Monday, Dec. 31, 2012 | 9:05 a.m.
The iconic Strip skyline and Downtown Las Vegas will be redefined with major changes in the New Year. We don’t need a crystal ball to see into the future -- it’s already here -- but I am going to throw in some predictions of what else is likely in 2013.
The biggest of the “new look” projects will be the $550 million Linq project at center Strip with its open-air retail, dining and entertainment district complete with the High Roller observation wheel (it is not a Ferris wheel, we’re told), the largest of its kind in the world. In fact, it’s 107 feet larger than the London Eye and 9 feet taller than the Singapore Flyer.
The target date for the first “all aboard” is in June, and each revolution of this monster will take 30 minutes high above the desert, mountain and Strip views from one end of Las Vegas and Clark County to the other. No word yet on the projected 2013 opening date of the rival wheel across from Mandalay Bay.
Linq, which recently had some of the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant contestants visit for a ceremonial groundbreaking with exec Jon Gray, will be in the promenade between the Flamingo and the newly named Quad, formerly Imperial Palace. O’Sheas is already closed and will be demolished for this expansion.
BILL’S GAMBLIN’ HALL AND SALOON
The neighboring Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon also gets a total new look as Vegas DeLuxe first reported, and a name yet to be determined. Caesars Entertainment will spend $200 million once Bill’s is closed in February for the 18-month makeover. Drai’s After Hours will relocate to Bally’s next door during construction.
Veteran nightlife czar Victor Drai will run the new, 65,000- square-foot rooftop dayclub and night party pool zone of the boutique hotel similar to his W outpost in Hollywood. There will be beautiful views of the bikini beauties bronzing from the High Roller!
The mystery of what will happen with the world’s biggest and most expensive billboard also will be solved in 2013. Will the oval-shaped Harmon Hotel at the sweeping entrance to MGM Resorts’ CityCenter complex of Aria, Crystals, Veer and Vdara be demolished? Will it be converted into the world’s largest around-the-clock nightclub?
Will a new boutique hotel rise to take its place operated in a new partnership between Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte and Andrew Sasson’s Light Group? It’s imperative that you consult your own crystal ball for this one because its future is now being discussed by MGM’s board of directors.
HAKKASAN AND DELANO
Two more changes are afoot for MGM hotels: First, Hakkasan, the monstrous, now $210 million, five-level platinum playpen of pleasure, opens at MGM Grand in April with a raft of top global DJs “raided” from rival clubs. Secondly, the Hotel at Mandalay Bay will become the Delano from Miami complete with another sprawling pool club based on the hot spots of Ibiza.
LIGHT, JACKSON AND CEELO
Additionally, the theatrical-theme nightclub Light by Guy opens early April in the former Rum Jungle space in Mandalay Bay.
That comes just ahead of Guy opening his Michael Jackson Cirque residency show, the eighth on the Strip. We also are eagerly awaiting the arrival of CeeLo Green as “Loberace” at Planet Hollywood starting Feb. 27, while Roseanne Barr is back in town with a residency at the Laugh Factory at Tropicana, and former Imperial Palace headliners Human Nature debut in their new Venetian home on Jan. 19.
Cee Lo Green
I’d like to clear up any confusion with Elton John’s 2013 appearances at the Colosseum in Caesars caused by my reference to Las Vegas being omitted from his world tour website in my NYE Weekend Celebrity Preview. Elton will be at Caesars, with his contract in place for 2013 and 2014, from April 21 through mid-May.
All eyes will be on the nightclub wars raging as a result of the DJ raids. One of our weekend Wicked Whispers and Racy Rumors now has Angel Management Group taking over Chateau at the Paris as of Jan. 7 and landing more properties with Caesars Entertainment as Cirque and Guy partners with Light Group in MGM properties up and down the Strip.
RAIN AT THE PALMS
There’s mystery about what happens to Rain at the Palms. A major makeover is promised for the club that closed in late fall, reopens this NYE weekend and then closes again until its new look and name surfaces. Is nearby Moon to be reopened as a two-level rooftop playpen?
BODY ENGLISH AT HARD ROCK
Over at the Hard Rock Hotel, the NYE return of Body English triggers word that nearby Vanity will be shuttered very shortly after DJ Pauly D’s spin session last night. No word yet on what will happen with the beautifully decorated space that opened in 2009.
2013 is going to be a year of who lives and dies in nightlife. Rival Hakkasan clubs are already predicting that they’ll lose 25 percent of their business to it! Despite its $200 million-plus tab, it’s expected to earn a whopping $100 million by year’s end, recoup the other $100 million in 2014 and become profitable in 2015.
The world nightclub awards are here in February, and it’s expected that our clubs will pick up so many of the trophies that we’ll get our own category again. And as sure as death and taxes, the spring, summer and fall pool madness will erupt again, keeping us at the forefront as the Party Capital of the World.
Six months from now, the Electric Daisy Carnival will explode at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third time, and if the WWRR are correct, MGM Grand Garden Arena will host its own EDM shows.
DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS
In Downtown, in addition to watching the start-up and birthing of companies as Zappos plants its footprint with the move into the old City Hall, there’s the arrival of the Downtown Grand. The flagship hotel of Fifth Street Gaming opens this fall on the old Lady Luck site between the Mob Museum and Zappos head honcho Tony Hsieh’s world headquarters of “Delivering Happiness” from his Internet giant retail operation. Fifth Street Gaming’s Jeff Fine and Seth Schorr, plan more building blocks for the rebirth of Downtown, but the retail zone doesn’t open until 2014.
NEW RESTAURANTS AND CLUBS
I’ve been keeping you up-to-date with all the year-end nightclub and restaurant openings, among them Andrea’s at Steve Wynn’s Encore, “Top Chef” cheftestant Angelo Sosa’s Poppy Den in Tivoli Village and SHe at Crystals. Xi Shi and Heraea open at the Palms in the next 45 days.
January also sees official openings for chef Gordon Ramsay’s Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill at Caesars Palace and Gordon Ramsay BurGR at Planet Hollywood. We do know he’s going to expand his Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris because of the three-month advance reservation demands, and there are murmurs of him adding a fourth venue on the Strip.
Chef Mario Batali, who has restaurants at the Venetian and Palazzo, is talking about bringing another one here or a petite version of his Eataly concept in New York.
There are still reliable rumors of “Iron Chef” Masahara Morimoto moving to the Mirage in a year’s time, despite hotel denials (he was a judge in the Dec. 19 Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood). “Top Chef” head honcho Tom Colicchio’s new steak restaurant is definitely confirmed there for 2013. Sashimi star Akira Back (Yellowtail at the Bellagio) will take over a new Asian restaurant concept at Mandalay Bay, and a former Strip chef will open his new venue at Tivoli Village. I’ll reveal that surprise on Thursday.
In fact, I did consult the crystal ball, and there will be a continuing exodus of name chefs into the suburbs all wanting to provide more comfortable and relaxed bistros with more approachable food and prices. The new Food University (FoodUniversityLasVegas.com) will start its culinary classes at Caesars Palace on March 27, and Bon Appetit’s Vegas Uncork’d returns for another year May 9-12.
LAS VEGAS ONSCREEN
Insomuch as “Pawn Stars” keeps rolling on the History Channel as the cable outlet’s top program, Las Vegas continues to be in the eye of the camera lens, even if “Sin City Rules” goes by the wayside after its first season on TLC. The brawling britches of Botox may well hang up their knives as one gesture of kindness so that the world doesn’t think we are all like them here. Doubtless other reality TV shows will take their place, but hopefully far nicer and friendlier. Season 4 of Showtime’s hit “Gigolos” begins Jan. 14.
In mid-March, we’ll see Jim Carrey spoof Criss Angel and Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi parody Siegfried and Roy in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” movie comedy about rival Las Vegas magicians.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Two months later, on May 24, it’s the eagerly awaited “The Hangover, Part III” with our favorite boxing champion and Las Vegas resident Mike Tyson meeting up yet again with the Wolf Pack of Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha. This time around, does Ken Jeong become sheriff? The boisterous boys were in Thailand last time around, but they’re back here Downtown and on the Strip for what they say is their final outing.
The Hangover, Part III
In June, Woody Harrelson stars in “Now You See Me” featuring rogue magicians who steal from all over to give to their appreciative audiences. Oscar winner Michael Caine is in this film, and he’ll be here April 14 to celebrate his joint 80th birthday with Quincy Jones at the 2013 Keep Memory Alive gala fundraiser at MGM Grand.
Now You See Me
Finally in the movie countdown, we’ll have to wait a year -- to next December -- for the release of the “Last Vegas” bachelor blowout for Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman -- as an old-timers’ “Hangover” -- with our zany Luxor comedian Carrot Top appearing in a funeral scene.
2012 ends and 2013 starts with a January bang: CES opens for business Jan. 8; the 2013 Miss America Pageant airs on ABC from Planet Hollywood on Jan. 12; and the preening parade of porn princesses follows for the 2013 AVN Awards at the Hard Rock on Jan. 19.
Vegas DeLuxe will cover it all. It’s going to be one very busy year; it seems to get busier and busier each year. Here’s to saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new. If I missed anything on the horizon, apologies, but 2013 is already mind-blowing!
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.
Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.