Category Archives: Las Vegas Hotels

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas Operations Sold to MGM Resorts

Rumors of a Cosmopolitan sale have finally come to fruition.

The popular Strip resort has been purchased by MGM Resorts, although it’s complicated.

MGM Resorts is buying the business operations of Cosmopolitan from owner Blackstone for $1.625 billion.

Chandelier Bar Cosmo

Cosmo is not your grandpa’s sawdust joint.

MGM Resorts will basically become a tenant, as has been the trend for the company recently. They refer to it as an “asset light” strategy.

MGM Resorts will have a 30-year lease agreement, with three 10-year renewal options.

MGM Resorts will pay an initial rent of $200 million, although they’ll get a discount if they clean the fridge and leave the carpets in good shape when they’re done.

While MGM Resorts will operate Cosmopolitan, it won’t own the real estate assets.

Stonepeak Partners, Cherng Family Trust (the folks behind Panda Express) and Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust will acquire the real estate for more than $4 billion.

That puts the total sale price of Cosmopolitan at $5.65 billion, although most of that is just moving things from one Blackstone ledger column to another. That hasn’t kept Blackstone from touting this as the most profitable deal, ever, for a single asset.

For finance nerds, the purchase price represents a multiple of about eight times adjusted EBITDA, “inclusive of expected operational synergies and identified revenue growth opportunities.”

Note: Whenever we hear the word “synergies,” we recommend employees gird their loins out of an abundance of caution.

Cosmopolitan

Circa was built from scratch for $1.2 billion. MGM Resorts is paying $1.6 billion and doesn’t own Cosmo. Interesting times.

The news release about the sale of Cosmo’s operations included a fun fact: Prior to the pandemic shitshow, in the 12 months ended Feb. 29, 2020, Cosmo generated $959 million in net revenue and $316 million of adjusted EBITDAR (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and who are we kidding, you glossed over several paragraphs ago).

That’s a far cry from the “bleeding money” Cosmopolitan experienced when it first opened.

Much of the credit of turning Cosmo around must go to the resort’s President and CEO Bill McBeath.

McBeath reportedly has ownership points in Cosmopolitan, so the sale of its operations to MGM Resorts is going to result in what’s known in financial industry circles as “a metric ass-ton of money” for the industry veteran. Estimates are $75-100 million.

Don’t let Bill McBeath’s calm demeanor fool you. Inside, jumping for joy, windfallwise.

The Cosmopolitan deal is expected to close in the first half of 2022.

The sale of Cosmo has been in the works for some time, and the company was looking for a buyer to pony up a whopping $5 billion for the resort.

Nobody really thought they’d get that asking price. Instead, they get a nice chunk of cash and a hefty rent check each year.

It’s all sunshine and roses if business continues to track at its current levels. Prior to the pandemic, Las Vegas tourism numbers were flat. The rent increases whether business does or not, and MGM Resorts has deals like this at pretty much all its Las Vegas casinos.

Cosmopolitan: Just the right amount of “Not moobs, doobs!”

What does the sale of Cosmo’s business operations mean to guests?

First, Cosmo will probably move from its Identity loyalty club to that of MGM Resorts, M Life.

It’s also likely Marriott is out as a hotel partner.

Cosmo will be a prestige product in the MGM Resorts portfolio, a perfect complement to two other snazzy resorts owned or operated by MGM Resorts, Bellagio and Aria.

The purchase of Cosmo’s business operations is an investment in the future of MGM Resorts thanks to the Cosmo’s appeal to an elusive casino customer segment, people younger than 60.

Fingers crossed our favorite things at Cosmopolitan will stick around following the deal. Chandelier Bar. “Opium” and its new sister restaurant, Superfrico. High limit lounge
cookies.

Cosmo has so much eye candy, you might get diabetes.

We’re very excited that in time our M Life Rewards Mastercard will get us free parking at Cosmopolitan.

The era of REITs (real estate investment trusts) and leasebacks is upon us. Opinions vary widely about how such ownership and operating agreements affect the Las Vegas experience.

Our love of Cosmopolitan is deep and abiding, so we don’t really care too much who’s on the paperwork, as long as they don’t muck it up.

Royal Resort Closes and Nobody Notices

An off-Strip hotel, Royal Resort, appears to have closed with little fanfare.

Sorry, zero fanfare.

In fact, pretty much nobody even noticed the hotel closed. An entire hotel. Weird.

Royal Resort Las Vegas

Royal Resort’s demise has been met with what’s referred to in the hospitality industry as a “shrug.”

Following a report Royal Resort (“resort” is used very loosely here) closed, we called and the number’s been disconnected.

We then reached out to the owner of the property, GWP Real Estate. While the company wouldn’t provide any information, we were given a number for the property manager. That number led to a voicemail not accepting messages.

So, while we haven’t been able to get official confirmation, it appears the Royal Resort has passed on, is bereft of life, has kicked the bucket and shuffled off its mortal coil.

Royal Hotel is an ex-hotel.

Royal Resort closed

Dibs on the piano.

Insult to injury, the owners let Royal Hotel’s domain name expire without renewal.

We didn’t visit Royal Resort often, as it didn’t have a casino, but we saw a show or two at its Majestik Theatre.

The space saw its share of niche (low budget) shows, including “Judy’s Musical Matinee,” “Dr. A’s Magic Medicine Show,” “Sinatra Up Close and Personal,” “The Magic of Michael Aslan” and “An Intimate Night With Elvis.”

In 2017, we interviewed cast members of “Majestik Burlesque” for our podcast. They were very nice.

Majestik Burlesque

Possible the best thing to happen at Royal Resort, ever.

The Royal Hotel was home to The Barrymore, a faily well-received restaurant that has definitely permanently closed.

There were big plans for the 230-room Royal Hotel back in 2015, but drama ensued. What might have been.

Royal Resort closed

“Don’t put this on us!” ~Vegas.com

GWP Real Estate owns not only Royal Hotel, but also “the consecutive lots to the east and west of the Royal Hotel, which consist of a 43,470 square foot shopping center on 3.7 acres and and a 306,000 square foot office building on 3.3 acres, for a total of 10.5 acres fronting on South Las Vegas Boulevard.”

GWP’s Web site says there are “plans to develop a future high rise hotel and casino.”

The history of Las Vegas is littered with “plans.”

While the closure of Royal Resort has been met with a collective “meh,” it’s in a pretty good location at 99 Convention Center Drive, in close proximity to the newly-expanded Las Vegas Convention Center.

Royal Resort is also very close to Tacos El Gordo, so there’s that.

We didn’t want the closure of Royal Resort to go completely unnoticed, so there’s a this, a reasonable facsimile of fanfare. You’re welcome.

San Manuel Tribe Firms Up Timeline for Reopening Palms Casino

It was announced back in May 2021 the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will purchase Palms Casino for $650 million.

Yes, we broke the news, but it’s not always about us, probably.

Since then, the tribe’s been relatively quiet about its timeline for reopening the popular off-Strip casino. That’s why you have us.

Unknown bar Palms

Damien Hirst’s shark stays when Palms opens. Much of the remaining art is leased, so is probably out after the lease agreements expire.

We’ve chatted with multiple reliable sources familiar with the purchase of Palms, and a clearer
picture is emerging about when we might expect the resort to come back online.

First up, the sale has to close.

The tentative date for the close of the purchase from Station Casinos is Nov. 15, 2021.

One source said that date is “early, but not impossible.” So, you’re saying there’s a chance.

Should that date hold, licensing would presumably be approved shortly thereafter.

That means a soft opening of mid-January 2022 could very well be doable, best case scenario.

One source said a soft opening is more likely “mid to late Q1.” Which is fancy talk for “Marchish.”

Palms, of course, is pretty much move-in ready given Station Casinos invested in $620 million in renovating the place prior to the decision to sell. It’s expected San Manuel will only have to spend $15 million to get the resort ready to reopen.

In Native American culture, shields represent not just physical protection, but spiritual. Shields also represent good luck for gamblers, a fact which we just made up, but we’ll take all the help we can get.

While this “draft timeline” is fluid, what’s not is the fact a General Manager for Palms should be announced within the next couple of weeks.

This is a an important step in the reopening of Palms, as this individual will then start selecting
executives, with the goal of having a core team in place by Oct. 2021.

Very exciting if you’re anxious to get back to Palms to see what San Manuel brings to the table.

Palms

Fingers crossed they keep the neon.

From what we’ve heard, a high priority will be given to making Palms a place the tribe’s Southern California customers will enjoy.

That translates as “value-driven,” which we love, as it means Palms will again embrace Las Vegas locals as well.

If we were a betting person, we’d take that focus on locals (as well as what we’ve been told) to mean there will be a buffet at Palms. And we are a betting person. In case that weren’t obvious.

AYCE buffet Palms Vegas

The A.Y.C.E. (all you can eat) buffet was solid. Serrano Buffet (San Manuel’s buffet) has a nice ring to it as well.

San Manuel is pretty much guaranteed to steer clear of past missteps at Palms, including trying to compete in the dayclub/nightclub realm.

That said, Ghostbar is likely to be back, as its a strong brand and fans have expressed an interest in its return. Don’t expect big name DJs, however, an expensive mistake made by the previous ownership at the failed Kaos.

At one point, it sounded like most, if not all, of the previous Palms restaurants would be out. Now, we’re hearing San Manuel is having conversations with several of the venues to see if a deal can be struck for a comeback.

We understand Green Street Kitchen and Tim Ho Wan are likely candidates, but no final decision will be made prior to the deal closing.

The Palms food court brands are likely to remain largely the same.

File this under “How to Make a Good First Impression While Attracting Quality Employees.”

Given recent trends, it’s worth noting parking will remain free at Palms.

San Manuel’s draft timeline is subject to change, and the licensing process involves a lot of variables, but chances are good we’ll have Palms back by February of 2022, April at the latest.

Stay tuned for more.

Update (9/22/21): San Manuel named Cynthia Kiser Murphey, former President of New York-New York, General Manager of Palms.

All Eyes On Cosmopolitan As Sale Rumors Heat Up (Again)

We’ve been down this road before, but chatter is heating up about a potential sale of Cosmopolitan.

It’s been a few years since the owner of Cosmopolitan, Blackstone Group, made it known the popular Strip resort was for sale.

Now, we’re told, there’s a buyer and an announcement of a sale could be made as soon as the next couple of weeks.

Chandelier Bar Cosmo

We’d buy Cosmo, but apparently you can’t buy a casino with a marker.

As with any rumor, take this one with a grain of salt, but we’ve heard this from multiple sources, some of whom are inside Cosmo. On staff. Not just standing inside Cosmo, although we enjoy doing that, personally.

If you don’t like rumors, we understand. Please find another, much less interesting, Web site to read.

The big question, should a sale be imminent, is who’s the buyer?

We’ve gotten tips, but nothing too solid. There’s been mention of MGM Resorts, long-rumored to have been circling Cosmopolitan.

Recently, MGM Resorts has been selling off its casinos, so some question whether they’d be looking to purchase one, even a resort as awesome as Cosmopolitan.

A dark hourse in the mix is Penn National Gaming. They recently sold off Tropicana, and the purchase of Cosmo would be a shocker.

Another contender, according to people in the know at Golden Nugget, is the buyer could be bajillionaire owner Tilman Fertitta. Fertitta is coming to town this week, and tongues are wagging internally he could be the one who snags Cosmo.

The Cosmopolitan

Rumors of a Cosmo sale have circulated for years. It’s complicated.

Fertitta has said publicly he’d be interested in buying “a casino or two” on the Las Vegas Strip. Adding to the intrigue is the fact he recently sold his Golden Nugget Online Gaming Inc. for $1.56 billion, so he’s got some cash laying around.

Anyone who buys Cosmopolitan is going to need deep pockets, as the asking price could be in the $4 billion range.

Should a sale come to pass, here’s a little-known fact: Cosmo President Bill McBeath has ownership points, and he stands to make as much as $100 million from a sale.

Casino sales are fluid, and timelines of deals being inked and announced can change, but don’t be surprised if we hear more about a Cosmopolitan sale in the very near future.

Here’s hoping the new owners understand the importance of continuing to provide free cookies in high limit. Yes, that’s a thing again.

Update (9/27/21): Cosmo has confirmed the sale of its business operations (not the real estate assets) to MGM Resorts for $1.625 billion. MGM Resorts will have a 30-year lease agreement, with three 10-year renewal options. MGM Resorts will pay an initial rent of $200 million.

Three Signs Former Fontainebleau Is Making Progress

There’s new life at the long-abandoned Fontainebleau (and The Drew) site.

The hotel has a new name, JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd., and we’ve got some juicy evidence this new resort is actually going to happen.

Fontainebleau wrap

Many have tried, none have succeeded, until now. We said, nervously.

This project has been stalled since 2009 (Fontainebleau was 70 percent finished when
construction was halted), but was recently purchased by Koch Real Estate Investments
(translation: seriously deep pockets) and the Fontainebleau Development Company.

The former owner, Steve Witkoff, who planned to call the hotel The Drew, was never able to pull
together the needed financing.

As we were the first to report, JW Marriott LVB is scheduled to open in Oct. 2023.

While skeptism remains high, we’ve seen some solid signs in recent weeks JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd. is looking more and more like a thing.

1. General Contractor Named

While it hasn’t been officially announced, we’ve been told W.A. Richardson Builders, general
contractor for Resorts World, has been awarded the JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd. construction manager job. This marks a big step in JW Marriott LVB moving forward. Richardson has some serious construction cred in Las Vegas, including being general contractor for Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, The Linq, Cromwell and others.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

We love when cautionary tales have happy endings.

2. Fugly Wrap Removed

While it doesn’t exactly qualify as a beehive of activity, the million-dollar wrap at the former Fontainebleau (installed when the building was owned by Carl Icahn) has been removed. This means the wrap is being replaced, or it’s not needed during construction. Clark County officials instructed the owners to clean the place up, so it’s possible another wrap will be installed until construction ramps up fully. Still, it’s not nothing, and in the case of the doomed Fontainebleau, we’ll take “not nothing” any day of the week.

Big thanks to the Twitter follower who passed along this pic.

3. Power Line Being Installed

An eagle-eyed reader spotted a “Fountain Blue” sign near the JW Marriott LVB site (by Turnberry Towers at Karen Ave. and Joe Brown Drive), so we chatted with the company displayed on the sign. We confirmed it’s a constractor installing an NV Energy power line for JW Marriott LVB. This is big news, infrastructurewise, and it’s a strong indication the project is moving forward.

That’s how it was pronounced, by the way, “fountain blue.”

In addition to these delicious tidbits, there has also been a flurry of new and renewed building permits for the JW Marriott LVB project, clinching our belief we’re going to see the place become a reality, against all odds.

The hope for JW Marriott LVB is conventions will be back to full strength by its 2023 opening, and the hotel’s location will position it perfectly to take advantage of increased investment in drawing more and larger conventions to Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Convention Center, just a lanyard’s throw away from the new JW Marriott LVB, recently completed a $989 million expansion, including a new underground shuttle system from Elon Musk.

JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd. will have more than 3,700 rooms and 500,000-square-feet of meeting space.

The abandoned Fontainebleau project has been an eyesore for years, and a thorn in the side of
local officials, so it’s refreshing to see tangible evidence the JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd. project is moving forward and could finally come to fruition.

Main Street Station Sets Reopening Date: Sep. 8, 2021

A beloved downtown casino, Main Street Station, has been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Finally, plans for reopening Main Street Station, owned by Boyd Gaming, are moving forward.

Main Street Station reopens at 6:00 a.m. on Sep. 8, 2021.

Main Street Station

Main Street Station completes us.

Boyd’s downtown casinos were hit hard during the pandemic, mainly because a good part of their business relies upon visitors from Hawaii.

Hawaii had tight travel restrictions, so Boyd was forced to keep Main Street Station closed until business conditions improved.

The announcement Main Street Station will reopen is a pretty good indication business conditions have improved.

Main Street Station

Today’s thing we will never take for granted again.

Because Main Street Station has been closed, it hasn’t been able to take advantage of an influx of customers visiting its new neighbor, Circa Las Vegas. That’s likely to change now.

Let’s Boar’s Head again!

We have no idea why it’s called Boar’s Head Bar given it’s the entire boar.

Main Street Station is an old-school casino, and is known for its player-friendly games, restaurant values, on-site brewery (Triple 7s Brewery) and the fact you can relieve yourself on a piece of the Berlin Wall in the men’s restroom.

We are not making this up.

Berlin Wall Main Street Station

Take that, Communism!

Some of the collectibles at Main Street Station include street lamps from the town square in Brussels, Belgium; stained glass from Lillian Russell’s (she was huge in the 1890s) mansion; columns from the Windsor Barracks; bronze doors from the Kuwait Royal Bank; chandeliers from the Coca Cola building in Austin, Texas; and a chandelier from the Figaro Opera House in Paris.

Check out the brochure with all the antiques and their locations. Sorry, train nerds, the Blackhawk train car is no longer at Main Street Station. You’ll manage.

One of our favorite hidden treasures at Main Street Station is Winston Churchill’s snooker table. Take the elevator with the “Lift” sign to the second floor.

free things to do in Las Vegas

Not your typical casino attraction.

Main Street Station is quirky AF and we love it.

For more than a year, there’s been a high level of interest in when Main Street Station would reopen. Boyd is hoping that interest translates into renewed interested in this downtown gem.

In some bonus good news, the casino’s popular Garden Court Buffet will return! The “all-you-can-eat experience” will be open daily for brunch (8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) and dinner on Friday and Saturday (4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.).

We are happy to be able to fill your gullet with all this good news.

We’d love to see a splashy reopening celebration to mark the return of Main Street Station. And by “splashy,” of course, we mean us having a two-hour craps roll. Or fireworks or whatever.

We can’t wait to get inside Main Street Station again!