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Howard Stutz

Opening day nearing for Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace

26 January 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Caesars Palace announced nearly two years ago that it would renovate the second-oldest tower at the Strip resort into a luxury boutique hotel with the help of Nobu Hospitality.

The construction walls finally came down this week.

Resort officials began on Friday showing off portions of the $30 million Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace.

The tower's lobby area and 13,000-square-foot Nobu restaurant and lounge were expected to be turned over by construction crews to the resort at 11:59 p.m. Friday so final preparations can be made for an opening Feb. 2.

The 181 rooms and suites, which had made up the Centurion Tower, are expected to be ready when the first Nobu hotel guests arrive Feb. 4.

"We will have signature services special for the Nobu guest," said Gigi Vega, who serves as general manager of the Nobu Hotel. "The Nobu customer has been waiting to experience the property."

Nobu Hospitality is owned by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The company's shareholders include actor Robert De Niro.

A second Nobu Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will open this year and two other Nobu Hotels will follow in London and Bahrain.

But neither are attached to one of the Strip's best-known hotel-casinos.

The Nobu restaurant and lounge, which seats 327 guests, is expected to become a central point within Caesars.

It is the largest Nobu restaurant of the company's 26 worldwide, and will be the first to offer teppanyaki tables, where chefs prepare entrées in front of the guests.

Caesars visitors walking along the hotel's renovated Appian Way retail area will be able to look into the Nobu restaurant and see the kitchen in action.

"Chef Nobu wanted this to be an open kitchen," Vega said while showing off an area where several "chef tables" will stand. The restaurant also has a private dining room with a teppanyaki table.

The Nobu space was designed by New York architect David Rockwell, who termed the location a "distinctly Japanese experience with a Western sense of luxury."

Rockwell, whose work in Las Vegas included Crystals at City Center and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, added unique touches to the Nobu space, such as light fixtures that resemble paper clouds and wood wall coverings to the lobby area and elevators.

The restaurant, which will have an entrance across from the Old Homestead Steakhouse, will offer menu items different from other Nobu restaurants.

The project took longer because a restaurant had to be created in a space that was once a retail store and back-of- the-house area.

The tower itself was stripped down to create a boutique property within the nearly 4,000-room Caesars Palace.

Nobu Hotel guests will bypass the main Caesars front desk and be directed to the Nobu lobby, where they will escorted to their rooms. Vega said the Nobu staff will get background on a customer's planned arrival time for individual service.

Guests will be treated to a personalized check-in inside the hotel room. Hotel guests will receive traditional Japanese tea and Nobu-signature rice crackers as part of the welcoming experience.

According to the Nobu Hotel website, room rates are running between $249 and $499 a night through April, depending on the day of the week and when special events are taking place in Las Vegas.

"We want to make sure we are taking care of our guests at a level for a 180-room hotel," Vega said. "We are positioned and priced in the market for those who would want this type of service."

The hotel rooms' main focal point will be the feature wall that displays custom Japanese calligraphy. Bathrooms will have teak fittings, stone tile and sleek modern fixtures.

The oversized walk-in shower is made with traditional black Umi tiles and offers multiple showerheads and a teak bathing stool, a fixture of traditional Japanese bathhouses.

The in-room minibar will have unique selections, including organic Wild Poppy blood orange chili juice, chocolate-dipped Pocky pretzels, Japanese beer and Nobu's signature brands of chilled sake and Genmai-Cha brown rice green tea.

A specialized in-room dining menu includes sushi and a selection of bento boxes for a customary Japanese breakfast.