Las Vegas without the pokie machines

By Andrew Austin

A new hotel in pokie city caters for travellers wanting a quiet night, writes Andrew Austin.

The 3700sq m pool and deck area at Vdara Hotel.
Photo / Supplied
The 3700sq m pool and deck area at Vdara Hotel. Photo / Supplied

The first thing you notice when you enter the foyer of the Vdara Resort & Spa in Las Vegas is how quiet it is by the gambling capital's standards: the whirrs and bells and sirens of the pokies are missing.

As unbelievable as it sounds, the Vdara, which is part of the CityCenter complex along with the Aria, Mandarin Oriental, the Veer Towers and the Crystals mall, does not have a poker machine, craps table or even a blackjack table anywhere.

This hotel, with the Mandarin Oriental, is one of two non-gaming, non-smoking hotels within CityCenter.

While to some this may sound like a petrol station not having any petrol, the Vdara was built to cater for a niche market.

General manager Mary Giuliano said the Vdara was an "intimate, boutique hotel" offering guests an "escape from the typical gaming mega-resorts and access to all the gaming, fine dining and entertainment within steps of [the] Bellagio and Aria [hotels]".

Giuliano said the Vdara was designed with a residential feel in mind to create a comfortable, all-suite luxury experience that "resonates with both leisure and business travellers, which is our target market".

Having taken a punt on the possibility that there may be some travellers coming to Las Vegas who do not want a casino right outside their hotel room, the Vdara also markets itself as an environmentally friendly resort.

The resort has achieved gold status for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is an internationally recognised green building certification system. It gives building owners and operators a framework for identifying and implementing eco-friendly methods of design, construction and maintenance.

Green principles were at the forefront when the entire CityCenter complex - a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Dubai's Infinity World Development Corporation - was first designed. Sustainability consultants were brought in to make the construction as eco-friendly as possible.

The buildings in the complex, including the Vdara, have glass exteriors, and the design relies on natural light. Recycled materials, from buildings on The Strip that had been torn down, were used during construction.

The Vdara's 57-storey, 176m tower has 1495 suites, a large spa, salon and fitness centre, a market and bar. It also has a 3700sq m pool and deck area.

The exterior of the Vdara is spectacular. The building, which was designed by Rafael Vinoly of RV Architecture, is a glass, crescent-shaped structure formed by three parallel, offset arcs of varying heights.

The design allows the hotel to have six corner suites per floor. The building's curves also complement the design of the Aria Resort & Casino, which is just a short hop across the shared driveway.

Staying at the Vdara is quite an experience, because you can open the blinds of your corner suite and enjoy the panoramic views. It is a bit unnerving at first, until you realise that no one can look in because of the one-way glass.

With the bath right next to the window, it is possible to take a soak, champagne glass close at hand, and admire the magnificent views - especially the curved glass design of the Aria hotel.

Not content with its niche status, the Vdara is looking to attract more customers.

Giuliano said there were a number of business channels the hotel was exploring, including smaller corporate groups and incentive programmes. And it would not be Vegas without a wedding venue.

CHECKLIST

Getting there: Air New Zealand, in conjunction with partner airlines, flies daily from Auckland to Las Vegas via Los Angeles or San Francisco. Economy-class airfares begin at $2865 a person return.

Where to stay: Vdara Resort & Spa.

Further information: See visitlasvegas.co.nz.

Andrew Austin stayed at the Vdara Resort & Spa courtesy of MGM Resorts and visited Las Vegas courtesy of Air New Zealand, Grabaseat and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

- NZ Herald

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