Having been back from Vegas for a couple of days, I’ve had some time to reflect on it, and put down some thoughts on what I think about the city that is Las Vegas.

It was a really fun trip, I’ve been to Las Vegas five times now, and I can definitely say that I feel really comfortable in that town. I almost know Vegas like the back of my hand…of course the main difference being that they don’t blow up the back of my hand with alarming regularity and move things around on you. We stayed at the Wynn, which is just past the Venetian, and is one of the newest hotels in Vegas. Directly across from it is Fashion Island, which was just being built when Ryan Rich and I went to Vegas the first time in October 2001. The Wynn has another tower going up which will be called “Encore” and will be its own resort, and it will be open by early next year, just four years after they opened the first one.

Las Vegas seems to undergo a major transformation every year. Right now the newest and biggest hotel being built is the Project City Center, which is right between the Monte Carlo, and the Bellagio. It’s a 76 acre project which takes over the area formerly used for a low rise strip mall, the very ghetto “Boardwalk Casino”, and our beloved “Carrows” family restaurant, home to at least 4 breakfasts on my 5 trips to Vegas. It will be open in 2009, and represents the first time that foreign investment has been allowed on the strip (the complex is 20% owned by the United Arab Emirates). Next to it will be the Cosmopolitan, a half residential/half resort which is scheduled for completion in 2010, but is currently in some trouble as the bank which was financing the project foreclosed on the loan.

The Wynn was fantastic, it sits right next to the brand new Palazzo hotel and it has this huge waterfall out front which secludes the hotel in its own little oasis. Behind the hotel is an 18 hole golf course. Interestingly, it opened one week after the last time I visited Las Vegas to see the UFC.

Westward Ho and the Stardust which were next to Circus Circus is now gone, and is going to have a new hotel called the Las Vegas Plaza Hotel, and Echelon Place in 2011.

Then there’s the new shopping. Vegas has transformed itself from a gambling destination into a place for the finer things in life. When Char and I first went, we discovered the Outlet Mall, and did a bit of shopping. Since then several upscale outlet malls have sprung up, with the latest next to the always amazing Fry’s Electronics (picture a place the size of a Costco all dedicated to computers and electronics, it’s awesome).

The most surprising thing is that when you fly in Vegas itself now stretches all the way out to Henderson, there’s no blank areas anymore, with houses climbing up towards the mountains. For a few years now Vegas has been one of the fastest growing communities in the United States, and you can really see that growth on the flight in.

While change is the natural evolution of cities, Las Vegas does change like it does everything else. In excess, and extreme.