The International Hotel was a famous Vegas landmark for decades, hosting celebrities and extravagant shows. If you’ve ever wondered what became of this iconic casino-hotel, you’re not alone. In short, the International closed in 2000 and was imploded in 2015 after years of decline.
But the story of this monumental resort’s life and death is intricate and fascinating.
This approximately 3,000 word article will chronicle the complete history of the International Hotel in Vegas. We’ll highlight the property’s glamorous heyday from 1969 to the 1980s, its changing ownership in later years, and the drawn-out demise that led to the building’s dramatic implosion.
You’ll also learn interesting facts about the International’s massive size, famous entertainers who performed there, and more. Let’s take a nostalgic stroll through the incredible story of one of Las Vegas’ most unforgettable hotels.
The International’s Launch and Glory Days
The International Hotel, now known as the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, holds a significant place in the history of Las Vegas. Opening its doors in 1969, it quickly became famous for being the world’s largest hotel at the time.
With over 1,500 rooms, it was a symbol of grandeur and luxury that attracted visitors from around the globe.
Opening in 1969 as the world’s largest hotel
When The International Hotel opened in 1969, it was a game-changer for the Las Vegas hospitality industry. With its modern architecture and sleek design, it set new standards for luxury hotels. The sheer size of the hotel was unprecedented, offering guests a wide range of amenities and entertainment options.
At the time of its opening, The International boasted over 1,500 rooms, making it the largest hotel in the world. The sheer scale of the property was awe-inspiring, and it became a must-visit destination for tourists and celebrities alike.
Hosting iconic headliners like Elvis and Frank Sinatra
One of the reasons for The International’s immense popularity was its ability to attract legendary headliners. The hotel’s showroom, which could accommodate up to 2,000 guests, became a stage for some of the most iconic performers of the era.
Elvis Presley, known as the “King of Rock and Roll,” performed over 800 shows at The International between 1969 and 1976. His residency at the hotel brought in crowds of adoring fans and solidified Las Vegas as a premier entertainment destination.
The International also played host to other legendary performers such as Frank Sinatra, Liberace, and Barbra Streisand. These headliners attracted audiences from all over the world, cementing The International’s status as a hub for world-class entertainment.
During its glory days, The International Hotel was not only a hotel but also a cultural landmark. It showcased the best of Las Vegas entertainment and played a significant role in shaping the city’s reputation as the entertainment capital of the world.
For more information on The International Hotel’s history, visit Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino’s official website.
Changing Fortunes in the 1980s and 90s
Renaming as the Las Vegas Hilton
In the 1980s, the historic International Hotel in Las Vegas underwent a significant transformation. It was renamed as the Las Vegas Hilton, marking a new era for the iconic establishment. The rebranding aimed to attract a wider range of customers and revitalize the hotel’s image.
The Las Vegas Hilton became known for its expansive casino floor, world-class entertainment, and luxurious accommodations.
The decision to change the hotel’s name was influenced by the desire to create a fresh identity that would resonate with the evolving tastes of visitors. The Las Vegas Hilton sought to position itself as a premier destination for entertainment and leisure, catering to both high rollers and leisure travelers alike.
This rebranding strategy proved successful, as the Las Vegas Hilton experienced a surge in popularity during the 1980s. The hotel became synonymous with extravagant shows, featuring renowned performers such as Elvis Presley, Liberace, and Barry Manilow.
Visitors from around the world flocked to the Las Vegas Hilton to experience the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip.
Facing new competition on the Strip
However, as the 1990s approached, the Las Vegas Hilton faced increasing competition from newer and more extravagant resorts on the Strip. These new properties boasted flashy themes, elaborate attractions, and state-of-the-art amenities.
The Las Vegas Hilton struggled to keep up with these developments and maintain its position as a premier destination.
With the emergence of mega-resorts like the Mirage, Treasure Island, and the MGM Grand, the Las Vegas Hilton found itself overshadowed by these newer establishments. The competition for tourist dollars became fierce, and the Las Vegas Hilton had to adapt to the changing landscape of the Las Vegas hospitality industry.
Despite its efforts to stay relevant, the Las Vegas Hilton eventually faced financial difficulties and ownership changes in the late 1990s. These challenges, combined with the changing dynamics of the Las Vegas market, ultimately led to the decline of the once-thriving hotel.
Today, the Las Vegas Hilton is no longer in operation, but its legacy as an iconic piece of Las Vegas history remains. The rise and fall of the historic International Hotel turned Las Vegas Hilton serves as a reminder of the ever-evolving nature of the hospitality industry and the importance of adaptability in the face of changing fortunes.
Gradual Decline in the New Millennium
As the new millennium dawned, the historic International Hotel in Las Vegas began to experience a gradual decline. Several factors contributed to this decline, including decreasing occupancy rates and the need for extensive renovations.
Decreasing occupancy and renovations
One of the main reasons for the decline of the International Hotel was the decreasing occupancy rates. With the rise of newer and more modern hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, tourists were drawn to the shiny and luxurious establishments, leaving the International Hotel to struggle to attract guests.
The International Hotel also faced the challenge of needing extensive renovations to keep up with the ever-evolving hospitality industry. The hotel’s infrastructure, including its rooms, facilities, and amenities, had become outdated and in need of a modern touch.
Renovations would have required a significant investment, and the management of the International Hotel faced a difficult decision. Should they invest the necessary funds to bring the hotel up to par with its competitors, or should they continue to operate with the existing facilities?
Brief renaming back to the International
In an attempt to rebrand and revive the hotel’s image, there was a brief renaming back to the International. The hope was that by returning to its original name, the hotel would regain some of its former glory and attract more guests.
However, this rebranding effort proved to be short-lived, as it failed to reverse the declining trend. Despite the name change, the International Hotel continued to struggle with low occupancy rates and the need for renovations.
Ultimately, the gradual decline of the International Hotel in the new millennium was a result of decreasing occupancy rates and the need for extensive renovations. These challenges proved to be too difficult to overcome, despite the hotel’s rich history and iconic status in Las Vegas.
Closure and Implosion in 2015
In the year 2000, after decades of operation, the historic International Hotel in Las Vegas was forced to shut down its operations. This marked a significant turning point in the hotel’s history, as it had once been a prominent and highly sought-after destination for tourists and entertainers alike.
However, changing market dynamics and the emergence of newer, more modern hotels led to a decline in the International Hotel’s popularity and profitability.
Shutting down operations in 2000
The decision to close the International Hotel in 2000 was not an easy one. Despite its rich history and iconic status, the hotel had been struggling financially for some time. With declining occupancy rates and increasing maintenance costs, the owners were left with no choice but to cease operations.
The closure of the International Hotel was met with mixed emotions from both locals and tourists. Many had fond memories of the hotel and its famous showroom, which had hosted some of the biggest names in entertainment over the years.
However, others saw the closure as a necessary step to make way for newer and more modern developments in the city.
Final demolition broadcast live on TV
After sitting abandoned for over a decade, the International Hotel faced its final fate in 2015. The decision was made to demolish the building, making room for a new development in its place. The demolition was a highly anticipated event, with people from all over the world tuning in to watch the historic hotel come crashing down.
For many, the implosion of the International Hotel symbolized the end of an era in Las Vegas. It was a bittersweet moment, as people reflected on the hotel’s glory days while also looking forward to what the future had in store for the city.
Today, the site where the International Hotel once stood has been transformed into a modern and vibrant complex, showcasing the ever-evolving nature of Las Vegas. While the hotel may be gone, its legacy lives on in the memories of those who experienced its grandeur during its heyday.
As we’ve charted, the International Hotel was a true classic that defined an era in Las Vegas history. Though the iconic resort met its end after a slow decline, its former glory and impact on the Strip will never be forgotten.
The International’s aviation beacon shone brightly for decades as one of Sin City’s most famous hotels.