Downtown Las Vegas has long been the ugly sister to The Strip’s Cinderella moniker. While The Strip rose from the desert to become the beautiful, neon paradise it is today, Downtown meandered between monotony and drudgery for several decades – but the past few years have seen somewhat of a renaissance for ‘Glitter Gulch’, as it used to be known, with plenty of innovation happening both on the casino floor and outside in the sun, too.
Derek Stevens has been a mastermind of this revolution of focus, starting with his original 50% stake in Golden Gate in 2006 which then saw him plough his money into what became ‘The D’ Hotel. Stevens is a great innovator with free and fast ideas abound – and like all great innovators, he knows that most of the things that he tries don’t work, not phasing him at all, which is what separates the good and great innovators of the world.
Stevens’ work hasn’t gone unnoticed by the local government or indeed his competition Downtown, which has seen a surge of ideas improve not only the hotels in the Fremont Street area, but also other venues such as the Downtown Container Park, which is a hive of activity on hot afternoons.
The Downtown Las vegas Events Center (a mouthful of a name!) has hosted some excellent boxing matches and is fast becoming the greatest way to enjoy football on Sundays with the replica football field lined with food stalls a welcome way to compliment a cold beer.
Other hotels have really upped their game, such as the Downtown Grand Hotel, which has a vibe all of it’s own and despite it’s mammoth one-minute walk to Fremont Street (those Americans really don’t like to walk far), is becoming a firm favourite, especially with the excellent pool area, Citrus.
Another hotel that has decided to take on the innovative spirit of the past few years is Golden Nugget which is surprisingly Strip-like inside and always packed-full of high-spirited gamblers and sunbathers in what has to be the best located pool area in the whole of Vegas?
Even the old warhorse, Binions has had a spring clean, which has seen a lessening of double-denim worn by it’s inhabitants – maybe there’s a link between the two?
Others have tried their hand at building on the area’s renaissance too, such as Pawn Plaza, created by Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars fame, although the venue is still undergoing teething problems with tenants moving in and out with some regularity.
Perhaps the most exciting innovation going on in Downtown at present is the creation of a new hotel in place of what used to be Las Vegas Club, which is yet to have a name or many other details known about it. Guess who’s behind this project? Yep, Derek Stevens.