Category Archives: Las Vegas Hotels

Lucky Dragon Closure Shakes Loose SLS Las Vegas Sale

As we’ve reported on the Twitters, the sale of SLS Las Vegas to its announced buyer, Alex Meruelo and his Meruelo Group, recently seemed very much stalled.

Now, all that’s changed.

A source with knowledge of the SLS sale says news of the closure of Lucky Dragon’s casino and restaurants caused an immediate change of course in the negotiations, with the seller (Stockbridge Capital Partners) suddenly highly motivated to meet Meruelo’s demands and seal the deal.

It’s expected Meruelo Group will take over SLS Las Vegas in late Feb. 2018.

SLS 3-D legs

Let’s hope Meruelo Group got this awesome video display as part of the deal.

It seems Alex Meruelo is a non-nonsense negotiator, and once he and his team got into the specifics of the physical condition of SLS and its finances, they pushed for more favorable terms for the sale.

Initially, Stockbridge dug in, and Meruelo’s team pulled the plug on scheduled meetings, bringing the negotiations to a screeching halt.

Out of the sad news Lucky Dragon would close its casino came a renewed interest in pushing forward with the sale. Essentially, Stockbridge caved. (Don’t expect to see the word “caved” in the news release.)

While no sale price has been floated, we suspect Alex Meruelo got a solid value, and he’ll have ample resources to give the resort (formerly the Sahara) an overhaul, including a rebrand.

SLS Las Vegas

Curious what these SLS monkey vests will go for on eBay.

We trust the deal will include a happy ending for 60 Chinese investors who recently filed a lawsuit because SLS Las Vegas has never made a profit. (The casino has consistently made about 50% of original estimates. Translation: Welcome to the Big Hurt.)

At the time of the lawsuit, Stockbridge said it didn’t think the lawsuit would deter the sale, and they were apparently correct.

SLS chandelier

If there’s a garage sale, dibs on this SLS chandelier made from the Sahara’s door handles.

According to insiders, the ownership transition is likely to involve another personnel “purge.”

Another fascinating element of this sale is how it plays into the boom taking place on the north end of The Strip, a burst of activity that includes the start of construction of Wynn Paradise Park, actual progress at Resorts World, the sale of Fontainebleau and the Alon site, an approved Las Vegas Convention Center expansion and another development about to get a boost.

We hear project next door to SLS, All Net Resort and Arena, is going to get a surprising new (wait for it) cheerleader: Alex Meruelo.

All Net Arena

All Net Arena’s ample supply of nothing could turn out to be a good deal of something.

Meruelo is expected to be a vocal proponent of All Net Resort and Arena, as it could become a draw along the lines of T-Mobile Arena, including the potential of housing (wait for it) an NBA team.

The tide is rising on the north Strip, and nobody wants to be the guy in a dingy. Or something.

Here’s us talking about all this on KLAS, because you can never have too much us.

While we feel for the employees of Lucky Dragon (they were informed of their termination when they showed up for work on the morning of Jan. 4, 2018), the demise of the Asian-themed casino has sparked intriguing new possibilities in a success-challenged neighborhood.

Expect more news about the sale of SLS Las Vegas through official (yawn) channels soon.

Update (1/7/17): On the heels of our story, Meruelo Group is now featuring SLS Las Vegas on its Web site.

Meruelo Group SLS


More to come!

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Lucky Dragon Abruptly Closes Casino and Restaurants

The struggling Lucky Dragon resort has closed its casino and restaurants.

We were the first to report Lucky Dragon was recently put up for sale, and while the resort’s hotel continues to take reservations, entrances to the casino have “Casino Temporarily Closed” signs.

Lucky Dragon closed

“Temporarily” sounds a little optimistic at this point.

Lucky Dragon’s casino and restaurants closed on Jan. 4, 2018.

Lucky Dragon has had a tumultuous history, including ongoing questions about whether the Asian-themed, boutique resort would be financed or completed.

Lucky Dragon

Even a massive dragon couldn’t change Lucky Dragon’s fortune.

Lucky Dragon officially opened Dec. 3, 2016, thanks in great part to EB-5 financing. With EB-5 financing, investors (typically from Asia) contribute funds to projects and get green cards in return. In the case of Lucky Dragon, those investors will henceforth be referred to as “the monumentally screwed.”

Here’s a statement from Lucky Dragon.

Lucky Dragon closed

Every time a Las Vegas casino closes, an showgirl loses her tassels.

Optimism for the win!

Despite a strong opening, Lucky Dragon failed to attract its intended customers (including snagging local Asian customers who frequent casinos like Gold Coast and Palace Station), and has made a number of changes to its restaurant offerings.

Lucky Dragon

Normally, this would provide some consolition, but not so much.

Lucky Dragon’s challenging location, on Sahara, just off The Strip, near the Bonanza Gift Shop and SLS Las Vegas, made the resort an long shot, but sometimes in Vegas those pay off.

A Lucky Dragon insider says wild swings in baccarat were major factor in the closure of the casino. Whales (however few) would win big, then leave for bigger resorts on The Strip with more amenities. Casinos obviously rely on guests staying on-site for a chance to win some back.

Lucky Dragon

Remember, Las Vegas was built on miracles. We hope that’s what the future holds for Lucky Dragon.

We were rooting for Lucky Dragon, but haven’t visited in some time, despite the great rooms (we were quoted a rate of $45 for early February), welcoming casino and top-notch (although limited) cuisine.

We’ve heard Lucky Dragon would need at least $90 million from a buyer to cover its first and second (EB-5) tier investors.

It’s unknown what’s next for Lucky Dragon, but here’s hoping employees find other options as the resort tries to change its luck.

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Wynn Resorts Confirms Purchase of Alon Site

Wynn Resorts has officially confirmed it will buy the former Alon project site, and it’s a pretty big deal.

Wynn Resorts said the purchase, which includes the acquisition of 38 acres of prime real estate on the Las Vegas Strip, cost $336 million.

Fun fact: El Ad Properties paid $1.2 billion (yes, with a “b”) for the land in 2007 from bajillionaire Phil Ruffin, owner of Treasure Island.

The asking price for the Alon site was $400 million.

Alon Las Vegas

It’s not much to look at, but wait and see what Steve Wynn has in store.

We’d like to set aside this sentence for some self-panegyrizing, as we were the first to report Wynn’s purchase of the Alon site back on Dec. 6, 2017. And, no, we were not aware “panegyrizing” was a word until 12 seconds ago.

A release issue by Wynn Resorts contained a number of tasty nuggets: “The agreement completes a unique assembly of contiguous real estate of approximately 280 acres that spans from the Las Vegas Convention Center on Paradise Road from the east, to Industrial Road on the west. The combined frontage on the Las Vegas Strip is over 3,500 feet, including rights to approximately 1,000 acre feet of water. It is adjacent to nearly six million square feet of convention and exhibition space. The average cost of the full assembly of 280 acres is less than $3 million per acre.”

The most intriguing part of the news release, of course, alluded to future plans for the Alon site (before that abandoned project, it was the site of the New Frontier casino).

Wynn funny chip

The Wynn empire just expanded. Again.

The release boldly states: “The future development of the land will further change tourist visitation patterns in Las Vegas drawing more visitors to the north end of Las Vegas Blvd. and its collection of luxury resorts, including the existing Wynn Las Vegas and the Paradise Park development slated to begin construction in January 2018 on the site of the former Wynn Golf Course.”

That Steve Wynn is quite a tease.

The Wynn Resorts purchase isn’t completely straightforward. Wynn is buying 18.4 acres from its previous owner, Crown. It’s renting another 16.2 acres from the Elardi family (they were leasing it to Crown). A small piece of the Alon land is being sold by Phil Ruffin, owner of TI.

The purchase of the Alon site is yet another sign the north end of The Strip is experiencing a boom. Check out everything new along that stretch of the world’s sexiest boulevard.

We’re talking about Las Vegas Boulevard. Please try and keep up.

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Resorts World Project Shows Long-Awaited Progress

It’s time to check in on the long-awaited Resorts World project.

Watching the construction activity at Resorts World is akin to watching paint dry, but lately, there’s quite a bit more paint. Or something.

Resorts World

The sloth is Resorts World’s spirit animal.

We got a little excited when we spotted a couple of cranes on the site, but now there are several, so we’re optimistic there’s some momentum building.

Resorts World

And not just cranes. Other stuff, like crane parts.

During our recent visit to the Resorts World site, we spotted actual construction dudes doing construction things.

We saw perhaps a dozen construction workers. A resort this size would typically employ hundreds of workers, so things are still moving at a modest pace.

The president of Resorts World Las Vegas has said 1,000 construction workers will be on the site “by 2018.”

Resorts World

You go, construction dudes. Yes, they’re dudes. We can’t solve all of society’s injustices. We are just a blog.

Resorts World sits on the site of the abandoned Echelon project, which was supposed to take the place of our beloved Stardust.

Resorts World

Much of the work that’s been done at Resorts World has been behind-the-scenes, and that’s the story they’re sticking to.

Resorts World will be an Asian-themed resort, and while the anticipated opening date has been a moving target so far, executives say the hotel-casino will open in 2020.

Update (12/16/17): Look at all the cranes!

Resorts World cranes

It appears Resorts World is officially, undeniably a thing.

Let’s look around the Resorts World site.

Resorts World Update: Legit Cranes

[img src=]2250
[img src=]2080
[img src=]2100
[img src=]1900
[img src=]1870
[img src=]1820
[img src=]1750
[img src=]1660
[img src=]1630
[img src=]1510
[img src=]1450
[img src=]1780
[img src=]1530
[img src=]1410
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Hyatt Acquiring Land for Hotel Near New Raiders Stadium

It’s hard to get too excited about a Las Vegas hotel without a casino, but we’re sharing, anyway.

According to a source close to the deal, Hyatt Hotels Corp. has purchased a plot of land for a new hotel in a primo spot near the airport and new Raiders stadium.

The land is sandwiched between Mandalay Bay, the Bali Hai Golf Club and I-15 freeway, not far from the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

Hyatt land Las Vegas

The giant red arrow was not included in the sale.

Not many specifics are known about the project at this point, but the new hotel will have to keep a low profile due to the proximity to McCarran International Airport.

In anticipation of the arrival of the Raiders stadium, lots of real estate and development deals are in the works nearby.

Another hotbed of activity is in Henderson, where we first reported the Raiders will have its training facility.

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10 Reasons the North Las Vegas Strip is About to Explode

The struggle is real on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

SLS Las Vegas, formerly the Sahara Hotel and Casino, has struggled. Lucky Dragon has struggled. All Net Resort and Arena, Resorts World and Fontainebleau Resort have all served as symbols of the struggle.

SLS Las Vegas

Ownership of SLS is just one of the big changes coming to the north Strip, so bid farewell to this goofball.

But all that, all of it, is about to change. In recent months, there have been numerous signs the north end of The Strip is about to explode. Here’s a quick look at what’s already happening and what’s on the not-too-distant horizon.

1. Resorts World is Alive

The long-delayed Asian-themed resort has had more construction activity in the last month than in the previous year, and word is Resorts World is shifting into full-blown construction mode. The company has awarded $400 million in contracts and new cranes are popping up on the site with each passing week. The wait is finally over, and the construction of Resorts World is shaking loose other dormant projects on the north Strip, too.

Resorts World

This is the start of something big at Resorts World. This photo was taken on Nov. 28, 2017.

2. All Net Resort and Arena is Funded

We honestly thought we’d never see those words in that order, but “All Net Resort and Arena is funded.” Many thought this resort, which will be located between Fontainebleau and SLS, was a pipe dream. Well, dreams come true, and insiders insist this is that. All Net Resort recently applied to increase the size of its hotel tower, and we’ve even heard additional financing (by Credit Suisse, no less) is in place to acquire (wait for it) an NBA team. While having an NBA team is far from a done deal (MGM Resorts, which recently purchased a WNBA team, may have something to say about that), the Vegas Golden Knights have broken the dam for those who questioned if pro sports can be a thing in Las Vegas.

All Net Arena

We’ve been skeptical about All Net Resort, too, but watch what happens.

3. Fontainebleau is Sold

We broke the story, so you know it’s a big deal. The abandoned structure was sold for $600 million to buyers Witkoff and New Valley. While the buyers are in an assessment mode at the moment, we hear they’re actively lining up a hotel partner (rumored to be Marriott) to manage the resort. Sorry, no casino from what we hear. The upcoming expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center, right next door, pretty much assures this project is moving full steam ahead.

Fontainebleau wrap

The sale of Fontainebleau is a wrap.

4. Las Vegas Convention Center Expanded

The upcoming $1.4 billion (with a “b”) expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center has investors champing at the bit to get in on nearby projects. In November 2017, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved the selection of a design team for the expansion, and the project will add 1.4 million square feet of new space to one of the premiere convention venues in the world. Those 600,000 estimated new Las Vegas visitors need places to fornicate (sorry, sleep) and eat and drink and shop, so the north Strip is about to get a jolt like Sin City has
never witnessed in its history.

Las Vegas Convention Center expansion

No, Cirque du Soleil is not the design firm for the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion. Good guess, though.

5. Wynn Paradise Park Zips Ahead

Casino mogul Steve Wynn’s crowning glory is set to change the Las Vegas landscape, again. Wynn Paradise Park is an expensive, ambitious and somewhat baffling development featuring a lagoon, a 47-story hotel and carnival-themed diversions like bumper cars, a massive carousel, zip lines and nighttime parades with fireworks. Construction begins Jan. 3, 2018, and if anyone can pull off an outlandish concept, it’s Steve Wynn and his team of visionaries.

Here’s the golf course Wynn Paradise Park will be replacing.

6. SLS Las Vegas is Purchased

SLS Las Vegas opened with much fanfare, only to immediately face the realities of a challenging location and an intended customer base that never materialized. Then came news of a sale (we broke that story, too, of course) to Meruelo Group, the folks behind Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. While the sale has recently stalled as details of the deal are hammered out (both sides are dug in, but negotiations continue), a sale is the best chance SLS has of infusing new blood and new ideas (and a new name) into a great resort that could be a big winner in the north Strip turnaround.

SLS 3-D legs

Let’s hope whatever replaces SLS has legs.

7. Stratosphere Changes Hands

The iconic Stratosphere and three other Las Vegas casinos were recently purchased by Golden Entertainment. While this isn’t the flashiest of sales, new ownership inevitably brings new ideas, new capital and new energy to a casino. While Stratosphere sits in a blighted neighborhood, growth and prosperity on the north end of the Strip could change that in a big way and Stratosphere is poised to reap the rewards.

Funny Stratosphere chip

We expect to either get: 1) a box of chocolates from Golden Entertainment or 2) a visit from their lawyers.

8. Lucky Dragon’s Up for Sale

The Lucky Dragon is a quirky, Asian-themed hotel-casino that’s been waiting for fortunes to change on the north Strip. Now, word is out the resort is up for sale, and while there hasn’t been a flood of interest to-date, that’s likely to change as things pick up in the vicinity.

Lucky Dragon

One of the few resorts in Las Vegas that comes with its own dragon.

9. MGM Resorts Festival Grounds to Get New Life

While the clusterful Rock in Rio USA music festival was a financial disaster (it won’t be back), the site is primed to be an in-demand outdoor concert space at the intersection of Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard. We’ve already heard MGM Resorts has nabbed an expansion of the San Diego-based Kaaboo Music Festival, and other new events seem inevitable. More visitors means more hotel occupancy, more room revenue means more investment and newness. Good times lie ahead on the north Strip, mark our words.

MGM Resorts Festival Grounds

This site is going to make beautiful music again in the very near future.

10. Alon Site Up for Grabs

The Alon (pronounced AY-lawn) resort project folded because it never got its promised financing (the announcement of Wynn Paradise Park was the nail in the project’s coffin), but the 35 acres of prime real estate are up for sale for $400 million. Expect the explosion of growth on the north Strip to spark a sale, and if all goes well, a new casino resort will spring up on the former New Frontier site.

Update (12/6/17): We’re hearing Wynn Resorts has purchased the Alon site, development is likely.

Update (12/14/17: Confirmed.

Update (1/22/18): During an earnings call, Wynn Resorts confirmed it will build Wynn West on the Alon site.

Alon Las Vegas

We spend far too much time taking photos of empty lots. Well, the Alon site won’t be empty a lot longer.

Bonus: Sands Concert Venue in the Works

Some might not consider this planned venue part of the north Strip (it will sit behind Venetian, Palazzo and the Sands Expo Convention Center), but its scope is big enough to tip The Strip in that direction. Las Vegas Sands and Madison Square Garden are partnering to build a concert arena with a capacity of 18,500. It’s being described as the “world’s largest venue built specifically for concerts and live entertainment.” Construction starts in June 2018 with an eye toward completion in 2020. More things to do. More money. More OMG.

Sands music venue

Behold the future site of another huge new in Las Vegas.

You can call it “critical mass” or a “tipping point,” but there’s no denying the north end of the Strip is about to experience an unprecedented boom, and that irreversible momentum is destined to transform Las Vegas forever.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you agree with us.

Update: Here we are on the news talking about progress on the north Strip.

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