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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Lake Las Vegas is back and many believe better than ever.

A Golf and Luxury Community Renaissance

Lake Las Vegas is back and many believe better than ever.

Story by Brian Hurlburt


Times, they are a changin’ at Lake Las Vegas and the good times are a rollin’. The first signal that Lake Las Vegas was on the way back to prominence was when the Jack Nicklaus-designed Reflection Bay Golf Club reopened in 2014 after its 2009 closure. The highly regarded course was purchased by Paulson and Company, a conglomerate founded by American hedge fund manager John Paulson. The group, in total, purchased 1,000 acres in the resort.

Another signal was the purchase of SouthShore Golf Club, another Nicklaus design, by a group of Lake Las Vegas members and residents. The deal, scheduled to close in December, was made possible when previous owner Pacific Links decided to exit the United States golf market. The new ownership group pulled together to secure the future of the course and community surrounding it. They believe their vision aligns perfectly with Paulson and Company and the overall new energy being experienced throughout the community.

It would be difficult to find a harder hit community during the economic downturn that started in 2008 than Lake Las Vegas, However pretty much since the purchase by Paulson and the course reopening, the entire community, a 25-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, has been on an upward trend of resurgence.

Raintree Investment Company oversees the Lake Las Vegas re-development for Paulson and Company, and has been very active when it comes to deal making. Millions have been invested into the project, and deals have been made with homebuilders for new home construction. New partnerships with the resorts at Lake Las Vegas have been forged to enhance the visitor experience, and other public and behind-the-scenes agreements have been made.

“Over the last three years since we have been involved, we have worked very hard and been successful in bringing back the reputation of Lake Las Vegas as a premier destination,” Raintree executive Cody Winterton says. “Now with Eric Dutt involved, and with his expertise, we are positioned well and confident about earning back our rightful reputation as one of the best golf destinations, and destinations in general, in America.”

Dutt is a longtime Las Vegas golf executive who oversaw Cascata and Rio Secco Golf Clubs for the better part of two decades, and is now golf operations manager at Lake Las Vegas. While at Cascata, Dutt led the course to a 29 out of 30 rating in a Zagat survey, one of the top course rankings in the country, plus other accolades. Dutt also oversaw the operations of the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Rio Secco and hosted several high-level tournaments including the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge, the WAC conference championship and the Natalie Gulbis Charity Classic, among others.

Dutt, who won a Big 10 team golf championship at Purdue in 1981 and was inducted into the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame in 2008, now embraces his role in helping take the overall Lake Las Vegas experience to the next level. Not only will he oversee operations at Reflection Bay, but the new SouthShore owners have designated him to oversee the operations of the private course and attract new members. The course will also be open to limited outside play for members of private golf courses throughout the United States 

“It’s a thrill to be part of the overall renaissance happening at Lake Las Vegas and it is a new challenge that I look forward to being a part of for the next several years,” Dutt says. “What really intrigues me is the quality of the golf courses, both Reflection Bay and the private SouthShore. They both have been rated as Top 100 courses in the past and we believe they are still very deserving of that recognition. Having two Jack Nicklaus courses here really sets Lake Las Vegas apart and we will continue to build on that brand as we move forward. My job is to guarantee a quality golf experience to our guests, members and residents, and we are committed to providing that. The synergy between the two courses will be tremendous, and both are part of the fabric of Lake Las Vegas. There is a terrific mix of high-end resort and private play at Lake Las Vegas, and we look forward to building on that message and experience.”


The Setting

The Lake Las Vegas crown jewel is the private, 320-acre Lake Las Vegas. Not only does the water provide a stunning backdrop for golf—five Reflection Bay holes play on the shoreline and SouthShore overlooks the lake—but many other recreational amenities are offered, including paddle boards, wakeboards, paddle boats, cocktail cruises, jet fly boards, paddle board yoga and neon evening events, which have become very popular. The community is now home to several big events and concerts, including the annual Lake Las Vegas Classic, organized by Las Vegas Golf and Leisure Magazine owners.

“The setting is our secret at Lake Las Vegas and people may not realize how special it is until they spend some time here,” Dutt says. “For golf, there isn’t anything else like it in Las Vegas so if golfers want to escape and enjoy a peaceful golf getaway, we are the perfect destination. But, also, we are just a short drive away from the glamour of the Las Vegas Strip, so we offer the best of both worlds.”


Stay and Play

The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa and the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa are two key pieces to the Lake Las Vegas puzzle. Resort golf packages are now available at each resort.

The Westin recently underwent an extensive, $35-million-dollar renovation, which included all guest rooms and suites, lobby, public areas, meeting space, ballrooms, pools, private beach and outdoor spaces. The property is part of the Marriott family of brands, the world’s largest hotelier. The Westin overlooks Reflection Bay.

“Golf is an integral part of the Lake Las Vegas Experience,” Westin director of transient sales Roger Reveyrand says. “Lake Las Vegas is a true golf destination. With luxurious accommodations, spectacular dining, plenty of outdoor diversions, luxurious residential communities, brand new health and fitness clubs and some of the best golf in the country, it’s no wonder that Lake Las Vegas is once again on the radar as one of America’s top golf destinations.”

The Hilton, which is located adjacent to the MonteLago Village shopping and dining district, hovers over the lake and features a resort-style pool with private cabanas, the full-service Spa Ravella and salon, versatile meeting and event space, including a ballroom, 24-hour business center, deluxe rooms and more.


Play and Stay (at home)

As with the golf and resort presence at Lake Las Vegas, there is plenty happening with home development. Pulte Homes and Lennar Homes (the largest homebuilder in Southern Nevada) will be releasing new home communities in the new year. An influx of new residents from Southern California and other locales, including Texas and Canada, are making their homes in Lake Las Vegas.

The Pulte community is targeting the 55 and older age group who are seeking an active lifestyle, which can include a golf membership at SouthShore and membership in the community’s sports clubs. There are two sports clubs now located at Lake Las Vegas, one in the renovated clubhouse of the old Falls Golf Club and one in the SouthShore community. Both will be included under one umbrella membership. 

The Lennar community is being developed on the first, second and third holes of Reflection Bay Golf Club and will feature single-family homes for those looking for a fairway living experience.

“Lake Las Vegas is an incredible place to live, and while other course communities are having challenges and in many cases courses are being closed, we are embracing the golf living lifestyle,” Winterton says. “We are actively developing golf course communities and want potential buyers to understand we have a long-term vision and the golf living lifestyle is a focal point. 

The Final Word

This writer had the opportunity to speak with Nicklaus at the Reflection Bay grand opening. His words that day still ring true.

“It's not often you get the opportunity on a body of water like this, in a setting like Lake Las Vegas, to design a golf course,” Nicklaus said, before adding a description about some of the key holes. “All golf courses have a pace or a flow, and some holes are built to set up other holes. For example, the 17th and 18th holes at Reflection Bay are two pretty good holes on the water, but if the 16th hole was another standout hole, then 17 and 18 wouldn't be as dramatic. The 16th is designed as a nice, simple golf hole for a reason, because when you step up to the 17th and 18th holes, you say, 'wow!'"

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