Excitement is in the air as Las Vegas prepares to welcome a strong lineup of new hotels in the near future.
It’s safe to say Las Vegas has left the economic slump behind. We’re seeing a boom in tourism and new developments, including the Park MGM resort, T-Mobile Arena, and the currently under-construction Raiders stadium. Visitors are coming to town by the millions and they’re going to need a place to stay. So check out these new properties that will begin taking reservations in the next year or two.
Upcoming Las Vegas Hotels
SLS reverts to being the Sahara
Something old is new again. After being rebranded the SLS and undergoing a renovation in 2014, the North Strip property is returning to its old name of the Sahara. The decision was made after the resort was sold to the Meruelo Group, which successfully transformed the property once known as the MGM Grand in Reno to the impressive Grand Sierra Resort. Founder Alex Meruelo is committing $100 million to the project, which has already revealed upgraded hotel rooms and casino space. Expect a revamped restaurant, entertainment, and nightlife lineup to be announced before the name change takes effect in Fall 2019. Recent additions include Uno Mas Street Tacos, Casbar Lounge and the pending arrival of a new high limit gaming room.
Circa to Redefine the Image of Fremont Street
Set to open in late 2020, Circa will be the first Downtown resort built from the ground-up since 1980 and the tallest tower north of the Strip. Developers Derek and Greg Stevens (who also own and operate The D, Golden Gate, and the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center) are opening the project on the far west end of the Fremont Street Experience. As the name suggests, Circa will tip its hat to Vegas history while looking to the future with the latest technology and amenities. A two-level stadium-style sportsbook will have a massive video screen and an in-house broadcasting studio. Another large video wall will be found outdoors at the rooftop pool complex. The parking garage, on the other side of Main Street, will be connected by a pedestrian bridge and built with ride-sharing integration in mind. The classic “Vegas Vickie” marquee, formerly outside the now-closed Girls of Glitter Gulch strip club, will return in the hotel lobby. In the middle of all this will be 777 rooms and suites, designed to be the most luxurious in Downtown.
Downtown Grand to Dramatically Expand
In another sign the Fremont Street area is growing and thriving, the Downtown Grand will expand its imprint with a new 250,000-square-foot hotel tower. The addition will dramatically reshape the property’s main entrance and bring nearly 500 new contemporary-style rooms to seven floors. Among them will be three luxury-focused presidential suites. The new tower will also connect directly to the Citrus rooftop pool. It’s set to open in mid-2020.
Hard Rock to Become a Virgin Hotel
After buying the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, billionaire businessman Richard Branson is remodeling the property as the first Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas. Branson said he plans to spend millions on the rebranding while keeping the hotel’s party-hard image intact. The most obvious change — the famous giant neon guitar out front will be replaced with a “V.” The property is closing for four months in 2019 as the new designs take shape. Expect a new lounge, nightclub and restaurant lineup to emerge, although it’s possible current favorites like MB Steak could stick around.
Fontainebleau to Finally Open as The Drew
The 63-story Fontainebleau has long been the most glaring eyesore on the Strip. The hotel was nearly finished when the Great Recession put a halt to its grand opening — and fell into bankruptcy in 2009. The property was short sold twice before landing in the hands of Steve Witkoff in 2017. The New York investor is teaming up with Marriott International to rename the 4,000-room tower The Drew in honor of his late son. Renewed work on the property got underway in early 2018 with plans to open in 2020, although that date was pushed back to 2022, possibly due in part to smoke damage from an arson incident in 2018. When it’s all said and done, The Drew will include a 500,000-square-foot convention center and incorporate Marriot’s next-generation brand Edition.
Resort World Slowly Moves Along
It’s “Wait-and-See” for Wynn West
Although the Wynn is one of the most successful properties on the Strip, the resort, which includes the twin Encore tower, has faced a few recent struggles. CEO Steve Wynn stepped down in the wake of a #MeToo scandal and plans for a new massive lagoon to replace the golf course were dramatically downgraded. Moving forward, the golf course will return, a new convention center will be built and more hotel rooms are being added. That includes Wynn West, a new tower on the west side of the Strip that will be connected by an overpass pedestrian bridge. Originally, Steve Wynn planned to “move quickly” on the project, although the current leadership team appears to be taking a more reserved and cautious approach. Wynn bought the land from Australian billionaire James Packer. The parcel was formerly planned for the Alon casino and resort near the Trump International Hotel and Fashion Show Mall.
When the Lucky Dragon opened in late 2016, it was the first major Vegas resort built from the ground up since the Cosmopolitan in 2011. It was heavily promoted to the growing Asian tourism market, but the North Strip location turned out to be a problem, generating little traffic and interest. The resort closed only a year after opening and now sits empty. The above video shows Lavish Vegas checking out the Lucky Dragon when it first opened.
The Clarion Hotel and Casino, formerly known as the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel and Greek Isles Hotel & Casino, was imploded in 2015. A new owner envisioned the construction of a new 60-story hotel in its place but so far, plans have yet to take shape. The site sits empty and is used for temporary event parking at the nearby Las Vegas Convention Center.
It’s hard to call the Riviera a “failure,” since it managed to stick around for 60 years. But hotels don’t age well on the Strip. Vegas is always looking for the hot new thing and the Riviera was imploded in 2016 after being bought by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The location is empty space at the moment but will play a role in the dramatic expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center to the edge of the Strip.