By Joanna Haugen
Las Vegas resort-casinos have historically been designed to keep visitors inside, without clocks, windows, or easy access to exits. With several dining options; a variety of entertainment choices, gaming opportunities, and accommodations; a selection of pools; and an array of spa services and shopping all contained in a single place, the resorts on the Las Vegas Strip serve as one-shop stops. The theory is that guests never have to leave their property of choice.
This on-Strip standard of confinement is being reimagined and redefined with the introduction of The LINQ, an open-air retail, dining, and entertainment district anchored by the world’s tallest observation (Ferris) wheel—known as the High Roller. A Caesars Entertainment project, The LINQ is located between The Quad Resort & Casino and Flamingo Las Vegas (both of which open to The LINQ), directly facing Caesars Palace. The area was formerly an alleyway into a parking garage that an estimated 20.4 million people pass by annually, which made the decision to build the project in this space a no-brainer for Caesars Entertainment. “The goal in mind is really to create a critical mass of nightlife, dining, and entertainment,” says Jon Gray, general manager of The LINQ. “A lot of great cities have cool streets to walk through, and we saw that there was a void in Las Vegas.”
Live entertainment and al fresco (outdoor) dining throughout The LINQ are expected to create a vibe that appeals specifically to Generation X and Generation Y (ages 21 to 46, roughly), but there is something for everyone in this new development. “We’re creating an elevated experience on the Strip, but we don’t want it to be intimidating,” Gray says. “We didn’t want to offer another high-end shopping center.”
More than 30 retail, dining, nightlife, and entertainment venues will line the street at The LINQ. “In the conception of The LINQ, we knew we wanted to have new Vegas offerings, things that had never been done before,” Gray adds. “But we also knew we wanted to have a balance, so we also wanted tenants that had great brand awareness. However, we pushed those tenants to do something unique.”
Among The LINQ tenants are:
Construction on this pedestrian-friendly space began in November 2011, and by New Year’s Eve, the first phase of The LINQ—including O’Sheas, a popular Irish pub—will be open. The majority of The LINQ should be open by the end of February 2014, with the High Roller debuting shortly thereafter.
Topping out at 550 feet, the High Roller will be the largest observation wheel in the world. Twenty-eight spherical cabins will each hold 40 guests. Traveling at one foot per second, the High Roller will take roughly 30 minutes to make one full revolution. In creating the wheel, designers learned from the engineering of the London Eye and Singapore Flyer. “We really wanted to create a new icon on the Las Vegas Strip, and I think we’ve achieved that,” Gray says. “I think the High Roller will be something that everyone needs to ride—and will want to ride, both tourists and locals.”
From the streets of the pedestrian-friendly outdoor walkway to the top of the High Roller, the overarching goal of The LINQ is to create a place where people can easily hang out unconfined by the walls of the typical Las Vegas casino resort—a visionary concept that has the potential to change how people embrace their experience on the Strip. “There are a million scenarios that can pan out once people enter The LINQ,” Gray says. “It’s a great spot for tourists and locals to meet up and start their night, be there the entire night, or end their night.”
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