Las Vegas News

From Who Owns Vegas.
Companies buying hotels and resorts.

Who Owns Vegas
Photo © Andrew Hudson
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First published: October 2005

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2/19/11: A 500-foot Ferris wheel and up to seven other rides are proposed for a 9.6-acre amusement park opposite Mandalay Bay. The site is owned by, and the park is proposed by, Desert Land LLC and Desert Oasis Investments LLC, both of which are controlled by Las Vegas real estate developers David Gaffin and Howard Bulloch.

2/8/11: Robin Leach speculates that the Rio may get acquired by the Light Group.

2/7/11: The Hard Rock avoids foreclosure with an agreement with NorthStar Realty Finance Corp.

2/1/11: Hard Rock Hotel gets threatened with foreclosure. Lending group NRFC HRH Holdings LLC may hold an auction on 2/7/11 to acquire or sell the hotel from the joint-venture owning group that includes Morgans Hotel Group and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners.


1/12/11: Colony Capital invests $35 in SBE. Colony is a Santa Monica-based investment firm headed by Tom Barrack and Richard Nanula. SBE, an L.A.-based hotel developer headed by Sam Nazarian, operates the Sahara. SBE will use the money to operate up-market hotels with a goal to take the company public.

1/6/11: The Palms may get taken over from George Maloof by Leonard Green & Partners LP and TPG Capital.

12/22/10: The Westin Casuarina (826 rooms) may go from Columbia Sussex to Bank of America. Opened in 1977 as Maxim, bought in 2002 for $38 million, $42 million renovation, refinanced the property for $160 million.

12/16/10: The Herbst family will no longer have management or board positions in Herbst Gaming.

11/23/10: Harrah’s Entertainment finally gets renamed Caesars Entertainment Corp.

11/13/10: MGM Resorts intends to demolish the unopened Harmon Hotel.

11/1/10: Westin Casaurina (826 rooms) owned Columbia Sussex Corp. may face foreclosure.

10/29/10: MGM Resorts would like to buy out Dubai World’s 50% ownership of CityCenter.

10/20/10: The Hoover Dam bypass bridge opens. At 1,900 feet, the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is the longest single-span concrete arch bridge in the western hemisphere.

10/17/10: Liberace museum closes.

10/8/10: M Resort may be acquired by Penn National Gaming (owned by Fortress Investment Group LLC and Centerbridge Partners LP).

8/27/10: Station gets approval to exit bankruptcy. Somehow the Fertitta family will remain in control of the company.

9/23/10: The Hard Rock may have to change its name if a lawsuit by Hard Rock Café International is successful.

9/21/10: The closed Ritz-Carlton (349 rooms) at Lake Las Vegas will be rebranded as a Dolce Hotel and Resort. Operated by Dolce Hotels and Resorts (majority-owned by Broadreach Capital Partners of Palo Alto, CA) and owned by Village Hospitality LLC (an arm of Deutsche Bank).

8/19/10:Anthony Santo may take over the Tamares properties — the Plaza Hotel and Casino, the Las Vegas Club Hotel and Casino and the Western Hotel and Casino. The Plaza will be renamed Union Plaza.

7/12/10: Riviera (2,075 rooms) declares bankruptcy and will likely be owned by Starwood Capital Group.

6/23/10: Lake Las Vegas may exit bankruptcy with Credit Suisse as majority owner.

6/20/10: Tropicana owners Alex Yemenidjian and Onex is looking to buy more Las Vegas casinos.

6/15/10: MGM Mirage gets renamed MGM Resorts International.

5/25/10: Landry’s — owner of the Golden Nugget — may go private with an offer by chairman and CEO, Tilman Fertitta.

4/21/10: Steve Wynn says he may move Wynn Resorts’ headquarters to Macau.

4/20/10: I've improved the navigation menu at Who Owns Vegas. Now, from any page, you can reach any other page.

4/20/10: MGM Mirage may change its name to MGM Resorts International. The decision will be made in June.

4/19/20: Station Casinos Inc. agrees to a reorganization plan. Fertitta and Colony would get half of “PropCo” (Red Rock Resort, Sunset Station, Boulder Station and Palace Station) and make a “stalking horse” minimum bid for “OpCo” (Santa Fe Station, Texas Station, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho). Boyd Gaming says it is “interested in acquiring Station assets.” No news on the Greenspun-shared properties (Green Valley Ranch and Aliante Station).

4/7/10: The recently-renamed “Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas” may open in December 2010 with about two-thirds of its 2,995 rooms. Two years late and $2 billion over budget, the foreclosed property now owned by Deutsche Bank is described by the Las Vegas Sun as “the most expensive debacle in the city for a single lender.”

4/2/10: The turnaround arrives? In possibly the first positive economic sign since the global depression, Trump Resorts gets a lifeline with $190 million of long-term financing from German-based Hypo Real Estate Holdings AG.

3/18/10: Big news at Who Owns Vegas — a site redesign! After more than a year of coding, this is my first site to sport my new Web styling. I've laboriously built a universal framework of XHTML, CSS and SSI, which results in nicer navigation, better advertising, fluid pagewidths and different themes (coming later). Soon I'll add some photos, graphics, and pizazz!

3/15/10: The Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas (348 rooms, 2003-2010) will close on May 2, 2010. This beautiful Tuscan-styled hotel has been on the rocks since January 2008 when the Lake's developer, Transcontinental Corp. defaulted on a $540 million loan. The new owner, The Atalon Group, put the property into bankruptcy in July 2008 and Deutsche Bank acquired the hotel in 2009 (via Village Hospitality LLC) but "could no longer fund the hotel."

3/10/10: What was the “Cosmopolitan” will now be called “Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.” Deutsche Bank, owners of the 2,995-room hotel under construction, settled a dispute with Hearst Corp., the owner of Cosmopolitan magazine.

2/19/10: Planet Hollywood (2,500 rooms) is acquired by Harrah's.

2/15/10: Harrah's is skillfully avoiding bankruptcy.

2/11/10: Hooters may be for sale by owner 155 East Tropicana.

1/27/10: Carl Icahn gets the Fountainbleau for $156m through Icahn Nevada Gaming Acquisition LLC. The previous developer spent $2 billion on the property before declaring bankruptcy.

1/13/10: Las Vegas Monorail files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

1/12/10: Harrah's suspends construction work on Caesars' Palace's 655-room Octavius Tower.

12/28/09: The Hard Rock opens the new, all-suite HRH Tower. The 374 rooms include 359 “standard” suites, eight spa villas that open directly onto the pool area, and seven penthouse suites on the 16th floor.

12/18/09: Planet Hollywood opens the PH Tower with 1,201 rooms (about 20% are timeshares). The tower is half-owned by Westgate.

12/16/09: The Sahara is closing some rooms (two of its three hotel towers).

12/16/09: CityCenter's centerpiece hotel opens: Aria.

12/14/09: Binion's closes the hotel tower.

12/11/09: Stations Casinos' Wild Wild West Gambling Hall is renamed as a Days Inn. I guess the West is no longer wild.

12/4/09: CityCenter's second hotel opens. Welcome to the Mandarin Oriental with 392 hotel rooms and 227 condominiums.

12/1/09: CityCenter's first hotel opens: Welcome to Vdara.

11/30/09: Harrah's files to buy Planet Hollywood, using a new subsidiary, PHW Las Vegas LLC. If completed, Harrah's would own 126 acres on the east side of the Strip between Flamingo Road and Harmon Avenue.

11/27/09: CityCenter investor Dubai World may default, although partner MGM Mirage says this would not affect CityCenter.

11/26/09: Harrah's is attempting to buy Planet Hollywood, mainly for the location as it would give Harrah's control of all 126 acres between Flamingo Road and Harmon Avenue.

11/23/09: The Las Vegas Fitzgerald's is not affected, but another of the owners' companies — Don Barden's Majestic Star Casino LLC — files for bankruptcy.

11/20/09: The Golden Nugget opens its Rush Tower with 500 rooms.

11/6/09: Planet Hollywood's owner BH/RE LLC defaults and its lenders have taken control of the finances.

11/3/09: Golden Nugget owner Landry's may go private with a buyout by Chairman, CEO and 55% owner Tilman Fertitta, cousin of Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta who control Station Casinos, Inc.

8/19/09: The Greek Isles changes hands. Following bankruptcy, the hotel's ownership is assumed by the lenders through Canpartners Realty, a holding company Canyon Capital Realty Partners and Spectrum Group Management. The Greek Isles was formerly known as the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino.

7/28/09: Station Casinos, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The filing included the holding company (Station Casinos, Inc) and 17 noncasino affiliates, but not the company's 18 casino properties. Pressured by the debt load of the management-led buyout in 2007.

7/1/09: The Tropicana (1957, 1,876 rooms) has a new owner. Onex Corp. (a private equity group based in Toronto) has teamed with Alex Yemenidjian (the former President and Chief Operating Officer of MGM Grand Inc.) and other investors to form Tropicana Las Vegas Inc. Thc ompany bought the Tropicana out of bankruptcy from former owners Tropicana Entertainment and Aztar.

6/10/09: Fontainebleau Las Vegas files for bankruptcy. The $3.1 billion project from Miami-based Fontainebleau Resorts is half-finished.

5/11/09: Are things turning around? It's almost been a month without a bankruptcy. Meanwhile, MGM is quietly opening Hotel32.

4/16/09: Another bankruptcy filing. The owner of Fasion Show mall on the Strip, and The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian — General Growth Properties (GGP) — entered Chapter 11.

3/22/09: Herbst Gaming Inc. filed for a pre-packaged bankruptcy, with $1.24 billion in debt. Terrible.

3/18/09: Bankruptcy looms for many of Vegas' largest casino operators. Harrah's may default on an amazing $23 billion of debt, MGM Mirage has debt due in mid-May, Station Casinos may file for bankruptcy in April, Riviera is in technical default, and Herbst files for bankruptcy.

3/13/09: Crown's attempt to buy Cannery Resorts has fallen apart. Crown has two years to resurrect the deal.

3/5/09: Steve Wynn files for divorce.

3/3/09: Station Casinos turns down a buyout offer.

3/1/09: Finally some good news! Marnell's M Resort (390 rooms) opens. 90-acre resort is about 10 miles south of the Strip in the suburb city of Henderson.

2/23/09: The Cosmopolitan may become part of CityCenter.

2/17/09: Trump Resorts filed for bankruptcy. "You're fired."

2/10/09: The Greek Isles may have been seized by the bank from DI Development. Hooter's may default.

1/30/09: Forest City proposes a 1,000-room hotel in downtown.

1/14/09: Bankrupt Tropicana may split the company.

1/7/09: The world's largest hotel may get built in Las Vegas. With 6,745 rooms, Edge Las Vegas would be located a few blocks east of the Strip, on 60 acres along Harmon Avenue, west of the Hard Rock Hotel, where Las Ramblas was planned. The group is led by AFI Group.

1/7/09: Due to a construction error, MGM's Harmon loses the condo portion and will be delayed one year.

12/24/08: Encore at Wynn Las Vegas is opened by Wynn Resorts.

12/15/08: Treasure Island (2,885 rooms) is bought by Phil Ruffin for $775 million from MGM Mirage. MGM gets some needed cash to complete CityCenter, and Phil Ruffin still has $465 million left over from his $1.24-billion sale of the New Frontier last year.

11/17/08: The Venetian's owner, Las Vegas Sands, may go bankrupt. Also looking weak is Herbst Gaming.

10/30/08: MGM Mirage and Kerzner International are indefinitely delaying their unnamed 4,000-room project.

10/21/08: The global credit crunch has led to a dearth of Vegas news. Still no news about the Cosmopolitan, which is being completed by Related Cos.

9/4/08: The St. Regis Residences at the Venetian Palazzo, Las Vegas is a condo tower being built on Venetian property of Las Vegas Sands which will be developed and operated by Starwood Hotels.

8/1/08: Boyd Gaming suspends work on Echelon.

7/21/08: Not much news for the past two months. The Lake Las Vegas Resort fell on hard times as owners Atalon Group and Lake at Las Vegas declared bankruptcy.

5/5/08: The almost-a-recession has hit Vegas. Tropicana Entertainment, owner of The Tropicana (1957, 1,878 rooms), filed for bankruptcy. Guess that $1.9 billion leveraged purchase of Aztar Corp didn't work out too well.

4/28/08: Steve Wynn indicates that the Wynn golf course will be replaced with a large conference center and two hotels with 5,200 rooms.

4/24/08: The Grand Central Hotel, with 2,500-rooms in a 61-story tower, is proposed by a quiet group called Grand Central South Partners.

4/19/08: Viva — the western hemisphere's largest private development — is announced by Station Casinos. 5,200 rooms in three hotels on 110 acres west of CityCenter, where the Wild Wild West hotel-casino currently is. Also eight other projects in Las Vegas, including one by Palace Station, one south of South Point, and one on (finally) the old Castaways site.

4/11/08: Park Highlands — a 66-acre mixed-used complex with 1,500 rooms — is proposed by Boyd Gaming and Olympia Gaming.

4/10/08: Harrah's Entertainment Inc. — the world's largest gaming company — will change its name to Caesars Entertainment Corp.

3/31/08: Trump International Hotel and Tower (1,282 condo-hotel rooms) is opened by Trump Entertainment.

3/27/08: The Elvis Las Vegas hotel is detailed by FXRE as a 3,194-room, 18-acre, $3 billion resort opening in 2012.

3/27/08: Once proposed as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, Crown Las Vegas is probably no more. Developer Chris Milam of LVT1 couldn't get the equity funding and the 27-acre Strip site (owned by Archon) is being sold.

3/25/08: Las Vegas' oldest hotel-casino — the Golden Gate (106 rooms, opened 1906) — has new investors. Brothers Derek and Greg Stevens, operating as Desert Rock Enterprises, have bought a 50% interest from long-time owners the Brandenburg family.

3/22/08: More Cosmo news. The Grand Hyatt in The Cosmopolitan may instead become a W hotel, as the project may be bought by Related Companies and Starwood Hotels.

3/15/08: Not so fast! The Marathon deal for Bruce Eichner's Cosmopolitan fell through and the primary lender, Deutsche Bank, is foreclosing.

Feb: Downtown properties changed hands as the Siegel Group bought the Gold Spike for $21 million, and Terry Caudill bought Binion's for $32 million.

2/24/08: The Grand Hyatt in The Cosmopolitan is rescued by Marathon Asset Management as they add money to 3700 Associates.

2/11/08: Crown LTD announces buying a 2.5% stake in Harrahs for $172 million and a 4.9% stake in Station Casinos for $242 million.

2/11/08: Allure — a condo complex near the Sahara — may add a 1,300-room hotel hopes developer Sahara Investments.

2/8/08: Downtown's Moulin Rouge (1955) may be redeveloped with 700 rooms by Moulin Rouge Development and Republic Urban.

2/1/08: A 386-room Crowne Plaza is announced by Andrew Lai. As if there aren't already enough projects with the names "Crown" and "Plaza".

1/17/08: The 2,998-room Cosmopolitan/Grand Hyatt currently being built is in trouble. Deutsche Bank has foreclosed on the $780-million construction loan to project leader 3700 Associates.

1/16/08: MGM Mirage and Dubai World are confidently improving their ownership positions.

1/16/07: The Greek Isles hotel, by the convention center, may get replaced with a 780-room resort, according to owner GIH.

1/9/08: Lake Las Vegas (3,592 acres and several hotels) is acquired by The Atalon Group after developer Ron Boeddeker's Transcontinental Corp. defaults on a $540-million mortgage.

8/23/07: The Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai spends $5 billion to get into Las Vegas. Dubai World buys 9% of MGM Mirage and 50% of MGM's CityCenter project.

8/20/07: The Tropicana's $2.5 billion redevelopement by Columbia Sussex is put on hold.

7/9/07: A group led by Africa Israel may buy Edge Group's 60-acre plot next to the Hard Rock and build several hotels.

7/4/07: The Blackstone Group is buying Hilton Hotels.

7/2/07: Project Pulse is announced by REI. Time will tell if this ambitious 86-acre, 6,000-room development in south downtown will actually be built. Meanwhile, MTR Gaming sells Binion's to Terry Caudhill.

6/7/07: Las Palmas Hotel and Residences (800 hotel rooms, 1,030 condos, opening 2009) is announced by Don Peebles.

5/22/07: Something is happening at MGM Mirage. Las Vegas' largest hotel company may be going private or splitting in two. Kirk Kerkorian — who owns 56% of the company through Tracindaannounced his intention of buying the Bellagio and City Center, and to explore "strategic alternatives" "involving all or a substantial portion of the remainder of the company." Time will tell what that means.

5/17/07: Buy low, sell high. Phil Ruffin demonstrates investing, buying the New Frontier (984 rooms) in 1998 for $165 million and selling it nine years later for $1.2 billion. Israeli-owned El Ad Properties is the buyer, planning to demolish the Frontier and replace it with a 3,500-room hotel, possibly called The Las Vegas Plaza.

5/14/07: The proposed 4,000-room W Las Vegas is cancelled. Minority partner Starwood apparently pulled out, forcing Edge Group to cancel the project and sell the 50-acre property. Meanwhile, another bid is made for the Riviera.

5/4/07: The sagging Hooters Casino and Hotel (696 rooms) is sold by 155 East Tropicana, LLC to developer NTH Advisory Group, LLC.

4/29/07: MGM Mirage is investing $160 million for 50% interest in Tony Marnell's M Resort (2,000 rooms, 2009). The Charlie Palmer Hotel (426 rooms) may get built in downtown's Union Park by Palmer City-Core Union Park Hotel.

4/24/07: The Stratosphere is bought by Goldman Sachs' Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds from Carl Icahn's American Real Estate Properties.

4/20/07: MGM Mirage buys 33 vacant acres on the north Strip, opposite the Sahara and adjoining their Circus Circus property. 25 acres came from Gordon Gaming, owners of the Sahara, and 7 acres came from Concord Wilshire Partners, who had previously announced a Maxim hotel for the site. MGM Mirage President and CFO described the land as an "exciting opportunity for our company to create an integrated resort complex on the north end of the Strip."

4/17/07: Lightstone buys from Blackstone Extended Stay Hotels. PBL invests in Fontainebleau.

3/29/07: RivAcquisitions' bid is rejected. 3/26/07: Another day, another bid for the Riviera. The RivAcquisitions investor group tries for the second time with a higher offer. Meanwhile, Edge Group may sell the 50-acre W Las Vegas site on Harmon Corridor.

3/21/07: The New Frontier may get bought by Elad Properties.

3/14/07: Snow Dome Las Vegas — a highly ambitious, 3,500-room multi-resort — may find a home on 200 acres courtesy of Las Vegas Wet.

3/13/07: The Hard Rock is expanding, according to owner Morgans Hotel Group. Two new towers will be built by 2009, more than doubling the hotel size to about 1,500 rooms. Meanwhile, the Stardust (1958-2007, 1,500 rooms) is imploded to make room for Boyd Gaming's Echelon Place. Nearby, the 1,282-room condo Trump Tower currently under construction may change ownership as 50%-owner Trump Entertainment is reportedly for sale.

3/2/07: The Sahara is sold. The last remaining "Rat Pack" hotel, and setting of the original "Ocean's Eleven" film, is bought by two new private players in Vegas, SBE Entertainment and Stockbridge.

2/27/07: Another major player goes private. Station Casinos Inc. agreed to be acquired for about $8.8 billion (including debt) by Fertitta Colony Partners. The buyers are Station's key executives — Frank and Lorenzon Fertitta — and Colony Capital, which owns the Las Vegas Hilton.

2/15/07: The Charlie Palmer Hotel is cancelled. Check please.

1/19/07: The struggling Hooters Casino and Hotel agreed to bought for $225 million by Richard Bosworth through NTH Advisory Group, LLC.

1/2/07: The world's largest hotel? Columbia Sussex proposes dwarfing the MGM Grand and the Venetian with an expanded 9,276-room Tropicana.

12/20/06: Harrah's — the world's largest casino company — agreed to a $17-billion buyout offer from private equity firms Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group.

12/8/06: The Hyatt Lake Las Vegas is being bought by Loews Hotels and renamed the Loews Lake Las Vegas.

12/5/06: Station Casinos came into play with a $4.7-billion buyout offer. Founders and managers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta partnered with an affiliate of Tom Barrack's Colony Capital to take the company private. Private money is pursuing Vegas, potentially turning the city back from ownership by public corporations to private investment funds. Number 1 operator MGM Mirage is now 61% owned by private money (Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp) and number 2 operator Harrah's is reviewing a private buyout.

12/4/06: Harrah's proposed another tower at Caesars, bringing the total room count to 4,388. Meanwhile, LVT1 (Chris Milam) proposed the world's largest hotel tower — 1,888 feet high. Unlikely, but cool.

11/15/06: Ian Bruce Eichner and the D.E. Shaw Group made a $262-million takeover offer for the Riviera. Meanwhile, Carl Icahn owns 1% stakes in Hilton and Wyndham.

11/2/06: Columbia Sussex proposes a major expansion of the Tropicana (opened 1957, 1,878 rooms). Four new towers would bring the room count to 8,000.

10/2/06: Harrah's — the world's biggest gaming company — received a $15 billion buyout offer from private equity firms Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group. Now that's gambling. The venture is called "Project Hamlet". Will it be or not be?

9/08/06: A second Cannery hotel with 307 rooms is announced by Cannery Casino Resorts.

7/30/06: The Riviera's owners reject a $426m buyout, so the 51-year-old hotel will live to see its 52nd birthday. Something to aspire to.

7/31/06: Wyndham Worldwide is officially spun off from Cendant. Ah, more corporate names to keep track of.

7/26/06: Boyd Gaming announced the sale of the 662-room South Coast Hotel. The poorly-performing property is bought by the original builder, Michael Gaughan, who renames the hotel South Point.

7/20/06: 365 announces that their nightclub — "The Beach" — will be replaced by a 300-room hotel. Apparently people are tired of dancing and just want to go to sleep. 7/11/06: LVT1 agrees to buy, from Archon, the site of the Wet n Wild theme park. With $450m for the land, plus $4 billion for a 4,300-room megaresort, that will be a wet and wild ride.

6/26/06: Tharaldson buys the former Westard Ho site near Circus Circus, planning condos and a 600-room hotel. More action on the North Strip.

6/6/06: The Maxim Hotel and Casino is announced by Dennis Publishing. But will the magazine hotel actually be built?

6/6/06: The Las Ramblas site is sold by Related to Edge Group. Sad to see George Clooney leave.

5/20/06: The Tropicana is sold to Columbia Sussex. The bidding war is over.

5/12/06: The Hard Rock is sold to Morgans. The Cafe co-founder cashes out.

Copyright © 2005–2011 Andrew Hudson for Photo Tour Books, Inc. Written for A Photo Tour of Las Vegas. You may reproduce this article for personal, educational, non-commercial and non-Internet use, such as in a hobbyist newsletter or school project. No Internet publishing is permitted. For commercial use, please email Andrew Hudson for permission.