Elad properties, the Israeli company that bought the Plaza Hotel in New York in 2004, eliminated 500 of the hotel's 800 rooms in favor of expensive condominiums.
The old New Frontier hotel and casino was demolished last year to make room for the Las Vegas Plaza, shown in a rendering at left.
But if the company has its way, the number of Plaza Hotel rooms - worldwide - will eventually be in the thousands. Elad and its president, Miki Naftali, are planning Plaza hotels in London, Las Vegas and Shanghai, among other cities.
The Las Vegas Plaza, which is expected to include some 3,000 rooms, may be the first one to be built. Last year, Elad, which is controlled by the Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, bought 35 acres on the Las Vegas strip, across from the Wynn casino resort, for $1.2 billion, with another Israeli company. The partnership then demolished the New Frontier, the 1,000-room hotel and casino that had occupied the site for half a century.
(A video of the demolition last November, complete with fireworks, is a minor hit on YouTube.)
Around the same time, the company began releasing renderings of a building based on the original Plaza Hotel, with its chateau-like facades, but vastly bigger - and with a projected price tag of about $4 billion. Like many other Las Vegas structures - which include the fake Eiffel Tower of the Paris Las Vegas hotel and the Manhattan skyscrapers of the New York-New York Hotel and Casino - the renderings showed a familiar design in an unfamiliar context.
According to Mr. Naftali, 47, Las Vegas is the one place in the world where an oversized version of Eloise's favorite hotel would fit right in.
"If you tried to build something like this in London, it wouldn't be right," he said.
But the project is moving more slowly than expected. This fall, Elad announced that it would take six months longer than originally planned to repay the Goldman Sachs Group and the Credit Suisse Group, which had lent Elad $625 million to buy the property.
And construction, originally scheduled to start this year, won't begin until 2010, Mr. Naftali said.
Construction costs in Las Vegas have nearly doubled since 2005, Mr. Naftali explained, adding, "It has been a nightmare." The spike caused other companies to cancel projects altogether. (In 2007, a partnership of the Related Companies of Florida and the Related Group, canceled the Icon Las Vegas project, even after many of its condos had been reserved by buyers.) In a year or two, Mr. Naftali said, "we will be able to negotiate a good price for building the hotel."
Likewise, financing is hard to obtain during the credit crisis.
"Financing a project this size is not easy today," Mr. Naftali said. "But we are not looking to finance the project today."