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Miami Meets the Strip

Fontainebleau Las Vegas finally opens in Las Vegas

Miami Meets the Strip

The Fontainebleau in Miami is an iconic property that has shone over South Beach for decades. Time wasn’t kind to the Fontainebleau, however, as it went through many owners, renovations and media mentions—positive and negative—over the years.

But when Jeffrey Soffer’s Turnberry Associates bought the property in 2005, the Fontainebleau re-emerged as the most noted resort in Miami Beach. After Soffer split from Turnberry, his Fontainebleau Development now owns the hotel and several other luxury properties in Miami and Nashville, as well as continuing to develop luxury high-rise residences.

But it wasn’t until Soffer turned his eyes on Las Vegas that the company began to realize Fontainebleau’s full potential. Unfortunately, when the proposal to build Fontainebleau Las Vegas was first announced in 2005, it was only a year away from the worst recession U.S. has experienced since the 1970s.

Nonetheless, construction began in 2007 and reached its full 67 stories two years later. While it was—and still is—Nevada’s tallest occupiable building, it was not the be occupied for another 15 years. In 2009, the property entered bankruptcy, and it went through multiple owners until Soffer reacquired the property with Koch Real Estate Investments in 2021, reinstated the original name, and resumed construction. When it opened in December 2023, it seems the wait was well worth it.

“For over 20 years, I’ve had this vision of seeing the Fontainebleau brand on the Strip,” Soffer told GGB.

“Regaining ownership of the property allowed us to fulfill that vision. Fontainebleau Las Vegas is a beacon of our future and a testament to turning unexpected challenges into resounding triumphs. We are carrying over an irresistible, luxury allure reminiscent of Fontainebleau Miami Beach. We’re looking to reintroduce luxury into the city, meticulously crafted with precision and finesse, drawing inspiration from our heritage, and seizing every opportunity to be greater than we’ve ever been.”

And luxury is the theme in a city that has seen everything. But the $3.7 billion Fontainebleau Las Vegas is the real thing. Originally designed by the legendary casino architect Bergman Walls, the team brought into finalize the property is just as storied.

“We are collaborating with an award-winning collective of architecture and design partners—Peter Arnell, David Collins Studio, Rockwell Group, Lissoni & Partners, Lifescapes International, Jeff Leatham, Carlos Zapata Studio and Jeffrey Beers International, working alongside our exceptional in-house team—to complete our vision for Fontainebleau Las Vegas,” says property president Mark Tricano. “Our design approach blends homage to the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s heritage with a distinct and contemporary vision. Our design collective has an eye for what today’s savvy travelers want to see and experience—modern flair and elegant details, creating a vibrant and compelling environment tailored to their desires.”

 

Multiple Measures

Lots of Las Vegas hotels depend upon one “must-see” attraction to lure visitors—the Mirage volcano, Wynn’s “mountain,” the Bellagio fountains, the Paris Eiffel Tower, Circa’s massive sportsbook, just to name a few—but the Fontainebleau has many, starting with its stunning verticality.

“Our podium structure sets us apart in that it creates a level of accessibility that is extremely rare in Las Vegas,” explains Tricano. “Because guests can easily reach their rooms and our conference levels without navigating the casino, they have a seamless way of transitioning between business and pleasure. That seamless feature extends to every amenity within Fontainebleau Las Vegas, whether guests are visiting the property for dining, nightlife, or entertainment.”

The property is designed to appeal to a business clientele, so its meetings and convention space is unparalleled.

“Another signature feature is our 550,000 square feet of conference space—across five levels of our tower—setting us apart from anything else on the Strip,” Tricano says. “Our meeting space is highlighted by a 105,000-square-foot pillarless ballroom, ideal for hosting a variety of events. Additionally, our BleauLive Theater space spans across three levels and over 90,000 square feet, offering numerous possibilities, from entertainment extravaganzas to business functions.”

While food and beverage must be a centerpiece for any new Las Vegas property, the Fontainebleau takes it up to another level.

“We are bringing a spectacular lineup of 36 first-to-market restaurants and bars to the Strip,” Tricano says. “We are so excited about our restaurant lineup, with some of the most recognized and celebrated names in the culinary industry. Many of our F&B partners have established relationships with Fontainebleau but are coming to Las Vegas for the first time.

“Evan Funke, Masa Ito, David Grutman, David ‘Papi’ Einhorn, and Alan Yau—it is an incredibly diverse collection of chefs and restaurateurs that demonstrates our commitment to unforgettable and one-of-a-kind dining. Our beverage program is helmed by Juyoung Kang, who has led some of the best bar teams in the city. Her attention to detail, vast wealth of knowledge and endless creativity have helped define each bar with a signature style, from reimagined classics to unique one-of-a-kind cocktail experiences.

“Kevin Reilly, our director of wine and spirits, has also brought his years of experience as a master sommelier to Fontainebleau Las Vegas, crafting our wine and spirits program to compete with the best in the city.”

In Miami, the Fontainebleau spa is recognized as the best in that city. Tricano believes the same will happen in Las Vegas.

“We are building upon our legacy, and guests will see that in the design and amenities offered at Lapis Spa & Wellness,” he says. “Designed by Lissoni & Partners, the spa embodies our commitment to well-being, blending ancient rejuvenation methods with modern healing technologies to create a transformative and enduring experience. Lapis Spa & Wellness is unique in that the atmosphere is designed to adapt to the natural circadian rhythm and biological clock of our guests so they can best achieve their individual goals. We do this through all-encompassing and immersive sensory elements, from aromatherapy to lighting, starting off with a calm atmosphere in the morning and transitioning into a more vibrant energy through the afternoon.

“In addition, we are introducing a 14,000-square-foot fitness center. Debuting within our offerings is a 96,500-square-foot retail district, a six-acre pool district, a 150,000-square-foot casino, nightlife and entertainment experiences, among others.

“Fontainebleau Las Vegas will feature 128 table games and 1,300 slots throughout our casino floor and high-limit spaces. Table games can also be found in Solo, our aspirational gaming bar that brings glamour to roulette and blackjack with sophisticated design and top-tier mixology.”

Room and suites are expected, but unlike many Las Vegas hotels which contain “hotels inside of hotels”—like the Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay, the Nobu Hotel at Caesars, multiple brands at Resorts World—all the rooms and suites at the Fontainebleau will be self-contained.

“Fontainebleau Las Vegas offers 3,644 beautifully designed rooms and suites, and recently we unveiled our Fleur de Lis collection,” says Tricano. “These suites are the ultimate expression of Fontainebleau elegance and hospitality on five floors at the top of our resort tower. David Collins Studio designed Fleur de Lis, and the collection ranges from 1,000 square feet to the pinnacle of luxury—the 10,000-square-foot penthouse. Fleur de Lis is a six-star experience tailored to the individual preferences of every guest, with personally curated touchpoints and amenities throughout.”

 

Meeting the Expectations

Fontainebleau Las Vegas has one of the largest convention and meeting spaces contained under one roof in the city, with more than half a million square feet of ballrooms and meeting rooms. The property is also directly adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall, which just opened two years ago.

“Being directly next to the West Hall expansion, our closeness creates synergistic opportunities unlike any other resort in Las Vegas,” says Soffer. “Our South Lobby acts as a destination for meeting professionals and convention-goers to enter the resort with ease.

“With a focus on upward-thinking design, seamless access, and a dedicated sales team, our resort ensures a smooth transition from business to pleasure, while allowing for innovation in both accessibility and experiences. We recognize there is a crossover between business and leisure travelers, and look to accommodate both with our world-class meetings and convention amenities along with our collection of incredible restaurants, bars, gaming, wellness and entertainment options.”

Tricano says the emphasis on meetings and conventions allows the Fontainebleau to appeal directly to one of the most important segments of the Las Vegas visitors market.

“The convention industry is critically important to Las Vegas, and our meetings and convention facilities are a standout feature of Fontainebleau Las Vegas. We have built an unmatched canvas for tailored events, with versatility as a key theme. We have multi-functional spaces designed with intention, as well as both indoor and outdoor options like our Waterbleau Terrace and Moonstone Event Center.

“Fontainebleau Las Vegas will bring to market some of the largest customizable meeting and convention space—550,000 square feet—this city has ever seen. We take full advantage of our location, adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall expansion, and our upward-thinking design, which will offer meeting guests personalized experiences, greater privacy, and easier access throughout the resort.”

 

Service and Targets

To be identified as a truly luxury property in Las Vegas, you must of course have all the amenities that make a resort stand out, but you also must have excellent customer service and employee dedication to complete the package. Tricano believes that the Fontainebleau can accomplish that feat.

“We take great pride in our recruiting efforts, and our hiring strategy has helped us welcome a wealth of quality, passionate and skilled members to Fontainebleau Las Vegas,” he says. “Our casino host team ranks among the most experienced in the industry. More importantly, they share our commitment to excellence and a gaming culture that’s built around a personalized guest experience. Each casino host team member has come armed with their own book of business paired with incredible ambition to attract new gaming-focused clientele. Their forward-thinking mindset and eagerness to be a part of history are unmatched, and key to the resort’s success.”

One of the issues that any casino faces when breaking into the Las Vegas market is often a question of how many players are in your database. While unquestionably Fontainebleau has lots of loyal customers from its Miami properties, building a database is job one for executives in Las Vegas.

“Fontainebleau Las Vegas stands upon the strong foundation of nearly 70 years of legacy and unwavering loyalty,” explains Tricano. “Throughout our history, we’ve forged deep connections with a global network of guests who unequivocally associate Fontainebleau with the pinnacle of luxury. Now, we are in position to not only welcome our cherished loyalists but also attract new casino guests and host dynamic meetings and conventions, further elevating the Fontainebleau experience for all. We are building our business to be successful in the long term, and we want to do it the right way. Our priority in these initial years is to create a quality asset with quality programming that will withstand the test of time.

“Our Fontainebleau Rewards program will differentiate us in this market, focusing on simplicity, transparency and convenience. Offering our members seamless access to a plethora of benefits, Fontainebleau Rewards allows members to earn tier status and points in the hotel, restaurants, bars and lounges, Lapis Spa & Wellness fitness center, and select retail stores. That’s beyond what visitors have come to expect in Las Vegas.”

For Soffer, Fontainebleau fits perfectly with the legacy of Las Vegas. With the inaugural Formula One race just concluded, the Super Bowl coming up in February and the Final Four basketball tournament in 2025, Las Vegas is now the capital of sports as well as entertainment.

“As many people know, Las Vegas is always reinventing itself,” Soffer says. “Those events are proof that the city is growing its global audience with visitors that are interested in experiences at the highest levels of hospitality. Enter Fontainebleau Las Vegas. Everything that stands out about our resort—iconic design, top-tier services, innovative offerings—will aim to contribute to the city’s ongoing transformation. We’re looking to set a new bar so that history remembers two eras: before Fontainebleau Las Vegas and after.”

 

Local Yokels

Visitors are only a part of the equation for the Fontainebleau, according to Tricano.

“Locals are the heart and soul of this city, and we’re looking to develop a relationship with the local community that keeps them coming back for more. Locals love dining out, shopping, and entertainment experiences, so we’re excited for them to experience everything from our restaurants to the spa and pools.

“With Fontainebleau Rewards, locals can also sign up and enjoy the suite of benefits outside of gaming—earning benefits for dining, spa and more.”

Tricano says parking will be complimentary for hotel guests, and the first four hours are free for any other visitors, with a $20 fee for anyone who stays longer.

He says Fontainebleau Las Vegas will change the dynamic of the town.

“We’re driven by legacy, and that’s why we stand apart. We’re looking to make history with Fontainebleau Las Vegas, and to lead the Strip into a new era of luxury hospitality. Fontainebleau is a globally recognized and celebrated brand that is now being introduced into the world-renowned Las Vegas market.

“This is a defining moment, and we like to think that after December 13, 2023, the world will see the Strip differently. If Las Vegas history is defined by eras, Fontainebleau Las Vegas is when the new chapter begins.”

Soffer agrees.

“Las Vegas has grown into a global destination city in terms of luxury travel, entertainment, culinary, sports and more,” explains the chairman. “This is where Fontainebleau Las Vegas comes in. The Fontainebleau brand itself has been a leader and trendsetter in luxury hospitality for nearly 70 years. Our legacy sets us apart and appeals to the tastemakers traveling to Las Vegas in search of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

“They come to Las Vegas for these iconic events, and we will provide them with a luxury experience to supplement their stay and make their trip unforgettable.”

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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