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June 3, 2014updated Nov 20, 2015

Hey Joni Mitchell: In Las Vegas, A Parking Lot Becomes A Restaurant With Boutique Hotel, Hot Night Spot and Trees

By Chris Boyle


Joni Mitchell once sang,


“They paved paradise.

And put up a parking lot. 

With a pink hotel, a boutique,

and a swinging hot spot.”


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In the case of The Cromwell, Las Vegas’ newest luxury hotel, at 188 rooms and suites, it is boutique by local standards.  The bones were already there.  If the building looks somewhat familiar, it is the former Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon and before that the Barbary Coast, across from Caesar’s and The Bellagio, $185 million later.


In terms of a “swinging hot spot,” Drai’s Beach Club and Nightclub answers the call. Its provocative commercials promote a new take on “black ties” with visuals of a muscled beau in a Speedo untying his dancing mate’s black string bikini bottom as they dance.


Mitchell continues,


“They took all the trees

Put ‘em in a tree museum

And they charged people

A dollar and a half just to see ‘em”


Now, here things start to vary a bit in reality from the song.


A plethora of palm trees are planted on the 65,000 square feet, two level rooftop that Drai’s occupies. However, the potential payments are a bit higher:


Luxury (Party) Packages range from $5,000 to $15,000, according to a press release.

Choose The Luminous of the Gods, a 16-bottle setup of Dom Pérignon Luminous for $15,000.


For $737,000, a grander package includes a private jet charter (instead of Mitchell’s yellow taxi) for you and perhaps your “old man,” or up to 50 of your closest or newest friends, plus accommodations at The Cromwell, fireworks and 100 bottles of Ace of Spades Champagne.


Getting a bit of revenge on Mitchell’s disdain for development, operator Caesars Entertainment has actually taken a former parking lot on the third floor of the structure as the setting for the first-ever restaurant by celebrity chef and television personality Giada De Laurentiis.


The former Wolfgang Puck understudy at Spago and star of Food Network opened Giada last night.  Caesars Chief Marketing Officer Tariq Shaukat, who was on hand, noted that selling De Laurentiis on making her restaurant debut in a former high rise parking structure may have taken extra persuasion. However, the high level ceilings and the location on the corner of Flamingo with bird’s eye views up and down The Strip make for an amazing dining venue.  Banquets set along the panoramic windows face outwards.


Moreover, those who sampled De Laurentiis’ culinary creations were all duly impressed, and the largely local crowd was already talking about coming back.


Nineteen suites, including The Cromwell Suite, will provide VIP accommodations.  Compared to the prices at Drai’s, the suites may seem like they are priced “a dollar and a half.”  Black stretch limos and exotic cars severely outnumbered taxis in the driveway as well.

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