by Ron Donoho | May 02, 2018
Las Vegas is transformational; constantly reinventing itself -- a fact that this writer experienced firsthand while visiting the city while commemorating Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID). The latest example of this transformation is the half-billion-dollar ongoing conversion of the caterpillar that was the Monte Carlo into the beautiful butterfly called Park MGM, where lobby self-check-in and making your own room key is all the rage.

So many small touches make up the greater package at Park MGM -- like the elegantly gilded Bavette's steakhouse, complete with a back-of-the-house speakeasy. Complementing the hotel's existing meeting space is a 10,000-square-foot Madison Meeting Center -- modern-designed conference space aimed at small groups of 10-50, with 10 flexible meeting rooms, lounges, scores of amenities, as well as a dedicated elevator that leads to attendee guest rooms (so they won't "get lost" in the casino). 

The reimagined Park MGM is located next to the T-Mobile Arena and linked by enclosed walkway to the Aria Resort & Casino. It wasn't long ago that Aria was the new kid on The Strip, and now it has re-upped its meeting offerings. A 200,000-square-foot expansion of convention space -- including a 5,300-seat, commanding-yet-intimate Park Arena -- bumps the total package to 500,000 square feet.

A key new addition at Aria is an exclusive space called the Cypress Executive Lounge (pictured). C-level groups can utilize 3,000 square feet equipped with a high-tech conference room, private food-and-beverage service in its own kitchen, offices for one-on-ones and a cozy, book-lined study. 

Along with an ever-expanding selection of meeting spaces, Las Vegas is gaining an even higher national profile with an influx of sports-related ventures. The city's new National Hockey League expansion team, the Golden Knights, has quickly filled its bandwagon. Locals and visitors flocked to the T-Mobile Arena in April for home playoff games that bookended GMID.

Come 2021, Weekends will be enlivened with more sports when NFL football and the Oakland Raiders make the move to Vegas to play in a 65,000-seat stadium currently being built south of The Strip -- near sister properties Mandalay Bay Resort and Delano (formerly THEhotel). Sunday night dinners at Rivea, Delano's best-view-in-town rooftop eatery, may include more black-and-silver face-painted guests whence the Raider Nation takes root.  

At Caesars Palace, our tour included a boldly seasoned lunch at celebrity chef Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. After inspecting Caesars' 300,000 square feet of meeting space -- including the 51,000-square-foot and pillarless Octavius and Forum ballrooms -- we then popped in for a tasting at Pronto, the recently uncorked wine bar owned by spicy Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis. Saluti!

The last Big New Thing unveiled on this Vegas tour was the $30 million, 30,000-square-foot Esports Arena located within the pyramid-shaped Luxor. The Esports Arena is a monument to competitive video gaming. There are computer screens galore with ergo-dynamic seating, virtual reality experiences, spectator seating and opportunities for team-building events. Then there's the omnipresent online personality from Twitch.tv named Dr. Disrespect. He's beamed onto TVs all over the Arena; Dr. Disrespect's well-paying, full-time day job is to play and narrative shoot-em-up games. 

Got Millennial meeting attendees? Get acquainted with Dr. Disrespect and his Esports ilk.