JENNA KOHLER / LASVEGASSUN.COM
Monday, Aug. 11, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
M Resort developer Anthony Marnell III is trying to do things differently.
While Strip developers continue to go over budget with their megaresorts, Marnell used millions of dollars he will save by opening his resort a few months early to add upgrades to the property, including a high-tech wine cellar and a rooftop restaurant with 180-degree views of the Las Vegas Valley.
While Strip casinos install flashy nightclubs with celebrity DJs, Marnell is ditching the concept altogether, opting instead for another restaurant.
While Strip casinos sign up A-list investors for celebrity chef restaurants, M Resort will own all of its restaurants and bring the experience to the masses with a production studio that will tape cooking shows on site.
While Strip casinos charge top dollar for drinks, M Resort will offer a self-service station where customers can get their own sodas and coffee.
“With the economy in Las Vegas, you have to be more creative in what you deliver,” Marnell said during a tour of the construction site on Friday. “We’re trying to give people more options for their money.”
The M Resort, at the southwest corner of St. Rose Parkway and Las Vegas Boulevard, more than 10 miles south of Mandalay Bay, will be the southernmost casino in the Las Vegas Valley. The 400-room property, which is expected to get most of its customers from nearby neighborhoods, including Southern Highlands, Seven Hills and Anthem, will face stiff competition from nearby locals casinos as well as the Strip.
Unlike newer locals casinos, which get about half of their business from out-of-town visitors, M Resort will get 80 percent of its revenue from locals, said Marnell, who began work on the $700 million project five years ago.
That’s partly why Marnell, who helped open one of the valley’s first major night clubs at the Rio, wants to avoid the night club crowd. Booming, boisterous clubs can be more trouble than they’re worth for management, while turning off locals trying to enjoy a more relaxed night out, he said.
Locals favorites such as a buffet, poker room, deli and a sports book with reclining chairs and about 100 beers on tap, will be near a 2,000-car garage for easy access.
Little of what Marnell calls the resort’s “modern Italian design” is yet visible, though the cresent-shaped glass shell hotel tower was topped off Friday and construction of the giant, zinc-encrusted porte cochere is under way on the side farthest from the Strip.
Many venues at the M Resort will face the Strip, with floor-to-ceiling views overlooking a pool and outdoor amphitheater, which will host concerts that restaurantgoers can see and hear.
There’s something else about this property that’s different from the big resorts farther north on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Marnell’s contractor is Marnell Corrao Associates, the company founded by his father, Tony Marnell II, who built the Rio as well as resorts for Steve Wynn. Working closely with his father has streamlined planning, which can be time consuming at major companies where decisions are made by committee, Marnell said.
“It’s a pretty special deal,” he said. “Not too many people know what their parents really do for a living.”
The resort will open in March, ahead of the earlier projected opening date of May 1. That has saved the company interest payments and allowed the resort to stay under budget, Marnell said. The resort has financing through the Bank of Scotland and is part owned by MGM Mirage.
The site, which is more than 90 acres, can accommodate 2,500 rooms in future phases, Marnell said. A movie theater will open by the end of 2009 and a 1-million-square-foot mall will open in late 2010 or early 2011.
Eye candy is important but comfort and service are paramount, Marnell said.
“There aren’t a whole lot of unique ideas left in Las Vegas — it’s about how you deliver them,” he said.