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14 Feb 2018

Marriott and Witkoff to turn unfinished Fontainebleau into integrated resort
BY Tom Walker

A deal to develop the project has been struck between New York-based developer Steve Witkoff and hotel giant Marriott International

A deal to develop the project has been struck between New York-based developer Steve Witkoff and hotel giant Marriott International

The unfinished Fontainebleau resort tower in Las Vegas, US, will finally get a new lease of life, following a deal struck between New York-based developer Steve Witkoff and hotel giant Marriott International.

Witkoff and Marriott have announced plans to turn the Fontainebleau building into an integrated resort, featuring two hotels operated under Marriott’s luxury brands The Edition and JW Marriott.

Construction work on The Fontainebleau Las Vegas tower – designed by Carlos Zapata Studio in partnership with Bergman Walls Associates – first began in February 2007, but came to a halt in 2009 following the global financial crisis the year before. The project eventually went into bankruptcy and the 60+-storey building – the tallest in Las Vegas – was often referred to as the “towering monument to the recession”.

Now, five months after acquiring the property for a reported US$600m (€485.5m, £432.5m), the Witkoff Group has revealed its plans to bring the resort back to life.

To be called The Drew, the resort is set to open in 2020 and will feature more than 4,000 bedrooms across the two hotels.

While no exact details of the facilities have been revealed, in its former iteration the Fontainebleau building was expected to include – upon completion – a 95,000 sq ft (8,800sq m) casino and a 60,000 sq ft (5,600sq m) destination spa, as well as a 3,300-seat performing arts theatre.

Whether those plans will change has been unconfirmed.

Steven Witkoff, chair and CEO of Witkoff Group, said: “With Marriott International, we have the opportunity to ensure we unlock the unparalleled value of this asset.

“This acquisition, made in partnership with New Valley LLC, is a well-designed, structurally-sound project with a significant discount to both replacement cost and the implied public market valuations of comparable Las Vegas Strip resorts.”

Two Blackbirds Hospitality, led by hotelier and former Cosmopolitan CEO John Unwin, will oversee the launch and operations of The Drew Las Vegas.

Founded in 1997, the Witkoff Group specialises in identifying, acquiring and developing what it describes as “undervalued properties” in key locations.



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