Las Vegas News Bureau
Thursday, June 2, 2016 | 6 a.m.
Asked to name a hero at Caesars Palace, and you’d be tempted to rattle off Celine Dion, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Wolfgang Puck or Julius Caesar himself.
But I want to mention Jim Dunbar, who has been there since Day 1 — on Aug. 5, 1966, when the casino resort opened. Also Pamela Price, Pete George, Benny Figgins and John O’Connell, who are team members from Year 1. That’s right — 50 years of service!
Recently, the five employees were feted by Celine with a meet-and-greet and photograph after her show. The fivesome will have plenty of star-studded history to think about on the weekend of Aug. 5 and 6 when Caesars officially celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The Golden Year is being marked with a Summer of Caesars celebration beginning Friday, June 17, and extending throughout the year. The festivities will be highlighted with the celebration weekend Aug. 5-6 with a gala expected to attract 2,500 VIPs connected with Caesars over its remarkable 50 years.
The resort known around the world set the standard when it opened and remains an incredible force at the center of the Las Vegas Strip. The celebration will feature sweepstakes, giveaways, self-guided historical walking tour and photo exhibit, interactive social photo experience, room packages, 50th birthday offers, marquee events and more.
“Unlike other famed Strip properties that have now been torn down and swept away, Caesars Palace is more relevant than ever,” said Mark Frissora, president and CEO of Caesars Entertainment, in a news release.
“With our portfolio of entertainment superstars and celebrity chefs, the recent room enhancements and new restaurant offerings, Caesars Palace is well poised for the next 50 years. We are excited to show our gratitude and share our 50th anniversary celebration with our guests, partners, employees and community.”
In five decades, Caesars has continuously evolved to remain a leader at the heart of the Strip. From bringing the biggest names in entertainment, including five-time Grammy Award winner Celine, to celebrity chefs, top sporting and special events, luxury accommodations, premier shopping and gaming, Caesars continues to demonstrate its commitment to the next 50 years.
As part of a $1 billion investment in the resort, Caesars recently opened the Julius Tower, a reimagination of the hotel’s original Roman Tower; launched Omnia, a nightclub regarded as one of the world’s best and boasting superstar DJs; created a homage to cigar and cocktail culture with Montecristo Cigar Bar; redefined the dining experience with the addition of Mr. Chow; and welcomed back Celine to the Colosseum, along with new resident artists Mariah Carey, Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn and long-standing residents Elton, Rod and Jerry Seinfeld.
Just this week, I checked out the royal treatment afforded to everyone with an overnight stay in Julius Tower, dinner fit for a king (or Roman emperor) at Mr. Chow and cigars and cognac at Monte Cristo. It was hedonism at its finest, and Caesars of days gone by would certainly issue a proclamation of approval.
Caesars’ 50th anniversary milestone events and promotions include:
• Turning 50? If you are celebrating your 50th birthday in 2016, celebrate at Caesars and receive a $50 food-and-beverage credit with your stay during Summer of Caesars. Must be a Total Rewards loyalty program member, and additional terms and conditions apply.
• Walking Tour and Photo Exhibit: Beginning June 17 and throughout summer, take a self-guided, historical walking tour and photo exhibit and discover then-and-now images and displays, iconic moments in entertainment and sports, movie locations, photo-worthy landmarks and “Five Lucky Spots.” The walking tour is free and open to the public.
• Interactive Photo Experience: Take a nostalgic picture with a Roman chariot refurbished from Caesars’ historical archive.
• #IAmCaesar Sweepstakes: Launching in conjunction with Summer of Caesars, enter for a chance to win prizes and packages. Go to Caesars.com/CP50 beginning June 10 for details and rules. No purchase necessary. Must be 21+ to enter.
• Special 50th Anniversary Room Packages: Caesars is offering four I Am Caesar 50th Anniversary room packages available now through the end of the year. Choose from #IAmCaesar 50th Anniversary Emperor Package, Culinary Empire Package, Nightlife Package and Indulgence Package. To book, visit Caesars.com/CP50.
• Commemorative Merchandise: Apparel, luggage tags, magnets, pins, key chains, money clips, glassware and collectible 50th anniversary snow globe will be available throughout Caesars retail outlets.
• Surprise and Delights: Surprises including spontaneous room upgrades, free show tickets, complimentary meals and drinks, gift baskets, spa and salon services, Forum Shops gift cards and more will delight visitors.
• Marquee Events: Anniversary events will soon be announced, including fireworks and a celebration with live music Sunday, July 3.
• Anniversary Weekend Celebrations: From Aug. 5-6, celebratory events including a commemorative cake and champagne toast and the gala.
There’s been a rich history of “firsts” for the resort, including the concept of the resident headliner, which has thrived with Celine, Cher, Bette Midler, Elton, Rod, Shania Twain, Mariah, Jerry, Matt Goss and more.
Caesars welcomed the first celebrity chef with Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in the Forum Shops in 1992. Today, Caesars is home to culinary talents including Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy, Nobu Matsuhisa, Brian Malarkey and Michael Chow.
Shortly after I arrived in America from Britain in the 1960s, I drove from the East Coast to West Coast and stopped at Caesars to watch Dean Martin and his sexy Gold Digger’s beauties. Who could forget the Bacchanal Room where gorgeous toga-clad cuties gave you shoulder massages while feeding you grapes and wine?
I filmed the first episode of “Entertainment Tonight” there with Suzanne Somers, and later the first episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” being allowed in the cashier’s cage with cameras for the first time to see the millions of dollars on deposit.
Nevada Gaming mandated that the casino always had to have sufficient cash on hand to pay every winner in the event every jackpot, table and slot machine paid off at once and the winners wanted cash, not checks. (Now you know where the idea of “Ocean’s Eleven” originated.)
It’s always been about the excess, luxury and indulgences. From big-name boxing bouts to heart-pounding stunts by the world’s best daredevils, including Evel Knievel and his son Robbie in later years, to hosting Barbara Walters and her ladies from “The View” and Oprah Winfrey.
Robbie successfully jumped the fountains that almost killed his father years earlier. I was there in 2006 when Mike Metzger, freestyle motocross athlete, broke the world record for longest motorcycle backflip, flying 125 feet over the fountains.
Absolutely extraordinary, but that’s been the catchword for Caesars Palace in its 50 years — long known and still known after 50 years as Home of the Champions. Champagne wishes to the next 50!
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years 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 Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.