New Frontier Hotel & Casino
Originally a nightclub called the Pair-o-Dice, opened in 1930, then became the Ambassador Night Club in 1936. In 1939, it was called the 91 Club. The Hotel Last Frontier opened in 10/30/1942, and then later became the New Frontier in 1955. In 1967, the name was changed to The Frontier, and changed back to the New Frontier in 1999.
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 town with a famous annual jazz festival.
To capitalize on the resort town's brand, Ruffin said he's also working on plans to bring the internationally known Montreaux Jazz Festival to the new property, which is scheduled to break ground sometime in 2007 and open by 2010. The New Frontier would be closed and demolished before ground is broken on the Montreux.
Perhaps the most-talked about feature would be an "observation wheel" (similar to a Ferris Wheel) that would be positioned in front of the property and facing the Strip. Ruffin said the wheel, tentatively called the "Las Vegas Eye," is modeled after the famed London Eye. It would enable tourists to take pictures of the Strip from slow-moving, temperature-controlled cabins that rise to more than 450 feet in the air. The wheel was approved by the Clark County Commission along with plans for the new resort.
Ruffin wouldn't be the only Las Vegas resort owner to flirt with the idea of a giant Ferris wheel. The owners of the now-closed Wet 'n Wild amusement park, the redevelopers of the Westward Ho site, the Rio and developers with a site next to the Aladdin have all pitched plans that included observation wheels. To date, none has been started.
Rising construction costs have pushed up the price tag for the resort to around $2 billion. The design is also more upscale than originally planned, Ruffin said.
Ruffin is one of America's richest businessmen but is known as a conservative investor. Forbes has estimated Ruffin's net worth about $1.3 billion. Ruffin said business partner Donald Trump will not be involved in the resort.
Jack Wishna, a minority partner in the nearby Trump International hotel-condominium tower under construction, said Ruffin and Trump had discussed branding the redeveloped New Frontier as a Trump property, but that Ruffin has decided to put his own stamp on the resort instead.
Now that the land underlying the New Frontier is worth much more than it was a few years ago, Ruffin can finance the project with a combination of equity from the value of the land as well as cash.