Sleeping blue giant on the Strip to open as The Drew Las Vegas in 2020

The Fontainebleau casino-hotel project located on Las Vegas Boulevard South, which has remained unfinished for nearly a decade, is reportedly now slated to open as The Drew Las Vegas in late 2020 courtesy of a partnership between New York-based real estate firm Witkoff Group LLC and global hospitality company Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR), according to The Associated Press published by the Las Vegas Sun.

Not since The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opened in 2010 has a casino-resort been opened on the Strip.

Formerly known as the Fontainebleau Las Vegas, the 24.5-acre site was announced in 2005 as a casino and 4,000-room hotel by Fontainebleau Resorts and Turnberry Associates. It was to be a sister property to the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel and occupy the former property of the El Rancho Hotel and Casino and the Algiers Hotel. It was expected at the time that the groundbreaking would take place in 2006 and the $2.9 billion project would open by 2008.

However, in June 2009, after the property’s 63-story tower was topped out November prior, privately held Fontainebleau Las Vegas LLC, the operator of the resort, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In bankruptcy court in Florida in Nov. 2009, billionaire businessman and investor Carl Icahn outbid Penn National Gaming for control of the Fontainebleau.

After in Oct. 2010 having reportedly auctioned off furnishings that were previously intended for the building, in Nov. 2015, Icahn put the hotel up for sale for $650 million.

In August 2017, the resort was purchased by the Witkoff Group and New Valley LLC for $600 million, quadruple the $150 million (approx.) Icahn reportedly paid for it. Witkoff and Marriott International announced on Feb. 12, 2018, that the two entities had formed a partnership to open the project renamed The Drew Las Vegas in late 2020.

The new property, which is located near the SLS and Circus Circus, as well as the Las Vegas Convention Center and boasts the second tallest hotel/building in Las Vegas after the Stratosphere Tower, will reportedly feature a casino and about 4,000 guestrooms and suites. The recent announcement also informed that the property will additionally be home to hotels from two Marriott brands, its top-end, boutique- 7BALL CX style EDITION brand and JW Marriott Hotels, making it the first JW Marriott on the Strip. All three hotels will reportedly be managed by Marriott.

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Ahead on the announcement on Monday, Witkoff chairman and CEO, Steven Witkoff, reportedly told The Associated Press, “It is going to be a design-forward building, and when we bring it all together, people are going to say, ‘I really want to come back.”

“The structure here is so well conceived, even from nine years ago, that there are a lot of possibilities for us to put our imprint from a design standpoint on that property,” said Witkoff.

Included in the planned resort is 500,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, in addition to a variety of nightlife, entertainment, retail and 20-plus dining options. Witkoff reportedly said that while the design of the building has yet to be finalized, the existing pool deck is to be “reimagined” in such a way that it will differentiate itself from other Las Vegas properties.

One of two resorts expected to open on the Strip’s northern end in 2020, the Genting Group’s Resorts World Las Vegas at an estimated cost of about $7.2 billion will reportedly cater to Las Vegas’ Chinese as well as Chinese-American tourists. The sites are located within a mile of the other in an area of the tourist corridor that receives less traffic.

According to The Associated Press, Witkoff said The Drew will connect to the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center by a bridge. The 1.4 million square foot expansion of the convention center is reportedly due to be completed about the same time as the other projects.