To be built on the site of the old Stardust casino resort, Resorts World Las Vegas will feature a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor with 3,500 gaming positions; a hotel tower with 3,000 guest rooms and 22 villas; a retail village with 15 retail venues and 30 food and beverage outlets; a showroom; an aquarium; a center bar featuring live entertainment; and observation deck with views down The Strip—everything one would come to expect from a megaresort Strip property and then some.

And this is only the initial development plan for the project. In subsequent phases, Resorts World Las Vegas will add three new hotel towers; a new, still-to-be determined large-scale attraction; additional gaming space; a smaller, more intimate theater that seats approximately 1,000 to 1,500 people; an approximately 1 million-square-foot convention center; a water park; a movie theater; and a bowling alley.

All told, Resorts World Las Vegas will reportedly cost upwards of $4 billion to develop and is expected to open sometime in the next 24 to 36 months.

Chances are it will not be the only multi-billion-dollar northern Strip resort opening in that time frame. Australian gaming giant Crown Resorts recently purchased the 34-acre Strip parcel that used to house the New Frontier casino for $280 million. Details of the project have yet to be released, but it’s been reported in the Wall Street Journal and other publications that the ground will be broken sometime in late 2015 with an eye toward completing the resort in 2018.

Undoubtedly, when these projects are complete, they are likely to be very impressive and worthy additions to The Strip; which has a well-earned reputation as a casino resort incubator, where archetypes such as the megaresort were first developed and refined. Of course, it may be a while before the success or failure of these projects can be determined since both are just in the beginning of the development pipeline and, as outlined above, it will be years before they see the light of day—if they emerge at all. Indeed, the last set of large-scale, Strip casino pipeline projects to break ground included Echelon, The Plaza and Fontainebleau, all of which ran straight into the last economic recession and were never completed.

For the most part, Las Vegas developers appear to have learned from these failed developments and many are waiting for better economic times and a sustained gaming recovery before undertaking massive casino projects. That’s not to say all resort development activity has ceased in Las Vegas; it still happens, just on a much smaller scale than everyone is used to. Over the past year, a number of new boutique resorts have sprung up around the city. Here’s a recap of some of these projects:


THE CROMWELL

The Cromwell is the first of what could become common along The Strip—a standalone boutique hotel casino, a type of property designed to offer a more eclectic resort experience to a more discerning clientele.

“They [boutique patrons] don’t want to just stay in a property. They want to experience a property,” Frances Kiradjian, founder and chairwoman of the Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association, told the Associated Press. “These properties are like a destination unto themselves.”

According to company press materials, The Cromwell, which is owned by Caesars Entertainment, is a $185 million renovation of the former Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, located on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road. The property brings an exclusive, luxury lifestyle boutique hotel experience to the Strip, focusing on hospitality, amenities and personalized service.

From the hospitality perspective, the hotel features 169 standard accommodations which are reminiscent of Parisian style, and create a residential feel with distressed hardwood flooring, vintage luggage and trunk-style furnishings. The Cromwell also has 19 suites ranging from a 723-square-foot one-bedroom to the 2,550-square-foot, six-bedroom Cromwell Suite. All suites are strategically positioned for guests to enjoy unrivaled views of The Strip from several vantage points, and are equipped with ful-size refrigerators, wet bars that can be stocked based on guest preference, steam showers, deep soaking tubs, and popular gaming table elements, including pool tables or pinball machines.

The entertainment options at The Cromwell include Bound by Salvatore, the hotel lobby bar featuring world renowned master mixologist Salvatore Calabrese; Interlude, a casino lounge perfectly located in the central hub of the hotel; The Abbey, a reserved gaming salon; a 40,000-square-foot casino with 66 table games and 440 slot machines and GIADA, celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis’ first restaurant. Literally crowning all these entertainment options is Drai’s Beach Club, a 65,000-square-foot rooftop venue that includes a nightclub and a beach club, both featuring a panoramic view of Las Vegas. Additionally, Drai’s has created an unique menu of services, amenities and surprises ranging from the private cabanas to ultra-luxury packages that can include day or night fireworks displays.

“This is a dream for me,” said Victor Drai, at the time of the resort’s opening in May. “We have created the next frontier for Vegas nightlife and we did it on a roof that before now was wasted space. That’s what I love about Las Vegas—if you have a vision, the right team and partners, you really can make the impossible happen.”


SLS LAS VEGAS

SLS Las Vegas, the lifestyle-driven resort developed by global hospitality provider sbe, officially opened its doors in August. The facility, a $415 million renovation of the legendary Sahara Hotel, is the first major casino resort to debut in Las Vegas in several years, and is sbe’s largest hotel to date.

“The opening of SLS Las Vegas is a major milestone, not only for the expansion of the SLS Hotels brand, but for the future of Las Vegas,” said Sam Nazarian, founder, chairman and CEO, sbe in a prepared statement. “We’re very excited to welcome guests to experience the property and the incredible concepts we’ve built with our dedicated partners, and we look forward to watching the north end of The Strip continue to grow.”

SLS Las Vegas builds on the SLS Hotels’ distinguished reputation as an approachable setting with elevated style, intriguing design and an impressive collection of award-winning dining and nightlife concepts, according to company press materials. Through the combined vision of Nazarian, the property’s culinary director chef José Andrés and designer Philippe Starck consulting through Gensler, SLS Las Vegas pushes the standard for Las Vegas hospitality with standout service and stylish rooms complemented by the best of sbe’s celebrated brands under one roof.

Every element of SLS Las Vegas’ guest rooms, multi-concept restaurants and social atmospheres was conceptualized by Starck and Gensler. Featuring more than 1,600 rooms in three distinctive towers—World, Story and Lux—each space was designed with elegance and sophistication. In addition, an exclusive collection of high-end suites was designed by Lenny Kravitz and Kravitz Design.

SLS Las Vegas offers a diverse range of cuisine including José Andrés’ Bazaar Meat, a carnivorous reinvention of his famed restaurant The Bazaar. A mix of new and re-imagined concepts include the Mediterranean escape Cleo; Katsuya by Starck and 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria; iconic breakfast hotspot, The Griddle Café; and Umami Burger, Beer Garden & Sports Book, featuring an outdoor patio and a sports book operated by global gaming leader William Hill.

Additionally, SLS Las Vegas introduces three premier nightlife concepts that will energize the guest experience with cutting-edge technology and immersive entertainment.

Along with standout dining and nightlife, SLS Las Vegas offers an array of entertainment experiences on property including a 60,000-square-foot casino floor featuring nearly 800 slot machines. Additionally, SLS Las Vegas offers a 10,000-square-foot Fred Segal shopping experience as the property’s exclusive retailer, and for a luxurious retreat, guests can indulge at Ciel Spa and the property’s salon.


DELANO LAS VEGAS

Fusing the chic style of South Beach with the vibrant energy of The Strip, Delano Las Vegas, a non-gaming boutique hotel, opened last month at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Anchored by intimate yet energetic public spaces and sophisticated accommodations, the non-smoking, all-suite boutique hotel appeals to the most discerning travelers from around the globe. At Delano Las Vegas, guests discover a blend of personalized service and effortless luxury coupled with unexpected elements of individuality and high-concept design.

“Delano guests will be wowed by the introduction of this very special destination,” said Matthew Chilton, general manager of Delano Las Vegas in a prepared statement. “Dynamic public spaces will serve as social hubs where guests will want to linger and socialize while the clean design of the suites will create a quiet escape.”

Blending eclectic details to create an atmosphere that is playful and filled with energy, the stylish public spaces are highlighted by a sleek new lobby featuring three distinct social spaces—a unique coffee bar, sophisticated lounge and café concept. Upstairs and away from the action, Delano’s 1,100 guest suites provide a luxurious retreat.

According to a company press release, as guests approach Delano Las Vegas’ expansive stone entry and wood-slatted gate, they encounter an extraordinary divided boulder from the Nevada desert, a signature element of the hotel. Guests venture down a striking walkway featuring colors and textures inspired by the layered landscape of the Mojave Desert, inviting them to drift further into Delano Las Vegas’ alluring escape.

Entering through an oversized etched wooden doorway, guests see an inviting pathway of stone surrounded by towering columns enveloped in Delano’s iconic white sheers and statement mirrors. At the end of the corridor, a stunning piece of artwork comprised of small rocks suspended from the ceiling with a sculpted opening reveals a glimpse of what lies beyond. A sleek black reception desk highlighted by a golden patchwork art piece overhead welcomes guests.

The new hotel is home to multiple dining and bar options, including Rivea. Situated on the 64th floor of Delano Las Vegas and boasting extraordinary views of the Las Vegas Strip, Rivea serves French and Italian cuisine from internationally celebrated chef Alain Ducasse.

The guest suites incorporate Delano’s iconic window sheers, crisp white linens and oversized tufted headboards, updated with playful gold accents. Anchored by a gray geometric print carpet, each room showcases an array of rich textures and fabrics. Drawing inspiration from South Beach, photography of seductive underwater scenes adorns the walls while floor-to-ceiling windows provide sweeping views of the Las Vegas skyline.

Boasting one of the highest standard room square footages of any hotel in the city (725 square feet), each one-bedroom suite features a private bedroom with contemporary light-wood armoire, bold lighting fixtures and a spacious spa-style bath. With a 46-inch flat-screen TV, wet bar, desk and its own powder room, the adjoining living room offers a plush retreat that doubles as an entertaining area or impromptu meeting space.

Delano Las Vegas also has a pool complex and spa.

Delano Las Vegas is a partnership between MGM Resorts International and Morgans Hotel Group and takes the place of THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.