Upper Echelon

Jan 10, 2006 3:03 AM

Boyd Gaming last week made its long-awaited announcement that it will level the 1950s-era Stardust Resort in early 2007 to make way for a $4 billion multiple-hotel/casino complex.

The 63-acre project on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip is called Echelon Place and will feature an eclectic blend of four upscale hotels, a 140,000-square-foot casino, spas, theaters, convention center and retail outlets.

The project is planned for completion in 2010.

Noticeably absent from the massive mixed-use project is a residential component — no condos will be included.

"We evaluated the prospect of including residential condos and condo hotels," said Bob Boughner, who gives up his post as president of the Borgata in Atlantic City to lead the development of Echelon Place. "But the market is yet unproven in terms of the depth of the demand for condo hotels."

Boughner assumes the role of president and chief executive officer of Echelon Resorts.

"We are very pleased to have Bob return to reprise our success at Borgata and lead the development of Echelon Place," said William Boyd, chairman and CEO of Boyd Gaming. "From concept to design to construction to opening to operating, Bob’s outstanding performance at Borgata, one of our industry’s finest success stories, is widely acclaimed. In my opinion, there is nobody better for this job."

Joining Bougner from the Borgata will be Kevin Sullivan, who will serve as senior vice president and chief administrative officer for Echelon Place.

In addition, many of the design and construction firms that built Borgata will play significant roles in the Echelon Place development, including Tishman Construction, which will lead the building effort.

Echelon Place will actually be comprised of several developments. It will be anchored by the wholly-owned, $2.9 billion Echelon Resort, which will feature 3,300 upscale rooms encompassing a 2,600-room tower and 700-room suite tower.

There will also be extensive public areas containing a 140,000-square-foot casino, 25 restaurants and bars, pool and garden areas, business and convention facilities, two spas, a 4,000-seat theater with stage and stadium seating and a more intimate 1,500-seat theater.

Boyd will joint venture the balance of the project with two of the world’s most high-profile boutique hotel operators.

Morgans Hotel Group out of New York will develop and operate two hotels under the Delano and Mondrian brands.

Modeled after the Delano in Miami Beach, the Las Vegas version will include 600 rooms, a branch of the Asia de Cuba restaurant franchise, a destination nightclub, an Agua Spa with fitness center and private pool and recreation areas.

The Mondrian will follow the lead of its namesake in West Hollywood but will be quite larger at 1,000 rooms and suites, a distinctive bar and restaurant, private pool and recreation area with Skybar.

Rounding out the hotel component of Echelon Place will be a 400-room Shangri-La Hotel from Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel group, which will be Shangri-La’s third hotel project under development in the United States.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will manage and operate the Shangri-La Hotel, including its CHI spa, restaurants and meeting facilities. It will have its own landscaped driveway and porte cochere, and the lobby entrance will be surrounded by lush gardens.

In keeping with the original "Shangri-La" theme in James Hilton’s "Lost Horizon" novel, the lobby lounge will feature a music room and library. Other amenities will include a signature restaurant with Asian influences and an all-day restaurant with seating indoor and outside by the pool. The planned 300 guestrooms will be a minimum of 550 square feet, while the hotel’s 100 suites will measure a minimum 900 square feet, with both room types offering commanding views of the surrounding mountains and the Las Vegas Strip.

Shangri-La’s spa brand — CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La — will feature Chinese and Himalayan healing therapies inspired by the origins of the Shangri-La legend. It will be the largest CHI spa in North America with 16 treatment suites. The private CHI spa suites provide a "spa within a spa" atmosphere, offering guests privacy, space and a sanctuary of tranquility in which to be revitalized. The hotel will also have a fitness center with separate sauna, steam and solarium facilities for men and women.

"Las Vegas is one of the most dynamic tourist and convention destinations in the United States, providing a high profile presence for the group in North America that will complement Shangri-La’s developments in Miami, Chicago and Vancouver," said Giovanni Angelini, Shangri-La’s chief executive officer and managing director. "Guests at the Shangri-La Hotel, Las Vegas will experience a new brand of sophisticated hospitality — warm, distinctively Asian, with highly personalized service."

Las Vegas has for the past 10 years has waited for a truly Asian-themed resort to appear on the Strip. Although there have been several proposals, including the Great Wall of China Resort at the south end of the Strip, none came to fruition.

"We are extremely delighted to have Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts bring its award-winning style of authentic Asian hospitality to Las Vegas and Echelon Place," said Boyd Chairman William Boyd. "The luxurious hotel will be a magnet both for travelers seeking to experience the group’s renowned hospitality and the increasing number of Asian travelers to Las Vegas."

Other elements of Echelon Place include:

Las Vegas ExpoCenter: developed by Boyd Gaming, the meeting and convention center will feature 650,000-square-feet of exhibition space and 175,000-square-feet of meeting and conference space.

Retail promenade: Boyd is in discussions with potential partners for a joint venture of about 350,000-square-feet of unique shopping space, including a mix of luxury, affordable and bridge retailers, as well as a variety of dining, nightlife and cultural outlets.