Fontainebleau Las Vegas Finally Gets a Wrap

The abandoned Fontainebleau Las Vegas is a pig that’s finally getting some lipstick.

After years of prodding by Las Vegas officials, the bajillionaire owner of Fontainebleau, Carl Icahn, has dispached crews to install a wrap intended to make the second tallest building in Las Vegas less of an eyesore.

Fontainebleau wrap

Our apologies to pigs.

While “Fontainebleau” is a French word (the name was inspired by a French castle), pronounced “fonten-blo,” the brand is pronounced “fountain blue” in America.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas sits across Las Vegas Boulevard from Circus Circus. You sort of can’t miss it.

The site was formerly home to the El Rancho casino, and before that the Thunderbird and Silverbird. Ever since Fontainebleau’s plug was pulled in 2009 due to bankruptcy, you might say it’s been giving us all the bird.

The structure looms large on The Strip, and was to have 3,875 hotel rooms and condo units, as well as a whopping 24 restaurants and lounges.

The mind reels at what might have been.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas wrap

Fun fact: You can get a taste of what might have been at downtown’s Plaza hotel. Plaza acquired much of the furnishings in its rooms as Fontainebleau was selling off its assets.

Fontainebleau was about 70 percent complete when construction was halted, and it’s estimated $2 billion was sunk into the building.

Carl Icahn swooped in to buy the Fontainebleau in November 2010.

While there have been repeated rumors about potential buyers for Fontainebleau Las Vegas, nothing concrete has materialized. Rumors of a sale have intensified lately, mainly because we’ve been intensifying them. Word has it there’s renewed interest in Fontainebleau thanks to signs of progress at the nearby Resorts World.

Fontainebleau wrap

Fontainebleau was going to have 48 elevators, several of which may have even worked. It’s Las Vegas.

From what we hear, finding a buyer for Fontainebleau hasn’t been the crux of the problem. The real issue is the buyer must not only have the assets to acquire the project, but must also have the resources to finish it.

In June 2016, the asking price for Fontainebleau was $650 million.

It’s been estimated completing the Fontainebleau project (or whatever the new owners would call it) would run in the ballpark of $1.2 billion.

In the meantime, Las Vegas officials (Clark County officials, technically) have badgered Carl Icahn into spending about $500,000 to wrap some of the exposed sections on the west and south sides of Fontainebleau.

Installation of the wrap commenced on July 25, 2017. We’ll keep an eye on the place as the installation progresses.

This isn’t the first time a Las Vegas hotel has used a wrap to disguise unfinished construction. Most Las Vegas visitors breeze right by the stalled St. Regis Residences at the Venetian. Take a look.

St. Regis Residences at Venetian

This wrap at Venetian disguising unfinished construction illustrates things in Sin City aren’t always as they appear. Just ask Frank Marino.

It’s great to see Fontainebleau Las Vegas gussied up a bit, and not just because we’re a fan of gussying. Seriously, when was the last time you gussied something? We blame it on Millennials. Or possibly social media. Or possibly immigrants, who, we don’t have to tell you, are taking all our good gussying.

While wrapping the lower part of Fontainebleau is a welcome revulsion abatement strategy, we’re hoping rumors of an impending sale turn out to be based in fact.

Like the fact the Fontainebleau would’ve had 6,012 parking spaces, or about 2.5 times the number planned for the 65,000-seat Raiders stadium coming to Las Vegas.

Don’t get us started.

Update (7/26/17): Overnight, additional panels were added to the west side of Fontainebleau.

Fontainebleau wrap

You’d think we have better things to do than monitor Fontainebleau’s wrap. You’d think.

17 thoughts on “Fontainebleau Las Vegas Finally Gets a Wrap

  1. Photoncounter

    Tough case to argue if anyone wants to finish it and open it up as a mega resort/casino. If there was a demand resorts world would have been finished now and there’d be tower cranes up and down the strip. The heady times of the early 2000’s might never come back.

  2. LasVegasJunkie

    The company I work for was subcontracted to manufacture and install PVC linings for grease pits at Fontainbleau back in 2007-2008. When they filed for BK all general contractors and subcontractors were paid pennies on the dollar. When I went to ConExpo 2011 our demo area was right in front of the Clarion Hotel , formerly the Debbie Reynolds’ Hollywood Hotel and Greek Isles Hotel, which is directly south of the Fontainbleau. The footprint of that building is gargantuan!
    Before the El Rancho was demolished to make way for Fontainbleau it sat vacant and abandoned for years… I still remember my cousin and I breaking into the empty El Rancho on our way to Circus Circus from the then Las Vegas Hilton [now Westgate]. I can still remember walking into the dark lobby with slots machines, mattresses, and TV all over the place. I wish camera phones were around back then. Wouldve loved to document that experience.

    1. Scott Johnson

      I remember reading about how the closed El Rancho had functioning slot machines and guest rooms that looked ready to be slept in, but a kitchen that had a collapsing ceiling. Made me wonder if there was some secret mob activity going on there.

      1. RustyHammer

        Amazing stories…. in this day and age video of that sort of site would be on Youtube in a heartbeat.

        Oh yeah, Pizza Cock is the best casserole in Vegas. Allegedly.

  3. Kevin Rackley

    Downtown Grand was another beneficiary of Fontainebleu’s demise, in terms of room furnishings.

  4. Rooster

    The very fact Icahn is spending the millions to cover this speaks volumes about his belief it will sell in the near future.

    1. FYMYAWF

      Or…does it mean a sale ISN’T close? Why would you spend $500K of your own money to slap lipstick on a pig (that’s been a pig for nearly 10 years) if you were about to flip it? Why now?

        1. Bouldersteve

          I hope your right but it may have been negotiated with the city. when this development was approved certain street upgrades were required.They may had done a trade off with the lipstick.

  5. Bouldersteve

    If a sale was in the works I doubt Icahn would spend the money for the lipstick.Its a better wrap than I expected. Thought it be like the Harmon just cheap plastic wrap

  6. Bouldersteve

    Tough sell. Be interesting to see how long Icahn keeps it. Lot of billionaires his age start liquidating their assets to avoid the estate taxes. But why should he care he will be DEAD!

  7. Manybar Goatfish

    Wrapping a shell on the scale of Fontainebleau Las Vegas is the best theme twist ever staged. Imagine the genius behind the concept of emulating a China ‘Ghost City’ using the second tallest structure in Las Vegas as the principal object of the theme. Who knew the dimensions of Icahn’s virtuosity before this hand was played?

  8. William Wingo

    Even if it were sold, it would take a long time and a lot of money just to do the engineering assessments to prepare to finish it off; then more time and more m/billions to actually finish it, furnish it, and open it. Then, if the SLS experience is any indication, it would be many more years before it returned a dime–if ever. They’ll probably have parking fees, resort fees, comped drink meters on the video poker machines, and 6-5 Blackjack with continuous shufflers.

    I’ve also heard that the guest rooms are considered too small by modern standards, and any new owner would be better off just imploding it and starting over. Mr. Icahn has had this option for years now, and hasn’t seen fit to do it. Of course, perhaps I’m being unduly pessimistic…

    At least in the meantime we’ll have a tasteful wrap to look at.


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