Gigantic hotel resorts and air-conditioned malls have meant it's quite possible to spend your entire trip to Sin City indoors, says Rebecca Frisch. Now that's about to change, with open-air promenades offering the best new shopping and dining in Vegas – and making the most of that extraordinary climate

I toddled into Sin City at the age of two and grew up watching casinos rise, fall and rise again. Since I didn’t have the neck strength to be a showgirl, I traded dreams of headlines for bylines and discovered the pen is, in fact, mightier than the sequinned headdress. As the editor of VegasChatter, I have an uncanny sense of where the biggest, brashest resort city in all of the US is headed – and right now, it’s in a surprising new direction.

Goodbye to the lost weekend?

Vegas is the land that time forgot. It’s easy to lose hours within just one labyrinth-like resort, where clocks are purposely hard to come by. Add a lack of windows and the result is fun that never stops, and action that’s always red hot – if you like that sort of thing.
Now, however, hoteliers have decided to let more than a little light into new, more accessible establishments – heralding a rather different Vegas for the next decade. A Sin City where it would be an unpardonable transgression to stay indoors.

The best things come in small packages

Bigger has traditionally been better in Vegas. However, more and more hoteliers are realising that small can be just as remarkable – and profitable – and are trading big for boutique and large for luxe. The concept of a hotel-within-a-hotel isn’t new to this city. It is growing, though – take Caesars Palace, which in 2013 partnered with acclaimed chef Nobuyuki Matshuisa to transform an ageing guestroom tower into the swank Nobu Hotel, complete, of course, with Nobu restaurant.

Across the Strip, The Cromwell – which made its official Vegas debut on 21 May 2014 – is being positioned as the city’s first stand-alone boutique property. In this case, ‘boutique’ means 188 Parisian-style rooms, but compare that to the thousands of rooms found at just one of the mega-resorts that surround it and you can understand how 188 can be quite the intimate experience for Las Vegas. With fewer guests to look after, perks will abound, including a champagne-and-caviar happy hour with the Cromwell’s general manager (and no, not just for VIPs, for all).

Don't want to play? No problem

Where visitors once had to journey deep within a Vegas resort – and through its casino, of course! – to dine, shop or be entertained, soon they’ll find they won’t need to travel inside at all. They’ll simply step off the famed Las Vegas Strip and directly into their destination, without ever hearing the chime of a slot (if they so choose).

The great outdoors

The most dramatic example of the coming change can be found between The Quad and Flamingo. A dark alley that once separated the two has been transformed into The Linq, an inviting outdoor promenade filled with restaurants, boutiques and bars nestling in the shadow of the world’s tallest observation wheel, The High Roller. Not too far away, Bally’s Resort and Casino is making the most of that crystalline desert sky with the Grand Bazaar Shops, an outdoor plaza filled with 150 restaurants and stores.

Meanwhile, in the Vegas suburbs, the Downtown Summerlin development is rising amidst 106 barren acres. Upon completion this fall, expansive, sunlit promenades will bring more than 125 sorely needed shops and restaurants to the area.

Vegas lived outdoors? Wonders will never cease…

Credit Line: © Yaacov Dagan / Alamy

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