Development of hotels and attractions in Las Vegas is picking up after years of near stagnation due to the struggling economy, which is now showing signs of recovery. If that recovery can be measured in terms of visitor numbers, it has been a steady climb, with a record 39.7 million visitors to the destination, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. That’s up 2.1 percent over 2011 and surpassing the previous record of just under 39.2 million in 2007.
Hotel occupancy rates and average daily rates (ADR) also have been steadily climbing, with a citywide occupancy rate of 84.4 percent last year, a slight increase of 0.6 percent over 2011. Among hotels in particular (as opposed to motels), last year’s average occupancy rate was 87.4 percent, a 0.4 percent increase over 2011. The citywide ADR for 2012 was $108.08, up 2.8 percent from 2011.
While the economy was stagnating, development in Las Vegas slowed but did not stop, as hotel companies put new projects on hold and instead renovated and rebranded existing properties. The city is now seeing new hotels and attractions being developed by existing hotel companies as well as by independent developers and the City of Las Vegas. Among the recent and upcoming developments:
Malaysia-based Genting Group bought what was once the Echelon development, a hotel, dining and entertainment complex, from Boyd Gaming. Construction on Echelon was under way when it ceased a few years ago. Last month Genting announced it is developing a multibillion-dollar, Asian-themed resort complex called Resorts World on the former Echelon site. The 87-acre site will include 3,500 hotel rooms, luxury dining and shopping, and a 500,000 square feet of convention space. Also planned are a replica of the Great Wall of China and more than 300,000 feet of pool and water features. Resorts World is slated to open in 2016.
MGM Resorts International and AEG have announced plans for a 20,000-seat arena to be located west of the Las Vegas Strip between New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts. MGM Resorts also is rebranding THEhotel at Mandalay Bay as the Delano Las Vegas, which will open in early 2014. Meanwhile, the company has been renovating several of its properties, including Mandalay Bay, the MGM Grand, The Mirage and Bellagio. MGM Resorts will spend more than $300 million in new capital investments to its Las Vegas resorts in 2013. When combined with its partners' investments, it anticipates the investment to be more than $450 million.
Caesars Entertainment is transforming Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon into an upscale, boutique resort and casino called the Ganesvoort. The $185 million transformation is a collaboration with New York-based luxury hotel brand Gansevoort Hotel Group and nightlife promoter Victor Drai. It will feature a 65,000-square-foot, indoor/outdoor Drai’s Beach Club and Nightclub. The hotel is scheduled to open in early 2014.
Caesars also is developing a dining, shopping and entertainment district called The Linq, which costs more than $500 million and will feature the world’s largest observation wheel, the 550-foot-high Las Vegas High Roller. In addition, the company has been developing major projects at its other properties, including the recent opening of the Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace and renovations at The Quad, formerly the Imperial Palace.
In February, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority unveiled plans for the Las Vegas Global Business District, which consists of a major renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center and development of the surrounding area. The preliminary cost for the project, which will be completed in phases, is $2.5 billion. The convention center renovation will leverage the World Trade Center designation. The project also includes a centralized transportation hub.
In addition to these projects, several resorts are rebranding and refurbishing their properties. These include the Sahara, which is undergoing a transformation and will reopen as the SLS Las Vegas in 2014. Downtown, the Lady Luck will reopen as the Downtown Grand later this year. Properties that have recently completed renovations include The Venetian, the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, the Golden Gate, The Palms, The D Las Vegas (formerly Fitzgerald’s), the Riviera, the New Tropicana Las Vegas and the Four Seasons Las Vegas.
In addition, McCarran International Airport recently completed the $2.4 billion Terminal 3 international terminal. Downtown, recently completed attractions include the $470 million Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the $42 million Mob Museum and the $3 million renovation and opening of the Neon Museum.