Ambitious casino resort proposed for Valencia

A Singaporean development firm has proposed to build “the best urban resort in Europe” and has presented plans to construct the facility at Juan Carlos I Royal Marina in Valencia. With an investment that could reach 1bn Euro, the project aims at bringing the Formula 1 European Grand Prix back to the Spanish city. Behind the project is ARC Resorts, a specialist of large integrated resorts in Asian and European markets, which has presented the initial plan to the Generalitat Valencia. The project calls for an investment of 200m Euro over the next three years to complete a six-star hotel and casino, with further private investment that could reach 1bn Euro if a golf club and surrounding residential estate is built. Details of the development show a luxury hotel with 120 suites, each measuring 400 square metres and featuring a spa and sun terrace. The hotel would house a casino in a 2,000 square metre glass atrium and also contain a concert and event arena, an indoor market, shopping centre, yacht centre and sailing training centre. A second hotel with 500 rooms would be developed within the complex. Juan Carlos I Royal Marina is located next to Las Arenas Beach, just north of the commercial port in Valencia, and is surrounded by the F1 circuit. The project design is in keeping with the original features of the Docks building, which was constructed in 1927. ARC Resorts is aiming to integrate the Marina with the city and plans to modernise the park, gardens and landscape in the surrounding area. According to the company, Valencia is the “ideal” location for the project because it boasts the necessary infrastructure, excellent weather and is already geared towards tourism. The Marina “could be the jewel in its crown” and a reason why the city was selected over Barcelona and Madrid, where Las Vegas Sands had previously sought as potential destinations for its elapsed EuroVegas project. “We are highly selective, and very few locations can meet the high demands we set for viability and realisation,” commented Mark Vlassopulos, ARC Resorts CEO, and son of Tony Vlassopulos, won managed an F1 team in the 1970s. Following “economic and feasibility studies” carried out by ARC Resorts, added the CEO, the Company has determined “Valencia is ready to start.” ARC Resorts considers Valencia has great potential as a top destination in Europe. The Marina area was revamped in 2003 in preparation for the America’s Cup yacht races in 2007, including a metro line to the city and the local airport. After the America’s Cup teams left the city, Formula 1 moved in but the local government did not have the money the keep the European Grand Prix going. In addition to the 1bn Euro that could be spent on the casino project, ARC Resorts said that it would be willing to invest a further 600m Euro to revive the Grand Prix, suggesting that the investment would pay off if the facility was up and running. The Company estimates that the project could create up to 8,000 permanent jobs and attract more than 750,000 new tourists into Valencia each year. New life would be pumped into the area that already attracts tourists to its iconic City of Arts and Sciences parks, as well as the Valencia exhibition centre. It would create new business opportunities in the city that has suffered from the wider economic crisis in Spain and mark the second investment by a Singaporean firm in recent years, following the sale of Valencia Football Club to Peter Lim last year. The City Council of Valencia would need to change gaming legislation for the project to go ahead and while lawmakers consider the proposal, local authorities remain split on whether to move ahead. The Regional Minister for the Economy, Industry, Tourism and Employment, Máximo Buch, and Minister for the Civil Service Juan Carlos Moragues, said the proposals are being reviewed in detail.