A Sneak Peek of Las Vegas’s Most Over-the-Top Resort Opening of 2023

Set on 25 acres with 36 restaurants and bars, a huge spa, and a world-class entertainment venue, the Fontainebleau is OTT even for Vegas.

The porte cochère of the Fontainebleau Las Vegas has a soaring white roof.

The porte cochère of the Fontainebleau Las Vegas

Courtesy of Fontainebleau Las Vegas

More than 20 years in the making, the $3.7 billion Fontainebleau Las Vegas is set to open on December 13 at the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip.

The 3,644-room resort—which has broken local records for the longest construction project from start to finish—is the first and only sister property of Fontainebleau Miami Beach, an icon that opened in 1954 that’s widely regarded as America’s first destination resort. Fontainebleau Las Vegas is also the first major new hotel to debut on the Strip since Resorts World Las Vegas opened in 2021.

The 25-acre Fontainebleau Las Vegas intends to wow travelers with more than its pedigree. Here are five things to know about the biggest hotel opening of the year in Sin City.

The original hotel is iconic—but the new one aims to create its own legacy

Fontainebleau Miami Beach, created by hotelier Ben Novack, has a long tradition of hosting celebrities: In the 1950s and 1960s, when such Rat Pack stars as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin weren’t performing on the Vegas Strip, they might be found lounging on the beach or by the pool there. The hotel was designed by Morris Lapidus, who sought to blend European glamour with midcentury-modern design, including curvilinear shapes, sweeping staircases, a French-inspired parterre garden, and bowtie patterns inlaid in floors and on walls throughout the resort. Many details at the Miami Beach property were enhanced during its $1 billion modernization in 2008.

While the same details have been incorporated into the new Vegas resort, the idea behind the new property is to connect to its Miami Beach sister while create a legacy of its own. Fontainebleau Las Vegas represents the culmination of a 23-year journey that started for Jeffrey Soffer, Fontainebleau Development’s chairman and CEO, when he purchased the land in 2000. Construction began in 2007 and stopped the following year due to the economic downturn. The building sat about 70 percent finished for close to 12 years. Finally, just before the pandemic, Soffer and Fontainebleau Development, in partnership with Koch Real Estate Investments, reacquired the property in 2021 and in 2022 and set out to finish what they started with designers David Collins Studio.

Simon Rawlings, chief creative officer at David Collins Studio, describes the aesthetic is simultaneously throwback and contemporary. “We recognized that the design needed to be a nod to the original location, with aspects incorporated throughout the property, but we needed to create something entirely new and unexpected to meet the moment,” said Rawlings. “The history is in the details with icons and symbols effortlessly incorporated into the design that represent the history and authentic personality [of the brand].”

A Gold King guest room, with coral and blue accents and a curved headboard

A Gold King guest room at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas.

Courtesy of Fontainebleau Las Vegas

It could take weeks to explore all the food and drink here

When it debuts, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will have 19 restaurants; it will launch 5 more in 2024. Original concepts include Don’s Prime, an upscale steakhouse named after founder Jeff Soffer’s father, and Washing Potato, a more casual dim sum joint. There will be splashy outposts of famous dining concepts and lounges—many of them Miami-based—including Groot Hospitality restaurants Komodo and Papi Steak (though in Las Vegas, the restaurants will be much larger formats). There will be Las Vegas outposts of ITO, a 12-seat sushi and omakase restaurant from New York–based chefs Masa Ito and Kevin Kim, and Mother Wolf, a cult-favorite Los Angeles Italian restaurant from chef Evan Funke.

Cantina Contramar, a restaurant opening in 2024, is the first U.S. collaboration of three celebrated women in the Mexican culinary and creative communities: chef Gabriela Cámara, architect Frida Escobedo, and Tequila Casa Dragones founder and the first maestra tequilera, Bertha González Nieves. The cantina will have the first Casa Dragones tasting room in the United States.

For the 12 bar concepts, the resort brought in local bar veteran Juyoung Kang. “Every bar has its own personality, so I tried to make the menus [so] each drink only works in the space for which it was created,” said Kang, who made her name following stints at the Laundry Room in the Fremont East district of Downtown Las Vegas and Resorts World. For the bar at Don’s Prime, Kang created a savory cocktail with chimichurri herbs and yerba mate syrup. Other drinks feature ingredients and flourishes that are more personal to Kang. For the Collins Bar in the hotel lobby, she created a mezcal drink titled the “Sunny Peach” a homage to the kiwi, her favorite fruit as a child.

Black-and-white photo of Fontainebleau Miami Beach in 1969, showing hotel's curvilinear exterior

The Rat Pack frequented Fontainebleau Miami Beach between gigs in Las Vegas.

Courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami Beach

There’s a swanky hotel within the hotel

The guest rooms, with floor-to-ceiling windows, are soothing studies in coral and blue, with marble bathrooms featuring deep soaking tubs. The hotel also has an ultra-exclusive hotel-within-a-hotel, Fleur de Lis, composed of 76 suites. Located on the top 5 floors of the 67-story hotel tower, the chandeliered suites offer panoramic views of the Strip and the Las Vegas Valley.

The suites range from 1,000 to 10,000 square feet. They have a palette of coastal blues and ripple-patterned glass evocative of the beachfront location of the 1954 original Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Rooms are clad in stone, polished brass and marble, blackened timber, navy-blue stained timber, and linen-textured wall coverings. Some suites feature billiards tables, wellness rooms for yoga, and saunas. All Fleur de Lis guests will have access to a personal valet and concierge for arranging tickets and dinner reservations, plus butlers who can accommodate pillow preferences and draw baths.

The suites have a palette of coastal blues and ripple-patterned glass evocative of the beachfront location of the 1954 original Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

Spa and wellness experiences have a fully integrated mind-body approach

The 55,000-square-foot Lapis Spa designed by Milan-based Lissoni & Partners was inspired by the spa of the same name at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The Las Vegas iteration has 44 treatment rooms, purifying salt caves, snow rooms, an infrared sauna, men’s and women’s hydrotherapy lounges, and a co-ed sensory room with communal healing waters.

Director of Spa and Wellness Jennifer Lynn said the Lapis Spa & Wellness is “next-generation” in that it combines tried-and-true, world-class wellness treatments with experiential therapies and a mind-and-body focus.

Case in point: Spa lighting mimics the lighting outside, waxing and waning with the sun. “Throughout the day, the neutral space is transformed through all-encompassing and immersive sensory elements from aromatherapy to lighting, starting off with a calm atmosphere in the morning and transitioning into a more vibrant energy through the afternoon,” Lynn said. She added that the facility’s environment “adapts to our natural circadian rhythms and biological clock.”

Complementing the Lapis Spa & Wellness is the Fitness Center, curated in partnership with Jay Wright from the Wright Fit. In addition to yoga and fitness classes and Peloton bikes, the gym features VersaClimbers, Hydrow rowers, an HIIT modular system, and an area to flip tractor tires.

“It’s meant to be an accessible and user-friendly destination where guests can incorporate their fitness-centric lifestyle into their stay at the resort,” Lynn said.

A gold-colored abstract sculpture by Urs Fischer titled "The Lovers #3" at hotel

The Fontainebleau Las Vegas is filled with original artwork, like this sculpture by Urs Fischer titled The Lovers #3.

Courtesy of Fontainebleau Las Vegas

The live entertainment venue is a destination itself

Fontainebleau Las Vegas will usher in New Year’s Eve with one of the biggest headliners in town: Post Malone will play two sold-out shows at the 3,800-seat BleauLive Theater on December 30 and 31.

But for live entertainment fans, the star might be the 90,000-square-foot theater itself. At the front of the room, BleauLive features an arena-size stage paired with a Panther audio system by Meyer Sound, the acclaimed Berkeley-based audio company. A giant video wall at the back of the stage is flanked by two side walls and is paired with effects from Los Angeles-based Elation Lighting, a pillar in stage lighting.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas is turning heads in the nightclub space, too. LIV, the nightclub created by David Grutman’s Groot Hospitality and designed by David Rockwell and Rockwell Group, has announced John Summit as its first-ever resident DJ. Summit, famous in the world of electronic dance music (EDM), will make his LIV Las Vegas debut on Thursday, December 14.

The original club in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach established a reputation in the EDM scene when it launched in 2008, and it ranks as one of the top-five highest grossing nightclubs in the country.

“John Summit has emerged as one of the biggest names in the electronic world, so it’s a natural fit to have him be our first resident announcement for LIV Las Vegas,” Grutman said in a release. “LIV is a brand known for bringing world-class talent and entertainment to the nightlife scene, and we are excited to [bring] John [to] Las Vegas.”

From $300 per night; Fleur de Lis suites from $5,000 per night

Matt Villano is a writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. To learn more about him, visit whalehead.com.
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