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Westgate Resorts buys former Las Vegas Hilton

Published July 1, 2014 9:42 am

Acquisitions • Canyons Resort property owner acquires hotel where Elvis performed.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Las Vegas • The storied former Las Vegas Hilton, famous for staging Liberace and more than 800 sold-out Elvis Presley concerts in the 1960s and 1970s, has a new name and owner.

Florida-based timeshare company Westgate Resorts, which has a hotel and spa at the base of Canyons Resort outside of Park City, has purchased the LVH hotel from Goldman Sachs and Gramercy Capital and will rename it Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. Some of the nearly 3,000 rooms and suites will be converted to timeshare villas, while others will remain open to regular hotel guests.

"We will be providing the best of both worlds on our resort property," said new owner David Siegel.

With 1,500 rooms, the property was the largest hotel in the world when billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian opened it as The International Hotel in 1969. Barbra Streisand performed an inaugural series of concerts there before Elvis Presley began a 58-show series that broke Las Vegas records.

Presley set up his own penthouse in the hotel and generated millions in ticket sales in the years before his 1977 death.

The hotel, located in a quieter area close to the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center and about a block east of the bustling Las Vegas Strip, has been expanded over the years. It was renamed the Las Vegas Hilton in 1971 and retained the name for 40 years before its licensing agreement with the Hilton hotel chain expired.

It struggled through the recession, defaulting on a $252 million loan in 2010. It was christened the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, or LVH, in 2012.

The acquisition will significantly enlarge Westgate's portfolio. Before the buy, Westgate owned about 10,000 rooms at 28 other resorts in Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Branson, Mo.

Westgate CEO Siegel and his wife Jackie are known for their attempt to build a 90,000-square-foot Florida mansion modeled after the Palace of Versailles. The recession stalled construction on the house, which will be the largest in the U.S. if it's completed.

Their homebuilding effort was detailed in the 2012 documentary "Queen of Versailles," which screened at the Sundance Film Festival.