Doomed from the start: Marriott just pulled out of the Las Vegas Fontainebleau project

Oct 18, 2021

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The north end of the Las Vegas Strip just got dealt another big blow — and so did Marriott Bonvoy members hoping to burn points in Sin City.

Marriott has decided to pull out of the seemingly neverending Fontainebleau project, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, meaning the Strip’s first JW Marriott and the Las Vegas Edition won’t see the light of day.

Since the project broke ground in 2007, the currently empty Fontainebleau tower (a behemoth building with more than 60 floors) has faced a series of setbacks, starting with the 2008 financial crisis. It’s also had a handful of different owners over the years, including billionaire Carl Ichan who purchased the development from its original developer, Jeffrey Soffer of Florida-based Fontainebleau Development, for about $150 million.

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In 2017, Ichan sold the building for a whopping $600 million to the Witkoff Group and New Valley LLC, the team that developed the West Hollywood and Times Square Editions, according to the Review-Journal. By 2018, Marriott signed on to open the Las Vegas Edition and JW Marriott as part of the project then called “The Drew” after developer Steve Witkoff’s late son.

Earlier this year, Witkoff sold the still-unfinished resort back to Soffer (and the real estate division of Koch Industries) for an undisclosed amount.

As recently as July of this year, Marriott still had plans to move forward with the JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd., reported the Review-Journal. With over 3,700 rooms, 500,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, plus everything else you’d expect from a massive luxury resort, Marriott’s website said the resort would finally open in the fall of 2023.

But now, Marriott is out of the deal it made with the building’s previous owners and was coy about the specific reasoning, only telling local news outlets that the decision was “amicable.”

The fate of the resort is up in the air once again, which is unfortunate news for folks like me hoping to earn or redeem Bonvoy points in a swanky new Marriott property.

For now, it appears that Fontainebleau will operate the resort but there are no official plans for when it will actually open, what it’ll house or if it’ll even be called Fontainebleau.

“Having come full circle and taken ownership of the site in Las Vegas, we intend to fulfill our original vision and deliver the same extraordinary hospitality experience that our guests have come to expect from Fontainebleau Development,” the company said in a statement to the Review-Journal.

While we wait for those specifics — maybe don’t hold your breath — and mourn the loss of Bonvoy dreams tied to this project, don’t forget that there are plenty of other Marriott properties to choose from in Las Vegas.

The Cosmopolitan, part of The Autograph Collection, is a hugely popular resort and casino you can book starting on average from 85,000 points per night. And if you were specifically looking for a JW Marriott, there’s already one just a few miles from the Strip, complete with a casino, spa and golf course.

Back on the north side of the Strip there might not be too much Marriott presence, but there is the brand-new Resorts World, the massive Hilton project home to three hotels (the Las Vegas Hilton, the Conrad and Crockfords Las Vegas) all of which let you earn and redeem Hilton Honors points.

Featured image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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