Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Fifth Avenue in New York. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. When you think of world-class shopping, these are the places that usually come to mind. The Vegas Strip? Maybe not five or ten years ago, but today…absolutely! What used to be little more than a 12-block smorgasbord of kitschy souvenirs and t-shirts is now arguably the greatest concentration of “to-die-for” shopping in the world.
Shopping is a new measure of the transformation of Las Vegas into the world’s premier destination for grown-ups.
Vegas blew away the world’s perceptions of what hotels are by building them in the shape of pyramids, castles, canals, pirate coves, and replicas of famous cities. Big wasn’t good enough…we had to make the biggest. MGM Grand at 5,000 rooms is the world’s largest, but the Venetian is planning a new tower that will bring its total over 7,000 rooms. For years, Las Vegas was the home of the $1.99 all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and the $3.99 prime rib dinner.
Today, virtually every five-star and celebrity chef is putting Vegas on the menu. Shopping choices were t-shirts or diamonds, depending on whether you were a fixture at the nickel slots or a high roller at baccarat. No more. You can leave all your money here now and never see the casino. Vegas boasts more upscale shopping than ever and we are still growing. Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s Home, Nordstrom, Max & Co., Jimmy Choo, Prada, Tiffany & Co., Gucci, and Abercrombie & Fitch are only a few of the names the hip crowd can drop here.
Where There Are Shops, There Must Be Flair.
Vegas never does anything without a style you can’t find anywhere else, so clearly the standard mall layout simply won’t do. Shopping venues in Vegas feature one-of-a-kind amenities like a 480-foot-long silver oval called “The Cloud” Fashion Show – Cloud that hangs off two giant pillars 128 feet above the entrance to Fashion Show, the largest shopping destination in Vegas. Across the street in the Venetian, the Grand Canal Shops wind around a realistic canal with singing gondoliers driving authentic gondolas from Italy.
The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace innovated the “outdoor-indoor” mall with a curved ceiling painted to resemble a cloud-filled sky and lighting that changed to mimic the rising and setting of the sun outside. Desert Passage took that one step further and shoppers there can experience a thundering rainstorm in the “docks” area of the mall.
VegasHotSpots.com Guide to Shopping In Vegas
We’ve been to them all, so here is a snapshot of where to go and what to look for in Retail Vegas:
The Fashion Show (don’t call it the Fashion Show Mall!) is one of the largest shopping centers in the country at more than 1.9 million square feet. Located at the hottest corner in Vegas opposite the re-born TI, the Venetian, and the new Wynn Las Vegas, this stunning retail center houses 200 stores, scheduled to grow to 250 by the end of 2004. Seven anchor stores including flagships Nieman Marcus, Saks, a prototype Bloomies Home Store, and Nordstrom surround a huge central space called The Great Hall. An 80-foot long retractable runway and stage in the middle of The Great Hall Fashion Show – Runway complete with state-of-the-art video and sound systems provides a platform for high-energy fashion performances. The Cloud on the Strip side of the center is more than a gigantic sunshade…at night it’s a huge overhead image projection screen broadcasting video and events occurring inside. There’s more to tell about Fashion Show than we have space for here, so visit www.thefashionshow.com.
At the opposite end of the Strip from the Fashion Show is Vegas’ newest high-end retail center called Mandalay Place. This 100,000 square foot experience is actually a shopping bridge over Mandalay Bay Road connecting the Mandalay Bay and Luxor Resort Casinos. Vibrant colors in the carpets and on the ceilings, and spectacular light fixtures create a luxurious atmosphere more like a mansion than a mall. Most of the stores here are retailers you don’t find in many places, enhancing the uniqueness of the venue. A Robert Cromeans Salon is the ultimate spa experience for your hair. For your skin, the skinklinic by Kathy Dwyer is a one-stop skin mecca. For the home, MAX & Co. is the first US location of a new contemporary collection by the MaxMara luxury Italian design house. When all its stores are occupied, Mandalay Place will feature 41 boutiques and restaurants. The center will soon launch its website at www.mandalayplace.com, so check back in a week or so for more information.
The Grand Canal Shoppes
No contest here…the Grand Canal Shops inside the Venetian Resort Casino have captured the ambience and romance of this most famous spot for lovers. Go ahead…ride the gondolas, let them sing to you while you pass under arches and are photographed by dozens of fellow consumers. Grand Canal Shops Plan your visit here to include lunch or dinner at Postrio in St. Mark’s Square. Designed to resemble like an Italian piazza with three-story faux building fronts and a cloud-sprinkled ceiling, it is a great place for people-watching and a sumptuous meal. Operatic singers, human sculptures and other street performers keep it lively. The Grand Canal Shops are the only retail center in Vegas with a holiday festival. The celebration called Carnevale is billed as 11 days of food, fashion and festivities, and begins December 11th. Check out www.venetian.com/attractions/carnevale.cfm for details on Carnevale. For more information about the Grand Canal Shops in general, visit www.venetian.com/shoppe. Other Shopping Hot Spots
The Forum Shoppes
The grandfather of Vegas upscale malls, this remains a true shopping and celebrity-spotting hot spot. Michael Jackson, J Lo. and others dine and drop a dime here, sometimes closing down stores while they get their VIP treatment. Access is easy from Caesar’s Palace Casino or from the Strip via elaborate moving walkways. The Festival Fountain and Atlantis animatronics are a little corny, but worth a ten-minute break when you’re down at that end of the complex. A major addition and expanded parking in 2004 will reinvigorate this retail destination. For more information on shops, visit www.parkplace.com. The Shops in the Desert Passage at the Aladdin –- Patterned after a North African marketplaceDesert Passage, it takes 1.2 miles of walking to see all 140 specialty stores and the eight restaurants. The mall is actually a circle surrounding the Aladdin’s Theatre for the Performing Arts. Pedicabs can help get you from one end to the other when your dogs get tired. For more information, visit www.desertpassage.com. Via Bellagio — We’re talking Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Prada, and Armani. You’ll look like a million bucks when you walk out of here. The mall is decked out like some foreign subtitled flick complete with beautiful Italian extras folding cashmere on the showroom floors. It is our choice for the “Best Shops for High Rollers” HotSpot. For more information, visit www.bellagio.com, then click on “Shopping,” then click on “Via Bellagio.”
Le Boulevard at Paris
This is as close as you’ll get to an intimate shopping experience in a fashionable arrondisement of Paris without actually hopping the pond. Clio Blue and La Vogue are must-see shops, and Lenôtre is the place to stop for your espresso and chocolate croissant and pretend you are sitting outside at a typical Parisian café. For more information, visit www.parkplace.com/Paris/. Tower Shops at Stratosphere –- You might not add a walk through these shops to your Vegas “must-see” list if it weren’t for the fact you’ll pass them on your way to the Tower, but there are treasures to be found if you look past the standard mall franchise fare. Hey, you’re here anyway, so why not walk a little slower, grab a Starbucks, and do a little exploring for something interesting. For more information, visit www.stratospherehotel.com/flash/. New in 2004. The Shops at Green Valley Ranch – One of the classiest off-Strip casinos is Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, just off the I-215. A favorite haunt of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Cindy Crawford, the casino and hotel was just one part of a master plan and the rest is well on its way to completion. An intriguing pedestrian boulevard, actually it’s almost it’s own little district, is rising 3-4 stories high on the eastern side of the resort. It will feature great shopping and dining, with offices and luxury apartments on top of the shops. For more information, check back periodically at www.greenvalleyranchresort.com