Taking its theme from the tales of 1,001 Arabian Nights, it is easy to understand why the Desert Passage, with its Moroccan gate on one side and its India gate on the other, settles so well into the dust and neon of Las Vegas.
Like the genie rising out of Aladdin's lamp, the Desert Passage welcomes visitors with grandiose style and more than 130 shops and 14 restaurants covering a 500,000-square-foot area. The Strip's largest retail, dining and entertainment center, the Desert Passage invites visitors to make a wish and then takes them on a journey to find what they desire.
Upon entering the Desert Passage, visitors navigate streets paved with stamped concrete that's designed to resemble the mud-and-brick cobblestone found in cities along the spice route. To segue from one motif to the next, the designers let corners and bends in the road help them to transition into different-themed areas. One of the greatest challenges in changing from scene to scene was to have the flooring reflect the change in environment in a way that wasn't intrusive or abrupt.
Ambling down a cobblestone street and turning around the corner of a building, a Desert Passage visitor can leave a scene filled with street vendors and entertainers and walk into an area called the Merchant's Harbor. The area was designed to emulate an old port and features a wooden dock that was installed on sleepers to evoke the hollow feel of walking on a pier.
Machines create waves that lap against a faux steamship docked in the harbor; simulations of thunder and lightening create passing rainstorms. Designed to conjure the atmosphere of Tangiers and Casablanca during the 1920s and '30s, Merchant's Harbor showcases a well thought-out design transition between dissimilar flooring materials.
Open spaces in the Desert Passage, such as The Rotunda and The Dome of Spirits, showcase marble medallions. The Dome of Spirits, in particular, features a mixed-media floor medallion rendered in marble and bronze. Based on Islamic and Moroccan patterns, the medallion mirrors the intense patterns and designs of the domed ceiling above it. Carrara di Carrara of Las Vegas provided the marble for the two spaces and Arizona Castings of Tempe, Ariz., provided the bronze inlay for The Dome of Spirits.
Spanning cities and times long since past, the Desert Passage located at the Aladdin Hotel holds within its walls a re-creation of magical tales and historical journeys. The smooth transitions from one design motif to another serves as evidence of how versatile flooring can be and what is possible when the right design is combined with the right product.