Four months after closing, Lake Las Vegas' shuttered Ritz-Carlton was given new life Tuesday.
Dolce Hotels and Resorts, an international boutique lodging operator with 27 properties in North America and Europe, said it plans to reopen the 349-room nongaming hotel in the first quarter of 2011.
Dolce executive said the hotel will be rebranded under a new name. The Ritz-Carlton closed in May and laid off about 350 workers.
The company, which is majority-owned by Broadreach Capital Partners and has corporate headquarters in Montvale, N.J., and Paris, operates hotels and resorts in 12 states and five countries, employing more than 4,000 workers.
Dolce executives said the 15-acre site at the edge of the development's 340-acre man-made lake, is a natural fit for the company's hotel portfolio, which focuses on properties situated just outside major metropolitan areas.
Dolce President and Chief Executive Officer Steven Rudnitsky said the company had been looking at the Lake Las Vegas site when the Ritz-Carlton operation was in its final months.
Rudnitsky said Lake Las Vegas fits the company's business model.
"For us, this is hitting the drive right down the center of the fairway," Rudnitsky said. "We plan to work cooperatively with the Lake Las Vegas community. Roughly 60 percent of our customer base (is) big corporate customers, which gives us a captive audience."
Most of the Dolce hotels specialize in meetings and events. The company hosts some 30,000 events annually across its properties.
Ritz-Carlton leased the site from Village Hospitality LLC, which hired Dolce. The Ritz-Carlton opened in February 2003. The property has 32,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space and a 30,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, along with multiple restaurants.
Rudnitsky said a new name will be picked in the coming months. He expects the property to hire "several hundred" workers.
Lake Las Vegas, a 3,600-acre Mediterranean-themed master-planned community in Henderson some 14 miles east of the Strip, has been besieged with bad news since its operators filed for bankruptcy in July 2008.
Two of the development's three championship 18-hole golf courses closed and custom home sales shrunk. Lake Las Vegas has some 1,700 homes and condominiums.
Ritz-Carlton announced the closing of its Lake Las Vegas property in early February. A week later, Casino MonteLago, the community's only gaming establishment, closed March 14.
Only one hotel, the 493-room Loews Lake Vegas, remains open, along with the Jack Nicklaus-designed SouthShore Golf Club, which has continued to operate as a semiprivate facility.
"We're happy to hear we have new neighbors and we look forward to welcoming Dolce to the Lake Las Vegas community," Loews Lake Las Vegas General Manager Brian Johnson said.
Operators of the MonteLago Village, Lake Las Vegas' shopping and restaurant attraction, welcomed the news that Dolce was taking over the Ritz-Carlton site. The hotel property is connected to the adjacent MonteLago Village by a covered pedestrian bridge overlooking the lake.
"We knew something was coming and this is just a huge boost for morale," Maurice Talley, commercial manager for MonteLago Village, said Tuesday.
The village is more than 90 percent occupied and despite the closed hotel and casino properties, the attraction has been able to add tenants. Talley said an Italian restaurant, Luna Rose, closed but reopened quickly under new operators, while a stand-up paddleboard business drew attention during the summer.
Talley said the village concentrated its marketing efforts on Lake Las Vegas residents and the surrounding Henderson community.
"Everybody has been hopeful and this is the news we have been waiting to hear," Talley said. "There has been a lot of buzz and we knew something would happen soon."
Talley said tenants are hopeful that Casino Montelago, which is connected to the village, will eventually reopen. It had been operated by CIRI Lakeside Gaming Investors LLC, which blamed the Ritz-Carlton's closure and lack of visitation for its own shutdown.
The 40,000-square-foot casino, which had 635 slot machines, a dozen table games and a race and sports book, eliminated 177 jobs when it closed.
Rudnitsky said Dolce has no plans to operate Casino MonteLago, but will work with any company that takes over management of the gaming establishment.
"We definitely want to see the casino reopen," he said.
A federal bankruptcy judge approved Lake Las Vegas' reorganization plan in June, wiping out debt and giving the development a chance to rebound.
Henderson officials are hopeful Dolce's move into Lake Las Vegas is just the start of more positive events for the development.
"It's nice to hear some good news for a change," Henderson City Councilman Steve Kirk said. "The (MonteLago Village) shop owners may have been dying on the vine so I'm sure they are happy to hear more customer traffic is on the way."
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3871.