LAS VEGAS (
) -- Las Vegas's newest shopping mall is more Guggenheim than Six Flags, with its Daniel Libeskind-designed exterior and glass-and-steel canopy.
The Crystals at City Center is the first in a series of projects at the new complex that will take Las Vegas from its Six Flags to a new horizon that's hopefully free of castles, pyramids and Eiffel towers.
Unlike other casino-bound shopping areas in Las Vegas, there are no gimmicks. Fake gondoliers or shooting flames have been replaced by $300 shoes and $150 lunches. Crystals is about high-end shopping, making you feel like you're in Tokyo and not one of the country's foreclosure capitals.
Outside, the mall's pitched ceiling resembles a concert hall or museum, giving way to abundant natural light. Inside, museum-white walls yield to artsy advertisements and rotating modern art installations, including a fountain in which tubes of ice grow out of the floor before warm-water jets melt them. An elaborate staircase framed in exotic woods obscures the most convenient escalators.
The three-level mall was designed by Rockwell Group, mimicking a futurist park with avant-garde trees and abstract foliage along shopping corridors made of pristine natural stone and hardwood floors.
At the Crystals, a select number of high-end retailers operate larger stores than they would at other malls. Louis Vuitton has opened a three-story outpost that includes a men's and women's fashion lines by creative director Marc Jacobs. Shoppers will also find
and Roberto Cavalli. Bottega Veneta, Bulgari, Cartier, Christian Dior, Fendi and Versace are also open or slated to open by mid-February.
The Crystals also offers an array of fine-dining options. Latin steakhouse Beso, the hit restaurant in Hollywood owned by Eva Longoria, will open its Eve nightclub on New Year's Eve. There are also more affordable eateries, such as P.U.B. by Todd English.
Noticeably absent are the little kiosks selling lotions and cheap sunglasses that line almost every other mall in America. The result is a truly upscale shopping experience that lets visitors feel separated from the masses whether by price, style or location.
-- Reported by Michael Martin of JetSetReport.com in Los Angeles
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.