Battle of the Destinations: New York vs Las Vegas

24 March 2016

Whatever the event, choosing a city is one of the first steps when it comes to planning. In this post, we're looking at two of the most popular stateside destinations for events, incentive travel and corporate hospitality—New York and Las Vegas. One is the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps—the other is the Entertainment Capital of the World, a city that might not even remember what sleep is...

Both have endless conference venues, showcase events and hospitality options, but we'll take a look at the factors that make them winning destinations, from the brass tacks of getting there to hotels, restaurants and entertainment.

It boils down to one question: is New York or Las Vegas a better choice for your event? There's only one way to find out—let's dive straight in.

Wow Factor

New York is one of the greatest cities on earth. From the lights of Times Square to the heights of the Empire State Building, via Madison Square Garden, the Yankees Stadium and more, it’s called the city that never sleeps for a reason. It has world-class amenities, an exhilarating sense of pace, and a unique identity that blows first-time visitors away.

Las Vegas is... well, Las Vegas. A neon oasis in the middle of the Nevada desert, it’s everything visitors think it is and everything they want it to be—bright lights, high-stakes rollers and rollercoaster nights to remember. It’s a staggering, heady mix of some of world’s best hotels, biggest casinos and most electric nightlife.

Verdict: It has to be Las Vegas.

Travel & Connections

New York has two main airports, with JFK in Queens being the usual choice. The Heathrow—JFK route is incredibly well served, with British Airways, Kuwait Airlines, Iberia and Virgin Atlantic all flying direct from Heathrow. BA, Iberia and PIA also offer direct flights from Manchester. Business class tickets are widely available and easily procured, with some smaller airlines providing exclusive business class-only services. Once you're in New York transport is easy—hire a car from the airport, hail a cab, or hop on the extensive metro system to get to anywhere in the city.

Las Vegas is more remote, but still easily accessible. London's main airports all offer direct flights to Las Vegas McCarran, with British Airways flying from Heathrow, Thomas Cook from Stansted, and Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick. Once you touch down in the desert, your hotel may provide a private bus or car. If not, there are express bus services direct to the strip and taxis everywhere. The strip itself has a shuttle that runs almost 24/7, taking revellers from hotel to casino to restaurant and back again.

Verdict: New York wins this one.

Hotels & Restaurants

New York is making headlines just now. The iconic Sherry-Netherland was recently named Trip Advisor's #1 Hotel in the US 2016, and we recently named the Viceroy Central Park as our favourite hotel in North America. Restaurant highlights are in abundance too—Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park recently won three Michelin stars and the #5 spot in the S.Pellegrino ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list, Le Bernardin continues to turn out impossibly good seafood, and new highlights crop up weekly.

Ask anyone to name somewhere in Vegas and it will be a hotel. The opulent, event-ready hotels in central Las Vegas are household names—the MGM Grand, Caesar's Palace, the Mandarin Oriental, the Bellagio... Alongside (and in) those hotels are some great restaurants, many headed or endorsed by the world’s best chefs. We recently included the three Michelin starred Joël Robuchon in our list of favourite restaurants, and Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist at the Mandarin Oriental, Portofino, Cut (from Spago’s Wolfgang Puck) and Bazaar Meat by José Andrés are all exceptional.

Verdict: Right now... we’d say New York.

Entertainment & Nightlife

Whether you're extending your conference day, showing prospects the town, or enjoying an evening out, New York has more entertainment and nightlife options that you'll ever have time for. Madison Square Garden offers the hottest hospitality packages in town for world-class music, sports and entertainment, and the city has endless bars, clubs and venues perfect for evenings off. It's also the world's jazz capital—head for one of the three jazz venues at the Lincoln Centre.

Vegas is pure entertainment, whether you plan on spending your evening at the tables, treating partners to some of the best live music residencies in the US, or hitting the town before heading home. We could list the most legendary nightclubs, music venues, cabaret shows and casinos in town—but you'd already know most of the names.

Verdict: Las Vegas is entertainment.

Culture & Sights

New York has a rich cultural history and a host of world-class sights. First time visitors often use downtime to tick off the big names—the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Central Park and the High Line Garden. If you're treating your team or partners, look at the Apollo Theatre for a heavy-hitting schedule of world-class music and comedy, or the Lincoln Centre's 30 venues for music, theatre and art.

You’d think culture isn’t a big draw for Vegas, but you might be surprised. The Smith Centre for the Performing Arts is perfect for entertaining, with Broadway shows, high-end theatre and classical concerts on the menu. Recover from long days in conference or long nights on the strip by soaking up some glittery Vegas history at the Neon Museum Boneyard, or take in world-class exhibits at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.

Verdict: New York, without a doubt.

THE FINAL VERDICT...

Drum roll please.... It's up to you, but New York New York wins our battle of the destinations 3-2. If you want Vegas, nowhere else will come close—but the Big Apple is very nearly the perfect city for incentive travel, corporate hospitality, or events of almost any size, type or budget. The sheer breadth of what New York has to offer is staggering.

We'd love to talk about your requirements, and how we can use our insight, imagination and expertise to help you create an immersive, bespoke itinerary delivered with effortless style. Drop us a line in the comments below, or drop us a line through our contact page.