Vegas visitors will feel connected at the new LINQ Hotel & Casino

Note to self (sent via text, of course): Get a cocktail shaker. And some bacon.

I’ll explain this later.

But first, it’s important to tell you that The LINQ Hotel & Casino debuted yesterday in Las Vegas. Formerly known as The Quad (and before that the Imperial Palace), it’s the result of a massive $223 million makeover. And we think the money has been well spent.

Caesars Entertainment executives cut a chain made of multicolored construction paper rings.

A chain-style “ribbon” was cut at the grand opening of The LINQ Hotel & Casino. Photo by Renée LiButti.

Owned by Caesars Entertainment, the goal was to take the energy of The LINQ Promenade, the company’s hugely successful outdoor shopping and dining district, and pattern a hotel on the same spirit. In other words, forge a strong “link” between the two adjacent properties.

“We’ve tried to create something very exciting, and a little bit edgy,” said Bob Morse, president of hospitality for Caesars Entertainment, before cutting a long multicolored chain of construction paper rings that officially signified The LINQ Hotel & Casino’s debut. “It’s a really big change from what you’ll remember of this hotel. You’re not going to recognize it.”

He was right. Except for some pagodas, which will be removed by next summer, all of the Asian-themed elements are gone. They’ve been replaced by bright colors, geometric patterns and funky wood embellishments. Everything is new and contemporary. And there’s a sense of fun and liveliness that runs rampant through the casino – and is carried up to the rooms.

Of The LINQ Hotel & Casino’s 2,253 accommodations, 900 rooms and suites have been totally overhauled. The rest are just beginning to undergo renovations.

Among The LINQ Hotel & Casino's new technology is this interactive wayfinder. It's as fun to use as it is to look at.

Among the resort’s cutting-edge technology is this interactive wayfinder. It’s as fun to use as it is to look at. Photo by Renée LiButti.

Vibrant hues appear the moment you step off the elevator. Color schemes on the hallway carpeting (based in red, blue or green) help you navigate between towers, and each room features one of three stylized vintage backdrops.

However, it’s the 47-inch flat-screen TV that’s the king of the domain. Boasting the SONIFI system, this boob tube truly empowers you with its comprehensive menu. Need to get up early? Set the TV’s alarm clock. Pillow too hard? Request a softer one. Feeling competitive? Have a board game like Jenga, Twister, Uno or Yahtzee brought up to you. Hungry? Room service at The LINQ Hotel & Casino consists of delivery from the mouthwatering eateries that line The LINQ Promenade. You can have a slice of Flour & Barley pizza, fried chicken from Brooklyn Bowl, a gourmet wiener from Haute Doggery and a smoothie from Squeeze with just a couple of clicks.

One last thing about these refurbished rooms…we love the super-sized and super handy soap, shampoo and conditioner dispensers. They may be low-tech, but they’re highly practical.

The LINQ Hotel & Casino will ultimately unveil a couple of penthouses and 28 cabana rooms. They are part of the continuing construction – along with a new pool area and spa – that’s expected to be completed by spring 2015.

3535 Bar

Dubbed the “mini Vortex,” the bar 3535 is modeled after The LINQ Hotel & Casino’s color-changing rooftop light attraction. Photo by Renée LiButti.

According to Tariq Shaukat, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Caesars Entertainment, The LINQ Hotel & Casino has been designed with an eye toward “socially minded” visitors who like to connect in both the virtual and real worlds.

Wireless internet access at hotels in Vegas isn’t unusual – but reliable access is. At The LINQ Hotel & Casino, there’s ultra fast Wi-Fi in the rooms as well as on the gaming floor, in the bars, at the reception area and, well, in pretty much every nook and cranny. This means you’ll never be out of contact with friends, family and business associates back home or experience a delay when posting your selfies.

And things will only get better for tech-savvy travelers. Some hotels add useless digital bells and whistles in an attempt to stay current. Not The LINQ Hotel & Casino. They are utilizing new technology to develop services you might not have known you needed until you stayed here. For example, at the resort’s south entrance, there’s an “interactive wayfinder.” Not only is it kaleidoscopic (translation: absolutely awesome) to look at, but it also gives you information about all the offerings at The LINQ Hotel & Casino and The LINQ Promenade. The VIP lounge and the concierge desk boast touchscreen capabilities so you can purchase show tickets or make restaurant reservations on the spot.

The Pig Newton, one of 3535's signature cocktails.

The Pig Newton is one of 3535’s signature cocktails. Photo courtesy of Caesars Entertainment.

And no one wants to wait in a long line to check in. Although not available yet, The LINQ Hotel & Casino will soon allow you to bypass the front desk. Just like getting your boarding pass at the airport, there’ll be kiosks where you can check yourself in.

Now we know what you’re thinking. None of these things promote human interaction. Thanks to 3535, you don’t have to worry that technology will surpass face-to-face contact. This lobby bar, named for the numerical part of The LINQ Hotel & Casino’s address, actually raises the bar on lobby bars. Why? There are many, many reasons – not the least of which is a contraption that can cut diamond-shaped ice cubes.

But 3535 primarily stands out because of its 35 premium spirits infused with everything from watermelon and rosewater to wasabi and bacon. From these spirits eight truly unique martinis and eight utterly divine cocktails have been crafted.

This returns me to my earlier personal reminder, which I attribute to the Pig Newton. That’s not a typo. That’s the name of one of 3535’s extraordinary cocktails. Now the list of ingredients hardly helped to win me over: Ancho bacon-infused Jim Beam Bourbon, fig-infused Jack Daniels Honey, sweet vermouth, orange bitters and a smoked bacon salt rim – garnished with an actual slice of bacon courtesy of Guy Fieri, who helms a restaurant at The LINQ Hotel & Casino and stars in “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” However, after I’d reluctantly accepted a Pig Newton, I discovered its sweet and savory taste was nothing short of transcendent. So much so, it makes me want to try a little home mixology (and fry up some bacon next time I make scrambled eggs).

Like the drinks at 3535, the new LINQ Hotel & Casino is inspired – and inspiring.

Check out photos and video footage from yesterday’s grand opening festivities below.

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I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.