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RESORTS WORLD LAS VEGAS

Location:

Number of Rooms:

Projected Opening:

North Strip

3000 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

3,500

2016

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A megaresort from Asian casino company Gaming Genting.

Where is it?

On the North Strip, where the Stardust used to be.

What will be included?

More than 3,500 rooms, the biggest casino in Las Vegas, more than a dozen restaurants, a 4,000 seat showroom, a replica of the Great Wall of China, and a panda habitat.

When will it open?

2016 is the projected opening although that may slip to 2017.

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PREVIEW

It's like a blast from the past: a wild idea for a highly-themed, multi-billion megaresort on The Strip; the kind of thing we haven't seen in Vegas for more than a decade and didn't think we might ever see again. But this one is for real - or at least as real as wild ideas can get before they actually open their doors - and could be a game changer for Las Vegas, ushering in a new boom period for a city that has been stuck on bust for years.

Asia based Genting Gaming has purchased the mothballed Echelon site on the North Strip for $350 million and plans to build Resorts World Las Vegas, a massive complex of hotels, gaming, and entertainment that could cost upwards of $7 billion. The first phase will include:

  • 3,500 hotel rooms with plans for thousands more in the future
  • 175,000 square foot casino, making it just slightly bigger than the MGM Grand's and therefore the biggest in Vegas
  • more than a dozen restaurants
  • a Caesars Palace Colosseum challenging 4,000 seat showroom
  • 250,000 square-feet of retail space
  • an indoor water park that will start at around 300,000 square-feet with plans to grow it out to nearly three acres

But perhaps the biggest, most interesting news about the new resort is a return of the theme hotel. Pretty much since its inception, the Vegas Strip has been home to highly themed resorts, paying homage to the wild west at places like The Frontier, ancient Rome at Caesars Palace, and Arabian deserts at places like The Sahara and The Dunes. The 1990s saw an explosion of the concept with recreations of Egypt at Luxor, Italy at Bellagio and The Venetian, the Big Apple at New York-New York, and France at Paris Las Vegas not to mention castles, volcanoes, and pirate lairs. But that all stopped in the new millennium as new Vegas casinos became much more grown-up and serious with luxury being the only discernible theme at places like Wynn Las Vegas, Aria Las Vegas, and The Cosmopolitan.

Resorts World Las Vegas will have a distinctive Asian theme with the hotel towers capped by pagoda style roofs, the main buildings looking like a Chinese village, and kitschy Las Vegas style attractions like a replica of the Great Wall of China and the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian. Plans are even in the works to create a Panda Habitat.

Part of the plan is to re-energize the Las Vegas gaming market with a more middle-of-the-road concept that can appeal to a broad base of potential visitors. But the bigger part of going the theme route is to lure middle-class Asian tourists to the United States to a property with an Asian pedigree and amenities. It's a gamble, to be sure, but one that could pay off big time.

Although this will be Genting Gaming's first foray into the Las Vegas market, they have a long history in the casino and hospitality industry with six major resorts in Malaysia, nearly four dozen casinos in the United Kingdom, a Resorts World casino and the Universal Studios theme park in Singapore, and a Resorts World property in The Philippines. The also own Norwegian Cruise Lines and operate the Resorts World casino in New York City. In 2011 they made major headlines when they purchased 14 acres on Miami's Biscayne Bay in anticipation of the state approving casino gambling.

Genting plans to use the bones of Echelon for the new project including a partially constructed hotel towers and parking garages and foundations for other buildings already in place. This will give them a head start in getting the property built but it is still expected to be 2016 or 2017 at the earliest before phase one comes online.

This could be the kick in the pants that Las Vegas has needed to get it out of the economic malaise it has not been able to shake. Although visitation is up, people are spending less and many of the casino companies are losing money due to high debt loads and operating costs. It is possible that this could finally shake loose development dollars on the North Strip surrounding Resorts World where the shuttered, partially constructed Fontainebleau and redevelopment plans for The Riviera, Circus Circus, and The Sahara have been stalled.

The latter recently got underway with a ground breaking for the SLS Hotel Las Vegas, an upscale property that will be built out of the shell of The Sahara and is due to open in 2014.

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