Hospitality veteran Cliff Atkinson has been appointed president of Fontainebleau Las Vegas. He has already assumed leadership of the Strip-based property—due to open in the fourth quarter of 2023—as it builds its in-house team.
“When we set out to identify a visionary leader for our next-generation luxury resort, Cliff’s knowledge and relevant hands-on approach and experience, coupled with the perspective gained from nearly 30 years in hospitality, made him the unequivocal choice for Fontainebleau Las Vegas,” said Fontainebleau Development Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Soffer. “With Cliff guiding our team, we move forward with even greater confidence and trust in our vision for the future of the Fontainebleau brand and Las Vegas.”
Most recently, Atkinson served as founder and CEO of WE Advisory Group, providing direction on business development strategies, revenue management services, operations, turnarounds and new building development. Prior to that, he was president and chief operating officer of Luxor Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Among other accomplishments, he executed a robust engagement strategy to increase employee communication and satisfaction among the property’s 3,300 team members.
“So much of Cliff’s success is rooted in his ability to build human capital and company cultures through a combination of business acumen, empathy, confidence, and natural charisma,” said President of Fontainebleau Development Brett Mufson. “Those genuine qualities and his achievements align perfectly with the Fontainebleau brand, our culture, and commitment to first class service and memorable experiences for our guests.”
Atkinson has also served as senior vice president of hotel strategy for MGM Resorts International and in general manager roles for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Las Vegas and San Francisco and New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel. In 2014, he was named “Hotelier of the Year” by the Nevada Hotel and Lodging Association.
“What the Fontainebleau brand has achieved in its 50-year history is unrivaled in this industry, and now I have the opportunity to merge the team’s vision with my background in luxury, lifestyle, and service, as we look to reshape the hospitality and gaming experience on the Strip,” Atkinson said in a statement. “Fontainebleau Las Vegas is, without question, the beacon of change for the future of Las Vegas.
“I feel as if my entire career has prepared me for this role. It’s a tremendous honor to lead Fontainebleau Las Vegas and bring the property to life.”
At completion, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will be a vertically-integrated, luxury 67-story hotel, gaming, entertainment, and meeting destination. It is a project of Fontainebleau Development in partnership with Koch Real Estate Investments. Located near the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will feature more than 3,700 uniquely designed hotel rooms, more than 550,000 square feet of convention space and a world-class collection of restaurants and shops, pool experiences, vibrant nightlife options, and coveted spa and wellness offerings.
Fontainebleau Development Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Soffer was the original developer of the project, which broke ground in 2007, then fell victim to the Great Recession. Bankruptcy followed in 2009, at which point the property was acquired by billionaire Carl Icahn. Icahn sold it in 2017 to New York developer Steve Witkoff.
“Bringing that to life is a story unto itself,” Atkinson said of the original developers being back involved. “Couple that with what’s happening in the market with the new pieces of the Convention Center that haven’t been fully utilized yet because of the pandemic. All of that will start to come together and be a beautiful next chapter for Las Vegas.”
Fontainebleau will draw customers from its sister property in Miami, also called the Fontainebleau, Atkinson said. “We start there and as we move forward, we’ll be announcing some unique partnerships to help deliver that. But we start with a brand that’s already successful in Miami.”