Westgate Las Vegas

The Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is a hotel, casino, and timeshare resort in Winchester, Nevada. Located near the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, it is owned by Westgate Resorts and operated by Paragon Gaming. It opened in 1969 as the International Hotel, and was known for many years as the Las Vegas Hilton, then briefly as the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, until taking its current name in 2014. From 1981 to 1990, it was the largest hotel in the world.


The Westgate is located on a site on the east side of Paradise Road, approximately east of Las Vegas Boulevard. It is adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center to the south and Las Vegas Country Club to the east.
The hotel has 2,956 rooms. The hotel tower is tall, with 30 floors. The top floor consists of three "Sky Villas" geared towards "high roller" customers, each with a private swimming pool and at least of space.
The casino has of gaming space as of 2017, with 576 slot machines, 38 table games, 10 poker tables, and a race and sports book. The casino's sportsbook, the SuperBook, is billed as the largest in the world.
The Westgate has various eateries, including fine dining restaurants, a buffet, and a food court. Benihana Village, opened in 1974, is a Japanese-themed area with streams and gardens, with several restaurants centered around its namesake teppanyaki grill.
The Westgate's convention center has of event space, including the Paradise Event Center and the Pavilion.
Recreation amenities at the Westgate include a pool deck, a fitness center, a spa, and six tennis courts. The hotel also has several retail shops, a wedding chapel, and a business center.
The Westgate station of the Las Vegas Monorail is located at the front of the property.


International Hotel (1969–1971)

The hotel site was previously part of the grounds of Las Vegas Park, a defunct racetrack. In 1965, the track site was purchased by National Equities, a real estate development firm chaired by Marvin Kratter. Kratter announced development plans for the site to include a 40-floor, 1,500-room hotel, as well as a golf course and private homes.
Meanwhile, Kirk Kerkorian, the chairman of Trans International Airlines and landlord of Caesars Palace, began formulating plans to build a 1,000-room casino hotel in Las Vegas. After considering several potential locations, he selected the racetrack site, reasoning that it was natural to put a hotel next to the Convention Center. Kratter had decided not to build a hotel himself, and in 1967, National Equities sold a portion of the site to Kerkorian for $5 million. Kerkorian announced that he would build a 30-story hotel with 1,510 rooms, at a cost of $50 million. Some believed it was very risky to build such a property away from the Strip, but Kerkorian believed that it would spark the development of a "second Strip" along Paradise Road.
Kerkorian's hotel would be named the International Hotel, matching the name of Kratter's International Country Club. He hired airline executive Fred Benninger to oversee the development, and Martin Stern, Jr., who had designed several noted Las Vegas high-rises, as the hotel's architect. The general contractor selected to build the hotel was Taylor Construction Co. Construction began with an elaborate groundbreaking ceremony in February 1968.
With planning for the hotel underway, Kerkorian purchased the Flamingo casino, to serve as a training ground for the International's staff. Later, during the International's construction, Kerkorian formed the publicly traded company International Leisure to own the two casinos.
Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire who had purchased several Las Vegas casinos, saw Kerkorian as a rival and the International as unwelcome competition. He attempted to deter Kerkorian from building the project, first by making a sham announcement of a major planned expansion of his Sands Hotel, and then by conveying false claims to Kerkorian about damage to buildings from nearby nuclear tests. When these ruses failed, Hughes schemed to buy the project from Kerkorian and halt its construction, but this plan came to nothing. Ultimately, Hughes decided to compete head-on with the International by purchasing the unfinished Landmark Hotel and Casino, located across the street. Hughes completed construction of the Landmark and opened it one day before Kerkorian's hotel.
The International Hotel opened on July 2, 1969. At the time, it was Nevada's tallest building and largest hotel. Entertainment director Bill Miller signed Barbra Streisand to open in the showroom, along with Peggy Lee performing in the hotel's lounge.
In keeping with the hotel's name, rooms were furnished with different international decors, with each floor featuring either a Spanish, Italian, or French theme. There was also a complex of international restaurants, offering Bavarian, Italian, Japanese and Mexican cuisines. Employees were outfitted in costumes from different cultures, such as Scottish kilts, Slavic shirts, and French gendarme uniforms.
On July 31, 1969, immediately following Streisand's engagement, Elvis Presley performed the first show of what would become a seven-year run at the hotel, encompassing 636 consecutive sold-out shows. Presley's appearances became a major part of the hotel's identity, and an iconic chapter in the history of Las Vegas entertainment.
Late in 1969, Kerkorian made plans to raise $29 million through a secondary offering of International Leisure stock. He needed the money to help pay off loans that he had taken out to purchase major stakes in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Western Airlines. The offering was rejected, however, by the Securities and Exchange Commission, because the company was unable to provide five years of financial history for the Flamingo. Short on cash, Kerkorian was forced to put International Leisure up for sale.

Las Vegas Hilton (1971–2012)

In 1970 and 1971, Kerkorian sold his shares of International Leisure to Hilton Hotels. The International was renamed in July 1971 as the Las Vegas Hilton. Hilton took complete ownership in 1972, acquiring all outstanding shares of International Leisure.
The hotel had performed unevenly in its early years as the International, but as the Hilton, it soon came to be regarded as the most successful hotel in Las Vegas.
An east tower extension with 620 rooms was completed in 1975 at a cost of $20 million. In 1977, the hotel opened the Hilton Pavilion, a $7.5-million venue for sports and entertainment events, with a seating capacity of up to 5,000 people. A $23-million expansion added another 644 rooms to the north tower. The general contractor selected to build the expansion was Del E. Webb Corporation. Ground was broken in 1977 and it was completed in 1979.

1981 fire

On the night of February 10, 1981, a major fire occurred at the Hilton. Philip Bruce Cline, a hotel busboy who was under the influence of drugs, set fire to a curtain in an elevator lobby on the eighth floor of the east tower. The fire spread to the exterior of the tower and then traveled up to the top of the building within 25 minutes. Eight people were killed, and approximately 350 were injured, including 48 firefighters. Among the victims treated for smoke inhalation was singer Natalie Cole.
The casino and hotel reopened nine days after the fire with 1,000 available rooms. The rest of the rooms were repaired over the following three months, at an estimated cost of $10 million.
Cline was convicted in 1982 of arson and murder, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Hilton and other companies involved in the hotel paid a $23 million settlement to victims. The tragedy, in combination with the MGM Grand fire that had occurred months earlier, inspired major changes to Nevada's fire safety regulations.


Around the end of 1981, another extension to the north tower was completed, adding 391 rooms at a cost of $21 million. This made the Las Vegas Hilton the largest hotel in the world, with a total of 3,174 rooms. It held this title until 1990, when it was surpassed by the Flamingo.
In 1984, the hotel completed construction of the $10-million Hilton Center, a convention and event space at the southwest corner of the property, west of the Hilton Pavilion.
In 1986, amid growing popularity of sports betting in Nevada, the Hilton opened its race and sports book, the Superbook, at a cost of $17 million.
In 1991, the Hilton was at the center of the Tailhook scandal, in which numerous United States Navy officers were accused of acts of sexual assault during a convention at the hotel. One of the victims, Paula Coughlin, sued the Hilton for providing inadequate security for the convention, and eventually was paid a $5.2 million judgment. The lawsuit led Hilton to successfully lobby for the so-called "Tailhook bill", a state law shielding hotels from liability for injuries to patrons caused by third parties.
The hotel completed a new, $4-million marquee sign in 1994. Later that year, however, it was partially destroyed by a windstorm. The sign was reconstructed in 1997 for $9 million with a reduced height of, making it the world's tallest free-standing advertising sign.
In 1994, the hotel entered an arrangement with the Sahara Country Club, which was renamed as the Las Vegas Hilton Country Club. This lasted until 1997, when the course became the Las Vegas National Golf Club. Hilton attempted to buy the neighboring Las Vegas Country Club the following year, but its $60-million offer was rejected.
In 1995, the Hilton completed a $40-million renovation of its penthouse floor to construct the Sky Villas. The hotel also spent $12 million on a new room for baccarat, a favorite game of Asian high rollers. The Hilton at the time was one of only four Las Vegas casinos able to compete for the business of the "whales", the top tier of high rollers.
In 1998, Hilton spun off its casino properties, including the Las Vegas Hilton, as Park Place Entertainment.
Hilton's timeshare arm, Hilton Grand Vacations, began construction of a complex at the northeast corner of the property in 1998. It opened in 1999 with 230 suites.
Around 1999, Park Place began seeking a buyer for the Las Vegas Hilton, because the company hoped to concentrate on its properties on the Las Vegas Strip, especially the newly acquired Caesars Palace. In 2000, Park Place agreed to sell the Hilton to Edward Roski Jr. for $365 million. Roski planned to transform the Hilton to shift its focus away from high rollers and toward convention attendees. The deal fell through, however, and the property was locked up in litigation between Park Place and Roski until 2003, when they settled their claims against each other.
The Las Vegas Monorail opened in 2004, with one of its stations located at the Hilton. The system had been under construction since 2001. Hilton had led the group of hotels that had promulgated the proposal for the monorail as early as 1996.
In June 2004, Caesars Entertainment sold the Las Vegas Hilton to Colony Capital for $280 million. Colony partnered in the purchase with Goldman Sachs, which also lent $200 million of the purchase price. In 2005, the Hilton was placed under the banner of Colony's newly formed casino affiliate, Resorts International Holdings, which was headquartered at the property.
The Hilton prospered in its first few years under Colony's management, but began losing money in the face of the Great Recession and an oversupply of hotel rooms in Las Vegas. In June 2011, the Hilton began defaulting on payments to Goldman Sachs on the loan. The same month, Hilton Worldwide opted to terminate its franchise agreement with the property, effective at the end of the year, because the facilities had fallen below the standards of the Hilton brand.
Goldman Sachs issued a foreclosure notice in September 2011. At Goldman's request, a court appointed a receiver to take control of the property.

LVH (2012–2014)

On January 3, 2012, the Las Vegas Hilton became the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, as the contract to use the Hilton brand ended.
Colony Capital initially tried to fight against foreclosure of the property, but ultimately concluded that its equity in the LVH was worthless, and agreed to let the foreclosure proceed. Goldman Sachs formed a joint venture with Gramercy Capital to acquire the property. They bought the property at its foreclosure auction in October 2012, where they were the only bidder. The Navegante Group was retained to manage the LVH on their behalf.
In 2013, the LVH affiliated with the Leo Hotel Collection, a network of independent hotels newly created by Red Lion Hotels.

Westgate Las Vegas (2014–present)

On June 30, 2014, timeshare developer Westgate Resorts bought the LVH from Goldman and Gramercy for a price between $150 and $170 million. Westgate CEO David Siegel was hoisted to the top of the hotel's sign the following day to begin removing the letters "LVH" to make way for the property's new name, Westgate Las Vegas. Siegel stated that the company would spend at least $160 million on renovations, and that it would begin converting hotel rooms into timeshare units. According to Siegel, the timeshare conversion would take 15 to 20 years, and, even after its completion, at least 30 percent of the units would remain available as hotel rooms at any given time.
Westgate retained Paragon Gaming to replace Navegante as the property's manager in 2015.


Martin Stern designed the hotel in the International Style of architecture. Architect Stefan Al described the building's aesthetics as a milestone in the corporatization of Las Vegas: "Characterized by its rectilinear forms and bare surfaces, stripped of ornamentation, this elite form of architecture stood miles away from the Mafia-tainted neon of existing casinos." Architecture critic Alan Hess also noted the simplicity of the International in comparison to older casinos: "As singular, self-contained forms, they showed none of the complexity of the different pieces and sequential additions that made the original Strip visually and urbanistically richer."
building, which inspired the Y-shaped plan for the hotel tower
The Y-shaped plan for the hotel tower was inspired by the UNESCO Headquarters building; it was chosen to maximize the number of rooms that could be fit into a square plot while allowing each room to have a satisfactory view. This design was imitated by later Las Vegas hotels such as the Mirage, Mandalay Bay, and Venetian.
The International has been cited as the first Las Vegas "megaresort". It was the first to house all of the hotel's functions in a single large structure, whereas earlier casinos had housed them in separate buildings. The design of the property, along with the next Kerkorian/Stern project, the original MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, had a major influence on the development of the modern casino resort. As gaming historian David G. Schwartz describes it:


International Theater

The property's main entertainment venue is the 1,607-seat International Theater. Since 2018, the theater hosts Barry Manilow's residency show, The Hits Come Home.
From the opening of the hotel in 1969, the main showroom was a "star policy" venue, meaning that popular musical artists and comedians were booked to perform for two to four weeks at a time. The typical schedule comprised two shows per night: a dinner show at 8pm and a cocktail show at midnight.
One of the most famous engagements at the hotel was that of singer and pianist Liberace. A longtime mainstay of Las Vegas showrooms, Liberace debuted at the Hilton in 1972, and began appearing regularly in 1973. He performed in the showroom for as many as 17 weeks out of the year, earning as much as $175,000 per week. Liberace's shows were known for his flamboyant costumes and for his being driven onstage in a Rolls Royce limousine. He appeared at the Hilton as late as 1982. Hilton chairman Barron Hilton remembered Liberace as "one of the most popular entertainers ever to grace the stage of the Las Vegas Hilton showroom."
In 1982, the production show Bal du Moulin Rouge opened in the theater, featuring a cast of acrobats, dancers, and variety acts. The show centered around a 45-minute slot for a headline performer, which was filled at times by Suzanne Somers, Charo, and others. Shifting to a production show was intended to reduce the Hilton's entertainment costs by avoiding the need to book bigger stars, whose salaries had been spiraling ever higher. The show closed in 1986, and the theater returned to star policy.
Singer Wayne Newton, another longtime Las Vegas star, headlined the Hilton showroom from 1987 to 1993. By the end of his run, he was performing there twenty weeks out of the year, and was described as the highest-paid entertainer on the Las Vegas Strip. Newton's shows were known for beginning with him descending onto the stage in a spaceship amid a laser show. He made over 950 performances in total.
In 1993, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Starlight Express opened in the main theater. The Hilton Showroom was renamed as the Hilton Theatre, and underwent a $12-million renovation to add bridges and embankments to accommodate the show, which features performers on roller skates. The opening of the show was cited as part of a trend in Las Vegas toward family-friendly attractions and away from individual headliner acts. The show was signed to a five-year contract, but closed early in 1997 amid lagging ticket sales. The hotel then adopted a "limited star policy" for the theater, booking headline acts for runs of less than a week at a time.
In the early 2000s, the theater kept a rotating stable of headliners who each performed for ten weeks out of the year, including at times The Commodores, The Righteous Brothers, Sheena Easton, The Fab Four, Engelbert Humperdinck, and The Smothers Brothers.
Manilow began an extended run at the Hilton in 2005. His engagement was an early example of the trend of major recording artists establishing residency shows in Las Vegas, which was begun by Celine Dion at Caesars Palace in 2003. His show began as Manilow: Music and Passion, and was then revamped in 2008 as Ultimate Manilow: The Hits. The show ended in 2009.
During the summer of 2006, Reba McEntire performed her residency show, Reba: Key to the Heart, which ran for five non-consecutive weeks.
The $250,000 Game Show Spectacular ran from October 2007 to April 2008. The show rotated through three hosts: creator Bob Eubanks, Chuck Woolery, and Jamie Farr. A temporary "American TV Game Show Hall of Fame" opened and closed on site in conjunction with the show, inducting Peter Marshall, Hugh Downs, Wink Martindale, and Monty Hall. The concept was originated by entertainment publicist Jerry Digney. The logo was designed by Dan Acree.
Recent long-running shows in the theater include the classic rock tribute show Raiding the Rock Vault, from 2013 to 2014, and the Prince tribute show Purple Reign, from 2016 to 2017.

Westgate Cabaret

Smaller shows are hosted in the 400-seat Westgate Cabaret. This venue hosts the adult revue Sexxy, running since 2015, and, since 2018, comedian George Wallace and magician Jen Kramer.
Starting in the 1990s, the venue was known as The NightClub. Combining elements of a dance club and a traditional Las Vegas lounge, it helped pave the way for dance clubs to open in many Las Vegas casinos.
The NightClub was renamed as the Shimmer Cabaret in 2004 when the Hilton came under the ownership of Colony Capital. Long-running acts at the Shimmer Cabaret included comedian David Brenner,
musical comedies Menopause the Musical
and Nunsense,
show band The Scintas,
singer Lani Misalucha,
topless revue Sin City Bad Girls,
impressionists Greg London
and Rich Little,
a Rat Pack tribute show led by Sandy Hackett,
Purple Reign,
and the "Icons of Comedy" series, featuring comedians such as Gilbert Gottfried and Hal Sparks.
In 2015, after the hotel was purchased by Westgate, the room was given its current name. Previous headliners at the Westgate Cabaret include funk band Cameo and comedian Vinnie Favorito, both from 2016 to 2017.

Star Trek: The Experience

In January 1998, Star Trek: The Experience opened, featuring a motion simulator ride, a museum, and Quark's Bar. A portion of the casino floor was transformed into the SpaceQuest Casino, a space-themed casino complete with high-tech table games, which served as the gateway to the Experience.
In March 2004, a new Borg Invasion 4D ride was added.
The attraction closed in September 2008, after the operator, Cedar Fair, could not agree on terms for a renewed lease with the Hilton.

Elvis performances and legacy

Elvis Presley was signed for a four-week engagement in 1969 as the second performer to appear in the International's showroom, following Barbra Streisand. It would be his first public stage appearance in eight years. Presley's first show proved so popular that the hotel immediately signed him to a five-year contract for two month-long engagements per year. He would go on to perform a total of 636 shows at the hotel from 1969 to 1976, with every show sold out. Presley's run of performances at the Hilton was cut short by his death in August 1977.
During his engagements at the hotel, Presley famously resided in the Imperial Suite on the 30th floor. Years after his death, the suite was renamed as the Elvis Presley Suite. It was demolished in 1994 to make way for the Sky Villas.
Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, lived at the Hilton for several years after Presley's death, and was a fixture at the hotel as an entertainment consultant for much of the remainder of his life.
The hotel has recognized and capitalized on Presley's legacy in assorted ways through the years. A year after his death, a bronze statute of Presley was unveiled at the hotel; it has since occupied various spots around the property. Various festivals and conventions for Elvis fans and impersonators have been held at the hotel.
Elvis: An American Musical, a multimedia production incorporating archival footage with live songs and re-enactments, premiered at the Hilton showroom in 1988, where it ran for two months before going on a national tour. Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini performed at the Hilton in various runs, both on the main stage and in the cabaret, from 2000 to 2004 and again from 2010 to 2015.
"Elvis: The Exhibition" opened at the Westgate in April 2015 in the former Star Trek attraction space. The exhibit, developed in association with Elvis Presley Enterprises, featured of artifacts and memorabilia from the singer's life. In conjunction with the opening of the exhibit, the hotel's theater was renamed as the Elvis Presley International Showroom, and was set to feature rotating shows inspired by Presley, starting with The Elvis Experience. The show fared poorly in its two-month run, however, and the plans for further shows did not materialize. The exhibition closed suddenly in February 2016, leading to a protracted legal dispute.
In 2016, the Westgate successfully petitioned to rename the street leading from the hotel to Las Vegas Boulevard as Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Popular culture



The hotel has a history as a prominent professional boxing venue. In 1969, the showroom hosted the first major boxing match held at a Las Vegas hotel, Sonny Liston vs. Leotis Martin. The Hilton Pavilion was the site in 1978 of Leon Spinks's victory over Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight championship, which is remembered as one of the biggest upsets in the sport's history. The hotel then took a seven-year hiatus from hosting boxing matches.
In 1985, Donald Curry defeated Milton McCrory at the Hilton Center to unify and become the undisputed welterweight champion. The success of the Curry–McCrory fight led the Hilton to begin pursuing more major matches, to challenge Caesars Palace as the premier boxing venue in Las Vegas. The hotel struck a deal to host several fights in the heavyweight unification series, a tournament to establish an undisputed heavyweight champion. A 14,600-seat outdoor arena was temporarily erected in the Hilton's parking lot for some of the fights. The series culminated in Mike Tyson's defeat of Tony Tucker at the Hilton Center in 1987 to unify and become the undisputed champion.
By 1995, the Hilton had reportedly backed away from seeking to host the biggest fights, because of escalating costs. The hotel hosted no boxing matches between 2002 and 2008; since then, it has occasionally hosted minor fights.

Other sports

The Hilton Pavilion hosted two nationally televised tennis events in 1978: the WCT Tournament of Champions and the World Team Tennis All-Star Match.
The hotel was the venue for Evo 2014, a major competitive video gaming tournament.