Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 | 2 a.m.
When the Westin Hotels chain took over the Las Vegas Strip-adjacent resort originally known as the Maxim in 2003, it became the first Westin nationwide to feature a casino.
Fifteen years later, no casino necessary. The 826-room Westin Las Vegas Hotel & Spa, at 160 E. Flamingo Road, recently completed a major renovation project that removed the casino floor and all gaming and added an original restaurant and lobby bar concept as well as new meeting spaces, completing the property’s transformation into a non-gaming, non-smoking hotel within a seven-minute walk from Las Vegas Boulevard.
“I remember the commercials for the Maxim hotel, ‘the toast of the town,’ as a kid living here, and seeing [performers advertised] like Cook E. Jarr and Red Skelton,” says Lezlie Young, a longtime Las Vegan and the general manager of the Westin for a little less than a year. “I’ve been in and out of the property since it became the Westin and have seen it change like our guests have, and I think this [renovation] is much better than we could have imagined. And our guest feedback has echoed that. A lot of our loyal guests who travel for business and pleasure have told us how happy they are with the transformation.”
The latest evolution of the property originally constructed in 1977 began in 2015 when new ownership brought in Crescent Hotels & Resorts, a management company that runs upscale and luxury hotel brands including Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt. Last year, all its guest rooms were updated, along with the Hibiscus Spa and Salon and fitness studio. The second-floor rooftop pool area is under renovation now and will complete this wave of changes when it reopens in the coming months.
The ground floor is now occupied by handsome three-meal restaurant Jake & Eli, a whiskey-inspired concept that could be created in other Westin hotels, and its adjoining lobby bar. The restaurant is open daily from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and its menu features classic comfort foods like burgers, crispy chicken sandwiches, Southern-style meat-and-three entrées and a breakfast buffet. The bar and lounge is open 24 hours and offers an extensive collection of American whiskey options.
The Westin’s meeting space is up to 30,000 square feet from a little under 25,000. “The interesting thing about the new spaces is that they’re on the lobby level, where guests can experience the Jake & Eli feel with their meeting if they like,” Young says. “A lot of meetings that come are smaller compared to [other Las Vegas meeting spaces] so it’s about providing a diversity of options, for breakouts and board meetings and whatever the company needs. What’s great for meeting planners and attendees is that the size of our property makes them feel like they’re the biggest thing happening here, so that’s a great response.”
The Westin isn’t the only non-gaming resort on or near the Strip, but many of the other options (like Vdara or the Signature at MGM Grand) are physically connected to casino megaresorts—and not as close to the Strip as this one. It’s also easy to navigate and parking is free.
“We do think these changes can help us draw in a new demographic and give guests another option,” Young says. “There are a lot of travelers coming to Las Vegas who want the best of both worlds, quiet and comfort and the things they’ve come to know and love from the Westin brand, and there are a lot of people looking for that who didn’t even know it was an option. Travel habits are always changing and we find there are more and more guests that want the juxtaposition here, a quiet respite in the heart of Las Vegas and all the fabulous things it offers.”