Las Vegas Sees Plenty of Strip Investments, Thousands of Rooms Renovated, Construction Resuming

Posted on: November 5, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: November 3, 2017, 04:02h.

Las Vegas is getting a series of makeovers, at least on the inside of the casino resorts that line the Strip. Gaming operators are currently in the process of spending upwards of one billion dollars in room renovation projects that will run through to the end of 2018.

Las Vegas Strip resort renovation
The Palazzo is one of numerous Strip properties restyling guestrooms. Las Vegas Sands is favoring a lighter look (right) than its previous more baroque décor. (Image: The Palazzo/Collage:

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, no fewer than eight marquee Strip resorts are overhauling their guestrooms right now. Caesars Entertainment, newly out of bankruptcy, is spurring the investment spending, reportedly using $350 million to refresh a total of 4,500 rooms at Caesars Palace, the Flamingo, Bally’s, and Planet Hollywood.

Las Vegas Sands began renovating all 3,000 of its suites at The Palazzo last year, a project that is expected to be completed in early 2018. The resort’s casino floor is also getting a décor upgrade, and several new bars and restaurants are being incorporated.

The Cosmopolitan is undergoing its first major renovation since opening in 2010, with all 3,000 rooms there being stripped down to drywall and concrete for an entirely new room product. And last but not least, MGM is doing away with Monte Carlo, spending $450 million to transform the resort into Park MGM, and a smaller boutique hotel NoMad.

While Sands and the Cosmopolitan haven’t revealed how much they’re spending, all told the Strip makeover projects almost certainly exceed $1 billion.

Construction Resumes

In addition to the renovations up and down the Strip, there’s economic enthusiasm by way of new investors coming into Sin City.

The Fontainebleau, a constant looming reminder of the 2008 recession, was sold in August by Carl Icahn to New York-based developer Steve Witkoff for $600 million. Standing 68 stories high, the financial disaster that has been Fontainebleau sat unfinished and vacant for seven years under Icahn’s ownership.

Icahn’s bet paid off, netting the billionaire’s company $457 million. CBRE Group Executive VP John Knott, whose firm is a real estate leader in Las Vegas, estimates that Witkoff will need to spend between $900 million and $1.6 billion to complete the Fontainebleau project now.

Just southwest of Witkoff’s blight, another stalled project is resuming at last. Resorts World said its 3,000-room Asian-themed resort is finally moving towards major construction. The $4 billion resort is slated to open in late 2020.

Development Develops

Not a single built-from-scratch project has opened on the Strip since the Cosmopolitan was completed in 2010. Should Witkoff proceed with finishing Fontainebleau, he would seem to be the odds-on favorite to breaking that streak.

But during a conference call with investors this week, Steve Wynn revealed he’s in the running as well. In discussing the details of Paradise Park, a 20-acre lagoon waterpark behind Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, the CEO revealed that the project will also include a new 47-story, 1,500-room hotel.

Preliminary work will get underway in January, Wynn said, with major construction beginning in March or April.

Finally, the Las Vegas Monorail Company is in the process of obtaining permits from Clark County to extend its transportation an additional mile south from MGM Grand to Mandalay Bay. That would seem prudent in easing traffic concerns once the $1.9 billion Las Vegas Raiders football stadium is complete and the NFL comes to town, if all goes as planned, in 2020.