The Evolving Re-Vision: Lake Las Vegas And The Ravella Hotel
My colleague, Deidre Woollard, recently wrote in Luxist about the opening of the Ravella Hotel at Lake Las Vegas. I found the article to be intriguing, as I knew the recent history of Lake Las Vegas, and also interviewed -- three times -- Ron Boeddeker, owner of Transcontinental Corporation, the developer/visionary who conceived this grand idea.
The new Ravella Hotel At Lake Las Vegas is located on the site of the former Ritz Carlton Lake Las Vegas that bankrupted in May of last year. To many, the Ritz Carlton bankruptcy seemed like the terminal blow to the original vision of Lake Las Vegas, the last Gordian knot in a string of bad news and bankruptcies. But the opening of the Ravella, and especially from Dolce, hotel managers and operators who specialize in meetings and conferences, seems relevant and positive in the forward evolution of Lake Las Vegas.
Mr. Boeddeker's original vision was to re-create a Lake Como-like, Mediterranean enclave 17 miles from the Las Vegas strip. Multi-million dollar residences would be built along the lake, there would be fine hotels, excellent food, substantial golf courses. It was a vision that had legs, and Mr. Boeddeker's unusual expertise -- his University education combined civil engineering and ( of all things) theology -- pulled it off, for awhile. He was one of the few developers who could simultaneously envision a 320 acre lake in the middle of a desert and know how to create it from a practical engineering standpoint. In the grand home of great developer visions, this was one of the most expansive. The dark side of such a vision, and one that Mr. Boeddeker would have surely acknowledged were he still alive, was the importance of a recession-resistant economy needful to the overall health of the concept.
But the economy was not recession-resistant, and even with celebrities buying houses, exceptional hotels and golf courses in active use, Lake Las Vegas reflected the economy's downturn. Transcontinental defaulted on $540 million in loans in fall 2007, and went into foreclosure. The development was acquired by the Atalon Group in January 2008, only for it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection six months later. And this was just the beginning:
Which brings us to now --with all the bad news from 2008 to last year, some GOOD news -- the opening of the The Ravella Hotel at Lake Las Vegas on February 11th, 2011.
I recently interviewed Barry Goldstein, Chief Revenue Officer for Dolce Hotels and Resorts, the Hotel management firm hired by Deutsche Bank, the owner of the hotel, to manage The Ravella Hotel At Lake Las Vegas. Dolce is a substantial owner/operator of boutique and conference center hotels in the U.S. and Europe.
What is it about Lake Las Vegas that attracted your company to manage and create a new hotel from the bankrupted Ritz-Carlton?
"We see Lake Las Vegas as a spectacular community, and a great potential meeting and conference market also. Many of the Dolce hotels are in secondary suburban locations, close to but far enough away from major urban centers. Lake Las Vegas is a perfect locale for us, and we envision 60-70% of visitors can come for meetings."
The Ritz Carlton's brand is a substantial, luxury brand. Will there be any difference between the Dolce's Ravella and the RCs?
"The Ritz Carlton's brand is so important, and in many ways defines some of the best dimensions of hotel luxury. But our vision is a little different, and this is perhaps why we were the first choice of Deutsche Bank. The Dolce vision and mission deals with being the leader in the meetings industry. Dolce hosts some 30,000 events and 4 million group clients globally every year. The company's founder , Andrew Dolce, pioneered the Conference Center Concept and Complete Meeting Package, both now embraced as standards by the International Association of Conference Centers."
How does being a leader in the meetings industry inform your presence at Lake Las Vegas and Ravella Hotel At Lake Las Vegas?
"We hope to make Ravella the meetings hotel at Lake Las Vegas. Our 27 other properties have a similar beauty and eco-sensitivity, great scenery and deep presence. We always want to make our hotel conferences and meetings memorable and enlivening experiences, as well as educational ones. The Ravella has both the beautiful Mediterranean exterior, and the Italianiate interiors to do this."
It is important to understand that while many will be attracted to the convention aspect to this new hotel, the 39,000 square feet of meeting and dining spaces ( see above), gatherings from 10 to 1000, with pre-function, and function areas, a ballroom, a junior ballroom, boardrooms, and multiple technological amenities, many other things are unique to this hotel also.
Among others, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, reminiscent of Florence's famed Ponte Vecchio Bridge, this three-story bridge at Ravella features a collection of rooms and suites with EXCEPTIONAL lake views. The bridge spans 375 feet across the lake, and is tall enough to permit a 21-foot sailboat to pass beneath. An situated on the bridge is one of the few over-water chapels anywhere, called La Capella di Amore - the Chapel of Love ( see below). In addition the Ravella's 24 Treatment Room Spa, and the South Shore Golf Club with the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.
Arguably, the Ravella Hotel At Lake Las Vegas, will become a part of the re-visioning of Lake Las Vegas, combining a newer, more practical and mindful dimension to the original vision of high end elegance.