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Hit the Road

Las Vegas revamps, reshapes and re-invents itself for Millennials

Let’s face it; people like Las Vegas.

Even when the last recession hit and Las Vegas was faced with particularly high unemployment and a severe collapse of the housing market, 40 million visitors a year still found their way to the city to gamble, see shows and to get quickie marriages (possibly followed by long-lasting regrets).

The history of the rise of Las Vegas is like no other city in our country.

It is replete with true tales of gambling, prostitution, the Mob, celebrities, eccentrics, shady deals and greed. Since its founding in the 1930s, Sin City has evolved several times, and it is, once again, retooling, revamping, reshaping and re-inventing itself — all for the Millennials.

Turns out that this generation — young adults who came of age around 2000 — do not have gambling high on their Things-We-Love-to-Do List. So thanks to the proclivities of the Millennials, people of all ages can enjoy extraordinary theater, spas, food and fine art.

Here are just some of the many elements of Las Vegas 4.0 that I discovered on a recent media trip.

British artist Henry Moore, who died in 1986, is said to be the most celebrated sculptor of his time. The title of this sculpture, “Reclining Connected Forms,” pretty much illustrates the dominant themes of his works. This piece sits in the courtyard between Aria Resort & Casino and The Shops at Crystals. Though Moore’s work made him wealthy, he lived frugally and gave most of his money to a foundation that promotes education and the arts. Photo by E'louise OndashArtful and scrumptious pasties fill the display cases at the Jean Philippe Patisserie in the Aria Resort & Casino. And should you need an ice cream fix, the shop offers a dozen flavors of gelato, too. A French national, Jean-Philippe Maury is an award-winning pastry chef who began his career at age 16. He won the title of World Champion Pastry Chef twice — once as a participant in 2002, and as a coach in 2004. Photo by E'louise OndashArtist Maya Lin, best known for her winning design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. that she submitted at age 21, created this sculpture called “Silver River.” The piece is 87 feet long, weighs 3,700 pounds and is suspended from steel cables. “Silver River” hangs behind the registration desk of the Aria Resort & Casino and is made with reclaimed silver. Lin’s work recreates the path and shape of the Colorado River, without which  Las Vegas could not exist. [Courtesy photo]Guests at the Harvest Restaurant at the Aria Resort & Casino, which features seasonal cuisine inspired by regional farms, can watch the chefs at work. The staff gladly accommodates those with allergies and gluten-free needs. Photo by E'louise OndashThis vibrant work by Frank Stella dominates the front desk in the Vdara Hotel lobby (a non-gambling, non-smoking hotel). The space was constructed to accommodate the canvas. Stella, 80, is a popular, well-known artist who lives and still works in New York. Photo by E'louise OndashThis sculpture, an amazing collection of multi-colored canoes titled “Big Edge,” was assembled and connected with piano wire as the artist, Nancy Rubins, directed the crew. She decided how to place the boats as she went. Rubins is known for creating works from salvaged industrial and consumer goods. 
“Big Edge” is one of many pieces that belong to the $40 million art collection assembled by MGM Resorts International. The works can be found in and around the Aria Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, The Shops at Crystals and Veer Towers. The works make up one of the world’s “largest and most ambitious corporate collections” and “the first major permanent collection to be integrated into a public space,” according to MGM. 
You can see the entire collection for free. Pick up a guide at Aria’s concierge desk or its spa, or download the Fine Art Collection app at Photo by E'louise OndashJapanese Spring Celebration is the theme for the floral displays currently showing at the Bellagio Hotel’s Conservatory. Horticulturalists and designers transform this 14,000-square-foot space every season into a showcase that is free to all visitors. When the display rotates, 90 percent of the organic materials are recycled, according to the hotel’s website. Photo by E'louise OndashProps from “The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil” are stored backstage at the theater in the Mirage Hotel & Casino. Yes, that’s a KKK hood, used in a segment of the show that addresses racism. The show celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer. Since its conception, sound and light technologies have evolved enough that the producers of “LOVE” recently gave it a technical and artistic makeover.  The theater has installed new equipment, and reworked the music and stunning acrobatic presentations. “LOVE” is staged in-the-round, so no one in the audience is more than 100 feet from the action. Photo by E'louise Ondash

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