Experts Weigh in on 2015 Trends in Hospitality, Technology, Luxury, Entertainment, Food & Beverage and Spa
LAS VEGAS – January 9, 2015 – Hospitality, technology, luxury, entertainment, food and beverage, fashion and spa experts are weighing in on what we can expect from Las Vegas in 2015.
Contributors include industry insiders from Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano Las Vegas, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, Vdara Hotel & Spa, The Shops at Crystals and internationally renowned chef Rick Moonen.
From the rise of music festivals and new takes on alcohol-infused foods to how the destination is pursuing the millennial generation, predictions are in and the forecast for the new year is no less enticing than one would expect from this popular travel destination that attracts more than 40 million visitors annually.
Take a glimpse into the future of Las Vegas:
Table of Contents
Social spaces take center stage
Wireless in-room integration
Social and digital gaming
Festivals rule the city
Unknown fish make it big
Bitter gets bigger
New approaches to booze-inspired food
Inventive cuisine tastes better together
In-house infusions and more
Champagne’s not just for celebrating
Las Vegas emerges as a craft beer destination
Immediate results that last
Taking the spa outside
~ Millennials matter. While Gen Y’s spending power will soon surpass that of any other age group, this generation’s influence is what sets it apart from previous ones. “Millennials grew up on technology and view it as a means to navigate their world,” says John Bollen, chief digital officer of MGM Resorts International. “In 2015, we will see how the impact of this group’s preference for sharing experiences with their peers and need for connectivity influence everything from in-room technologies to entertainment offerings.” A laidback yet innovative approach to hospitality will infiltrate Las Vegas, replacing standard lobby bars with unique social hubs, dominating menus with elevated takes on shareable family style dishes, introducing digital and social gaming, and increasing express offerings and services.
~ Wellness travel. Guests continue to seek out wellness travel options, and in 2015, a holistic, health-conscious stay will be easier than ever before in Las Vegas as hotels bolster offerings ranging from restaurant menus to guestrooms, according to Jane Cox, spa director at Spa Mandalay and BATHHOUSE Spa at Delano Las Vegas. Cox says Las Vegas spas will integrate new wellness services into their offerings, citing her plans to add yoga classes and farm-to-spa ingredients at BATHHOUSE. StayWell rooms – currently offered at MGM Grand – which incorporate more than a dozen healthy features including aromatherapy, wake-up light therapy and Vitamin C-infused showers – will expand the signature experience to additional properties and spaces this year. The second level of MGM Grand’s Conference Space was recently retrofitted with StayWell elements designed to appeal to health-minded business travelers. The upgraded spaces include furniture and features for stretching, improved air filtration and light quality, and Cleveland Clinic-approved menu items. Healthy food and beverage options will become more accessible, including a new USDA-Certified Organic cold-pressed juice program at Bellagio and a continued focus on sustainable foods throughout Las Vegas restaurants. Organic and natural wines also are on the rise with guests who want to be mindful even when imbibing, says Bellagio’s Director of Wine Jason Smith.
~ Social spaces take center stage. Guests prefer the casino floor and distinct venues for specific experiences (i.e. restaurants, theaters and nightclubs), but a growing demand for casual and flexible social spaces is driving the redesign of common areas into distinct social hubs, according to Matthew Chilton, general manager of Delano Las Vegas. “It’s about creating pockets of moments unique to the space and offering different areas for interaction – whether for business or pleasure,” Chilton explains. This trend is evident in new lounge atmospheres including Franklin at Delano Las Vegas and Alibi at ARIA, where guests can enjoy conversation, drinks, small bites and live music. With the incorporation of living room-style seating and live entertainment, these social spaces accommodate networking groups and friends alike. Innovative outdoor spaces also are emerging, as evidenced by the recent opening of Monte Carlo’s BLVD Plaza and expansion of New York-New York’s Brooklyn Bridge; both are outdoor, Strip-side developments boasting unique dining concepts and dynamic entertainment. The fusion of these outdoor complexes will ultimately serve as the gateway to the 2016 opening of The Park, an interactive neighborhood featuring plentiful public seating, desert-sustainable landscaping and street entertainers, which will front the 20,000-seat Las Vegas Arena, also currently under construction.
~ Everything mobile. Next year, guests will be able to book a room, make dinner reservations, purchase show tickets and even reserve pool lounge chairs from their mobile devices. “We’re always looking for ways to provide guests the opportunity to do things at their own pace,” says Shannon McCallum, executive director of hotel operations at ARIA. “In 2015, we’re looking at ways to enhance mobile capabilities even further, including services that will allow pool guests to order cocktails from their phones.”
~ Wireless in-room integration. The headache of innumerable data cables and mismatched ports during travel soon will become a distant memory as Bluetooth-enabled devices become more of the norm in guestrooms, according to John Bollen. ARIA Sky Suites recently implemented Bluetooth Music Bridge, allowing guests to stream playlists wirelessly through in-room speakers, and other hotels will follow suit in the coming year. Additionally, new high-tech amenities including iPads in high-end suites at MGM Grand will interface with hotel departments, allowing guests to order room service, send laundry and more, says Travis Lunn, vice president of hotel operations at MGM Grand.
~ Social and digital gaming. Table games with touch screen tops, like the InteractivePro tables recently introduced at MGM Grand and The Mirage, will be the next big gaming trend, according to Tom Mikulich, vice president of business development for MGM Resorts International. InteractivePro Tables are like giant smart phones, featuring a unique interface allowing four different users to operate interactive or individual gaming screens, watch sports, access social media and more. “In 2015, we plan to introduce sports betting, video reels and video table games,” says Mikulich.
~ Whimsical luxury. “Luxury is no longer all about over-the-top opulence,” says Lezlie Young, vice president of The Mansion and SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand.”Instead, luxury brands are focusing on personalizing guest experiences through little extras and unexpected surprises that create a lasting impact.” For example, guests of The Mansion and SKYLOFTS enjoy creative turndown amenities such as gourmet popcorn and organic sunscreen. The newly opened Delano Las Vegas redefines personalized services with “surprise and delight” moments like impromptu complimentary amuse-bouches served within the hotel’s immersive lobby. Next year the boutique hotel will debut Delano Beach Club, a luxury escape with unique offerings including hammocks and a giant submerged chessboard.
~ Express luxury. As quick getaways become a standard for busy affluent professionals, Las Vegas will focus on express luxury services in 2015 to save guests time without sacrificing indulgence, according to James Mulidore, director of The Villas at The Mirage. For example, time-pressed guests of The Villas who can’t fit multiple restaurants into their stay can create an all-encompassing dining experience by ordering a course from each restaurant to enjoy in their suite. Las Vegas spas will introduce new treatments for on-the-go guests in 2015, including a Quick Fix menu at ESPA at Vdara, and “just-what-I-needed”-type services at Spa Bellagio, such as foot and leg messages during facials, cold stones during poolside massages and more.
~ Convenient luxury. As Las Vegas continues to rise in prominence as a luxury retail destination, discerning shoppers are creating a demand for retail centers that feature all their favorite designers, but still offer one-of-a-kind, exclusive products. In response, Farid Matraki, senior vice president and general manager of The Shops at Crystals, has aimed to make the retail destination the most effortless luxury shopping experience in the world. Matraki notes that one would have to walk the entire Champs-Elysees, Place Vendôme or Boulevard St. Germain to find all of the stores available under Crystals’ roof. In 2015, expect to see new unique-to-market, high-end designers open in Las Vegas such as Crystals’ newest boutique Audemars Piguet, while retailers focus on bringing their brand’s most rare and coveted items to Vegas for VIP guests.
~ High-end casual. Millennials prefer an understated approach to luxury, opting for chic-casual looks like designer jeans with sneakers rather than traditional suit-and-tie ensembles. Matraki notes the popularity among the millennial crowd with more approachable brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin, Paul Smith and Brunello Cucinelli, and expects other designers to evolve their offerings. In 2015, Matraki predicts designers such as Ermengildo Zegna will continue to replace suits with sportswear collections, while Louis Vuitton and PRADA will enhance their popular sneaker lines.
~ Festivals rule the city. “Interactive and social forms of entertainment, like music festivals and outdoor events, will be a major focus in Las Vegas,” says Chris Baldizan, senior vice president of entertainment for MGM Resorts International. From the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to Life is Beautiful in Downtown Las Vegas, multi-day music festivals will continue to find homes in Las Vegas in 2015. Notably, the May U.S. debut of Brazil’s iconic Rock in Rio – the world’s largest music festival – will deliver top acts like Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Metallica, John Legend and more. Other events on the horizon for 2015 include the return of Wine Amplified, an alternative rock music and wine festival; and the Route 91 Harvest Festival, which features the best talent in the country music industry performing for fans in a laidback, outdoor environment.
~ Unknown fish make it big. The introduction of lesser-known fish species will become a hip addition to more menus according to Chef Rick Moonen of Mandalay Bay’s Rx Boiler Room and RM Seafood. The demand for sustainable seafood remains as strong as ever, prompting restaurants to explore responsibly sourced options and alternatives to American menu staples. “As chefs are exposed to the amazing variety of seafood that is available they will start to go nuts!” Moonen predicts. Diners can expect more non-traditional fish to crop up on menus, following the lead of current offerings such as Salt Water Barramundi at Sage at ARIA, and sea-to-table options, like “Rick’s Sustainable Catch of the Day” at RM Seafood.
~ Bitter gets bigger. A flavor profile traditionally associated with mixology, bitter elements will make big moves in the kitchen in 2015. According to Joshua Smith, executive chef of soon-to-open BARDOT Brasserie at ARIA, unique ingredients will rise to prominence as chefs incorporate bitter flavors for balance in cooking. Since bitter is a crucial component of traditional French cooking, Smith emphasizes it on the menu of this new Las Vegas restaurant (opening January 2015), utilizing ingredients such as vermouth, endives, escarole and frisee. He also makes his own black pepper bitters for the restaurant’s Sauce Au Poivre, and flambés peppercorn-brandy bitters for an extra pop in the dish.
~ New approaches to booze-inspired food. In 2015, both Moonen and Smith expect to see alcohol influence dishes in unexpected ways, driving new approaches to the concept of booze-infused food. “Ingredients used to make beer and cocktails will start to appear in food preparations,” says Moonen, citing examples such as malted barley added as a crunch in salads, dried spelt grains used for crusts and juniper berry sauces served with game meat. Smith adds that he will be using high-end wines including La Vieille Ferme Rouge and Blanc during cooking to elevate recipes, and incorporating unique alcohols into dishes, such as Blue Crab Crêpe with Normandy cider beurre blanc.
~ Inventive cuisine tastes better together. According to Bellagio Executive Chef Edmund Wong, group dining concepts will continue to gain popularity, partly due to the increasing spending power of millennials, who subscribe to the idea that the ultimate dining experience is one that’s shared with friends, family and their social networks. Prime examples include shareable menus like the Plats Pour Deux Menu at BARDOT Brasserie at ARIA; Italian social plates at Julian Serrano’s Lago, opening in spring 2015 at Bellagio; and the shareable punch bowls served at Franklin at Delano Las Vegas. Additionally, chefs anticipate that we’ll see new (and renewed) takes on traditional shareable dishes: Moonen is predicting a resurgence of the retro Fondu, plus Asian-inspired social dining like Pu Pu Platters and Korean barbeque becoming regulars on contemporary restaurant menus.
~ In-house infusions and more. A major trend to watch in Las Vegas’ growing cocktail scene is innovative in-house preparations (i.e. homemade infusions, smoked cocktails). Monte Carlo’s Director of Beverage Philip Dow believes guests will notice a much larger push toward “the quality of the craft.” Examples of intricate preparations can already be found throughout Las Vegas such as Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Bay, which funnels smoke from cedar chips into whiskey to create its Smoked Whiskey Cola. Also ahead of the curve, MGM Grand’s Whiskey Down infuses its whiskey with mint in-house to create its signature Whiskey in a Jar cocktail. Sage at ARIA’s Smoke Missing Mirrors, visually smokes and smells of bourbon while the guest enjoys the smooth taste of cognac.
~ Champagne’s not just for celebrating. Champagne has always been an integral part of the Las Vegas experience, and now we’re seeing it evolve as a wine to enjoy at all occasions – not just celebrations, says to Harley Carbery, director of wine at Mandalay Bay. Whether toasting a moment or paired alongside a course, guests can enjoy two of the largest selections of champagne in the city at Aureole and miX, both located at Mandalay Bay. Carbery expects more venues to expand their champagne offerings in 2015, noting ARIA’s Lobby Bar, which recently created a champagne-by-the glass menu curated by ARIA’s Director of Wine Kim Wood.
~ Las Vegas emerges as a craft beer destination. As the craft beer revolution continues to take the world by storm, Las Vegas is steadily making its mark on the industry. Robert Parekh, general manager of TAP at MGM Grand, predicts hotels will focus on expanding their offerings in 2015, establishing bars and restaurants that are destinations for beer aficionados. Two popular local examples include The Pub at Monte Carlo, which offers more than 300 beers on tap; and Michael Mina’s PUB 1842, which sources a collection of international and hard-to-find brews. Additionally, Parekh says that we’ll see more of Las Vegas’ own microbrews making their way onto The Strip, exposing an international audience to local breweries like Big Dog’s, Banger Brewing and Joseph James. As a prime example, ARIA recently teamed up with Sin City Brewing Company to create a special edition extra pale ale available exclusively at the resort.
~ Immediate results that last. Results-driven treatments that provide immediate and lasting visible effects will drive new spa offerings in Las Vegas, according to Kim Key, spa director of ESPA at Vdara. Expect to see growth in more complex therapies such as BATHHOUSE’s recently introduced Cactus and Desert Lily Firming Treatment, which uses a silicon cupping method to reduce the appearance of cellulite, and The Spa at ARIA’s Oxygen Firming Facial, which utilizes an Apure oxygen mask to deliver instant anti-aging results.
~ Taking the spa outside. Spa services offered outside of traditional settings continue to be popular with guests and in 2015 we’ll see Las Vegas spas introduce and expand wellness offerings to new outdoor locations, according to Tammi Furce, director of Spa Bellagio. Expect to see spas debut innovative treatments like Spa Bellagio’s new Surf to Turf Massage, which will move from aquatic pool therapy to table massage. ARIA recently debuted in-pool massages, while outdoor yoga programs, like Monte Carlo’s Yoga on BLVD Plaza, will look to expand to new locations including Mandalay Bay Beach.