When the 93,500-square-foot Hospitality Hall hosts its grand opening Jan. 25, it will mark the culmination of several years of communitywide efforts to create a state-of-the-art hospitality training facility at UNLV. In fact more than $24 million of the $59 million building was funded by private donors, reflecting the deliberate effort to give the building a strong connection to Las Vegas’ hospitality industry, while opening the door to new partnerships that extend globally.
“This new academic building will serve as a bridge between the industry and our students,” said Stowe Shoemaker, dean of the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, which now calls Hospitality Hall home.
The building’s founding donors each contributed $2.5 million in a show of hospitality industry leaders’ commitment to the college. UNLV is consistently ranked as one of the top hospitality programs in the world.
The founders are: Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, Konami Gaming, MGM Resorts International, Boyd Gaming Corporation, Red Rock Resorts Inc., J. Willard and Alice Marriott Foundation, and the Engelstad Family Foundation.
“This is a competitive industry, and we are impressed by the spirit of collaboration shown by our donors in supporting this project to train the future leaders of our industry,” Shoemaker said. “The fact that we have managed to gain international support for Hospitality Hall reflects the quality of our students, the passion of our faculty, and the far-reaching impact of our alumni.”
In addition to domestic-based donors, like the founders and well-known local philanthropists Don and Dee Snyder, and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, key Hospitality Hall supporters include Hainan Sunup Investment Group of China and the Ambassador Hotel Group of South Korea.
Partnering with a wide array of hospitality leaders was planned from the start. The vision for the building was that it will allow student interaction with multiple industry leaders.
“We’re very much tied to the industry,” Shoemaker said. “We wanted to create an environment where students are regularly exposed to the names of the individuals and corporations that are running the hospitality industry. Thanks to our many generous donors, that has become a reality.”
Rather than name the building after one major donor, designated spaces within the building will be named for different major donors. For example, named sections of the building include the MGM Resorts International Café and Plaza, the Red Rock Resorts Inc. Executive Boardroom and Terrace, and the Caesars Entertainment Foundation Lobby.
The second-floor, 120-seat auditorium will be named the Las Vegas Sands Auditorium, and the fourth-floor kitchen — featuring 10 cooking stations for students and a demonstration station equipped with a cameras — will be called the Marriott Executive Kitchen.
“We are excited to share in the mission of Hospitality Hall,” said Anne Gunsteens, executive director of the Marriott Foundation, “which is to provide a world-class learning space where research and industry partnership thrive and students receive the preparation they need to succeed in the demanding world of hospitality.”
“As longtime supporters of giving back to our communities, there is nothing more important than investing in the education of our future industry leaders,” Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president of communications and government relations at Caesars Entertainment, said.