​​Venetian celebrates 25 years on the Las Vegas Strip by doubling down on luxurious style

Las Vegas Weekly
​​Venetian celebrates 25 years on the Las Vegas Strip by doubling down on luxurious style
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Venetian is the last great themed casino resort in Las Vegas. It opened in May of 1999, after Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand, Treasure Island, Luxor and Excalibur. And no disrespect to Paris Las Vegas—which opened four months after Venetian—and its iconic Eiffel Tower and indoor Parisian streetscape, but Venetian’s theme is and always has been more comprehensive, an unmistakably strong aesthetic that expanded when the striking 642-foot Palazzo hotel tower and casino enlarged the property in 2007.

As grand and sweeping as the Strip-front facade may be, with its re-creation of Italian landmarks Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge and Venice’s Grand Canal, its appearance is only part of the theme; it’s all about luxury. When it opened 25 years ago, it had 3,036 suites, and today they remain the largest standard hotel room on the Strip. Since it was built primarily to accommodate business travelers who could stay under the same roof as the Sands Expo Convention Center (now known as the Venetian Expo), it made sense for the resort to offer abundant, elite options in dining, nightlife and retail—not to mention a truly expansive gaming floor—and it always has. In recent years, Venetian has elevated its entertainment offerings to unprecedented heights, most notably with the arrival of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp’s Sphere, but also with headlining acts in the Venetian Theatre and Summit Showroom and the invention of the Voltaire cabaret experience.

To mark this month’s significant anniversary, Venetian recently announced its largest and most expensive hotel renovation, a $1.5 billion project that will include a full redesign of those suites (now numbering 4,000); new gaming offerings and a sportsbook naming rights deal with Yahoo; new design elements in the convention center; new restaurants to be announced later this year; and even a rebrand of its lion logo. The new hotel suites— “inspired by the traditional ornate costumes of the Venetian Carnival, infusing energy, spirit and warmth in a contemporary, fresh design,” according to a release—will be available for reservations beginning in September.

Earlier this year, Venetian also launched the Food Rescue Alliance, which repackages and utilizes surplus food from catered events—there are many here—to be distributed across Southern Nevada to those dealing with food insecurity. It’s a new partnership with the Just One Project and it was recognized by the White House in February.

Perhaps because it arrived at the end of the era of family-friendly, Disneyland-esque casino resorts on the Strip, Venetian feels detached from its origins. Like Bellagio, it has a timeless quality; both destinations seem to have existed in the iconography of Las Vegas longer than they’ve been open for business.

Unlike Bellagio, Venetian’s personality—if such a thing can be ascribed to a giant hotel and casino—may have evolved through the years. Conventions and Italian scenery remain at the core, but today it wraps itself around other big names with worldwide recognition—U2 and Earth, Wind & Fire; Emeril Lagasse and Thomas Keller; Tiësto and Tyga; Christina Aguilera and Kylie Minogue; Spiegelworld and The B-52s.

As big as the Venetian experience felt in 1999, it has only expanded, become more diverse and ambitious. Not every themed casino has transcended the idea of themed casinos.