Flamingo Las Vegas in Las Vegas
The Flamingo Las Vegas is a hotel casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada and is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corp.. The property offers a 77000 sqft casino along with 3,626 hotel rooms. The 15 acre site's architectural theme is reminiscent of the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne style of Miami and South Beach, with a garden courtyard housing a wildlife habitat featuring flamingos. It was the third resort to open on the Strip, and the oldest resort on the Strip still in operation today.
The Flamingo has a Las Vegas Monorail station at the rear of the property.
A Hollywood Beginning
The Flamingo site occupies 40 acre originally owned by one of Las Vegas' first settlers, Charles "Pops" Squires. Mr. Squires paid $8.75 an acre for the land. In 1944, Margaret Folsom bought the tract for $7,500 from Squires, and she then later sold it to Billy Wilkerson. Billy Wilkerson was the owner of the Hollywood Reporter as well as some very popular nightclubs in the Sunset Strip: Cafe Trocadero, Ciro's and La Rue's.
In 1945, Wilkerson purchased 33 acre on the west side of U.S. Route 91, about one mile (1.6 km) south of the Hotel Last Frontier in preparation for his vision. Wilkerson then hired George Vernon Russell to design a hotel that was more in the European style and something other than the "sawdust joints" on Fremont Street. He planned a hotel with luxurious rooms, a spa, health club, showroom, golf course, nightclub and an upscale restaurant. Due to high wartime materials costs, Wilkerson ran into financial problems almost at once, finding himself $400,000 short and hunting for new financing.
In late 1945, mobster Bugsy Siegel and his "partners" came to Las Vegas, after the fledgling resort city piqued Siegel's interest due to its legalized gambling and its off-track betting. Siegel at the time held a large interest in Trans America Wire, a racing publication.
Siegel began by purchasing The El Cortez on Fremont Street for $600,000. His expansion plans were hampered by unfriendly city officials aware of his criminal background, so Siegel began looking for a site outside the city limits. Hearing that Wilkerson was seeking extra funding, Siegel and his partners, posing as businessmen, approached him and bought a two-thirds stake in the project. Lansky served as middleman for the deal, receiving $200,000.<ref name="Heller" />
Kirk Kerkorian acquired the property in 1967, making it part of Kerkorian's International Leisure Company, but the Hilton Corporation bought the resort in 1972, renaming it the Flamingo Hilton in 1974. The last of the original Flamingo Hotel structure was torn down on December 14, 1993 and the hotel's garden was built on the site.
The Flamingo's four hotel towers were built (or expanded) in 1967, 1975, 1977, 1982, 1990, and 1995. A 200-unit Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare tower was opened in 1993.
In 1998, Hilton's gaming properties, including the Flamingo, were spun off as Park Place Entertainment (later renamed to Caesars Entertainment). The deal included a two-year license to use the Hilton name. Park Place opted not to renew that agreement when it expired in late 2000, and the property was renamed Flamingo Las Vegas.
In 2005 Harrah's Entertainment purchased Caesars Entertainment Inc and the property became part of Harrah's Entertainment company, which changed its name to Caesars Entertainment Corp in 2010.
Facilities and attractions
The headline show at the Flamingo features brother-sister musical duo Donny and Marie Osmond. Their show premiered in September 2008, and has been extended until October 2012.
Previous headliners include Gladys Knight and Toni Braxton. Braxton's show ran from August 2006 to April 2008, when it closed due to Braxton's health problems.
Other shows residing at the hotel are comedian George Wallace, comedian Vinnie Favorito, magician Nathan Burton, and X Burlesque.
The garden courtyard houses a wildlife habitat featuring flamingos and other birds. It was the home of penguins, but they have since been moved to the Dallas Zoo.
Extending the hotel's tropical theme, a Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant and gift shop was opened in December 2003. An adjacent Margaritaville "minicasino" is scheduled to open in October 2011.
In popular culture
References in film
The 1960 version of Ocean's Eleven was filmed here. A flashback sequence from the 2001 version of Ocean's Eleven was filmed at Flamingo. The 1964 film Viva Las Vegas was filmed here.
The 1991 film Bugsy starring Warren Beatty is about Bugsy Siegel's involvement in the construction of the Flamingo, though many of the details are altered to improve the cinematic qualities of the movie. For instance, in the film, the idea of the Flamingo is Bugsy Siegel's, instead of him buying ownership from Billy Wilkerson, and Siegel was killed after the second opening of the Flamingo in 1947, not the first opening on Dec. 26, 1946 as depicted in the film.
References in music
Flamingo is the debut solo album from The Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers. The album is named after the casino.
References in literature
Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Zeta Acosta stayed at the Flamingo while attending a seminar by the National Conference of District Attorneys on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs held at the Dunes Hotel across the street. Several of their experiences in their room are depicted in Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.
The original Flamingo hotel and casino figures prominently in the Tim Powers novel Last Call. In the novel, the famed myth of Siegel's creation of the Flamingo was utilized as a basis for the overall supernatural plot of the novel (rather than the true historic account of his acquiring it from the original founder). The Flamingo is supposedly founded on Siegel's mythical/mystical paranoia of being pursued and killed for his Archetypal position as the "King of the West," known mythologically as "Fisher King." Supposedly the Flamingo itself was meant to be a real-life personification of "The Tower" card amongst the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, literally "the King's Castle in the Wasteland." In the book, it is believed Siegel kept in the Flamingo hotel's penthouse a deck of the fictional Lombardy Zeroth Tarot deck. Siegel's penthouse and office floor did, as referenced in the novel, in fact have a secret escape-hatch complete with ladder down to a service floor where supposedly a car was always in ready to effect his getaway in the event of his being attacked in his chambers. All other references to the Flamingo in any supernatural context in the novel are not based on any known or recorded facts/events.