The opening of the 67-story, 3,644-room Fontainebleau Las Vegas in December was the culmination of an incredibly long and winding financial road, stretching back to February 2007, when construction began - just in time for the Great Recession to put a halt to the unfinished project two years later. But after multiple ownership changes and development cycles over the ensuing 16 years, the property’s initial investment group, Fontainebleau Development, retook possession, completed construction, and opened the doors with much fanfare on Dec. 13, 2023, further reinvigorating the once-moribund north Strip.
Thankfully, the wait was worth it. The property is drop-dead gorgeous, with a glamorous aesthetic that Las Vegas hasn’t seen in years. In essence, Fontainebleau Las Vegas has brought back an age of sophisticated elegance - and a swagger - that seemed to be long gone here, harkening back to a time when visitors dressed up for dinner and drinks. Although sartorial styles have changed, what I witnessed on a recent visit was the exact opposite of the no-effort, come-as-you-are look that has become the norm in Las Vegas for the past two decades. Instead, a dress-to-impress, see-and-be-seen crowd imbues the resort with a classy ambiance, a hopeful harbinger of what will persist at the glittering casino resort.
The property’s decor, a mix of classic and modern luxury, features architectural touches and the iconic bowtie iconography made famous by the resort’s Miami Beach namesake, established in 1954 and still arguably the most famous hotel in Florida. Bowties are all over - on the walls, the carpeting, the lighting fixtures, the dealers’ uniforms, room keycards, and in other, unexpected places that aren’t necessarily immediately evident. Large, bold sculptures and other handsome, oversized art pieces grace the public spaces in a complementary way, drawing attention without dominating the appeal of their respective venues.
The room product certainly veers into luxury, with quality bedding, thick towels, a twin-sink marble bath with a separate tub and stall shower, and upmarket toiletries. Meanwhile, floor-to-ceiling windows add volume to the already generously sized 488 sq. ft. standard Bleau King, featuring a blue- and gray-hued color scheme that evokes the ocean.
With nearly 6,000 staff positions to fill, It was no secret around town that Fontainebleau poached experienced hospitality talent from all segments of the Las Vegas casino-resort ecosphere. And based on my observation, it was the top-tier talent that made the move. Service throughout the resort is refined, efficient, friendly, and very professional in all departments.
New-to-market food & beverage concepts
With 36 food-and-beverage venues to choose from, Fontainebleau guests have some difficult choices to make - especially when it comes to fine dining. And there are no Las Vegas duplicates here; all outlets are imports or first-to-market concepts. I was impressed with Komodo, a pan-Asian eatery that does justice to an ambitious menu of classics like Peking Duck along with modern delicacies like Wagyu dumplings. And the venue’s Banana Pagoda dessert features a social media-worthy presentation.
Fans of Italian food flock to Mother Wolf, an L.A. import showcasing chef Evan Funke’s love letter to classic Roman cuisine, with dishes like Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, Rigatoni Alla Carbonara and Veal Saltimbocca gracing the menu. Among the starters, go for the interesting and delicious Fiori di Zucca: ricotta-filled Squash Blossoms coated in a light, tempura-like batter. And the chef’s Sfincione, an atypical focaccia, is heavenly.
Miami import Papi Steak and Vegas-born Don’s Prime represent modern and classic steakhouse interpretations, respectively, while dim-sum specialist Washing Potato’s daring, out-of-the-box architecture draws attention. Yet to open this year are Hakkasan-founder Alan Yau’s Chyna Club and Mexican-inspired Cantina Contramar. And in what is likely a first for Las Vegas, La Fontaine is an elegant brunch-only venue serving a refined repast from 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Wed. - Mon.
Casual dining is focused on the Promenade, which continues the city’s upscale food hall trend with a mix of concepts that satisfy most palates. Whether clients visit El Bagel for bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel, or grab a slice at Miami Slice, the Promenade’s outlets marry convenience, value, and taste.
Casino, public area impress
With its high ceilings and dramatic architecture, James Bond would feel right at home in the stunning and spacious 150,000 sq.-ft. casino, especially while sipping a classic martini at the centrally-located Bleau Bar, with a dramatic, massive crystal chandelier paying appropriate homage to its Miami Beach counterpart.
As expected for a Las Vegas property, Lapis Spa is a full-service operation that offers myriad treatments for a variety of price points, while the Fitness Center is large and very well equipped, with multiple rooms featuring every conceivable piece of equipment. Meanwhile, the six-acre, elevated pool deck - with seven pool experiences, five bars, 2 restaurants, and a gaming area - will undoubtedly be a popular venue once the weather warms. The property’s entertainment hub, BleauLive Theater, accommodates 3,800 guests on three levels.
But it’s Fontainebleau’s overall aesthetic and ambiance that really sets it apart from other luxury properties on the Strip. With several architectural and design nods to the Miami Beach original in the public areas, complemented by modern luxury touches in the rooms and suites, there’s an overarching theme that pervades the massive casino resort. Everything here, including the oversized black-and-white photos of elegantly-dressed, beautiful people (in celebratory moods) adorning the walls, the property’s theme song - a catchy, Sinatra-like, Paul Anka tune, and a posh room product, leans heavily into nostalgia for the mid-century glamour that once defined Las Vegas - and that Fontainebleau management has deftly positioned the property to recapture.