Thursday, Feb. 19, 2004 | 11:15 a.m.
For her birthday, 9-year-old Sophia Doumani got to introduce her developer dad, who is building the Strip's newest luxury resort property, at a news conference on Wednesday.
If things go according to plan, she also may get to introduce him at the opening of the $250 million two-tower Majestic Resort and Residences on her 11th birthday in February 2006.
Lorenzo Doumani, whose family has longtime ties to the Strip, and Hilton Hotels Corp., which will introduce its five-star Conrad brand to Las Vegas at the resort, announced details of the partners' plans at the news conference at the Top of the Riv at the Riviera hotel-casino. The Riviera's penthouse perch has a bird's-eye view of the 5.4 acres that will be developed on land next door to the Riviera.
The event was a family affair for Lorenzo Doumani, who introduced his father, former Tropicana hotel-casino landlord Ed Doumani, as the project construction manager, and numerous relatives who are partners in the endeavor.
Dieter Huckestein, president of hotel operations for Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Hilton, described how the company's $100 million 37-story, 378-suite nongaming hotel, would bear the Conrad name.
It will be the third Conrad-branded Hilton property to be built in the United States. Hilton has 15 Conrad properties worldwide, has a 107-suite development at the Waldorf Tower in New York and is developing another property in Miami.
The brand is named for the late Conrad Hilton, a former executive in the Hilton empire, who formed the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in 1944 and was once married to actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. He died in 1979 and the University of Houston's College of Hotel and Restaurant Management is named in his honor.
Huckestein said that while the hotel suites would cater to business travelers with a staffed business center and offices, 13 meeting rooms and boardrooms, one main and one junior ballroom, it also would attract leisure travelers with its spa and fitness center and an Olympic-size, heated outdoor swimming pool.
The company has no plans to add a casino. Huckestein said there isn't enough room on the site to accommodate one.
Huckestein said the Conrad Las Vegas would compete with other luxury-suite hotels offered by The Venetian, Ritz Carlton, the Four Seasons, The Hotel at Mandalay Bay and new towers being built at Bellagio and Caesars Palace. Suites would average 780 square feet, which he said would make them the largest in the Las Vegas market.
Hilton plans to market the new Conrad property to the 17 million members of the company's Hilton Honors loyalty club. Card holders can earn points by staying at hotels with other Hilton brands, including Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hampton Inn and Hampton Inns & Suites, Hilton Direct, Hilton Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations Club and Homewood Suites by Hilton.
Doumani, meanwhile, is building a $150 million 42-story, 378-unit luxury condominum development next to the Conrad that would be the second-tallest structure in Las Vegas behind the Stratosphere Tower. The building will have fewer floors than other Las Vegas resort towers, but several stories will have rooms that are taller than standard size.
Doumani said land would be cleared by the Fourth of July on the site that formerly was home to the La Concha Motel on Las Vegas Boulevard, next to the Riviera on the south side. Construction is scheduled to begin in November or December, Doumani said.
The three-story La Concha will be demolished, but the landmark Peppermill next door to the south, one of the signature restaurants of old Las Vegas, will remain open during construction.
A portion of the La Concha, with its distinctive shell shape, faced a wrecking ball in December. Designed by famed Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams, the La Concha became a Strip icon when it opened its doors in 1961.
Currently a resident of the nearby Turnberry Place condominiums, Doumani said Majestic's condo units would range in size from 2,450 to 3,600 square feet and be priced between $850,000 and $3 million.
He said rock stars, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes already have made inquiries about acquiring units at the Majestic. A model unit and a sales office will open in May.
The partners said the towers would have an art deco look. The hotel will front Las Vegas Boulevard. While the condominium component will be the first with a Strip address, it will have access from Paradise Road. The partners have not yet selected a contractor, but Doumani said it is likely that both the hotel and the condominium would be done by the same builder and the partners are talking to "major companies with experience on the Strip."
Restaurants and stores are a part of the hotel master plan and the site plan calls for a four-story, 574-space parking garage to be built.
Doumani also said the partnership is negotiating with the Las Vegas Monorail Co. on plans to develop a spur track that would run from the existing monorail track near the Las Vegas Hilton, between the Majestic and Riviera properties, to a proposed station over the top of Las Vegas Boulevard at the Stardust hotel-casino.
Doumani said the company is hoping the design of the station would be compatible with the Majestic look.