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LAS VEGAS-Harrah’s Entertainment today announced a $1-billion expansion of its flagship Caesars Palace hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Completion is slated for early 2009.

The centerpiece of the expansion is Octavius Tower, a new $375-million, 23-story hotel building that will adjoin Augustus Tower, which opened in 2005. The second floor of the new 665-room hotel tower will be lined with pool suites overlooking three new swimming pools that will rim an expanded outdoor whirlpool spa retreat, a poolside cafe and a nearby garden wedding venue. Adjacent to the new tower will be a new 263,000-sf meeting and convention facility.

As part of the expansion, the resort’s existing 512-room Forum Tower will undergo an $83-million refurbishment. Improvements will include a new front entrance and expanded valet parking, a remodeled buffet restaurant, a redesigned Cypress Street Marketplace casual restaurant and an enlarged Race & Sports Book.

Scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2009, Octavius Tower will push the Caesars Palace room count to more than 4,000. The pool expansion is slated for completion in the second quarter of 2009. The Forum Tower renovation is scheduled to be completed in January 2008.

Other site improvements will include an expansion of the property’s central electrical plant expansion and relocation of power lines along Flamingo Road. A new venue and show featuring Bette Midler also is in the works.

Earlier this week, MGM Mirage Inc. announced a multi-phase, multi-year makeover for Luxor, its 4,400-room black pyramid hotel-casino at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. The transformation includes a new nightclub, new restaurants and lounges, a new Cirque du Soleil production, a renovated casino floor and remodeled hotel rooms.

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