LAS VEGAS, NV – Sitting vacant and unfinished on the Las Vegas strip since 2009, the proposed Fontainebleau Casino and Resort had become synonymous with the national recession that had hit the Southern Nevada region especially hard. However, this week, it was announced that New York-based real estate firm Witkoff – in conjunction with Miami-based investment firm New Valley LLC – has stepped in, and they will finally be opening the property, re-christened as The Drew and managed by Marriott International.
The 68-floor luxury resort, boasting almost 4,000 rooms and suites managed by Marriott International, is located near the Circus Circus, SLS hotel-casinos, and the Las Vegas Convention Center; construction on the $2.9 billion Fontainebleau property had begun in 2007 by privately held Fontainebleau Resorts LLC, but indefinitely halted two years later when the recession brought a halt to the proceedings, forcing the project into bankruptcy. In 2010, Icahn NV Gaming Acquisition LLC, headed up by businessman Carl Icahn, purchased the Fontainebleau in 2010 for $150 million, and then sold it off to Witkoff and New Valley for $600 million in August.
The two companies announced the plans for the property – now called The Drew – slated to open in 2020 and will feature many amenities including a casino, approximately 4,000 rooms and suites, 500,000 square feet for holding events such as conventions and business meetings, and a great number of entertainment options for guests, including a theater, retail areas, and over 20 different dining options. The property will be managed by Marriott Corporation, and will also be home to two Marriott brands as well, both making their Las Vegas strip debut- JW Marriott, a luxury hotel chain that a brand of Marriott International named after John Willard Marriott, the founder of Marriott Corporation, and Marriot’s upscale, boutique-style “Edition” brand.
John Unwin, a well-known member of the local hospitality industry, has been brought in via Two Blackbirds Hospitality to oversee the development and day-to-day operations of the launch. Along with The Drew, another neighboring resort/casino project is also slated to open in 2020 – Resorts World Las Vegas, a project targeting predominantly Chinese and Chinese-American tourists that has also experienced its share of delays. The two properties are expected to help fill out the northern end of the Las Vegas strip, until now a less visited part of the city by tourists.
In addition, the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is currently undergoing large-scale expansion efforts, is also expected to see completion within the same time-frame, with plans for a bridge connecting The Drew to the facility being in the works. With these three projects slated to open all within a short period of time of one another, experts are projecting a large increase in visitors to the area within the next few years. It’s projects such as these – ones that have lain dormant for years, now experienced a resurgence and entering their final phase of development before opening – that cement Las Vegas as a region that holds near-limitless promise.
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