Gaming America on the move: Fontainebleau Las Vegas finally opens on the Strip

December 14, 2023
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After years of waiting, huge crowds – and huge names – gathered in equal measure for the opening of the Fontainebleau.

In the shadow of a towering, 46-foot sculpture of twisting aluminum, stainless steel and gold leaf, Las Vegas cut the ribbon on its second new casino in just over a week on Wednesday morning.

“This has become a reality,” said Mark Tricano, the President of Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a $3.7bn Strip resort that has been nearly 20 years in the making.

Construction on the 68-story building – the tallest occupiable building in Nevada – began in 2007, in an ambitious attempt to extend the Fontainebleau brand from the beaches of South Florida to the desert of Sin City.

However, economics got in the way as the Great Recession of the late aughts threw the project into limbo, literally leaving the unfinished building hulking on Las Vegas Boulevard for years.

Over time, the property, across Las Vegas Boulevard from Circus Circus and next door to the Wynn, was bought and sold by several different owners until it eventually ended up back in Fontainebleau’s hands, this time with a plan to bring its opulent vision to completion.

And it did so in elegant fashion Wednesday, with violinists performing for the hundreds who gathered for the ribbon cutting, while workers in hard hats and neon yellow vests scurried all over the sprawling property putting finishing touches on countless details of the beautiful structure.

White marble and deep blue fabrics spread throughout the property, evoking an almost ocean-like feel in the sprawling building, with its impossibly high scalloped ceilings that seem to mimic waves. Seemingly everywhere you look, the resort’s signature bowtie motif is incorporated in the marble, the carpet, the gold light fixtures and crystal chandeliers, giving the 173,000-square-foot gaming area and surrounding spaces just a little touch of whimsy to go with its over-the-top grandeur.

“This is going to be an attraction to help the entire city thrive,” said Steve Hill, CEO and President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on stage at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was held in the resort’s south lobby, where artist Urs Fischer’s enormous, three-story sculpture Lovers #3 serves as the centerpiece.

“Thank you for this beautiful building,” said Hill, who leads Las Vegas’ international marketing efforts. “Thanks for getting it done.”

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom presented Fontainebleau Development CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Soffer a ceremonial key to the Strip, noting that the Commission doesn't usually grant such an honor to a property on its opening day; given the building's long lead time, however, an exception was made.

“I think we’re finished now,” Soffer said. “Actually, we’re just getting started.”

Indeed, the property would not open to the public until late on Wednesday, after a fireworks show and a private, VIP party showcased by pop superstar Justin Timberlake, who performed live for the first time in four years for the Fontainebleau grand opening.

After the morning ribbon cutting, special guests were already streaming into the resort. Sixty-year-old Paul Moore, a consultant to Fontainebleau who came to the opening from Southern California, stood in the main lobby with his wife – looking around at the wide space, decked out in the resort’s signature colors, navy blue and gold.

“So far it looks amazing,” Moore said, marveling at how the project was finally completed. “You had to be committed. You couldn’t be faint of heart to pull this off.”


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