It cost $3.7billion (£2.9billion), is the tallest occupiable building in Nevada and took 16 years to complete.
Now the long-anticipated Fontainebleau resort is finally open.
After a painful development period that saw the casino sit idle, 70 per cent complete, for a decade when funding stalled, the 67-story hotel tower opened its doors to the public on the 13th of December, 2023.
With 3,644 rooms and standing 737ft (224m) tall, the mammoth property is now an unmissable part of the Las Vegas Strip landscape. Was it worth the wait?
TravelZork, which specialises in Las Vegas accommodation and casino reviews, sent Marc Meltzer (@MeltzVegas) on a secret shopper review to put the hot new spot through its paces. He stayed for two nights during the Christmas holidays, when the hotel was at minimal occupancy. His verdict? The enormous resort is enjoyable enough, but still finding its feet.
Betting on luxury: TravelZork’s Marc Metzler checked in to Fontainebleau Las Vegas, the tallest occupiable building in Nevada
Teething problems: One of the restaurants Marc visited, Vida, offered menus with nothing printed on them (above, a picture Marc tweeted of the error), a sign the hotel was still finding its feet. And advertised as opening at 6am – it didn’t open its doors until 7am, he noted
‘My first overnight stay at Fontainebleau Las Vegas was a mixed bag,’ writes Marc in his review. ‘Feelings ranged from dealing with new casino opening problems to I love this place! Fontainebleau is new, and not all processes are working at 100 per cent.’
Some of the quibbles Marc had of the hotel he puts down to teething problems, such as incorrect opening hours advertised for restaurants, or glitchy Wi-Fi. One restaurant he visited had completely blank menus.
Staying in the smallest of the hotel’s three available room sizes, a ‘Bleau’ room (also available are Gold and Platinum, the largest and most luxurious suites), Marc compliments the 500-square-foot space for being ‘pretty and comfortable’ and he gives a firm nod of approval to the bed headboard – ‘the star of the bed’ – which he notes had outlets for charging multiple devices on either side.
But he feels the design is anonymous – ‘the modern room design feels like something you’d see on most HGTV [an American cable network dedicated to home renovation programs] design shows’.
And with hotel rates starting at $300 (£239) a night, you might hope, he says, for more than rooms that ‘feel more cozy than luxurious’.
Worth a flutter? Pictured above is Marc’s accommodation at the Fontainebleau – a ‘Bleau’ room, which is the smallest of the hotel’s three available room sizes. Marc says it felt ‘more cozy than luxurious’
Marc gives a firm nod of approval to his bed headboard, which he notes had outlets for charging multiple devices on either side (left) and praises the room for being ‘pretty and comfortable’
Marc’s room view – primarily the empty Las Vegas Festival Grounds and an empty parking lot for the All Net Arena
The Fontainebleau stands 737ft (224m) tall
What’s more, the view wasn’t much to write home about – the empty Las Vegas Festival Grounds and an empty parking lot for the All Net Arena.
Not quite the razzle-dazzle one might expect.
Marc reveals what was promised and what was delivered.
He writes: ‘According to the Fontainebleau website, the Bleau rooms only come with a mountain view. We requested a Strip view and ended up with a little bit of both.
‘Technically, the Las Vegas Festival Grounds and empty lot for All Net Arena are on the Vegas Strip. Likewise, I can see the mountains to the west.’
Marc wasn’t too fazed, though: ‘I don’t spend much time looking out the windows, so this isn’t a big deal for me. The Gold rooms have views of the pools, mountains, and/or Vegas Strip if you’re looking for the best view.’
Marc is more fulsome in his praise for the hotel’s food and drink options. With 16 full-service restaurants and seven more ‘casual’ eateries in the Promenade (36 bars and restaurants in total) he couldn’t visit them all in his 48-hour stay, but was delighted with those he did.
He declares a slice of pepperoni pizza ($9/£7) from Miami Slice ‘delicious… the small pepperonis were ample and crispy’. At the other end of the financial spectrum, he was also impressed with the NY Strip Steak ($80/£63) he ate at Don’s Prime Steakhouse, which he says was a ‘perfect medium rare plus’.
He adored his visit to ‘Nowhere’ bar, a bustling spot where a live jazz band played old standards and the drinks were reasonably priced, while a room service breakfast of bacon and eggs was delivered speedily and proved delicious ($40/£31).
Don’s Prime Steakhouse at the Fontainebleau. One of two steakhouses on site, the upscale eatery offers ‘perfect’ NY Strip Steak according to reviewer Marc
The vast casino floor has 1,300 slot machines and 128 gambling tables
The decadent casino floor at Fontainebleau, which cost $3.7billion (£2.9billion)
A pizza the action: What the Fontainebleau may have lacked for in ambience it made up for in sustenance, with Marc singing the praises of the gambling palace’s many food and drink offerings, particularly the ‘delicious’ $9 pepperoni pizza slices at Miami Slice (left). Pictured right – Marc’s cooked breakfast
Taking to the complex’s vast casino floor (Fontainebleau has 1,300 slot machines and 128 gambling tables) Marc notes that while the staff were friendly the minimum stake for games seemed to fluctuate with little rhyme or reason.
He notes: ‘Table minimums seemed to change often. I was at one Pai Gow Poker table where the minimum went from $15 to $25.’
Much was written about the design of the Fontainebleau ahead of its opening. ‘Art, architecture, and design are key components of our Fontainebleau culture and guest experience,’ Brett Mufson, Fontainebleau Development president, said in a statement ahead of the opening. After his visit, reviewer Marc concludes the complex was ‘beautiful but there’s no soul’.
Putting aside his concerns about the property’s teething problems, this was his major issue with his stay – the Fontainebleau seems to lack a sense of identity.
He argues: ‘Fontainebleau is a massive property that doesn’t have much of a vibe yet. That will take time to develop.
‘I have mixed feelings about Fontainebleau after spending 48 hours at the property. It’s usually somewhat easy to see the vision of a casino after one walk-through. I still don’t have a vision for the future of this property.
‘Frankly, nobody does. There will be changes large and small over the next few years.’
‘Art, architecture, and design are key components of our Fontainebleau culture and guest experience,’ Brett Mufson, Fontainebleau Development president, said in a statement ahead of the opening. This sculpture is titled History of Suspended Time and stands at one of the entrances
According to Marc, the Fontainebleau’s size seems to work against it having a ‘vibe’. ‘The property is beautiful, but it also feels like an airport or mall at times… there are also wide-open spaces around the property that feel cold. It’s almost like the building has too much space,’ he writes
Part of the issue seems to be the Fontainebleau’s sheer scale.
Marc writes: ‘The property is beautiful, but it also feels like an airport or mall at times. The casino areas are cozy but there are also wide-open spaces around the property that feel cold. It’s almost like the building has too much space.’
Although he had fun, as a long-time gambler and Vegas expert he couldn’t easily see who the hotel was designed for.
He adds: ‘Unlike some of the newest casinos opening, I’m unsure who Fontainebleau’s customers will be moving forward. The Christmas crowd had way too many families and they’re never indicative of a hardcore casino customer base on the Vegas Strip.
‘The number one takeaway is to be patient if you visit Fontainebleau soon.’
This article was written with the kind permission of TravelZork. To ready the original, visit travelzork.com/48-hours-fontainebleau-las-vegas/#h-what-s-the-vibe-fb-las-vegas. Find TravelZork on X (formerly Twitter) at @TravelZork and on Instagram at website
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