Lost to The Sand: The Desert Inn

Wilbur Clark, a millionaire businessman with a vision for opulence, played a pivotal role in shaping the iconic landscape of the Las Vegas Strip with the creation of The Desert Inn. In 1944, drawn by the allure of the West, Clark made his way to Las Vegas after a stint in San Diego. His initial foray into the city involved acquiring a majority share of the El Rancho Vegas, the Strip’s first resort, and leasing the Monte Carlo, a small downtown casino.

Anticipating the post-World War Two travel boom, Clark envisioned building the ultimate resort on the Strip. In 1946, armed with $1.5 million from selling his shares in El Rancho Vegas and Monte Carlo, he initiated the construction of The Desert Inn. Clark, driven by a desire to outshine even the recently completed Flamingo, spared no effort in ensuring that The Desert Inn would be a pinnacle of luxury and sophistication.

The Desert Inn introduced several groundbreaking features to Las Vegas. It became the first hotel on the Strip with a fountain at its entrance, shooting water 50 feet into the air. The Sky Room Lounge, situated on the third floor, offered panoramic views of the pool and the Dancing Waters, a series of fountains synchronized to music and illuminated by colored lights. The lounge quickly became a hotspot, attracting Hollywood’s brightest stars and serving as an ideal venue for hosting friends.

In 1967, The Desert Inn changed hands, marking a new chapter in its storied history. Renowned aviator Howard Hughes acquired the property for $14 million, adding another layer of glamour to its legacy.

Despite its eventual closure and demolition in 2001 to make way for the Wynn Las Vegas, The Desert Inn remains etched in Las Vegas history. Its significance extends beyond the physical structure, symbolizing an era of elegance, celebrity rendezvous, and the constant evolution of the ever-dazzling Las Vegas Strip.

FAQ: Desert Inn Casino's History in Las Vegas

1: When was the Desert Inn Casino in Las Vegas founded?

The Desert Inn Casino in Las Vegas was founded in 1950 by businessman Wilbur Clark.

2: Where was the Desert Inn Casino located in Las Vegas?

The Desert Inn Casino was located on the Las Vegas Strip at 3145 South Las Vegas Boulevard.

3: What made the Desert Inn Casino stand out among other Las Vegas casinos?

The Desert Inn was known for its elegance and opulence, featuring luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and a beautiful golf course.

4: Who were some of the notable celebrities and entertainers associated with the Desert Inn Casino?

The Desert Inn hosted numerous celebrities and entertainers, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Elvis Presley.

5: What was the significance of the Desert Inn Casino during the Rat Pack era?

The Desert Inn became a favorite hangout for the Rat Pack, a group of famous entertainers, and played a prominent role in the group’s Las Vegas performances.

6: Did the Desert Inn Casino undergo any expansions or renovations during its history?

Yes, the Desert Inn underwent several expansions and renovations over the years, adding additional hotel towers and amenities to maintain its status as a premier destination.

7: When did the Desert Inn Casino close, and what were the reasons for its closure?

The Desert Inn Casino closed its doors on August 28, 2000. The closure was part of Steve Wynn’s plan to build a new resort on the site, which later became the Wynn Las Vegas.

8: Is there any significant historical or architectural legacy associated with the Desert Inn Casino in Las Vegas?

Yes, the Desert Inn Casino played a vital role in shaping the Las Vegas Strip’s entertainment and hospitality industry during its heyday. While it no longer stands, its legacy lives on in the history of Las Vegas.

9: What stands on the former site of the Desert Inn Casino today?

The Desert Inn Casino was demolished in 2001, and the site is now home to the Wynn Las Vegas Resort and Encore Las Vegas, two luxurious and modern casino-resorts.

10: How is the Desert Inn Casino remembered in Las Vegas history?

The Desert Inn Casino is remembered as one of the iconic and glamorous destinations that contributed to the allure of Las Vegas as an entertainment and gaming hub, particularly during the mid-20th century. Its association with legendary performers and the Rat Pack era has left an indelible mark on the city’s history.