With a slogan of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” it might be hard to get business executives to take Las Vegas seriously when it comes to meetings. Heck, even President Obama turned up his nose (once) at hosting taxpayer-funded business in this town.
Meeting planners will definitely be in for an eye-opening experience in Las Vegas – but, not just because of the flashing lights and scantily clad entertainment. Once you get past the glitz and glamour of Sin City, you’ll find that booking your next event here may be the surest bet you ever make.
In this city of excess, some may be surprised to learn some of the Las Vegas Strip’s biggest hotels are also among the world’s greenest.
The spectacular CityCenter holds the title of being one of the largest certifiably green complexes, anywhere. Awarded with six gold LEED crystals, each of CityCenter’s dramatic buildings – a massive hotel/casino, a boutique (by Vegas standards) hotel/condo, two strictly condo towers, a luxuriously chic shopping center and the state’s first Mandarin Oriental – is green to its very core.
While the average guest will only see a collection of architecturally stunning buildings, those with a discerning eye will note the low-flow water fixtures throughout, the shade wings (big and small) that protect the buildings from overheating in the desert sun (while still allowing natural light to filter in) and the world’s first fleet of CNG (compressed natural gas) limos, among much, much more.
A few miles down the famed Strip, the Italian-inspired Palazzo also proudly touts it’s LEED sustainability. Boasting many of the green features as CityCenter, The Palazzo also harnesses the power of the sun to heat its pools and to aid in providing hot water and electricity to guests.
Steps away from the bustling casino floor, Las Vegas hotels offer a staggering 10.5 million square feet of conference space in settings that range from massively cavernous to lavishly luxe. In fact, some of the country’s biggest convention spaces can be found within a few short miles of each other including the sprawling 2.2-million-square-foot Las Vegas Convention Center and the “smaller” 1.7-million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Easily configurable event spaces provide a myriad of options for planners who will find venues for everything from high-level executive meetings to large-scale corporate functions. Many of the spaces offer not just function, but design as well. For instance, each of the beautifully appointed exhibition rooms of Wynn Las Vegas provide scenic pool and golf course views via floor-to-ceiling windows while Bellagio offers a full-scale gourmet exhibition kitchen (better than you’ll find in most restaurants or even high-end homes) for delectable team-building experiences.
With close to 150,000 accommodations, Las Vegas provides planners with a unique leverage point – if you don’t get a good deal from one resort, chances are the one down the street will be more than happy to make you happy.
Not-so-standard standard features are the norm here. Business travelers will more often than not enjoy in-room Internet access (ARIA offers connectivity that’s eight times faster than typical hotel room), on-site business centers (typically readily able to assist with every business need from equipment rentals to shipping and faxing) and the attention of fully staffed concierge desks (let them see to your dining, spa or entertainment plans while you attend to the business at hand).
After a hard day on the convention floor, business guests also will appreciate Las Vegas' growing effort to make pillow-top mattresses, flat-screen televisions and iPod/mp3 clock radios standard in all accommodations, not just suites.
Home (Executive Hospitality) Suite Home
For top executives, a wealth of executive hospitality suites (even though they may or may not be called that) combine the ultimate in relaxation and hosting.
The 1,316-square-foot Hospitality Suites of Vdara provide sweeping Las Vegas views from their perch on the hotel’s 42-48 floors. Guests will find a living room, gourmet kitchen, a dining area that can easily host impromptu roundtable brainstorming, multi-line phones, a powder room, and more. Another bonus for planners, Vdara is completely casino- and smoke-free, a rarity in Las Vegas.
On the other end of The Strip, the 2,261-square-foot Salon Suites of Encore offer such sumptuous design, it may be hard to get your executives to head down to the convention floor. A neutral color palette of cool winter whites, deep browns and pops of unexpected colors and textures combine to create a timeless décor with an almost home-like feel (that is, if you had an unlimited budget and the skills of an HGTV designer). Amenities include bedside drapery and lighting controls, floor-to-ceiling windows, a wet bar and powder and massage rooms. In-room spa, nail and hair services also can be arranged.
Planes, (Monorail) Trains and Automobiles
Getting attendees to and around Las Vegas will not be too much of a worry. The city’s sole major airport, McCarran International, welcomes 900 flights – a day! Non-stop service is available from more than 130 U.S. cities.
Once attendees arrive, cabs, shuttles and rentals abound. The drive to the host hotel will likely be a quick one. Most are within a 20-minute drive, if that. On The Strip, the sea of pedestrians will tell you that the best mode of traffic may be by foot.
But, business travelers also will find free tram service (mostly between the hotels of MGM Resorts) while the for-pay Las Vegas Monorail whisks commuters from MGM Grand to the Las Vegas Convention Center as well as a few popular hotel spots in-between.
A possible expansion of the Las Vegas Monorail to McCarran Airport has been the talk for years so don't expect to find it a reality for many more to come. Three-day passes offer the most value and can even be sent to your home or office so you can have them in hand before you even arrive.
Make sure you plan transportation in advance, though, especially during high-volume weekends, holidays, conventions and special events. That's when The Strip can easily become a sea of red brake lights and the wait for taxis interminable.