Monday, April 21, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Fans of Barbary Coast and Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon aren’t going to recognize the new jewel-box boutique hotel Cromwell Las Vegas that has risen from its shell. This is no “lipstick on a pig” conversion. This is a total transformation, and its new look is contemporary and breathtaking.
That’s even before star chef Giada De Laurentiis moves in to open her first-ever restaurant and before nightlife czar Victor Drai officially opens the first-ever, two-level, rooftop dayclub and nightclub. And wait till you explore Curios.
The property originally started its new look as part of the Gansevoort empire, but licensing problems with one of its overseas investors forced Caesars Entertainment to go it alone, and the construction design team improved on the first-planned designs with newer, fresher and more modern innovations.
I received a look last week from the casino-floor arrivals level to Giada’s restaurant and Victor’s entertainment zone — he fills the pools with water in two weeks and marks the occasion a formal champagne toast. In fact, he’s become the hotel’s secret weapon applying his magical knowledge of ambiance, lighting and music to the entire boutique property.
Today by invitation, select VIPs and Total Rewards members start checking in at 1 p.m., and visitors and locals alike will have access to the Interlude casino lounge, the gaming area and Curios, but more on that offbeat and delightfully eccentric store in a bit.
All the rooms, bars and lounges of the hotel will be available for check-in as of May 21 at TheCromwell.com, with rates starting at $249 a night. Drai’s and Giada open during Memorial Day Weekend.
The 40,000-square-foot casino has an entirely new look from a very old twist. All 66 gaming tables and 440 slot machines are new, and the lounge is in its center where crowds can enjoy a drink before entering one of six elevators for Drai’s. But in a nod to the French capital of Paris, check out the gorgeous row of massive chandelier lighting. Those were discovered in storage from Barbary Coast. They were cleaned, washed and sparkled with new shades atop the crystals.
The carpets throughout the hotel are a fun read. Yes, read, not red; you read that correctly. Expressions, funny sayings and catchwords are embossed into the carpet in English and French. Don't walk past your room looking down and chuckling. To save guests going downstairs for coffee or drinks, there’s a service bar on each floor at the elevator bank that’s available around the clock.
The 188 rooms and suites vary in size and configuration, but all use the deep color of plum with vintage, decorative luggage trunks as bedside tables, closets and chests. The backgammon tabletop lifts up — and flipped upside down becomes large enough to be a desk.
The sexy, erotic Deborah Anderson photographs are more than eye-catching. There’s a hint of naughty in each one, setting the hotel mood of a gaming party with a touch of Las Vegas erotica. Even the radio sets look vintage but are as modern as the vanity stations for the ladies with hair dryer and flat iron. The TV screens are all 55,” and there are spacious, modern, black-and-white mosaic-tiled showers, rather than bathtubs, with more playful phrases.
The big buzz, of course, is for Emmy Award-winning TV celebrity chef and The New York Times bestselling author Giada De Laurentiis. Her restaurant, Giada, the cornerstone of the first and only standalone boutique hotel on the Strip.
Nearing completion on the second floor, guests will take escalators directly from the casino into her stunning restaurant, which will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus room service 24 hours. Giada insisted on a beautiful exhibition kitchen, which allows diners to watch the chefs prepare their specialty pastas by hands, bake breads and desserts and slice Italian meats.
It’s the first antipasto bar for Italian eateries on the Strip. In all, it’s three dining experiences for 260 guests with a lounge and a terrace and the Strip’s first automatic retractable windows for an open-air view up and down Las Vegas Boulevard. Giada recently explained, “My goal is to be able to share a part of my life, my culture and my family with every guest.
“I want my guests to feel like they are family entering my home. So it’s warm and soft with touches of femininity. It’s a new take on traditional Italian cuisine embracing my Roman heritage and mirroring my passion for Italian cooking with vibrant Californian influences.”
The platinum party people are already in line for the highly anticipated and eagerly awaited Drai’s scene. Victor’s two clubs are at the top and the bottom of the Cromwell. His renowned After Hours reopens in the lower level, and the rooftop pool beach club and nightclub is the crown jewel. It’s a 35,000-square-foot, two-level playground perched 11 stories high with unobstructed views of the Strip and never-ending sun for revelers by day and moon and stars by night.
His supervision of the lighting and music throughout the Cromwell adds to its hip, contemporary, comfortable and dreamy feel. From the attractive porte cochere into the parlor from the past that is the hotel reception area, the tone is set with bookshelves of leather-bound books in the walls. It’s the most up-to-date, modern elements anywhere on the Strip mixed with traditional Parisian flare of black awnings and gold fixtures. The plum color throughout is perfecto.
General Manager Karie Hall, who gave me the tour, said: “It’s an exclusive experience on the Strip. Giada and Victor will inspire a 360-degree daylife, nightlife and dining experience not to be found anywhere else in Las Vegas.”
All of which leads to the retail store Curios. It’s packed with items never seen before in our city. London beauty Sally Reynolds shopped the world for the whimsical, unique and offbeat merchandise. There are British bowler hats to everything you’d need for a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, plus many more of Deborah’s push-the-envelope photos. My wallet could easily have waltzed to the register by itself to put a big dent into my AmEx. Curios is that alluring.
Be sure to check out Sally’s secret list of unbelievable showbiz offerings that will be available after the May 21 official opening. They are as ridiculously outrageous as the items she shows in her shop.
Welcome to the Strip’s newest and most exciting hotel. The slogan and vibe are “Nothing Comes Close to Cromwell,” and that becomes reality today.
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.
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