New Las Vegas Palazzo may not open until next month

The newest mega-resort on the Las Vegas Strip may not open before New Year’s Eve and is focusing instead on a grand opening January 17, a company official said Thursday. „We are still working with the county on our final inspections and permits,“ said Ron Reese, spokesman for The Palazzo and its corporate owner, Las Vegas Sands.

Sands executives had planned to open the 50-story resort next to The Venetian by the end of 2007, and the company said during an August earnings report that the date would be December 20. In recent weeks, company officials focused on plans for a „soft“ opening this month to let guests begin arriving while staff ironed out last-minute kinks.

„The Palazzo … is nearly complete,“ Reese said in a statement that noted the company would not grant interviews until the grand opening. „To help us best prepare for our grand opening in January we are continually reviewing potential dates for a soft opening“ he said, adding that a date would be made public „in the immediate future.“

A spokesman for the Clark County Building Department in Nevada could not say when an occupancy permit would be issued for the USD 1.8 billion hotel, 9,290 sqm casino, restaurants and retail shops.

Reese would not dismiss the possibility that the resort might open before New Year’s Eve, when the Las Vegas Strip plans to host 300,000 people for a midnight fireworks display.

The 3,066-room property is designed to appear as a separate resort, but it shares guest amenities and services with the 4,027-room Venetian, the company’s flagship Las Vegas resort. Combined, the hotel complex will be among the largest in the world, Reese said, with almost 7,100 hotel rooms and suites and 209 thousand sqm of convention space.

The 36-floor Venetian opened in May 1999 at a cost of about USD 1.5 billion on the site of the old Sands hotel-casino, made famous by The Rat Pack – Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. In 2003, Venetian owner Sheldon Adelson added a 12-story all-suite tower called the Venezia.

A separate USD 500 million condominium tower is under construction, with the number of rooms yet to be determined and no firm date set for opening, Reese said. The company also owns properties in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

The Palazzo would be the first new resort hotel to open on the Strip in three years. It is part of a wave of new development that includes casino mogul Steve Wynn’s USD 2.2 billion Encore property, due to open in early 2009.

The USD 2.8 billion Fontainebleau hotel-casino and MGM Mirage’s USD 7.8 billion CityCenter are due to open later in 2009. Boyd Gaming Corp.’s USD 4.8 billion Echelon complex is scheduled to open in 2010, and developer Elad IDB plans to open a USD 5 billion hotel-casino in 2011 modeled on the company’s Plaza hotel in New York City.