YOU STURDY RAT!: The Venetian welcomes Chinese New Year of the Rat with feng shui — and a massive golden rodent — in iconic waterfall atrium
Encountering a scurrying rat is hardly a sign of good fortune. But absorbing the awesome beauty of a majestic, dare we say, noble, 2,000-pound golden rodent sculpture in feng-shui-inspired surroundings in the Venetian’s waterfall atrium for the Year of the Rat — which begins Jan. 25 — is another matter entirely.
The Chinese New Year display’s larger-than-life centerpiece showcases the zodiac creature with complementary elements installed throughout the resort. With a placid, hospitable countenance, the 18-foot-tall rat is constructed with steel, molded foam and silicone coating. It’s set amid green gardens with red and orange bromeliads, red calandiva, golden yellow chrysanthemums and red and yellow orchids, shipped from around the country, including citrus and bamboo from Florida.
“The rat is the smallest of all the zodiac animals, so it was important to make him grand but not too intimidating,” says Dana Beatty, executive director of floral operations at the Venetian. “We wanted to make sure we made him welcoming and friendly.”
Favorable elements during the Year of the Rat are wood, fire and metal — all vibrantly represented in the display, the result of a year of planning and eight months of fabrication by the Venetian’s horticulture team and the feng shui master it consulted.
“The abundance of plants around the waterfall atrium represents the wood element, while the red decor such as the lanterns represent the fire element,” says Peter Lung of World of Feng Shui USA, who for 30 years has been practicing the ancient Chinese art of using energy forces to maximize harmony between individuals and their surroundings. “Since metal is known as the wealth element and is the element of this year’s Rat, the Rat is painted gold.”
Characteristics of the featured rat are said to point to a lucky, bountiful and healthy year for the resorts and guests in 2020, Lung says. Facial expressions exemplify pride, happiness and confidence. The tail is shaped in a figure eight, a very lucky number in Chinese culture and representing infinity and long life.
“The number eight symbolizes that wealth luck will persist from the beginning to the end of the year,” Lung says. “The number eight is the wealth number in Chinese culture, and its pronunciation in Chinese sounds like prosperity.”
The Rat is the first Chinese zodiac among the 12 zodiacs, so in 2020 the Rat is said to dominate the world, Lung noted, “bringing auspicious luck and excellent support to anyone. The Rat is an intelligent and fast-moving zodiac; therefore, it will bring energy and wisdom to you. Since the Rat is one of the four romance zodiacs, along with the Rabbit, Horse and Rooster, this year will be the Year of Romance and is said to be the perfect year to get married.”
Working with a feng shui consultant helped address any design concerns in the preliminary idea stage, and makes the fabrication stage much smoother, Beatty says. Feng shui, literally “wind” and “water,” is the art of arranging buildings, objects, space and life to achieve harmony and balance.
“Feng shui brings good energy and auspicious luck to homes, businesses and people,” Lung says. “The annual stars can bring good and bad luck to households and businesses every year, and feng shui is a great practice to enhance good luck and minimize bad luck. If casinos incorporate proper feng shui into their designs and plans, they will bring good health and wealth luck as well as strong harmony energy to everybody.”
At least one high-profile implementation of feng shui in Las Vegas through the years, however, did not result in long-term prosperity. The now-closed Lucky Dragon (2016-2018) on West Sahara Avenue incorporated feng shui in its design, noted Ingrid Lin, an associate professor at the School of Travel Industry Management at University of Hawaii at Mānoa, who wrote a 2017 paper on feng shui in the resort industry for Boston Hospitality Review.
Citing a Los Angeles Times report, Lin wrote that the boutique resort had a rose-colored front entrance designed in a dragon motif, the main bar was eight-sided for good fortune and the casino avoided using the unlucky number four — no fourth floor, no fours for room numbers and no fours in the phone directory.
“In Asia, it’s pretty difficult not to hire a feng shui master in whatever business you’re trying to develop,” Lin says. “ … As far as resorts, a lot of times they have a fountain in front of their door and apparently water helps to bring in money. That’s how most people perceive it at the basic level.”
Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace, which opened in 2013, incorporates feng shui principles in its 181 rooms. Designed by celebrity architect/designer David Rockwell, rooms exude a soothing simplicity with natural materials and textures.
Meanwhile, while the current display at the Venetian will transition to spring on March 2, Beatty’s team is already planning 2021’s Year of the Ox.
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