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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

High-rise goes high-end with Regis brand

5 September 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Las Vegas Sands Corp. will attach the high-end St. Regis brand to its $600 million condominium project on the Strip, solidifying a growing relationship between the casino operator and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

In a joint statement, the companies announced the development would be called The St. Regis Residences at the Venetian Palazzo, Las Vegas. The planned 632-foot tower, which fronts the Strip between The Venetian and Palazzo, will have 398 residences. It is expected to open in 2010. Combined, The Venetian and Palazzo have more than 7,000 hotel rooms.

Las Vegas Sands will build the high-rise and Starwood, through St. Regis, will operate the development. Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said a sales and marketing group will be hired to operate the sales center for the St. Regis Residences.

Neither company released financial details about the arrangement. It was unclear if Las Vegas Sands and Starwood would split the profits on the residential sales. The deal is also the first time Las Vegas Sands has brought in a management company to run one of its Strip properties.

Starwood operates several hotel brands in addition to St. Regis. The White Plains, N.Y.-based company is in a partnership with Las Vegas Sands on Macau's Cotai Strip. The companies are building a 4,100-room Sheraton and 439-room St. Regis on a Cotai Strip parcel across from The Venetian Macau. Starwood will operate the hotels while Las Vegas Sands will operate the casino attached to the hotels.

St. Regis operates high-end hotel brands around the world, but none in Las Vegas. The condominium project with Las Vegas Sands will be the company's first residential project that is not mixed-use; hotel rooms are not part of the project.

"With a premier location, excellent partner and a shared vision to create the most luxurious residences, amenities and services in Las Vegas, this truly is a one-of-a-kind endeavor," Starwood Chief Executive Officer Frits van Paasschen said in a statement.

Coincidently, van Paasschen appeared in front of the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Thursday morning for preliminary approval as an officer in Planet Hollywood. Starwood owns 15 percent of the company that operates Planet Hollywood. Regulators were unaware of the pending deal with Las Vegas Sands, which was announced after van Paasschen's appearance.

Last year, Las Vegas Sands officials said the high-rise condominiums would carry some of the highest prices of any luxury residential offerings on the Strip, anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 per square foot.

In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Las Vegas Sands said the project would have 1 million saleable square feet. Residences will range from 1,700 square feet to more than 10,000 square feet for a duplex villa with private pool. Total sales for all units could reach as much as $2 billion.

High-rise condominium sales on the Strip have diminished somewhat in the past year. The most recent sales figures for MGM Mirage's $9.2 billion CityCenter development showed 1,421 of the available 2,650 residential units in four different high-rises had been sold with a value of $1.75 billion.

In July, Trump International officials said sales had closed on 250 of the property's 1,282 units. Development of a second Trump International tower has been placed on hold.

Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson said in a statement that he didn't believe the company will have any trouble selling the condominium units. He said having the St. Regis brand with access to The Venetian and Palazzo makes a compelling sales opportunity.

"Those fortunate enough to purchase at The St. Regis Residences will have the rare opportunity to own a residence that is part of two world-class resorts in the heart of one of the most famous streets in the world," Adelson said.

Buyers will have an option to purchase the residences as fullyfurnished with furniture packages from several world-renowned designers. Residents will also have access to the St. Regis Butler Service, where English-trained butlers offer round-the-clock personalized attention.