Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 | 11:36 a.m.
Updated Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 | 7:07 p.m.
Adding a slew of high-end retailers to the Las Vegas Strip, CityCenter’s Crystals retail and entertainment district opened on Thursday, marking the unveiling of the massive project’s second building.
Crystals opened at noon for a charity shopping event and at 5 p.m. to the public. The 500,000-square-foot retail and dining district has direct access from Las Vegas Boulevard and houses some of the most high-end brands in fashion.
The retail selection at Crystals includes names such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Christian Dior, Hermes and Prada. A total of 23 shops and restaurants opened on Thursday.
More stores will open Dec. 16 in conjunction with the opening of Aria, with additional retailers added throughout 2010.
“Originally, when we put together a portfolio of all the stores, we realized this is a niche that the market is missing — a selection of retailers under one canopy that are extremely high end, and that’s what we went after,” Crystals Vice President and General Manager Farid Matraki said.
Crystals brings in 13 first-to-Vegas retailers, including names such as Paul Smith, Tom Ford and Miu Miu.
Matraki said Crystals’ unique architecture and design helped bring in those retailers.
“Most of the European brands are looking for that,” Matraki said. “They are looking for something new and different.”
Porsche Design is one of the retailers with a new presence in Las Vegas. Best known for its automotive counterpart, the retailer sells everything from leather goods to its eyewear collection, made famous by Yoko Ono in 1979.
Porsche Design left Las Vegas in 2003 after 10 years at the Forum Shops as a result of the company’s change in strategy, said Guergen Gessler, the company’s After another change in strategy in 2006 and the opportunity for retail space in CityCenter, Porsche Design jumped at the chance to enter the Las Vegas market again.
“To be here in this very design-oriented shopping mall, for us as a design brand, it’s very obvious,” Gessler said.
Matraki said it was a priority to capture brands not already in the market.
“But you have other brands like Louis Vuitton that will complete the building,” Matraki said. “Of course we want something that isn’t in the market and if they are, we want them to be bigger and with a better selection.”
Louis Vuitton will represent one of the largest retailers in Crystals. The three-story, 14,000-square foot store is the largest in the Americas for the brand, Louis Vuitton Senior Vice President John Slavinsky said.
“When we looked at the model five years ago and we saw the strip of stores from here, down to where Gucci was going to be, we said, ‘We need to be there,’” Slavinsky said. “We knew we wanted a big presence on the Strip. I’m not sure I realized the first day that it was going to be this big but we knew it was going to be big.”
The dining offerings bring some familiar names to Crystals.
Wolfgang Puck is opening two restaurants, including a French brasserie and full-service café.
Later Thursday, Todd English was to help open his restaurant with Eva Longoria Parker — Beso — with a red carpet event. The restaurant doubles as Longoria Parker’s nightclub, Eve.
Invited guests on Thursday strolled in and out of stores during the opening day event, admiring the architecture and high-end fashion, even if they couldn’t afford it.
“I love the architecture and design,” Boulder City resident Christine Sheams said. “It’s a big illusion. It’s like going to a show.”
While Sheams said Crystals is not somewhere she would shop, she said she enjoyed the window-shopping.
“I can barely afford to look,” Sheams said. “But I love drooling over all the jewels.”
MGM Mirage put as much into the design of Crystals as it did with its retail selection, several executives have said.
The shopping mall was envisioned as a gateway from the Strip into CityCenter, with a tram that runs from Monte Carlo through Crystals and into Bellagio, an MGM Mirage spokesperson said.
Designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind with interior architecture by David Rockwell, Crystals is intended to feel like an outdoor park brought indoors.
A 70-foot wooden “tree house” sits in the middle of Crystals, serving as the concierge desk and terrace seating for Mastro’s Ocean Club restaurant.
Other features evoking the outdoor feel include skylights to bring natural light into the mall, carpets of flowers, hanging gardens and reclaimed wood throughout the property, a part of Crystals’ LEED Gold certification.
“The original design of Crystals was that is was going to be an open space, but three days after they calculated and found out how much the electricity would be, they decided to cover it up,” Matraki said.
Crystals received its LEED Gold certification in October, making it the fourth of six facilities to receive the high environmental achievement.
Other sustainable features of Crystals include radiant floor cooling, skylights, wood products from forests with sustainable management practices and efficient water fixtures expected to save 1.8 million gallons of water a year.
The Crystals opening event included some prominent members of the Las Vegas community.
Wynn Resorts Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Wynn toured the mall with CityCenter’s President and Chief Executive Bobby Baldwin while Nevada Ballet Artistic Director James Canfield and Smith Center for the Performing Arts President Myron Martin were among other notables at the opening.
Nevada State Sen. Randolph Townsend, who toured the mall with his wife on Thursday, reiterated MGM Mirage Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Murren’s position that the $8.5 billion complex is better experienced than explained.
“This may be the only shopping experience that I’ve ever had where you don’t feel like you are in a mall. You feel like you are in a park or museum that happens to have some retailers,” Townsend said “When you look at the detail in every nook and cranny, granted that takes a lot of money, but it also takes a lot vision.”
The high-end mall is the second building to open at MGM Mirage’s CityCenter complex. The Vdara hotel celebrated its grand opening Tuesday.
The luxury, non-gaming Mandarin Oriental hotel will open Friday.
CityCenter’s crowning jewel — the 4,004-room Aria Resort and Casino — is scheduled to open Dec. 16.