As We See It

[The Incidental Tourist]

The Quad surprise: It’s hard to believe this was once Imperial Palace

The renovated Catalyst Bar is shown inside The Quad on the Las Vegas Strip Monday, October 14, 2013.
Photo: Mona Shield Payne

You’re ambling south from Harrah’s on the east side of Las Vegas Boulevard. The familiarity of Caesars looms across the street, Flamingo up ahead. But ducking into the next casino causes confusion.

A sparkling, red-and-gold corridor draws you in, lined with huge windows full of booze—a flashy liquor store. Mirrored baubles hang from the ceiling at Catalyst Bar, where flat-screen TVs, flair bartenders and red lights energize all comers.

Renovations at The Quad

There are dealertainers—Michael Jackson and Cher at the blackjack tables—and they’re actually dancing when they’re not spraying cards across the felt. Then “Blurred Lines” hits you. That’s why they’re dancing. You’ve entered the type of Las Vegas casino that would play “Blurred Lines” at high volume. Where are you?

The answer to this riddle is the Quad, and you’ll need to investigate deeply if you want to find any trace of what it used to be. Gone are Imperial Palace’s pagodas and dragons, and in the Quad’s new casino there is only the electric-red future. A 24-hour Hash House A Go Go serves the Vegas visitor who may need chicken and waffles at any time of day or night. There will be multiple access points to the Linq, the friendly alley of fun coming at the end of the year, and a Guy Fieri-branded restaurant is slated to arrive sometime this winter. There are plans for a full hotel room renovation, though a timeline hasn’t been announced.

Even incomplete, the changes to this property are among the most striking made in Las Vegas in recent years, surely on par with renovations at the Tropicana and Dowtown’s Plaza and the D. You can still hike up to the old-school sports book or tiki-themed buffet for a little taste of what was, but the Quad seems like an almost entirely new destination, perhaps because there is nothing like the former Strip-front porte-cochére that made Imperial Palace feel so dated and awkward.

And despite its less-than-glamorous name, the Quad appears to be the perfect staging ground for the Linq and the High Roller wheel. It’s a high-energy party palace with reasonable rates, a clear strike toward easy fun and an impressive makeover right where the Strip needed it.

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Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for more than 15 years. He currently covers entertainment, music, nightlife, food ...

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