Majestic developer Doumani taps deep into his Vegas roots

Many people remember watching celebrities like Muhammad Ali or Elvis Presley on their living room TVs in the 1970s.

Lorenzo Doumani remembers watching them in his living room.

Growing up the son of a Las Vegas casino landlord, Doumani recalls the heavyweight champ stopping by his house for dinner and hanging out backstage with the king of rock ’n’ roll.

Occasionally, Doumani would be at the Tropicana with Ali and Presley while they practiced karate in a hotel room, he said.

“I got to do karate drills with Elvis and Muhammad Ali,” he said. “Probably not many people in the world can say they did that.”

Decades later, Doumani, a 58-year-old real estate developer, reflected on growing up amid Las Vegas royalty as he prepared to erect what will be his mark on the city.

Doumani is the man behind Majestic Las Vegas, a planned $850 million off-Strip hotel and nongaming entertainment complex.

The project will break ground later this year near the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall expansion with a planned opening in 2024.

Doumani’s family is responsible for some other Las Vegas landmarks, too.

His grandfather, M.K. Doumani, came to Las Vegas from California some 60 years ago and, with Lorenzo’s uncle, opened the old La Concha Motel, which was across from the former Riviera, in 1961.

A few years later, they opened the El Morocco. Both attracted some of the most well-known celebrities of the time.

“Back then, the La Concha and El Morocco were these state-of-the-art places that appealed to upscale clientele. People like Ali, Liz Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Wayne Newton, Elvis,” he said. “I got to grow up meeting all those people, which was quite a thrill.”

Though the La Concha has long since closed, the motel’s eye-catching wavy façade — designed by famed architect Paul R. Williams — can still be seen today downtown as the reimagined lobby for the Neon Museum.

As a teen, Doumani said, he sometimes worked out with Ali and watched him perform card tricks.

Ali also frequented the coffee shop at the Tropicana, where Doumani’s father, Edward, was landlord for a few years in the 1970s.

He recalled one spring day in 1975 before an Ali fight at the Las Vegas Convention Center as being particularly memorable.

“We were sitting there in the coffee shop,” Doumani said. “All of a sudden, Ali looks at his watch and says, ‘Oh my gosh, my fight is in two hours.’ We gave him a ride to the Convention Center, and I remember sitting next to George Foreman while watching that fight, which was against a boxer named Ron Lyle.”

Doumani still remembers how the fight ended — a technical knockout for Ali in the 11th round.

In the latter part of the 1970s, Doumani spent time with Presley backstage before he performed at the Las Vegas Hilton.

“He would sing gospel songs backstage and quote scripture,” Doumani said. “You couldn’t have met a nicer human being.”

He ate many meals at Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge on the Strip, which his family has had some ownership in since the 1970s. He bought the majority of the property, which is within walking distance of the proposed Majestic Las Vegas site, in 2012.

Peggy Orth, who manages the restaurant, vividly remembers a young Doumani coming in to eat with his family. She was a waitress then.

“His dad and uncle were pretty prominent back then,” Orth said. “He was a rich kid, but always very respectful. Lorenzo isn’t snooty or demanding like some owners would be. You can approach him and I think he got that from his dad, who probably got it from Lorenzo’s grandfather.”

Doumani still stops in “every week or two” at the Peppermill, usually stopping by with his two young boys, Dylan, 13, and Tyler, 10 (he also has an adult daughter, Sophia, who lives in Boise, Idaho).

If Orth isn’t busy, she’ll sit down to visit — often about what the kids are up to — as Doumani eats his usual egg white garden omelet. It’s just like when Doumani’s father took him to eat at the Peppermill when he was a child.

“Those days, when Ed and Mrs. Doumani used to come in, I miss those days,” Orth said. “They knew what this town was built on — personal relationships. A lot of things these days are more corporate.”

Click to enlarge photo

Lorenzo Doumani, local resort developer and business owner, poses for a photo in front of the iconic Peppermill restaurant Monday Jan 18, 2021.

Family of Vegas pioneers

Doumani, who has dabbled in the movie business in Los Angeles, splits his time between Southern California, where his two sons live, and Las Vegas.

Whether it’s Presley, Ali or Steve Wynn — Edward Doumani was an early business partner of the billionaire casino developer — Doumani is likely to have a personal story about the old legends of Las Vegas.

Growing up, Doumani’s family lived near Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church, just northwest of the Strip.

Thinking back to those days, Doumani can rattle off the names of some of the most prominent families in Las Vegas over the past several decades.

He was in the same class at Bishop Gorman High School as Frank Fertitta III, the billionaire Station Casinos mogul, though Doumani took advanced courses and ended up graduating early from Clark High School.

They would later attend the University of Southern California, where Doumani said the pair were study partners.

“I met the Fertittas in the mid-1970s,” Doumani said. “Frank’s father (Frank Fertitta Jr.) was a slots manager at the Tropicana in those days. There’s so many of these families that have been around forever. They’re all still around, for the most part. I think there will always be a little bit of that history in Las Vegas.”

Doumani also palled around with Danny Tarkanian in high school, the son of UNLV coaching great Jerry Tarkanian. He also remembers a pre-UFC Dana White as a personal trainer in the late 1990s who would make house calls.

Tarkanian said he remembers Doumani being “very sharp” from a young age.

“The Doumani family doesn’t get the credit they deserve for being the Las Vegas pioneers that they’ve been,” Tarkanian said.

Doumani was also friends with the family of Jay Sarno, who founded Caesars Palace and Circus Circus and was a mentor to Wynn.

“I remember Jay Sarno saying in the 1970s that we were going to see these megacasino-resorts with 4,000 rooms,” Doumani said. “That was visionary. Nobody was thinking that way back then.”

A niche on the north Strip

In Majestic Las Vegas, Doumani envisions a place for convention visitors and other business-focused customers, a place with an “old school” feel and small showrooms with live jazz acts.

Doumani is banking on a trend that has been in motion for several decades in Las Vegas — more visitor dollars in Las Vegas are spent on the overall experience, not simply on gambling.

“When I was growing up, gaming was 70-something percent of revenues,” Doumani said. “You’d give away a show and do a $9.99 buffet to get people in casinos so they’d lose their money. That’s what used to fuel Vegas, but that’s no longer the case. We’ve become more diverse.”

In 1984, according to UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, gaming win represented 59% of total revenues. By 2019, that figure had dropped to 35%.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, taking in a show, concert or sporting event or eating at a renowned restaurant were as important as ever to the Las Vegas experience.

Due to the pandemic, Las Vegas visitation was down by about half in 2020 from the 2019 total of over 42 million tourists.

In the next decade, Doumani expects gaming to make up less than 30% of resort revenues, something that would have been unheard of when his father was in the casino business in the 1970s.

“Las Vegas has almost everything,” Doumani said. “But what I think it should have is a different type of resort, something that’s nongaming, nonsmoking and goes after a different kind of corporate crowd.”

Doumani has high hopes for the north Strip, though he admits the recovery from the pandemic will be “a long road.”

He already has a vested interest in the area. He is majority owner of the building that houses the Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge.

Once the convention industry in Las Vegas — all but non-existent during the last half of 2020 — returns, trade shows like CES, which brings over 170,000 attendees to the city during a normal year, are likely to be a boon for Doumani’s planned resort.

“This is a resilient city with resilient people,” Doumani said. “The people here adapt. When something doesn’t work, we change it. You’re only as good as the people who live here, and we’ve got some great people.”

New Las Vegas hotel hopes to attract corporate clients with wellness center, medical spa, and 1960s likeness to the La Concha

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Channeling and drawing inspiration from the past to attract the future: That is what a Las Vegas real estate developer hopes his plans for a new hotel will do. Lorenzo Doumani is building a new 720-room hotel called Majestic Las Vegas, according to (Go to the website to see the renderings.)

The La Concha Motel, which was built back in 1960 by M.K. Doumani, his grandfather, inspired his vision. The La Concha was designed by architect Paul Revere William, one of the first prominent African American architects in the United States. It closed in 2004.

Instead of slot machines, Doumani’s new hotel, the Majestic Las Vegas, will have a wellness center and medical spa. Doumani hopes it will target corporate travelers with his latest resort.

Majestic Las Vegas will be located on over six acres directly across the street from the new Las Vegas Convention Center and the Tesla Tunnel, which is just two blocks from the famed Las Vegas Strip.

Construction for the $850 million project will begin in July 2021, with completion due in 2024.

Las Vegas: Plans for luxury resort on former Clarion site are underway

Developer Lorenzo Doumani expects to break ground on the 720-room hotel in late summer or early fall and finish in 2024. The roughly $850 million project at 305 Convention Center Drive will not have a casino and is aimed at business travelers.

In a media event Wednesday, developer Lorenzo Doumani outlined plans for a USD 850M resort on the former home of the Clarion, after a history of name changes, new owners, and, finally, an implosion.

Majestic Las Vegas will be a 720-room hotel located in a plot of land just east of the Strip and Doumani expects to begin construction in late summer or early fall and finish in 2024, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

The roughly $850 million project at 305 Convention Center Drive will not have a casino and is aimed at business travelers. It is across the street from the newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center and slated to feature 35 corporate suites, offered for sale from $10 million to $100 million, spread among the tower’s top 10 floors. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a crushing blow to Las Vegas’ tourism industry and shut off conventions, though Doumani figures things will largely be back to normal by the time he opens Majestic.

“By then it better be, or the world’s got a lot bigger problems, trust me,” he told the Review-Journal at Wednesday’s event. “If we’re still dealing with this stuff in late 2024, you know, God help us all.”The project site is the former home of the Clarion, which Doumani imploded in 2015. The 12-story hotel had around 200 rooms — not particularly big by Vegas standards — but the building’s history was far from boring.

It opened in 1970, and over the years its names included the Royal Inn, the Paddlewheel, the Debbie Reynolds and the Greek Isles. After going bankrupt under the late actress Debbie Reynolds, it was bought at auction in 1998 by the World Wrestling Federation.

The WWF laid out plans to demolish the hotel and build a 35-story wrestling-themed casino but ended up selling the property in 2000.A developer bought the property in 2007 and filed plans for a 1.4 million-square-foot project featuring two hotel towers. But after the real estate bubble burst, lenders filed court papers in 2009 to push the owner into bankruptcy, and the property was lost to foreclosure.

Doumani bought the hotel in 2014, though even its implosion didn’t go as planned. Part of an elevator shaft survived the blasts and had to be pulled down with steel cables.

Doumani obtained Clark County approval of his hotel plans in 2019 and had hoped to break ground last year. The pandemic, however, delayed his plans by 15 to 18 months, he said.

Coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out, though it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take for people to feel safe to travel again or for businesses to hold in-person trade shows and conferences like they used to.

Doumani, for one, doesn’t expect tourism to immediately roar back.

“I hope I’m wrong, and I wish I could be a little more optimistic,” he said.

A New Hotel Starts Construction in July With Six Restaurants Near the Convention Center

EASTSIDEThe Majestic plans to start construction in July on a luxury hotel with 720 suites and six restaurants situated around a piazza with fountains and live entertainment. The hotel, developed by Lorenzo Doumani, takes over the former Clarion site, also formerly the Debbie Reynolds Hotel, on Convention Center Drive, two blocks from the Strip and across from the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center. The resort will not have gaming and will be nonsmoking. The $850 million project on 6.1 acres plans to open in 2024. [TravelPulse]

New Non-Gaming Vegas Hotel for Biz Travelers Will Rely on 1960s Design

A third-generation Las Vegas real estate developer is targeting corporate travelers with his latest resort. But unlike other hotels, Lorenzo Doumani is turning back the clock, drawing inspiration from an iconic, casino-free hotel built by his grandfather.

Building on the new 720-room Majestic Las Vegas will begin in July this year, with completion due in 2024. Instead of slot machines, there’ll be a wellness center and medical spa.

A postcard for La Concha Motel, built in 1961. Picture: Flickr

Doumani’s grandfather built the La Concha Motel in 1961, which as well cutting out the gambling featured iconic domes, designed by architect Paul Revere Williams. These elements are also being revived, while Doumani hopes to recreate the financial success of the historic hotel too.

“La Concha Motel had 100 rooms, but made a million dollars a year, in 1960s money, and it was a non-gaming hotel for high-end clientele. So in a weird way, the history of it is very positive,” Doumani told Skift.

He clams the Majestic will be a first for Las Vegas — but that’s only if you don’t include La Concha Motel. “We’ve never had a non-gaming hotel because gaming was always 60, 70, 80 percent of the revenue. Now it’s only 32 percent of the revenue,” he said. “It’s never been done as a standalone, and never been attempted on a significant level.”

It’s a risk to assume business travel is set for such a rebound, even by 2024. Doumani also wants to sell 35 “Sky Suites” to companies, which he imagines could be used as convention and meeting spaces, showrooms or corporate headquarters. After a year like 2020, most companies would wince at the $10-100 million price range.

But Doumani is confident the Majestic’s location, opposite the new Las Vegas Convention Center and the Tesla Tunnel, which recently submitted plans to expand to downtown Las Vegas and potentially McCarran International Airport, will draw corporations in.

From left: Architect Paul Steelman, Lorenzo Doumani, and celebrity chef and restaurateur Todd English at a launch event on January 6, 2020.

That, and the promise of social distancing and a move to healthier lifestyles; the resort will even offer guests nutrition counseling.

“I think we’ll learn from coronavirus, and our project is a smaller project. It’s not one of these 4,000-room mega-resort and casinos Las Vegas is known for,” he said. “Corporate clientele don’t want to trek through a place with 10,000 people, and carpet and smoke.

Luxury resort sets ground breaking at old Clarion site

The coronavirus pandemic may have shut off business travel to Las Vegas and other cities, but developer Lorenzo Doumani is betting big that this line of business will be up and running again.

Doumani announced Monday that he plans to break ground in July on Majestic Las Vegas, a 720-room luxury hotel off the north Strip. He expects to finish the roughly $850 million resort in 2024.

The project site — former home of the Clarion hotel, which Doumani imploded in 2015 — is across the street from the newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center, and Doumani said his nongaming hotel will cater to business travelers.

“We’re not a typical leisure tourist destination at all,” he told the Review-Journal.

Majestic, 305 Convention Center Drive, is slated to include restaurants, live entertainment, a medical spa offering “executive physicals” and nutrition counseling, and 35 corporate suites spread among the tower’s top 10 floors.

With coronavirus vaccines being rolled out, there is widespread hope that the pandemic’s end is in sight, and Doumani figures that the outbreak will be stamped out by the time he opens Majestic.

“I certainly hope so,” he said. “It would have to be.”

The pandemic has kept people home and away from crowds for fear of getting infected, putting the kibosh on corporate travel as business gatherings moved online to Zoom or other video chat sites.

Doumani said that he intends to focus his corporate-suite sales efforts on tech, entertainment, sports and fashion companies and that after the pandemic is over, people will still be “wary” of massive crowds.

At Majestic, he said, companies can have their own suites and control who comes in.

“I think people are going to very wary of large spaces,” he said.

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