Once the most famous casino in Las Vegas, The Sands
was demolished in 1996 to make way for what is now the largest five star hotel in the USA, and indeed the largest hotel in the world if the recently opened The Palazzo
extension is included, taking the total number of rooms (all-suite) to over 7,000. With an average floorspace of 650 square feet, suites at The Venetian provide the biggest regular accommodations on the Strip. The original casino is remembered in name by Sands Avenue just to the north and the huge Sands Expo and Conference Center
to the rear, but The Venetian has become an instantly recognizable icon of the new Las Vegas, and competes with Bellagio
to be the most luxurious (and expensive) resort in town. The Venice theme is represented most visibly by replicas of Rialto Bridge, St Marks Campanile Tower and the Grand Canal
(offering leisurely gondola rides along its quarter mile waterway), this latter forming the centerpiece of a huge shopping mall containing over 80 outlets.
The Venetian has 19 restaurants, four nightclubs & bars, one extensive spa/fitness complex (Canyon Ranch SpaClub
), and vast areas of meeting and casino space offering every conceivable facility. Posters advertising the main shows, (Rock of Ages
and Priscilla Queen of the Desert
), adorn taxicabs and billboards all over town; other entertainment includes performances from arists such as Rita Rudner and Joan Rivers.