Published Friday, Dec. 4, 2009 | 10:44 a.m.
Updated Friday, Dec. 4, 2009 | 7:05 p.m.
Opening day of the incredibly awesome Crystals retail entertainment promenade at CityCenter began with a medley of models dressed as Audrey Hepburn as we enjoyed “Breakfast at Tiffany” with baubles, bangles and beads.
Nearly 12 hours later, gorgeous Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria Parker was still partying there at the opening of her Beso restaurant and Eve nightclub. Although the nightclub won’t officially open to the public until New Year’s Eve, where I’ve already made my reservations, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner as of today.
This morning, it’s the opening ribbon-cutting ceremonies of the new -- and first in Las Vegas -- Mandarin Oriental super-luxury hotel. The property screams world-class sophistication, superlative accommodations and gracious Asian service. It’s the company’s sixth American location in addition to its 10 properties throughout Asia, where it is headquartered in Hong Kong.
I have been a huge fan of this group, and in fact always stayed with them when in Bangkok, Thailand. Their service is unmatched anywhere in the world. I know the trick they use so that the moment you leave your room, the stewards go in to clean and straighten everything -- even if you’re coming back in 20 minutes and then go out yet again an hour later. Impeccable! I’ll find out from new General Manager Rajesh Jhingon if he’ll do the same here with that as he did previously in Singapore.
The 392-luxury room boutique hotel is set right at the entranceway to CityCenter off the Strip. An additional 227 luxury condo apartments are being sold on the top floors of the skyscraper. The signature 23rd floor Sky Lobby, which separates the hotel suites from the residences, features the extraordinary restaurant Twist from acclaimed superstar chef Pierre Gagnaire of Paris -- his first restaurant in America. The dinner plates in his 74-seat exclusive restaurant were purchased for $1,000 each, as they are made from jade! A glass staircase designed by Adam Tihany rises to a second-story suspended wine zone.
The Mandarin Oriental is a nongaming resort with a sky bridge from the 23rd floor that connects to Crystals. The luxurious spa is a two-level, 27,000 square-foot facility with 17 treatment rooms, multiple relaxation and water experiences and a dedicated yoga studio offering Eastern and modern treatments.
Our loyal VDLX reader Richard Corey captured video at the Mandarin Oriental and posted his work on YouTube.
First-day shoppers yesterday at Crystals got the jump on President Obama, who is expected to tour it later this month. They stopped and stared at all the attractions and were serenaded by the extraordinary lineup of ladies known as Phat Strad playing stringed instruments for their classics and jazz melodies. The floral carpets, the ever-changing tubes of ice sculptures and the cylindrical, colorful tornado water bursts wowed guests.
Inside the 10,000 square-foot, two-story Tiffany & Co., it was croissants and coffee amid the diamonds and pearls. One ring I asked to look at was $136,000, and the diamond pave oval key in platinum on its platinum pendant chain was $15,300. I settled for the Las Vegas charm in sterling silver for $150 as one of the first shoppers to use AmEx and say, “Charge it!”
But it was when Eva arrived that the flashbulbs really went into a frenzy. Holly Madison of Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, who will take a January break from the show when the topless burlesque is dark, impressionist Gordie Brown and his wife, chef Todd English and fashion designer Nanette Lapore walked the red carpet, too. Hotel tycoon Steve Wynn and his lady friend Andrea Hissom slipped in but posed happily for their first candid portrait shot for my camera.
Numerous MGM hotel executives attended, including Luxor’s head honcho Felix Rappaport, MGM Mirage Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, CityCenter President and CEO Bobby Baldwin and Aria President Bill McBeath. Also there, Southern Wines and Spirits head honcho Larry Ruvo and Tropicana owner Alex Yemenidjian with his new president, Tom McCartney, who is leaving Planet Hollywood, which will shortly fall under Harrah’s executive Marilyn Wynn. Beacher’s Madhouse impresario Jeff Beacher flew in from Los Angeles for the opening.
Eva straightened out the collar of my shirt and sweater and told me that she was close to tears when she inspected the finished project. “We only started this eight months ago. The first renderings made me speechless. Tonight, I came closer to tears looking at it for real. It’s got my name on it, so I will definitely be here at least once a month. It’s where I will kiss my husband as we start 2010 on New Year’s Eve.
“I can’t believe how lucky we are to have the prime space in Crystals, with Aria right beside us as our neighbor. Crystals is the most magnificent place I’ve ever seen. It is truly staggering, and we are so proud to be a part of it.”
Our Senior Editor John Katsilometes also reported from the CityCenter festivities. The next big bash will be for the opening of Aria on Dec. 16, with previews Dec. 17 of Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis. The Black Eyed Peas, who are performing here on New Year’s Eve, will be the first visitors to Aria when they tape Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Eve show for Dick Clark.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at VegasDeLuxe.com.
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