Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It takes a village to rebuild a resort

I am addicted to tradeshows but sometimes it is good to go where there are no tradeshows and just take in the scenery.

One of my favorite places to visit is Lake Las Vegas located about 17 miles from the Las Vegas Strip.

It is a nice, quite and secluded place to walk around and do a little window-shopping.

Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer windows for window-shopping these days at MonteLago Village Resort at Lake Las Vegas.

Not long ago it seems there was a lot of talk about Lake Las Vegas and all the million-dollar homes surrounding the lake including one owned by singer Céline Dion.

With two luxury hotels, a casino and a boutique shopping area, the resort seemed like the ideal spot for locals and tourist to gather for concerts, events, golf or meetings. My wife and I had a chance to spend a Fourth July weekend there and enjoy a concert and fireworks.

Then the resort was hit with an assortment of financial problems and in March 2010 the MonteLago Resort and Casino shut down and 177 casino employees lost their jobs.
Recently we revisited the MonteLago Village and took a stroll to see how the economy has affected the man-made lake experience.

It was, in a word — sad — but there is hope for the small shopping, dining, and events site but it may take some time for the village to gain the popularity it was building upon a few short years ago.

Intrepid Gaming LLC was recently granted a temporary business license by the Henderson City Council to operate the Casino MonteLago.

Las Vegas-based Intrepid Gaming applied for a non-restricted gaming license and a liquor license in February. According to reports, the Nevada Gaming Commission has not approved the gaming application so far.

The doors are shut and a fence is around the perimeter of the property keeps people away from the closed building. Reopening the casino would be a huge boost for the resort village that has been on a continual rebound since the 3,600-acre Lake Las Vegas development went through bankruptcy proceedings more than two years ago.

A year ago, Pacific Capital Management, acting on behalf of Signal Butte Investors LLC., acquired the condominium lodging operations of Lake Las Vegas’ MonteLago Village Resort from Intrawest Hospitality Management.

Aston Hotels & Resorts was brought in to manage the 210 condominiums that are available as rentals in the three-acre waterfront parcel. Signal Butte Investors has owned MonteLago Village’s retail and restaurant operations since June 2007. MonteLago Village has a total of 347 condominiums.

Shortly after the casino closed the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas, a five-diamond hotel, closed its property adjacent to the casino and hope dimmed further for the troubled resort community as another 340 employees lost their jobs on May 2, 2010.
There is some good news for the village.

Last September Dolce Hotels and Resorts breathed new life into the property when it announced that it would be taking over the property and unveiled plans to reopen the 349-room nongaming hotel.

Ravella at Lake Las Vegas opened its doors in February and has been busy booking guest and hosting meetings.

During our walk around the village there were a few people from the Society for Human Ecology was holding its conference. It was good to see a few people with conference badges walking about during our walk throughout the village.

There are not many shops open and there is no market at the village. A kite shop and breakfast café are gone and many storefronts are empty. Sections of the walkway and landscape looked a unkept and the lake itself had lost some of its appeal.

Although the casino has been closed, MonteLago Village continues to host special events such as the Village Easter Celebration this past weekend. Jazz on the Lake returns on May 7 and is free to the public. Other events are listed on the MonteLago Village website www.montelagovillage.com.

The Website describes the resort as “the perfect place to spend your weekend or a midweek getaway. … The Mediterranean-styled resort is ideal for family getaways, weddings, business conferences and much more.”

It may be one of the best-kept secrets for meeting planners. I just hope more people discover the old world charm of the village and that better days are ahead.

See you on the floor!