alaysia’s Genting Group opens its newest, $4.3 billion resort on Thursday in Las Vegas, the biggest new property on the Strip in over a decade, and the most expensive one ever developed in the city.
Resorts World Las Vegas features a 3,500-room hotel with 117,000 square feet of gambling space, 250,000 square feet of meeting space, a 100,000-square-foot LED screen on the side of one tower. There is also a 5,000-seat theater where Celine Dion and Katy Perry begin residencies later this year and seven swimming pools overlooking the north end of the Strip.
“We’re so lucky that we’re opening at this time,” said Scott Sibella, Resorts World Las Vegas president, and a former MGM Resorts International executive. “We were going to open one way or another. We planned this a year and a half ago. We announced the date. But it’s clearly getting better in Las Vegas.”
Sibella told Bloomberg on Wednesday that hotel reservations are ahead of schedule, with weekend leisure travel particularly strong and the meetings business expected to pick up later this year. Asian tourism to the U.S. remains a weak spot. “We’re hoping by Chinese New Year next year it’s up and running again,” he said.
Resorts World will have a cavernous nightclub and a shop selling bejeweled Judith Leiber handbags. There’s a dedicated meet-and-greet area within the theater for photo ops with the performers. The resort’s marketing slogan, delivered on billboards and social media, is “Stay Fabulous.” Opening festivities on Thursday will include a parade of Rolls-Royce convertibles.
“We’re just so excited to be part of the return of travel to Las Vegas and the U.S.,” said Lim Keong Hui, deputy CEO at Genting and grandson of the company’s founder.
The company partnered with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., which has three hotels housed within the project, including the high-end Conrad; a namesake Hilton; and a newer brand, Crockfords, which Genting already has at a resort in Malaysia. Room rates begin at $149 a night, midweek. Smoking will be permitted only in the casino.
The property will also include some high-tech elements, including what’s being billed as the first entirely cashless casino. Guests who download the Resorts World app and fund their digital wallet can generate a QR code that can be scanned by dealers at the blackjack tables, said Joseph Pappano, CEO of Sightline Payments, which is providing some of the technology. Also, a “smart table” system will track guests’ activity. In lieu of room service, guests can have Grubhub deliver food from the resort’s 40 restaurants.
In addition, a connection being made to Elon Musk’s new Boring Co. tunnel will take guests in minutes in Tesla cars to the newly remodeled Las Vegas Convention Center across the boulevard. The property’s location at the far end of the Strip means guests can’t walk from casino to casino as easily as they can at locations operated by rivals such as MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment.
The property has five pools, including one with a vanishing edge that has views of the Strip for VIPs and a kids swimming area with flower-shaped sprinklers. The exterior is decorated with thousands of trees, some salvaged from the original Stardust resort.
A big success in Las Vegas may also inspire other operators to build new resorts on the Strip after a decadelong drought. “This city rebounds faster than anybody,” said Sibella. “Eventually everything’s going to shift this way and it’s going to be the luxury side of the Strip.”
For April, using the most recent figures available, about 2.6 million people visited Las Vegas, about 73% of pre-pandemic visitation compared with April 2019 when the city welcomed 3.5 million visitors.
Las Vegas is creating a spectacle to advertise its return on the Fourth of July, Wall Street Journal reports. Pop star Miley Cyrus will perform at Resorts World, and her concert will be broadcast live on the casino’s exterior LED screen. A fireworks show over the Strip will take place in coordinated firings from the rooftops of seven casinos. Early in the designs, Genting had pictured an Asian-themed resort complete with a live panda exhibit, according to Resorts World. But the theme was set aside in favor of a light-filled, sleek design where visitors don’t have to walk through slot machines to move around.
Genting bought the unfinished Strip project known as Echelon Place from Boyd Gaming Corp. in 2013 for $350 million. In the Las Vegas tradition of real-estate transformation, Boyd had demolished the famous 1950s-era Stardust casino to make way for its plans. But construction stalled out amid the 2008 economic downturn, which hobbled the Vegas tourism economy for years. Genting’s decision to buy the property signaled a recovery.
Genting also operates casinos in Malaysia, Singapore, the U.K. and New York. Genting had to close its Resorts World in Malaysia on May 31 after a surge of Covid-19 cases prompted a government-ordered national shutdown.