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Brendan Buhler

Vast Resorts

10 May 2006

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -- In a town that thrives on size - just look at our resorts - our civic ego may take a blow in a few years when the world's largest hotel opens in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

For now, Las Vegas is home to the three largest hotels in the world, and seven of the top 10 and, in fact, 15 of the top 20.

But Asia Asia Hotel, with 6,500 rooms, is expected to be the king of the hill when it opens in Dubai in 2010, knocking MGM Grand off its current perch. The Dubai government announced plans May 1.

Some people might not care about hotel size. Charlyn Keating Chisholm does. She compiles the list of the 20 largest hotels in the world, on behalf of

"Bigger can definitely be better - I'm not a big fan of 'intimate' or 'cozy,' " she said. "I like the feeling you get in a huge resort, when you've completely left the world behind."

Larger hotels service guests better, Chisholm said in an e-mail interview. Their large staffs know how to make guests feel special, and they have an array of amenities to swiftly slake desire.

And on the Strip, there's the added attraction of all the other large hotels.

But elsewhere in the world, megaresorts have a mixed record. When it was opened in 1967, the Hotel Rossia in Moscow was the largest hotel in the world, a hulking concrete monument to the Soviet state. Its 3,200 rooms made it, until this year, the largest hotel in Europe and the 12th largest in the world. But this year it's being demolished as part of an urban beautification program, getting rid of what one Russian architecture critic has called a "revolting mastodon."

Two Asian hotels have at times challenged, and claimed to have beaten, the 5,034-room MGM Grand's status as the world's largest hotel . The First World Hotel in Malaysia has been reported to have as many as 6,200 rooms, but claims only 4,300 on its Web site, which puts it in fourth place.

The Ambassador City Jomtien in Thailand bragged of having 5,200 rooms on its 80-acre site. But after its founder died, creditors closed in, building inspectors cracked down and the heirs squabbled . English-language details are sketchy, but part of the hotel appears to have been split off into another company, leaving the Jomtien with the 4,210 rooms it claims on its Web site and in fifth place.

MGM Grand spokeswoman Jenn Michaels said the hotel prides itself on the experience it offers and doesn't feel the need to boast about its size.

"It's not a perch that we were worried about, so it's not a perch we're trying to stay on," Michaels said.

But Las Vegas' position as the world's largest hotel city is not threatened. In half the time it will take the Persian Gulf upstart Dubai to expand by 29,000 hotel rooms, the Las Vegas Valley will have added 37,937 rooms to its current 133,186-room inventory.