Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.
Whether travelling for Las Vegas’ gaming, music, sports or food, travelers from Western Canada continues to be an important market for the city – and there’s plenty of new developments coming online over the next 18 months.
PAX caught up with Fernando Hurtado, senior director of global sales for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, for an update on the destination and tips for how Western Canada’s travel agents can sell the city even more to their clients.
“Western Canada is a very important market for our destination,” Hurtado told PAX. “We had a very successful mission a few months ago in Calgary, Kelowna, Edmonton and Vancouver; it’s an annual pilgrimage and we got some great response from our partners.”
Western Canadian travellers are all about signature Vegas experiences, said Hurtado, “from hiking in Red Rock Canyon and culinary tours to helicopter flights over the Strip or the Grand Canyon.
“We’ve found that the travelers are looking for something more experiential.”
Among these experiences is Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which allows guests to sample some of Vegas’ many culinary offerings in a matter of hours. The tours, which recently expanded to California, are also commissionable by agents.
“Considering the fact that we have close to 900 different restaurants on the Strip, it’s a unique idea,” Hurtado said. “Don (Contursi, Lip-Smacking’s president and guide) can walk you through a series of different tastings in a three-hour package.”
Hit the ice
Canadian travellers also continue to centre their Vegas vacations around the Golden Knights NHL schedule, Hurtado said, a big draw from Western Canada’s hockey cities such as Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, as well as their counterparts in Toronto and Montreal. Groups from three or four to as much as 30 or 40 Canadians have been observed taking in the games, Hurtado said, making it a ‘golden’ opportunity for travel agents booking groups on a weekend hockey getaway.
“It’s been incredibly popular here,” Hurtado said of Canadians watching their favourite teams face off against the Golden Knights. “There were 6,000 Oilers fans here for Connor McDavid’s birthday!
“The fact that it costs $300-$400 to attend a game in Canada, whereas you can get a family of four in the door for that in Las Vegas. And when the game ends, you walk right out onto the Vegas Strip.”
Next year, the city will have another draw for sports fans in the form of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, who have relocated from Oakland and will play at the Allegiant Air Stadium currently under construction.
On the horizon
Nothing stays static in Las Vegas for too long, Hurtado said; even if it’s been only six months since their last visit, travellers will find plenty of new things to see and do.
Among these are the never-ending string of artist residencies by top-billed performers, with Sting, Shania Twain, Lady Gaga, Cher and Madonna among the current and upcoming stars landing in Vegas.
“Iconic artists are always starting up shows – Celine Dion says she’s played her last Vegas show but I don’t believe it,” Hurtado jokes. “You can plan way in advance for these residencies; instead of seeing these artists just once in your city, you can plan months out and get a nice rate on a flight and hotels.”
And for agents, Hurtado encourages them to record their Vegas bookings on (where else?) trackmylasvegasbookings.com, where agents can win monthly prizes and be selected for exclusive events such as trade shows, Golden Knights games and much more.
The following is a list of new attractions and hotels opening in Las Vegas over the next year:
- Palms Casino Resort has recently completed a $690 million renovation that touched virtually every aspect of the property including new rooms and suites and a new casino
- The Colosseum at Caesars Palace will undergo significant technical and design updates to its landmark venue this summer.
- Wynn Golf Club will open their new Tom Fazio golf course. The 18-hole championship course debuts on Friday, Oct. 11 with a dramatically reimagined topography from the opening drive to the final putt.
- New shows include Cirque du Soleil who will premiere their first live action thriller, R.U.N. at the LUXOR Las Vegas on Oct. 24
- Wynn Las Vegas will debut a state-of-the-art luxury meetings and conventions development in March 2020. The new 400,000 square foot complex will overlook Wynn’s newly reimagined golf course.
- Sting will headline at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace beginning May 22, 2020.
- Kind Heaven will open at The LINQ Promenade in Spring 2020. As the result of a partnership between Lollapalooza founder and Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell and Caesars entertainment, the experience will offer the best of Southeast Asian culture, music and food.
- Hard Rock Hotel has been acquired by Virgin Hotels and will begin a complete renovation and rebrand Spring 2020.
- Scheduled to open in 2020, Caesars Forum will be a $375 million, 550,000 square-foot conference centre that can accommodate more than 10,000 attendees. Also included will be a 100,000 square-foot outdoor plaza and two of the largest pillarless ballrooms in the world.
- The 65,000 seat Las Vegas Stadium, future home of the Raiders is coming in fall 2020.
- Circa Resort & Casino is expected to open in December 2020 and will be the first resort to be built from the ground up on Fremont Street since 1980.
- Opening in 2021, the MSG Sphere will feature an 18,000 seat theatre with state-of-the-art technology, including an LED wall behind the stage.
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