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The New ‘New’ Vegas


There’s a growth spurt taking place in Las Vegas, one that heralds a fresh new phase in the continual evolution of what it means to stay and place in Sin City.

First up, there’s NoMad Las Vegas, the much-anticipated luxury boutique hotel that debuted on the Strip on Friday inside Park MGM.

A key element of MGM Resorts International’s $650 million reimagining of the former Monte Carlo, NoMad features its own casino with a branded bar and a restaurant by James Beard award winner Daniel Humm. Its 293 rooms and suites are laid out on Park’s top four floors. They feature custom furnishings, oak hardwood floors, original artwork curated by Paris-based design studio Be-poles, Bellino linens and Argan bathroom products. Many of the rooms have a freestanding pedestal bathtub located in the room, not in the bathroom, leather headboards and paravent screens.

“This is a super romantic room,” said Andrew Zobler, CEO of Sydell Group, which manages the NoMad chain. “From the tub, to the paravent, to the art. There are no hard edges and it feels really comfortable.”

The idea is luxury and intimacy, the sine qua non of the “boutique” experience. The goal, Zobler said, is to create the feeling that you’re staying in a private residence rather than a corporate hostelry.

“Here we work on both levels. There’s a playfulness but a seriousness. You can be 60 years old and be comfortable here because you’re in a luxury hotel. Or you can be 28 years old and come here to party your brains out. It works for both people.”

He added, “We took an old building and touched every space. It’s so much more efficient than tearing it down, which people have done in the past, which can be so expensive. I think this place has completely transformed.”

It’s an approach shared by the new owners of the resurrected Fontainebleau at the north end of the Strip. The Drew, as it’s called, will open in 2020 with some of its 4,000 rooms managed by JW Marriott and Marriott’s boutique Edition brand.

At Genting’s 3,400-room Resorts World Las Vegas under construction across the street, a boutique hotel within a hotel is also being discussed, according to a spokesman for the project.

“You can’t make Vegas resorts any glitzier than they are, so what makes them different? You have to do something to stand out. A boutique gives you an additional brand and the opportunity to selectively pick customers,” said Michael McCall, a hospitality professor at Michigan State University.

It makes sense. The boutique hotel industry has grown at a rate of 4.8 percent over the past five years and is now a $7 billion industry, according to a 2017 research report by IBIS, a market research firm. IBIS expects the industry to grow at a 3.2 percent rate over the next five years as travelers seek a more customized experience.

“Over the last couple of decades, travelers have grown increasingly wary of staying in cookie-cutter hotels geared toward a mass audience. Travelers have begun migrating toward new and more intimate types of hotels,” IBIS said.

In Las Vegas there is already a template: for example, the Four Seasons, which opened in 1999 on four floors of Mandalay Bay with its own elevator service, exclusive meetings space, restaurants, pool and spa. Caesars Entertainment joined the club five years ago with the opening of the 182-room, celebrity chef-branded Nobu Hotel inside Caesars Palace.

Nightclub mogul Sam Nazarian and investment firm Stockbridge Capital Group had something similar in mind with their 2007 acquisition of the old Sahara Hotel, onto which they grafted the SLS Las Vegas, the idea being to fashion a destination for the LA party scene. It hasn’t worked, and the SLS has struggled since its 2014 debut, hampered in no small part by its remote Sahara Avenue location. But it’s got new ownership and quite possibly a new lease on life with The Drew and Resorts World drawing tourist attention to the neglected north Strip and a dramatically expanded Las Vegas Convention Center slated to open in two years.

Certainly, there’s a lot at the SLS to work with: 17.5 acres, more than 1,600 rooms, a sizable casino, more than 95,000 square feet of meetings space and an array of restaurants, lounges and entertainment venues.

Meruelo Group, which closed on its purchase of the property in April, clearly spies potential. The company behind Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort is investing $100 million to renovate and remodel the SLS

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