And as the town pimps its image as an adult playground, with a chorus line of bistros, clubs, and rock concerts, developers know what kind of guy is going to make them rich. “Our buyer profile is basically what you see at the Palms on a weekend,” says Maloof. “I’m creating a scene, where somebody can be part of the action but he can have his own placehis own pool, his own spa, his own restaurants. Whatever you want, you’ll have it.”
The MGM Grand, the Hard Rock, and the Palms are all pouring casino cash into condos. Peter Morton, the litigious and leathery founder of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, is dropping $1 billion to knock down a pile of decrepit apartments next to his land to build five towers, with a 24,000-square-foot spa designed by London architect Zaha Hadid. For the super-fabulous, there’ll be 36 Malibu-style bungalowsup to $5.6 million eachthat creep their way up a man-made hill overlooking acres of wending swimming pools. Future key holders include Drew Carey, Claudia Schiffer, Wilmer Valderrama from That ’70s Show, and all three Dixie Chicks.
For those part-time playboys who find themselves on the L.A. shuttle every weekend, casinos like the MGM and the Hard Rock are dangling another lure: the “condo hotel.” Furnished right down to the silverware, these units can be bought and then rented out when the owner’s not around. In its three towers, the MGM Grand will act as middle-man brokerfor a 50 percent cut of the rent. That’s a deal for David Bravo, 24, an L.A. real-estate agent who frequently rolls into Vegas to prowl the nightclubs and dine out. He just laid out $500,000 on a 550-square-foot studio crash pad on the ninth floor of the new Residences at MGM Grand. His place has marble bathrooms and a 32-inch flat-screen TV that whirs up out of a cherry-walnut desk. “All you need to worry about is a coupla bucks for the nightlife, some gambling, and that’s it,” he says. “Having a condo right there on the stripwith all the electricity, the glitter, and the glamourthat’s why you come here,” he says. “You’re basically buying a suite.”
Jeff Roelands swings his BMW M3 onto an empty patch of Nevada desert the size of a football field. It looks like the kind of desolate place where Bugsy Siegel might have made midnight deposits of freshly whacked wiseguys. But Roelands is here to case the site of his future home: a $650,000 two-bedroom condo in one of the two 45-story monoliths called Turnberry Towers. Construction hasn’t begun, but Roelands already has neighbors: One tower is sold out, the second has a waiting list. A software-company CEO, Roelands is counting the days until 2007, when he gets to trade his current addressin a sleepy country clubfor an upscale aerie in the midst of this nonstop party.