Friday, Dec. 4, 2009 | 3 a.m.
Since May 2006, when MGM Mirage imploded the Boardwalk Hotel on the Strip, Las Vegas residents have patiently waited to see what the state’s largest employer had in store for the 76 acres of prime real estate between Bellagio and Monte Carlo.
They got their first look this week.
Company executives cut ribbons and opened doors on three components of the massive CityCenter, a high-rise campus accented with striking architecture, public art, the newest technology and an emphasis on sustainability.
It started with Vdara, a 57-story, 1,495-suite nongaming luxury hotel that welcomed its first guests Dec. 1.
Vdara, which has a two-level, 1,800-square-foot spa and an Asian fusion restaurant, Silk Road, is connected by a pedestrian walkway to Bellagio.
Two days later, the development’s retail component, Crystals, a 500,000-square-foot center filled with high-end shops and restaurants, debuted.
Crystals opened with a private shopping event benefiting local charities and a red-carpet opening for actress Eva Longoria Parker’s new restaurant, Beso.
Finally, on Dec. 5, the Mandarin Oriental — a world-renowned hotel brand — was to open the doors of its 47-story nongaming development comprised of 392 hotel rooms and suites and 227 condominiums.
These openings set the stage for the arrival of Aria, the 4,004-room centerpiece of CityCenter on Dec. 16. It’s the only casino component of the development and around which most of the attention has been focused since MGM Mirage Chairman and CEO Jim Murren first described his vision.
Murren alluded to the hope CityCenter means to Las Vegas at the opening of Vdara.
“We’ve been in a prizefight and we’ve had a tough six or seven rounds, but were still on our feet. This company has survived the financial crisis that has brought many companies to (their) knees and it survived the recession that bankrupted others,” Murren told invited guests at the opening.
“Now, it’s a story of rebirth, a story of resolve, of resilience of the men and women that did not give up when things looked so dark earlier this year.
“It is remarkable that we’re sitting here talking about the largest project in the United States. It’s remarkable that we’re sitting here today, talking about the most significant green project in the world. It’s remarkable today, in my opinion, that we’re talking about the fact that this company, with its partner, has now created 12,000 new jobs in an economy and in a market that so desperately need it. Isn’t that remarkable to you?” he said to the crowd’s applause.
Murren said CityCenter is a place that needs to be experienced instead of described.
For visitors to Vdara, the experience will include suites ranging from 500 square feet to 2,000 square feet, each featuring gourmet kitchens and washers and dryers among amenities.
Among the first to experience them were guests of Vanity Fair, which had a corporate party opening night, attended by actors Orlando Bloom and Rosario Dawson and photographer Sebastian Copeland.
At Crystals, the experience involves luxury retailers Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Prada, Christian Dior, Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co., Mikimoto and Ermenegildo Zegna. In addition to Beso, restaurants include Mastro’s Ocean Club and two new Wolfgang Puck restaurant concepts.
Mandarin Oriental was scheduled to have a good-luck lion dance to kick off festivities. The property also has a spa, a two-level, 27,000-square-foot area with 17 treatment rooms, including seven couples’ suites. The property will have a restaurant on the 23rd floor, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, a world-renowned, three-star Michelin chef.