convention Center. Vilders said that the convention center provided exactly what her group required. Venetian Meetings  offers more than 2.25 million sf of meeting and event space.

SAP held the meeting for its customers, and brought a small team of employees to help build relationships with them. More than 98% of the 2,300 attendees stayed on the property.

The meeting included two keynote addresses and more than 140 breakout sessions. Attendees also participated in receptions, dine-arounds and a celebration night at Tao Asian Bistro & Nightclub, which features Japanese, Chinese and Thai fare as well as world-class performers and DJs.

Destinations Reinvented With Renovations

Attendees also enjoyed spending time at the reinvented Tao Beach Dayclub, an Asian-inspired tropical oasis that now features lush scenery, private cabanas, a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system and plunge pools.

“Tao Beach at the Venetian now offers an even better experience after the recent renovation,” Vilders said. “It was a magical place to celebrate our attendees.”

Vilders was also impressed with the sustainability efforts  at the resorts, which included energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems, and water-saving fixtures and appliances. She also commented on their recycling of waste and donation of excess food to local charities. In addition, she said, they are committed to using eco-friendly cleaning solutions and reducing their carbon footprint through alternative transportation options.

Lisa Ross Faust, owner and chief experience officer for Creative Experience Group — a full-service event management group in Atlanta, GA — was similarly impressed by the sustainability practices at Resorts World Las Vegas, where she planned “The Summit” for 800 Forbes Travel Guide employees on earlier this year.

“We did our best to incorporate sustainability to The Summit, and it helped that Resorts World is a LEED Gold-certified property,” Ross Faust said. “This means that Resorts World already adopted eco-friendly practices, like sending food waste to local farms to be used as animal feed. Forbes Travel Guide partnered with KOPU Water to use the company’s recyclable aluminum bottles instead of plastic ones throughout the event. The company also employed the hotel’s largest LED screens to reduce the need for printed items.”

The Summit was held some two weeks after Forbes Travel Guide unveiled its 2023 Star Awards, which is the company’s annual list of the world’s most spectacular hotels, restaurants, spas and ocean cruises. Most of the attendees were general managers and C-suite executives from these and other companies and the majority stayed at Resorts World’s hotels, which included the Las Vegas Hilton, the Conrad Las Vegas and the Crockfords Las Vegas.

Recent Openings Offer More Meeting Space

“Resorts World provides ample meeting space and cutting-edge technology,” Ross Faust said. “Plus, it’s one of the newest properties on The Strip and a hot spot.”

The Forbes group gathered in the Rose Ballroom, on the rooftop, in 15 meeting rooms and in several of the restaurants.

“Foyer spaces became networking, Braindate lounges, which provided a platform for attendees to collaborate throughout the event,” Ross Faust said. An onsite concierge coordinated meetings that attendees booked online, based on topics of interest.

The property boasts more than 50 food and beverage options, offering everything from traditional American fare to Southeast Asian street foods.

“Resorts World featured all of its restaurants at the opening All-Star Party for a true taste of the city,” Ross Faust said. “It was exceptional: The various culinary stations served everything from caviar to steak tartare.”

F&B will also be a highlight of another new property, the Fontainebleau Las Vegas, set to open at the end of the year. It will include more than 36 first-to-market food and beverage concepts spanning more than 188,000 sf throughout multiple locations at the resort.

“We’re working with a number of globally renowned chef and restaurateur partners that appeal to every taste, from fine dining to casual and we’ll take full advantage of our unique design,” Kurt Wuebbenhorst, senior vice president of sales, catering and events for Fontainebleau Las Vegas, said. “That includes everything from concepts with rooftop views to the poolside café, to vibrant and intimate bars and lounges.”

He said that his team will also offer menus that are customizable to meet the needs of attendees at meetings and events, which will be a focus at the property. It will feature 550,000 sf of customizable indoor and outdoor meeting space, divided among five levels. Spaces will include a 105,000 sf pillarless ballroom, three other ballrooms, 57 breakout rooms, a 90,000 sf multifunctional theater and a 25,900 sf outdoor hospitality garden, ideal for team building activities.

“It will also provide a seamless connection to our city’s natural beauty, and the space can be used for a number of events, both internally and for our convention attendees,” Wuebbenhorst said.

The complex is adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall, which will be expanding by 1.4 million sf, thereby offering more possibilities for groups staying and meeting at the Fontainebleau.

Wuebbenhorst said that sales for meetings and events have been brisk.

“We are currently in pre-opening sales at Fontainebleau Las Vegas, actively selling for the first quarter of next year and beyond,’’ he said. “We are seeing incredible short-term demand for the first part of next year, with significantly larger groups of 700 to 1,200 guests on peak nights.”

Caesars Remains Successful Longtime Provider

One of the most successful longtime providers for large meetings in Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment, has nine hotels in the city, including the iconic Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

Joe Murphy, president of Continental Buying Group, which buys and sells jewelry in wholesale and retail markets, helped to organize a meeting for 800 attendees at Caesars Palace this summer. Continental Buying Group has held the annual meeting at the property for the past 20 years.

“We always precede the Jewelers Circular Keystone (JCK) Show, the largest and most renowned jewelry trade event in the world, held at the Venetian Expo Center, for the convenience of our retailers and suppliers,” he said.

Murphy said that since Continental Buying Group, based in Bay Harbor, FL, is a repeat customer, Caesars Palace staff is well aware of their needs.

“We always have a pre-con meeting with their staff the day before the event starts,” he said.

Most of Continental Buying Group’s attendees stayed at Caesars Palace, which has 300,000 sf of meeting space. This includes the 51,000 sf Octavius and Forum pillarless ballrooms, 28,592 sf Palace Ballroom, 4,100-seat Colosseum entertainment venue and the 4.5-acre Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis.

The newest Las Vegas addition to the Caesars Entertainment family, Caesars Forum, which includes 550,000 sf of meeting space and the two largest pillarless ballrooms in the world. The Forum and the Summit, both have 110,000 sf of meeting space, as well as Alliance and Academy ballrooms, each with 40,000 sf LEED Silver-certified, Caesars Forum features plenty of natural light, a biophilic design, video walls and a large culinary facility.

After a $200 million upgrade, Harrah’s Las Vegas, another Caesars property, features redesigned guest rooms; a remodeled lobby and casino floor, as well as new restaurants, including Ramsay’s Kitchen, highlighting the signature dishes of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

Paris Las Vegas, a Caesars property with 140,000 sf of meeting space, has become widely known for its celebrity chef restaurants.

MGM’s Impressive Upgrades

MGM Resorts, the other major provider for large meetings and events along the Las Vegas Strip, has many properties, including MGM Grand Las Vegas. The property also has more than 850,000 sf of meeting space, including a 350,000 sf conference center, 90,000 sf Marquee Ballroom, 10,000 sf Studio Ballroom and 17,000-seat Grand Garden Arena. Some of the rooms have been remodeled and a new restaurant concept called Luchini is opening this fall.

MGM Grand is one of six hotels in North America to receive five Green Keys for its green meetings. This distinction is awarded to hotels that exemplify the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility for their meeting and convention facilities. MGM Grand features Stay Well Meetings, held in a health environment that helps increase the energy focus and productivity of attendees, as well as Stay Well guest rooms, which are designed to renew, recharge and refresh guests with aromatherapy, air purifiers, shower infusers and more.

Meanwhile, MGM’s New York-New York hotel and casino launched a $63 million project last year that will remodel its guest rooms.

Another MGM property, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino has undergone a $100 million upgrade of its convention center, which has included installing new Ethernet cabling, adding 11 new dynamic digital walls and providing radio frequency identification (RFID) locks on all meeting room doors.

Inspired by the villages of Europe, MGM’s ultra-luxurious Bellagio Hotel & Casino has 200,000 sf of meeting space, including the 45,000 sf Grand Ballroom, 30,000 sf Tower Ballroom, 22,000 sf Bellagio Ballroom, 9,570 sf Monet Ballroom and the 6,082 sf Grand Patio, an outdoor space with captivating views of the resort’s pools and courtyards.

Large And Luxurious Favorites

Also well known for its luxury, the Wynn and Encore Las Vegas complex offers 560,000 sf of meeting and convention space.

Cindy Black, the president and owner of Five Star Productions, an event management company based in Edina, MN, produced a yearly conference for about 2,000 attendees at Wynn Las Vegas during the spring.

“The full group was also housed at the property,” Black said. “Their recently redesigned guest rooms are fantastic. They provided the attendees all the luxury they would expect when staying at the Wynn.”

“Our event was hosted in Wynn Las Vegas’ beautiful new event space,” Black said. “The South Convention Center was the ideal place for the conference. The Cristal Ballroom features 28-foot ceilings and 84,000 sf, making it easy to install a large-scale production.”

She said the highlight of the event was a celebration at XS Nightclub, a lavish, gold-accented dance club in Encore, featuring a dance floor, headliner DJs and a poolside patio.

“The atmosphere was stunning, the service was impeccable and the music was expertly curated,” Black said. “It was the single highest-rated experience of the conference.”

A high-energy social gathering was also a highlight of the meeting that Women’s Veteran Alliance, a business serving female military veterans in Lincoln, CA. It was held at Tropicana Las Vegas and more than 160 people attended the meeting and most stayed on-site.

“Our group participated in various activities, including a themed mix and mingle event held in the Havana Room,” Melissa A. Washington, CEO and founder of the group, said. “The unique ambiance of this space resonated with our attendees, and it was such a success that we have chosen a ‘Night in Havana’ theme for this year’s event.”

The 12,000 sf Havana Room, the newest and most elegant of Tropicana’s reception venues, has a magnificent crystal chandelier suspended over the dance floor and is surrounded by custom-built seating areas and multiple full-service bars.

Washington and her team chose Tropicana Las Vegas for their meeting for several reasons.

“The proximity to the airport was a significant advantage as it minimized transportation costs and made it convenient for our attendees,” she said. “Additionally, the separation of the conference center from the casino area eliminated the strong smell of cigarettes that can be prevalent in many casinos on The Strip. The layout allowed our attendees to easily access the conference center without having to navigate through a busy casino floor. Our room block was also conveniently located in the same tower as the conference center.”

The hotel provides 100,000 sf of meeting space, including the 25,000 sf Cohiba Ballroom, and the more than 24,000 sf Trinidad Pavilion.

Washington said that Women’s Veterans Alliance will return to Tropicana Las Vegas to meet this fall.

Lisa Messina, chief sales officer for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, is buoyed by the revived successes of most hotels and resorts.

“Las Vegas has seen such a successful recovery, due to a unique combination of constant evolution and the destination’s unwavering commitment to hospitality and visitor experience,” she said. “In a time when much of the world slowed down, we were able to open three all-new resorts, a state-of-the-art stadium, and countless restaurants and shows. Each offer new and exciting reasons to book Las Vegas.”

“Las Vegas is currently experiencing a boost in development, with more than $15 billion in new investment expected over the next several years,” Messina said. “Some of the most exciting projects include the opening of the Sphere, the most technologically advanced venue in the world.”

The futuristic Sphere, which will offer events, shows and concerts, will feature 17,500 seats, and an exosphere with 580,000 sf of programmable lighting. C&IT

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