Upper Echelon!

Jun 19, 2007 2:45 AM

The Strip’s latest mega project officially got underway Tuesday with the groundbreaking of Boyd Gaming’s $4.4 billion Echelon Place on the site of the old Stardust.

The 63-acre development, scheduled to open in early 2010, will feature a "campus" of luxury hotels, dining and entertainment venues, shopping district and an expo center for meeting and conventions.

Although often compared to MGM Mirage’s Project CityCenter, Echelon Place initially will not have a timeshare or condominium component.

However, an adjoining 22 acres has been set aside for future development, which could include residences, Boyd officials said.

The centerpiece of the project is the Echelon Resort, comprised of a 2,600-room tower and 700-suite tower, each with its own upscale spa.

Wholly-owned and operated by Boyd Gaming, Echelon Resort will connect to public areas containing a 140,000-square-foot casino, 25 restaurants and bars, landscaped pool and garden areas.

Entertainment venues will include a 4,000-seat theater with large stage and stadium seating designed to accommodate major concerts and production shows.

A more intimate 1,500-seat theater will host smaller shows and touring acts.

Three other "boutique" hotels will add another 2,000 rooms and suites to the development.

Echelon Place President Robert Boughner said offering several different hotel "sensibilities" rather than "one big box" would give guests a variety of choices.

"True to the evolution of Las Vegas as a world class destination, Echelon Place will integrate a compelling collection of brands and environments in a single and auspicious development," said Boughner, who helped develop Borgata in Atlantic City. "We are assembling an internationally-distinguished group of strategic partners in the hotel, restaurant, retail, entertainment and nightlife arenas to complement our company’s own skills and resources."

The boutique hotels include:

”¡ Shangri-La: Well-known in Asia and the Middle East, Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels operates 47 upscale hotels around the world. The hotel’s 400 deluxe rooms and suites will be accented by a 20,000-square-foot spa.

”¡ Delano: Like its Miami counterpart, the 600-room Vegas version will appeal to young, affluent travelers with its destination nightclub, lobby bar and Asia de Cuba restaurant. It will also feature a fitness center, pool and recreation area.

”¡ Mondrian: Like Delano, this is from the up-and-coming Morgans Hotel Group, noted for its "hip" resorts in New York and Hollywood. Attuned to the needs of the business traveler, Mondrian will have 1,000 rooms and suites, distinctive bar and restaurant, private pool and recreation area.

Echelon Place will also offer its visitors a sprawling 350,000-square-foot shopping promenade populated with unique retailers as well as a variety of dining and nightlife.

Rounding out the major amenities will be a massive Expo Center, featuring 650,000-square-feet of exhibition space and 175,000-square-feet of meeting and conference space. Combined with the meeting space in the Echelon Resort, the property will offer more than a millions square feet of meeting and conference space as well as 200 individual meeting rooms.