Desert Inn Hotel and Casino

Exterior of the Desert Inn ca. 1950s
Exterior of the Desert Inn ca. 1950s

On April 24th 1950, Wilbur Clark’s Desert Inn opened its doors and became the fifth major resort on the Strip. While it had taken a couple of years to complete the construction due to money troubles, the final building was a place of luxury and offered 300 hotel rooms.
The resort also provided views of the Strips from its highest vantage point; where guests could sip a cocktail or take a turn on the dance floor in the Sky Room Cocktail lounge. The casino was one of the largest in the state at that time at 2,400 sq. ft. and it was the first resort with fountains – the famous “Dancing Waters” show involving the water jets choreographed to music. The Painted Desert showroom, with 450 seats, made the Desert Inn infamous with Las Vegas entertainment, and was where Frank Sinatra made his Las Vegas debut in 1951.  Initially named after the part owner Wilbur Clark, accompanied by a cactus tree logo, it became known fondly as the D.I.  Guests drove under an old fashioned ranch sign on the entrance way to the hotel, where they were then greeted by fountains at the entrance.

The original public area building was relatively small, and they started planning an expansion almost immediately after opening. They also had focused on more entertainment and food areas – in addition to the Skyroom and the Painted Desert Showroom, there was a 90ft long bar named Lady Luck, (with glass windows to look into the casino), the Cactus room (a 100 seat breakfast room), an luxurious powder room with nine private ‘boudoir’ tables and even a nursery designed as a oversized dolls house for parents to drop off their children to stay with trained nurses!

 A golf course was added in 1953, which hosted the PGA Tour Tournament of Champions from 1953 to 1966. 

The Desert Inn closed in August 2000, and the Wynn and Encore now stand in its place.

Exterior of Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn Hotel and Casino
Exterior of Wilbur Clark’s Desert Inn Hotel and Casino
Painted Desert Showroom
Painted Desert Showroom
Poolside at Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn
Poolside at Wilbur Clark’s Desert Inn
Skyroom Cocktail Lounge
Skyroom Cocktail Lounge