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Vegas’ new hotels bet on personal touch

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    This undated image provided by Caesars Entertainment shows an interior view of a room at The Cromwell Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    This April 21, 2014 photo provided by The Cromwell shows patrons playing blackjack on the at The Cromwell Hotel and Casino as it opens for business. Slot machines are now ringing at the boutique hotel replacing Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. The Cromwell celebrated its soft opening Monday evening, April 21, 2014 by welcoming guests into a 40,000-square-foot casino featuring 434 slot machines and 66 table games. The hotel's 188 rooms and suites are not accepting guests until May 21, but the gambling area, the Interlude cocktail lounge and the Curios retail shop are open for business. (AP Photo/The Cromwell, Erik Kabik)
  • 2013 photo provided by the Nobu Hotel shows the new Nobu Hotel and Restaurant in Las Vegas. The wood-carved entry to the 181-room Nobu hotel merges into the 327-seat restaurant
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    This undated image provided by Caesars Entertainment shows an interior view of the Nobu Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas.
  • AP
    This Feb. 2
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LAS VEGAS » For years Las Vegas took the bigger-is-better route, building expansive glassy megaresorts with 4,000 rooms apiece and seemingly endless check-in counters.

But with just 188 rooms, the newest hotel-casino on the Strip takes a different tack. Managers of The Cromwell hope to impress guests not with an imposing tower, but with unexpected details such as in-room hair straighteners and backgammon boards and free, self-serve coffee stations in the elevator lobby of each floor.

"The problem is, Vegas likes to do things on a grand scale," said Karie Hall, general manager of the boutique hotel, which opened to the public Wednesday. "It’s far more likely (Cromwell staff) will be able to recognize the guest and customize their experience."

The stand-alone Cromwell, along with the one-year-old Nobu Hotel and a smattering of other small hotels-within-hotels and off-Strip properties in Las Vegas, reflect a customer base that’s increasingly interested in distinctive interior design and foodie culture. Gone are the days when hotel restaurants were afterthoughts and loss leaders, and when all customers wanted out of their room was a place to crash after a gambling binge.

"They don’t want to just stay in a property. They want to experience a property," said Frances Kirad­jian, founder and chairwoman of the Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association. "These properties are like a destination unto themselves."

Boutiques in Las Vegas aim to address some of the inconveniences of large resorts, forgoing vast lobbies full of suitcase-toting tourists and helping patrons skirt long lines for taxis. At Hotel 32, a 50-room hotel-within-a-hotel that occupies the top floor of the Monte Carlo, customers are whisked to a private lobby where they sip cocktails while a personal suite assistant checks them in.

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