Lake Las Vegas

The History of Lake Las Vegas

Beautiful outdoor scenery, an Italian style village, and lake front resorts are not typically what one thinks of when picturing Las Vegas. However, that is exactly what is to be found only 20 miles from the famous Las Vegas Strip, where desert, lights, and gambling convert into a scenic, quiet retreat. The main attraction is the man-made Lake Las Vegas, located in the City of Henderson, Nevada.
An idea 40 some years in the making, this man-made, luxury, nature retreat has struggled to come to fruition. Unfortunately, though a great resort and vacation spot, to this day there seem to be problems keeping the whole project afloat. Regardless, the story of the birth of this vision is worth relating. Though some will continue to remain skeptical, the limited success the lake has experienced after overcoming so many obstacles instills confidence for its future prospects.

Adair and His Dream

The idea for this body of water in the middle of the desert came into existence in the late 1960’s from the mind of an actor and business man, J. Carlton Adair. As an actor, Adair did not boast much success. Later in life he had minor roles in three movies, which all took place in Las Vegas. Most notable of Adair’s on screen credits is a Robert Redford and Jane Fonda movie entitled The Electric Horeseman. However, his primary vocation was that of business man with a big dream. Adair bought the land and water rights in what would later be developed into Lake Las Vegas. In 1967, Adair addressed the Henderson city council regarding ideas for this man-made lake, which would supposedly boost the economy of the City of Henderson. As a hotel investor, he surely had plans to turn this location into a booming tourist area. The proposed project became known as Lake Adair.
Adair struggled for many years to make his dream a reality. Unfortunately, 20 years after planning the project Lake Adair and without even ever starting construction of the lake, funds ran short, and Adair was forced to file bankruptcy. Pacific Malibu Development Corporation had a short, failing run with the project. Afterwards, Ronald Boeddeker bought the then government owned land in the late 1980’s.

Boeddeker Builds Lake Las Vegas

Boeddeker, an engineer, business man, real estate big shot, and later founder of Transcontinental Corporation, made a name for himself as a resort developer. By the time he began developing the then obscure area of The City of Henderson, he had already started up three other successful resorts. His work spans from Hawaii, the far east coast, to the far west coast. The Lake Las Vegas project may have been one of his most daunting undertakings. In 1995, Boeddeker was joined on this project by Henry Gluck, former Chairman of the Caesar’s World casino, as well as Sid and Lee Bass, brothers, heirs to family fortune, and investors.

With the needed backing and financial support, the plans decades in the making were ready to go underway. The lake has a 10 mile shoreline. It is estimated that three billion gallons of water were diverted to the 320 acre lake in order to fill it initially. A dam was built in order to keep it full. Four and a half times the width of a football field, the dam has an outstanding span of 716 feet. Roughly 13 times the length of a football field, the dam stretches 4,800 feet long. Lastly, with its 18 story stature, this massive structure is double the height of the tallest luxury hotel that is on the property.

The Las Vegas Lake sits on an area of the Las Vegas Wash which runs under the lake through two massive pipes. The Wash is a 12 mile long channel of water that flows from the valley, through the City of Henderson where it picks up all the waste water, and then goes on to unite with Lake Mead in southeastern Nevada two miles from the Las Vegas Lake. Through clever engineering design, Lake Mead feeds Lake Las Vegas a continuous supply of water.

Luxury Resort and Real Estate

Boeddker had big plans to make Lake Las Vegas a popular vacation destination. Exhausting every possible avenue of attractions, the area which came to be known as Las Vegas Lake Resort would feature water and boating activities, normal resort amenities such as spa services, and 50 acres devoted to hiking and bike trails for a genuine outdoor experience.

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A nearby village like area would provide fine dining and boutique shopping. For those who would desire more than an amazing vacation, real estate properties would be added to make their stay more permanent. Everything would be designed in an Italianesque style. One would be able to travel only minutes from the bustling Las Vegas Strip and enter a peaceful Mediterranean wonderland.

In 1992, one year after construction of the lake began, the hotels and housing communities sprang up. More than 3,500 acres of land were developed into luxury residential and resort areas. Three major hotels were built on the property: the Monte Lago Village Resort, the Hyatt Regency, and the Ritz Carlton.

Private golf courses were added to the property. Jack Nicklaus, former professional golfer, designed two of the courses. Nicklaus’ repertoire boasts course designs in 36 different countries. South Shore and Reflection Bay, his courses on Lake Las Vegas have hosted pofessional golfing competitions and won many awards for his intricate design work.

The Future of Lake Las Vegas

Unfortunately, the progress of Lake Las Vegas has not been stable. In 2008, much of the land and projects went into bankruptcy. As the project was picked up and handed off to different investors, going in and out of foreclosure, Lake Las Vegas suffered many blows. Golf courses were abandoned. The Ritz Carlton shut down in 2011, but is currently running again as the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa. The Hyatt Regency also transitioned into a Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa. In 2012, Raintree Investment Corporation bought much of the land and began working with other investors to rebuild the golf courses, residential areas, and other infrastructure of Lake Las Vegas. The progress has been slow but sure.

Lake Las Vegas remains a well liked resort destination. Visitors’ number one complaint is that many of the village shops and restaurants have yet to reopen. However, most agree that they enjoy the beautiful scenery, the quiet, serene environment, and the unique experience of staying at Lake Las Vegas.