Even the taxi driver from the airport was impressed. “Damn,” he said, as a dancing, 23-story Katy Perry beckoned us up the driveway of Resorts World, a new Las Vegas hotel complex with a 100,000-square-foot LED video screen on one of its glass flanks. So distracted was the driver by Katy’s sci-fi sashaying that he dropped me at the wrong entrance. I was booked in at Crockfords, an ultra-luxury hotel-within-a-hotel that joins Hilton and Conrad properties to make up this 3,506-room, $4.3 billion mega-resort. But instead I found myself on the casino floor — and promptly got lost in a space as cavernous as an airplane hangar.
Happily succumbing to the sensory overload, I drifted from the chiming poker machines and roulette tables to an Asian street-food arcade, where I used a digital kiosk to order Singapore noodles and a plate of South Indian roti from an array of spice-scented hawker stalls. Along the way, I stopped to admire displays of sacred Vegas relics: an oil painting by Liberace and one of his limousines — a white Rolls-Royce covered with mirror tiles. When I did eventually find Crockfords, I was whisked to my room on the 65th floor, where floor-to-ceiling windows maximized my view of the mountains of the Nevada desert. Below me the electric Katy danced away in silence, like something between “Blade Runner” and “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.”
Nobody goes to Las Vegas in search of subtlety or moderation. When it comes to over-the-top glitz, the city has been outdoing itself ever since Brooklyn mobster Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel & Casino rose like a mirage from the desert in 1946. So it’s not surprising that the city used the closures brought on by the pandemic to up the ante yet again. Large-scale resorts opened (Resorts World, Circa, Virgin), while landmarks like the Bellagio took the opportunity to