by Michael J. Shapiro | February 01, 2018

Local Update

 Caesars Entertainment plans to break ground in the second quarter on Caesars Forum, a $375 million, 550,000-square-foot conference center next to Harrah's and just east of the center Strip. Caesars is acquiring 18.4 acres of land for the project as part of a sale and lease-back deal for Harrah's -- a deal that also will help to finance the construction of the conference center. Slated to open in 2020, Caesars Forum promises 300,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including two 108,000-square-foot ballrooms -- purported to be the world's largest without pillars. Two 40,000-square-foot ballrooms, high-tech boardrooms and a 100,000-square-foot outdoor plaza also are among the plans. Caesars Forum also would benefit from providing direct access to the Linq Promenade, Harrah's Las Vegas, the Flamingo Las Vegas and the Linq Hotel & Casino -- a total of about 8,500 guest rooms. The venue's construction is still subject to approvals from government agencies.

 Last month, Wynn Resorts established a new policy with respect to guest-room "Do Not Disturb" signs. Hotel employees must now contact and/or enter the room if the sign is displayed for more than 12 straight hours. Both Hilton and a number of Walt Disney Resort properties have made similar changes to policy. It has been widely speculated that the move represents increased security protocol spurred by the mass-shooting attack that occurred on the Las Vegas Strip last October.

 The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority broke ground in early January on Phase Two of the expansion  to the Las Vegas Convention Center. This $860 million project phase will result in an addition of approximately 1.4 million square feet to the venue. Of that, at least 600,000 square feet will be new, leasable exhibit space that should be completed in time for the January 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. The expansion will allow the LVCVA to simultaneously grow shows in the facility while having room to handle additional business.

 Penn National Gaming, which currently owns and operates 25 gaming properties throughout the U.S., including the Tropicana Las Vegas and M Resort, Spa and Casino, agreed to acquire former rival Pinnacle Entertainment. Pinnacle owns and operates 16 gaming properties nationally. The $2.8 billion deal is expected to close in the second half of this year.

 In the first half of this year, the official rebranding of the 2,992-room Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino will take place, with two distinct hotels opening in that same building. Park MGM will be the first to debut, while the NoMad Las Vegas will open later this year. Already, new restaurants have been opening and new meeting space is being developed to mark the transformation of the space. The Park MGM's guest rooms will be modern and luxurious, with residential touches evoking the sense of a metropolitan apartment. Rooms will have large picture windows that open onto valley views, with living-room-like seating and scattered cushions. The hotel will offer one floor with Stay Well rooms, to include energizing lighting, dawn-simulator alarm clocks, long-wave night lighting, air-purification systems, memory-foam mattresses, shower infusers and additional wellness-focused amenities.

 The 826-room Westin Las Vegas Hotel, Casino & Spa has been transformed into a nongaming, nonsmoking property. The former casino floor is now home to a restaurant and lobby bar called Jake and Eli, as well as to upgraded meeting spaces. Four new meeting rooms off the lobby increase the hotel's meeting capacity by 20 percent, bringing the new maximum to 350 attendees. The spaces are flexible, with the option to add a private buffet or menus from Jake and Eli, as well as a dedicated prefunction space. Earlier this year, all of the guest rooms were updated, and the Hibiscus Spa and Salon and Westin Workout Fitness Studio were redesigned. A final phase of renovations, including to the outdoor pool area, will wrap up in this quarter.

 The Flamingo Las Vegas is in the midst of a $90 million renovation of 1,270 of its 3,545 guest rooms. The new room designs, which feature hues of gold and bright pops of pink, pay homage to the 72-year history and character of the resort, which was formative in the Strip's early development. The new rooms began debuting last November, and the project is expected to wrap up by midyear.

 Wynn Resorts acquired the North Strip parcel of land that once was home to the New Frontier and was subsequently owned by Australia-based Crown Resorts. A casino-resort property planned by Crown never materialized and was officially shelved last year. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn, whose company paid $336 million for the 38-acre site, wants to build a 2,500-room hotel on the property, which would be connected to the existing Wynn and Encore resorts by an air-conditioned hallway. The company already has begun constructing a Carnivale-themed complex, potentially to be named Paradise Park, on the former golf course between the Wynn and Encore resorts. That complex, to be built around an hourglass-shaped lagoon, is slated to have 224,000 square feet of meeting space, a 1,500-room hotel with a casino and restaurants, a 30,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion and a 103-foot-diameter carousel on a dock jutting out over the lagoon.

 Caesars Palace Las Vegas wrapped up a $100 million renovation to its 1,181-room Palace Tower, the resort's largest. The final piece of the extensive makeover was the addition of 10 new luxury villas on the tower's 29th floor. Each of the villas is outfitted with more than $1 million in exclusive furnishings and curated décor. The villas range from 2,750 square feet to 4,085 square feet and blend different architectural styles to create a collection "worthy of a well-traveled aristocrat," according to the resort. Each villa boasts one of four aesthetic themes: Ancient Grecian, Biedermeier (German), English Regency or French Empire, and includes touches such as imported stone, architectural lighting and 24K gold-plated bathroom fixtures. Among the villa-associated amenities are private elevator entry to the 29th floor, 24-hour butler service, limousine transportation to and from McCarran International Airport, and VIP check-in and Total Rewards Diamond queuing privileges at all Caesars Las Vegas resorts. Villa rates start at a cool $3,109 per night.