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Resorts World updates plans, opening of $4.3B Las Vegas Strip resort

Updated November 21, 2019 - 5:14 am

Resorts World Las Vegas will open its doors several months later than planned, but the multibillion-dollar Las Vegas Strip megaresort will have more to show for it when it does.

The Malaysia-based parent company, Genting Group, has upgraded plans, increased capacity, expanded its budget and aims to get into the music residency business when Resorts World opens in 2021.

The cost of the north Strip megaresort, under construction on the site once occupied by the Stardust, has increased to $4.3 billion, which promises to make it the most expensive resort property ever developed in Las Vegas. The most recent estimate had set the price at $4 billion.

The company made a major management shift in May, naming former MGM Resorts International executive Scott Sibella as president of Resorts World. He had been president and chief operating officer of the MGM Grand for eight years but left the company as part of the MGM 2020 cost-cutting measures.

Meeting in Malaysia

Sibella recently met with Genting executives at their corporate headquarters in Malaysia and firmed up several changes for the Las Vegas property:

■ The theme of the property is being modified to appeal to a broader audience. Instead of an Asian or Chinese theme, Resorts World will reach for a luxury experience “with Asian-inspired touches.” Sibella said the company long ago abandoned any theming with panda enclosures or representations of the Great Wall of China.

■ The company will build a 5,000-seat, state-of-the-art theater to host A-list performance residencies and corporate events.

■ Looking to enter the wheelhouse of a younger demographic, the property will have a 75,000-square-foot nightclub and dayclub concept.

■ The $4.3 billion price tag will move Resorts World ahead of the $4.18 billion spent on The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas — the last new megaresort on the Strip, completed in December 2010 — as the most expensive Las Vegas resort project. Steve Wynn spent $3.26 billion on Wynn Las Vegas and $2.3 billion on Bellagio. Overseas, Wynn Resorts spent $4.2 billion on Wynn Palace in Macao, and Las Vegas Sands Corp. invested $5.5 billion on Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Marina Bay’s Singapore rival, Genting’s Resorts World Sentosa, cost $4.93 billion to build.

■ The company is building two towers with a combined 3,500 rooms and suites, about 100 more than initially reported. Sibella said additional luxury suites, villas and penthouses with individual lobby experiences, open balconies and a sky casino are in the plans.

■ Sibella said the property will open in the summer of 2021, not at the end of 2020 as earlier forecast.

The revamped Resorts World will have additional features announced for the first time.

A 50-foot-diameter video globe will display more than 6,000 square feet of LED content at the property.

Seven different pool experiences, including a 1,800-square-foot infinity pool with views of the Strip, will be incorporated into the 220,000-square-foot pool complex.

The company is dedicating 350,000 square feet to meeting and banquet space, 27,000 square feet to a spa and 110,000 square feet to its casino with traditional slot machines, table games, high-limit gaming areas, private gaming salons, a dedicated poker room and a 14,000-square-foot entertainment zone that will include a race and sports book and live entertainment.

The company has yet to detail its food and beverage portfolio, but Sibella promises a wide range from authentic street food to Michelin-star dining, including concepts new to the Strip.

Big screens

Video screens are planned on Resorts World’s two towers. The west tower will have one of the largest LED building displays in the world at 100,000 square feet, while the east tower screen will occupy 19,000 square feet.

Sibella said the company won’t use the entire 88 acres of the site that was formerly meant for Boyd Gaming Corp.’s Echelon development before the company sold the land to Genting for $350 million in 2013 after the Great Recession strangled Southern Nevada’s economy.

That enables future expansion if and when the need arises, he said.

Sibella is familiar with the Resorts World neighborhood, having once served as president and chief operating officer of The Mirage and Treasure Island. He replaced Edward Farrell, who was named president of Genting Americas, the Genting Group’s U.S.-based corporate entity that oversees development and operations in New York, Florida, Massachusetts and the Bahamas.

Sibella in September named his executive team, which includes five former managers from various Las Vegas resorts.

“I think we’re in a pretty good position, and the energy of the Strip is moving north,” Sibella said. “We’re close to the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center across the street. It’s good to see The Drew is on track. And it’ll be interesting to see what Mr. (Phil) Ruffin does with Circus Circus.”

Ruffin acquired Circus Circus from MGM Resorts International in October for $825 million. The Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, hired Sibella’s former MGM colleague, Bobby Baldwin, to be its CEO this month.

“Our team has been working diligently to perfect the vision for Resorts World Las Vegas, and we are excited to begin sharing that concept with Las Vegas and the greater hospitality communities,” Sibella said. “We believe Resorts World’s unique design and commitment to providing cutting-edge amenities and captivating experiences is the foundation to curating a thoughtful resort experience that aims to redefine the luxury hotel standard in Las Vegas.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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