Jazzing up the Strip

Hopefully, the third time will be the charm for the New Frontier’s redevelopment. I seem to recall plans for a San Francisco-themed casino and a London-themed casino in years past. From the LV Sun:

As other casino operators announce plans to redevelop their older properties, New Frontier owner Phil Ruffin hasn’t had a lot to say about his long-awaited plans for his aging Strip hotel.

Ruffin says he’s not sitting on his hands.

The name of his planned megaresort will be Montreux, after the Swiss resort with a famous annual jazz festival.

Ruffin says he is close to announcing a financing package.

“These things take time,” Ruffin said. “It can take nine months to do an architectural plan and five months to come up with parking plans.”

“I’m trying to do something nobody’s ever done before, which is develop a resort without any help or partners. It’s very hard to do,” he said.

To capitalize on the resort’s brand, Ruffin said he’s also working on plans to bring the internationally known Montreux Jazz Festival to the new property, which is scheduled to break ground sometime next year and open by 2010.

The New Frontier would be closed and demolished before ground is broken on the Montreux.

The new hotel would have about 2,750 rooms, including about 750 suites, and cater to customers who patronize high-end properties such as the Mirage or Paris Las Vegas, Ruffin said.

Perhaps the most-talked about feature would be an “observation wheel” that would be positioned in front of the property and facing the Strip.

Las Vegas SUN: Montreux to replace the New Frontier

I was initially skeptical about the observation wheel, but after seeing it featured in Doctor Who, I can appreciate the aesthetic of it. And what better symbol for Las Vegas than a wheel which is always in motion yet still remains in place? I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way, either.

Further down in the article, an expert opined that going after the jazz niche could be a profitable marketing move. I’ve got to respectfully disagree, as much as I love jazz in particular and live music in general. The Blue Note, perhaps the best-known jazz club brand in the world, failed at the Aladdin just a few years ago. So I wouldn’t bank on jazz musicians and enthusiasts as being the driving force behind this project. Rather, as Ruffin suggests, it should be Paris- or Mirage-level visitors who want something high-end but not quite so high as Bellagio or Wynn.

I can see the Montreux brand being more effective as a general evocation of European style and sophistication, which includes cool stuff like jazz.

As far as bringing the Montreux Jazz Festival to town, I’m totally there.

And I’ll be sorely disappointed if the opening headliner isn’t Deep Purple, performing “Smoke on the Water.” If we were back in the 1990s, Ruffin would be planning a free show involving a smoke machine and an artificial lake. I think the wheel will be a better draw for today’s market.

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