Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2021

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‘Magnificent,’ ‘phenomenal’: Resorts World Las Vegas opens on the Strip

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Steve Marcus

Fireworks explode during the grand opening of Resorts World Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip Thursday, June 24, 2021. The $4.3 billion megaresort, built by the Malaysia-based Genting Group, occupies the site of the former Stardust hotel-casino.

Resorts World Las Vegas Grand Opening

A look at the new Resorts World Las Vegas during the grand opening of the mega-resort on the Las Vegas Strip Thursday, June 24, 2021. Launch slideshow »

Resorts World Las Vegas opened its doors Thursday night to guests eager to be part of the glamorous excitement of a new, ground-up megaresort the likes of which hasn’t been seen on the Strip since the Cosmopolitan opened in 2010. 

A traditional lion dance was conducted to ensure luck and prosperity at the Asian-themed property.

Performers in elaborate lion costumes crouched in still, “sleeping” repose in one of the multiple grand driveways, facing an elegant lobby where invited VIPs reveled at an early access party.

Dignitaries then dabbed the lions’ heads with red ink — left eye to right, forehead, mouth, and head to tail — as the performers wriggled the ears and tails before springing up.

The parallel was obvious. Las Vegas, forced into hibernation for months by the coronavirus pandemic, craves the boost in morale, not to mention revenues, that such a massive undertaking promises. And the sprawling, $4.3 billion Resorts World looks poised to deliver.

“What a way to tell the world that Las Vegas is back,” said Rep. Dina Titus, after a solo dance by a ballerina costumed as a peacock and before the lions awoke.

“If you asked a year ago if this would be built right in the middle of the pandemic, you would have (thought), ‘No,’” said Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom. “But people came out here, worked their butts off, pounded nails, poured concrete, with masks on while we’re home complaining because we can’t do Zoom.”

Gov. Steve Sisolak said he deemed construction workers essential because he didn’t want to put even more people out of work when last spring’s sweeping pandemic shutdowns strangled the economy, and he knew Las Vegas would bounce back. So building continued even when gaming halted. 

“People say if you dream it, you can build it. You cannot dream what is inside these walls,” Sisolak said. “It is so magnificent, it is so phenomenal, so over the top. It’s setting a new standard, and it’s raising the bar very, very high.”

Resorts World transformed the former site of the Stardust, raising hopes for a revival of the north Strip with its ruby red, 66-story towers. It spreads over 3,500 hotel rooms from three Hilton brands, a 5,000-seat theater, more than 40 places to eat and drink, 70,000 square feet of boutiques, a nightclub and day club, 1,400 slot machines, 117 table games and a 30-table poker room.

The late hotel scion Barron Hilton brought the Hilton brand to Las Vegas in the early 1970s, creating a boon for the company and another home for Elvis Presley at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Chris Nassetta, the CEO of Hilton, said one of the last things Barron Hilton said to him before his death in 2019 was a question: When was he going to get the Hilton name back on the Strip?

“Well, Hilton’s back on the Strip,” Nassetta said.

The details in the corridors are endless: a wiry phoenix sculpture, hundreds of delicate mesh birds hanging from the ceiling, and a sphere two stories tall, glowing with blocks of light cascading down its digital panels, all swathed in shades of red. 

Red is an auspicious color in Asian cultures. Genting Group, a hospitality and casino conglomerate based in Malaysia, purchased the 88-acre site in 2013 to add Las Vegas to its global Resorts World portfolio. The property wears its heritage prominently.

Doors opened to the general public at 11 p.m. sharp. In the minutes before, stilt walkers ducked out of elevators and another troupe of dancers assembled for a dragon dance near the breakaway paper curtains hung just on the other side of Strip-facing doors.