It was all a big gamble, but the controversial CityCenter, a 67-acre (27-hectare) mega-development in Las Vegas, Nevada, rolls out its grand opening this week with the Mandarin Oriental accepting guests on December 4.

Doors also flung open this week at the Vdara Hotel and Crystals retail and entertainment complex. And there's more to come. The Aria gaming resort opens December 16, unveiling its 61 stories and more than 4,000 guestrooms and a residential tower scheduled for occupancy on January.

Owned by the MGM Mirage, the multi-use CityCenter provides a total of 18 million square feet (1.6 million square meters) of space. One of its prominent features is the green status of its environmentally-friendly buildings, designed by noted architects, such as Pelli Clarke Pelli and Kohn Pedersen Fox.

Dangerously close to bankruptcy during construction, during an economically challenged time period with investors threatening to pull out of the arrangement, the project developers put on an optimistic face for future prospect when nearby construction is at a standstill.

Providing an alternative to the more thematic properties typical of the Vegas strip, one feature of CityCenter is its $40 million worth of art, contemporary art by Maya Lin, who created an 84-foot-long silver cast of the Colorado River for the reception area of the Aria resort.

Also at the Aria, the new Cirque du Soleil production, ‘Viva Elvis.'