Miami's Fontainebleau is Coming to The Strip - Thursday 12th of May 2005

A touch of Miami will spice up the north end of The Strip. It's being brought here by a familiar name from the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard and a big name from the East Coast. That familiar name is former Mandalay Resort Group president Glenn Schaeffer. He was out of a job after the merger with MGM-Mirage. But his unemployment did not last long. Glenn Schaeffer made the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip into what it is today.

 Now he'll do it again with the high-end condo company, Turnberry Place. Schaeffer and Turnberry formed a company called Fontainebleau. They bought the historic Fontainebleau in Miami to renovate it. The theme of the 1954 hotel will be brought to the northern end of Las Vegas Boulevard. On the land west of the Turnberry Towers, the new Fontainebleau will take form. UNLV gaming studies coordinator Dave Schwartz says this will be a little bit of east coast meeting west coast. "I think what you can expect to see is something like Mandalay Bay."The casino resort will have 4,000 rooms. Fontainebleau executives say it will have a sizable casino, world-class restaurants, and event space. The event space will be similar to what is at Mandalay Bay. It will be the first large venue of it's kind on the north end. Schwartz says Turnberry and Schaeffer may be the right mix to bring it to Las Vegas.

"They are not trying to draw people just to gamble. They want to draw people for a nice luxury vacation experience. I think that is exactly what they will do with the Fontainebleau."The Fontainebleau name has enormous recognition in southern Florida. Schaeffer and Turnberry hope that it will draw more people to this area. With the addition of Wynn Las Vegas and this project, the northern part of the Las Vegas Strip will no doubt look very different in five years. Billionaire Phil Ruffin owns the Frontier. He plans to build a $2 billion resort on his 33 acres. Ruffin says he welcomes the competition from the former Mandalay Resort Group president.

He says Schaeffer's previous accomplishments with Mandalay Bay prove that the Las Vegas Fontainebleau will be successful. UNLV gaming studies coordinator Dave Schwartz says Las Vegas can handle another high-end resort. "They have to position it right. They have to add the amenities that will draw people in."Schwartz sees major event space similar to Mandalay Bay's will be a huge plus. "I think that end of The Strip does not have that kind of huge space yet.

If they can get it first and get that in there, that might be a tremendous draw for people."Dave Schwartz believes that the new resort will try and draw new customers. He sees the Fontainebleau going after wealthy people just looking for a relaxing vacation. The casino hotel is scheduled to open in 2008. Company executives are already working with designers and don't have a height for the project yet.

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