Really Tall Fontainebleau Casino Project Gets Really Short Name: The Drew

Written By Martin Derbyshire on February 13, 2018
Big brown dog and little black dog

The new owners of the still-unfinished The Fontainebleau Las Vegas casino project now claim it will open in 2020 under a new name.

New York-based real estate firm Witkoff and hotel giant Marriott International announced this week the casino will now be called The Drew Las Vegas. The newly named property should open in late 2020.

Speculation is Witkoff founder, chairman and CEO Steven Witkoff is renaming the property after his deceased son. Andrew Witkoff died of an OxyContin overdose in 2011 at a since-shut down Los Angeles sober living home. He was 22 years old at the time.

JW Marriott and EDITION brand hotels

A press release from Witkoff and Marriott says The Drew Las Vegas will be a luxury resort with 4,000 hotel rooms. It will include the Las Vegas Strip’s first JW Marriott. JW Marriott is Marriott International’s luxury hotel and resort brand.

The Drew Las Vegas will also reportedly debut Marriott International’s EDITION brand in Las Vegas. Hotel impresario Ian Schrager partnered with Marriott International to launch the global luxury hotel brand. Marriott International will also manage the hotels.

Marriott International EVP and Global Chief Development Officer Tony Capuano said together they are building a new Las Vegas landmark:

“The Drew Las Vegas will become a landmark property for Marriott International. The resort will give our more than 100 million loyalty members the chance to enjoy our brand of hospitality in one of the most exciting and popular cities in the world, whether the visit is for a convention or a leisure trip.”

Witkoff said he was happy to be partnering with such a prestegious brand.

“With Marriott International, we have the opportunity to leverage the world’s most powerful group and convention pipeline as well as an unmatched loyalty program to ensure we unlock the unparalleled value of this asset.”

The Drew will also feature a casino, 500,000 square feet of convention space and entertainment, and nightlife venues. Plus, it will include up to 20 restaurants and bars. Witkoff said The Drew will be a design-forward building.

Witkoff purchased the property in August 2017 for $600 million.

From The Fontainebleau to The Drew

Construction began on the $2.8 billion sister hotel to Miami Beach, Florida’s Fontainebleau Hotel in 2007. The plan was to open The Fontainebleau in 2009. However, the economy went south and the project went bankrupt in 2009. The 60-plus story shell is already one of the tallest buildings in Las Vegas. However, it has sat relatively untouched for almost 10 years.

Billionaire Carl Icahn, who has bought and sold a number of US casinos in his time, bought the unfinished property in 2010 for $150 million. Witkoff partnered with Miami investment firm New Valley to buy it last year. The group did not immediately announce plans for the property.

However, Penta Building Group has since been hired to finish construction. Now, this week ownership unveiled the plan to rename the property, bring in Marriott International, and set a time frame for opening.

Consulting firm Two Blackbirds Hospitality has also been brought in to work on development, launch, and operations. Two Blackbirds reportedly performed a similar role for the then-unfinished Cosmopolitan in 2009.

The company is led by renowned hotelier and former Cosmopolitan CEO John Unwin, who, along withWitkoff and Stephen Singer, founded the company.

North Strip development

Once it is done, Witkoff and Marriott say The Drew will be one of a number of development projects helping reshape the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. Other projects include The Genting Group’s Resorts World Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Convention Center’s $1.4 billion expansion, and Golden Entertainment’s recent purchase of Stratosphere.

The Resorts World Las Vegas casino and resort is currently under construction. Genting plans to open the casino in 2020. Construction on the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion should finish in 2021.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire is an award-winning journalist, video and film producer with a decade of experience covering the brick and mortar casino, poker and iGaming industries. He has produced content for top media outlets including PokerNews, Bluff Magazine and PokerListings, and has crossed the globe scooping stories and interviewing major players in all corners of the high-stakes gambling world.

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