“Do you know where the Ravella is?” I turn toward the guy with his car window rolled down and point up the road, toward the former Ritz-Carlton. I’m headed there myself, to see if the latest arrival to the beleaguered Lake Las Vegas is making any kind of difference. The drive to get here—past dying golf courses, some of which have been embroiled in bankruptcy—isn’t encouraging.
True, it’s Monday, and it’s overcast and a bit chilly, so perhaps this isn’t the best day to check out the 3,600-acre resort, but then again, I’m not the only one here. There’s the slightly lost guy, and a handful of residents hanging out among the shops and restaurants at the Village in the shadow of Casino MonteLago, which, along with the Ritz-Carlton, shut its doors last year. Ravella, which opened February 11, is trying its level best to give the area a spark—for instance, when guests dine at one of the Village’s restaurants, they can charge the bill to their hotel.
My buddy and I stop for lunch at Bernard’s Bistro, a splendid place to eat—but completely empty, apart from the two of us. Afterwards, we stop by a coffee shop, but are told by a small sign that the store is closed, and that we’ll have to backtrack to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory if we want caffeine. “Closed” signs become a familiar sight throughout the Village, and we decide to cut this part of the trip short and head to Ravella.
We see only a few people milling about in the hotel—20 tops, including staff and a woman in a blue-and-yellow coat playing a grand piano. One of the 20 is a gentleman walking a Great Dane around the hotel. His name’s Gunther Bebenroth, and he owns a Florida-based LED business called Ledmission. He came here to bid on the exterior lighting for Ravella, and he’s waiting for a response. He’s waiting on his future—just like Lake Las Vegas.