The quest for non-gaming attractions in Las Vegas took a dramatic turn earlier this year with the opening of the Linq, a shopping and dining district nestled among several Caesars Entertainment hotels on the east side of the Strip capped off by the High Roller, the largest observation wheel in the world.
The Caesars Entertainment properties on the east side of the Strip—Harrah’s, Imperial Palace, Flamingo and Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall—were slated at one time for demolition, to be replaced by a CityCenter-like multi-use development. But when the recession hit Las Vegas hard, Caesars went back to the drawing board. The company wanted to attract more visitors to that side of the Strip, where 11 million pass by on an annual basis.
The decision to create the world’s largest observation wheel was a no-brainer, considering the success of such wheels in London, Singapore and elsewhere. The location was the only question, and when it was determined that the wheel would work best behind the existing hotels, a “link” to the Strip was needed and the “Linq” was born. To be built in an alleyway between the Imperial Palace and the Flamingo, the Linq was envisioned as an entertainment/shopping/dining center that would bring vitality and life to a previously dead area.
Meanwhile, the Imperial Palace was renovated and renamed the Quad, which was again changed to the Linq in October. The Flamingo was updated and renovated so that today, the shops and restaurants of the Linq serve the hotels on that side of the street. Also, the Cromwell replaced Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, and is now viewed as a boutique hotel serving upper-end Caesars customers. The Cromwell also hosts Drai’s, the latest update of the original Las Vegas nightclub experience, on the roof of the property with a dramatic view of the Strip.
Jon Gray, the original general manager of the Linq, explains how this works:
“We were under-indexed in the Flamingo, the Quad (now the Linq hotel) and Cromwell in restaurants per room,” he says. “That was another reason we did the Linq. We were a great exporter to non-Caesars restaurants. But now with the Linq, it will satisfy that desire for more dining options.”
Entertainment was also a prime concern, and the addition of Brooklyn Bowl, a bowling alley/restaurant/bar, brings some top acts to the Linq. All of the shops, restaurants and hotels are joined together by Caesars’ state-of-the-art loyalty program.
“Total Rewards is totally integrated,” says Gray. “We’ve already been booking room packages with tickets to the High Roller and Brooklyn Bowl as part of the attraction. And this isn’t limited to Vegas. Our out-of-market properties are also fully invested in this effort. They’re very excited about using the wheel and the Linq to drive business to them.”
The Linq spans more than 300,000 square feet, and features more than 30 retail, dining, nightlife and entertainment venues (70 percent restaurants and bars, 30 percent retail and entertainment).
Architect of Record:
Design Architect: David Schwarz, David M. Schwarz Architects
Vortex Design Architect: Branislav Hetzel, Hetzel Design
Designer: The Hettema Group
General Contractor: W. A. Richardson Builders
Retail Advisor: Rick J. Caruso, Founder and CEO, Caruso Affiliated
Investment: $350 million