Kicking off 2013 the Las Vegas way

Before the Metropolitan Police Department blocks off Las Vegas Boulevard and revelers take over the Strip and Fremont Street, party organizers are putting the finishing touches on their New Year’s Eve fetes.

Hotel properties are prepping hordes of security, prep cooks are slicing vegetables, and bartenders are lining up the bottles.

Happy New Year.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is expecting 2012’s New Year’s Eve celebration to mirror 2011’s, which attracted 332,000 visitors. New Year’s Eve is measured as an individual day by the authority, not an entire weekend like other holidays. The expected nongaming economic impact of the 2012 festivities is $209.9 million, up just slightly from 2011’s final count of $209.8 million.

And while hotels, nightclubs and restaurants are getting ready for their big night, New Year’s Eve might just be another day for the city’s marketing arm.

"Pretty much any holiday or any weekend is very important to us overall," said Scott Russell, the convention authority’s senior manager of research.

New Year’s Eve attracts about 10 percent more bodies to Las Vegas than an average weekend, which draws about 300,000 people.

"There’s always something going on in the destination," Russell said.

But, for some reason, New Year’s Eve has seemingly become a favorite for visitors. Why?

"Maybe it is that there’s so many things going on. We have all the concerts here. They can go see Celine Dion at one property and The Killers at another," Russell said. "There’s such a wide variety of things to do in our destination, that’s what makes it unique."

And, there’s always something new to do in the city.

At the Palms, for instance, 9Group just opened Scarlet, a new bar. Ashli Kimenker, the group’s public relations manager, said they’re anticipating high volumes of guests throughout the weekend due to their entertainment lineup and view of the Strip for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Downtown hotels, too, are expecting high numbers. At the 695-room Four Queens, bookings were strong for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

"We aren’t quite sold out, but we expect to sell out," said Lisa Robinson, spokeswoman for the Four Queens and Binion’s.

On last count, there were 150,245 rooms in the city, almost exactly the same number of available rooms at the end of 2011. A week before New Year’s Eve, Russell said there were still plenty of properties that had beds available for Dec. 31.

The Mirage had a resort king room available for $470 on Dec. 31, but a multinight booking was required. A more posh room at that hotel, a penthouse, costs $1,035. At Paris Las Vegas, a king room costs $369 on New Year’s Eve, and a one-bedroom penthouse at the Riviera costs $814 for the evening.

Downtown, rooms at the Plaza were priced at $247, and a room at the Golden Nugget cost $289.

"New Year’s Eve is an international holiday. It’s incumbent on all of us who are operators in Las Vegas to deliver the best party possible," Robinson said. "It’s vital to the brand of Las Vegas. When you get down to the property level, we all have to be part of that."

In terms of alcoholic beverages, expect revelers to consume more alcohol throughout the evening than what’s typical.

Jason Woywod, managing partner of Executive Gaming, said local bars and casinos see a small increase, but not as much as those on the Strip.

He said his properties, which include the O’Aces Bar and Grills, see drink sales increase 25 percent.

"It’s not that big of an evening for most local bars and restaurants. It’s still a decent night … but we don’t have huge numbers like we would on a Super Bowl," Woywod said.

And, no surprise here, champagne is the beverage of choice for many on New Year’s Eve, spurred on by the promise of a midnight toast. Robinson said flavored rums and vodkas are popular downtown.

And although she couldn’t give specific numbers, Robinson said the hotels "anticipate a nice boost" and New Year’s Eve alcohol sales set the bar for what the Four Queens and Binion’s hope to achieve for a "really great event."

And only St. Patrick’s Day comes close.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588.

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