Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City--when people think of gaming, these are the cities that probably spring to mind. But resorts across the country offer games and the amenities that go with them, from New Orleans to Tunica to Detroit. Here's the latest on acquisitions, new construction, renovations, and airline news from these destinations.
Las Vegas, Nevada * National Airlines, Las Vegas' only hometown airline, began flying in May. Destinations include Los Angeles, Chicago (Midway Airport), New York (JFK), San Francisco, and Dallas, with new service for Philadelphia beginning in November. National ranked sixth among all Las Vegas carriers in seat levels and departures.
* Now that Bellagio has been open almost a year, Mirage Properties CEO Steve Wynn plans a megaresort to replace the gaudy Boardwalk Holiday Inn at the south end of the Strip. Start date is tentatively set for 2000, with completion in 2003.
* The tropically themed $950 million Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino opened in March with 3,700 rooms and suites, including 424 managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Features include the Mandalay Bay Events Center, a 12,000-seat sports and entertainment complex, a House of Blues live music theater seating 1,800, and more than 190,000 square feet of meeting space. The adjacent, newly opened Four Seasons Hotel has a separate 10,000-square-foot ballroom plus additional meeting rooms.
* The Venetian Resort Hotel-Casino, the first all-suite hotel on the Strip, opened in May with 3,036 suites. The $1.5 billion resort has a Renaissance Venice theme with waterways, gondolas, the Doge's Palace, Rialto Bridge, and Campanile Tower. Features include 120,000 square feet of gaming floor, 500,000 square feet of meeting space at the Congress Center, and a direct link to the 1.2 million-square-foot Sands Expo & Convention Center.
* Paris Las Vegas Casino Resort opened September 1 with 2,916 rooms, an 85,000-square-foot casino, eight French restaurants, a 1,200-seat theater, and an 87,900-square-foot ballroom. Overall, Paris has 140,000 square feet of pillarless function space. Its signature is a 50-story replica of the Eiffel Tower.
* Aladdin, the last of the current crop of megaresorts, opens next spring. The $1.3 billion development will offer 2,567 rooms and suites, 130 shops, 21 restaurants, the 7,000-seat Theater of the Performing Arts (the only remainder from the original Aladdin), and 100,000 square feet of meeting space.
* Park Place Entertainment Corp., a Hilton spin-off, is buying Caesars World Inc., including Caesars Palace, for $3 billion from Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Park Place is now #1 worldwide in gaming properties, with the most hotel rooms, most casino space, and greatest cash flow. In Las Vegas alone, it employs 17,000 at Caesars Palace, Flamingo Hilton, Las Vegas Hilton, Bally's, and Paris-Las Vegas.
* Divesting itself of all gaming properties, Starwood has reached an agreement to sell the Desert Inn, a popular destination for high-end incentives, to Sun International, operators of casino resorts in the Bahamas (Atlantis), Atlantic City, and the Indian Ocean. Price is $275 million in cash.
Las Vegas CVA * Contact: Nancy Murphy,director of sales
* Phone: (702) 892-0711
* Fax: (702) 892-2824 www.lasvegas24hours.com
* Total guest rooms: 121,665
* Total gaming venues: About 150
Atlantic City, New Jersey * Renovations estimated at $72 million will transform the Historic Boardwalk Convention Hall into a major special events arena to accommodate between 12,000 and 16,000 seats for concerts, family shows, and sporting events. The East Hall Arena will remain home to the Miss America pageant. West Hall will become a mutifaceted entertainment complex.
* Two major developments are planned for Atlantic City's Marina District: Le Jardin Casino Resort by Mirage Resorts will be a $750 million, 2,000-room casino hotel opening in 2001; groundbreaking for "The Borgata," Boyd Gaming Corporation's $750 million new casino resort, was planned for this fall. It will feature 1,500 guest rooms and suites, and is scheduled to open in 2002.
* MGM Grand plans a $700 million casino hotel with 2,000 rooms on 35 acres next to the Showboat Casino Hotel.
Atlantic City CVA * Contact: Joe Digirolamo, VP, convention development
* Phone: (609) 449-7110, (888) 222-3683
* Fax: (609) 345-3685
* Total guest rooms: 6,222
* Total gaming venues: 12
Reno/Lake Tahoe, Nevada Reno * Investing $75 million, Atlantis Casino Resort opened the Sky Terrace, a 27-story luxury tower, in March and then added 20,000 square feet of meeting space (for a total of 37,000 square feet), expanded its casino, and added new restaurants and lounges and an indoor/outdoor pool and spa.
* For special events and meetings, Silver Legacy Casino opened its new 40,000-square-foot City Center Pavilion early in 1999.
* Reno Hilton added 47,000 square feet of meeting space for a total of 187,000 square feet. With more than 2,000 rooms, it is northern Nevada's largest hotel/casino. Forevents, Hilton offers an Extreme Theme Park with thrill rides, a rock-climbing wall, and mini golf. A 26,000-square-foot indoor ice-skating rink opened in November.
* Peppermill Hotel Casino is growing with a $65 million expansion and renovation to add 40,000 square feet of multipurpose meeting and event space. (Total: 70,000 square feet.) Opening is set for this fall.
* Now undergoing a $105 million expansion, the Reno Sparks Conference Center is adding a 140,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 30,000 square feet of new meeting space, and a 30,000-square-foot ballroom. The total will be more than 500,000 square feet. The center recently completed a multimillion-dollar face-lift and added high-speed data transfer, T-1 and ISDN lines, modem hookups, fax machines and videoconferencing.
North Lake Tahoe * Squaw Valley USA installed a $20 million funitel, an enclosed aerial transportation system capable of operation in 75-mile-per-hour crosswinds.
* Granlibakken Conference Center in Tahoe City, Calif., opened a new Business Center, giving clients access to e-mail, Internet, scanner, fax, and copy services. The center also recently opened a new pool, hot tub, sauna, and clubhouse.
* Tahoe Biltmore in Crystal Bay, Nev., remodeled its Nevada Room for groups of up to 450 attendees.
South Lake Tahoe * Lake Tahoe Airport is once again operating jet service, which had been discontinued in 1995. Allegiant Air flies to and from Hollywood/Burbank and Las Vegas, and Tahoe Air flies to and from LAX and San Jose, Calif.
* South Lake Tahoe's only all-lakefront property, the Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge and Spa, has remodeled all 46 rooms. It now offers meeting space for up to 30 in a lakeview setting.
* Horizon Casino Resort Lake Tahoe opened an all-digital surround-sound, eight-screen theater in the resort's former show room. It is available for group use.
Reno-Sparks CVB * Contact: Gloria Brown, director of convention sales
* Phone: (775) 827-7600, (800) 443-1482
* Fax: (775) 826-7666
* Total guest rooms: 21,000
* Total gaming venues: 69
North Lake Tahoe Resort Association * Contact: Paige Nebeker, director of conference and group sales
* Phone: (530) 581-8709, (800) 462-5196
* Fax: (530) 581-8779
* Total guest rooms: 6,800
* Total gaming venues: 4
South Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority * Contact: Guy Joy, program manager
* Phone: (530) 544-5050
* Fax: (530) 544-2386
* Total guest rooms:11,000
* Total gaming venues: 6
Louisiana New Orleans * Following a three-year bankruptcy hiatus, Harrah's Casino finally opened in late October at the end of Canal Street with 3,000 slots and 120 gaming tables. It is the city's only land-based casino.
* New Orleans Sports Arena opened in October. Available for large groups up to 20,000, it is opposite the Louisiana Superdome.
* Jazzland, a 140-acre theme park with a nightly Mardi Gras parade, opens 12 miles from downtown in 2000.
* The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans opens in February with 452 rooms, and the 209-room Renaissance New Orleans is slated for a mid-2001 debut.
Shreveport * Harrah's Shreveport is building a 503-room hotel with nearly 17,000 square-feet of convention space. Targeted opening is next September.
New Orleans Metropolitan CVB * Contact:Nikki Nicholson, director of convention sales
* Phone: (504) 566-5011
* Fax: (504) 566-5046
* Total guest rooms: 29,000
* Total gaming venues: 4
Mississippi Gulf Coast * Beau Rivage, Mirage Properties' first venture outside Nevada in 20 years, opened in March. The $680 million, 32-story beachfront resort has 1,780 rooms, 12 restaurants, and a 50,000-square-foot conference center, which can accommodate up to 2,000 meeting attendees.
* Beau Rivage's opening was coordinated by Mirage Resorts with newly expanded Air Tran service between Gulfport/Biloxi Regional Airport and seven southeastern cities including Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Nash-ville, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, and Atlanta. Daily flights rose to 29, increasing seat availability by 70 percent.
* Grand Casino Gulfport opened the Oasis Spa and Resort, its second hotel, with an additional 600 rooms in June. The property now offers 1,000 rooms and 12,000 square feet of meeting space.
* Casino Row in Biloxi is a new marketing program sponsored by three Mississippi Gulf Coast gaming resorts: Isle of Capri Crowne Plaza Resort-Biloxi, Grand Casino-Biloxi, and Casino Magic-Biloxi. The properties are clustered on Point Cadet at the city's eastern end.
Tunica * Tunica County is building a 100,000-square-foot Exposition Center, with capacity for 6,000, and 14 luxury skyboxes, each accommodating up to 24 guests. It opens in July.
* Grand Casino Tunica, which opened the third of its three hotels in 1998 for a total of 1,356 rooms, is building a new Events Center for sports and live entertainment. During midweek it will be available for exhibitions or meetings with up to 2,800 delegates.
* Isle of Capri is building a 225-room hotel and two Wayne Newton theaters. Both projects will open in 2000.
Mississippi-Gulf Coast CVB * Contact: Jill Meucci, director of conventions
* Phone: (228) 896-6699, (888) 467-4853
* Fax: (228) 896-6796
* Total guest rooms: 16,000
* Total gaming venues: 13
Tunica CVB * Contact: Bill Canter, director of sales
* Phone: (888) 488-6422
* Fax: (662) 363-1493
* Total guest rooms: 6,000
* Total gaming venues: 10
Missouri Kansas City * Argosy IV riverboat, with 30,000 square feet of gaming space on three levels and a two-story, 82,250-square-foot pavilion, has added meeting facilities for up to 650 people on the pavilion's second floor. A 200-room hotel and nine-hole golf course are planned for the 52-acre site.
* Destination Crown Center is an entertainment district near the world headquarters of Hallmark Cards Inc. It unites the meeting space, accommodations, and guest services of the Hyatt Regency Crown Center and Westin Crown Center hotels. Together, the two hotels will open a 54,000-square-foot exhibit hall early next year, bringing Destination Crown Center's total meeting space to nearly 140,000 square feet.
* Second in size only to New York's Grand Central Station, Kansas City's Union Station is being refurbished with a Science City museum, a Harvey Housestyle restaurant, shops, and other exhibits. The Grand Hall and North Waiting Room will be available for groups.
* Approved by referendum vote, the Power & Light District is an urban entertainment development planned for downtown Kansas City. It will include convention and hotel facilities that will inject $454 million into the city's central core. The first phase opens in 2001.
St. Louis * Directly south of the America's Center convention complex in downtown St. Louis, a 1,000-room headquarters hotel will be built. Named the Renaissance Hotel, it will be completed during the first half of 2001.
* St. Louis gets its first Westin Hotel next year, when a new 220-room facility opens in the historic Cupples Station complex downtown.
CVB of Greater Kansas City * Contact: Denise DeJulio, director of sales
* Phone: (816) 221-5242
* Fax: (816) 691-3805
* Total guest rooms: 20,000
* Total gaming venues: 4
St. Louis CVC * Contact: Bill Bohde, VP, convention andsales
* Phone: (314) 421-1023
* Fax: (314) 621-7729
* Total guest rooms: 20,000
* Total gaming venues: 5
Illinois/Iowa * Quad Cities was first in the United States to offer riverboat gambling. Now, one of its vessels, Jumer's Casino Rock Island, gets a big new payoff since it no longer has to offer river cruises. This means increased gaming receipts for Jumer's, and all other Illinois casinos.
* Lady Luck Casino Hotel and Conference Center in Bettendorf, Iowa, opened a new hotel in 1998 with 256 guest rooms and four meeting rooms. Next, it opened the Lady Luck Conference Center with 13,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel is connected to the casino via skywalk, and the convention center is next door.
* President Casino now runs and owns the President Casino's BlackHawk Hotel, which is connected to the Quad Cities largest convention center: the 100,000-square-foot River Center/Adler Theatre. The hotel also recently renovated its 191 rooms and suites.
Quad Cities CVB * Contact: Arlyce Musal, director of sales, or Cheryl Ealy, VP, convention sales
* Phone: (309) 788-7800, (800) 747-7800
* Fax: (319) 322-6066
* Total guest rooms: 5,400
* Total gaming venues: 3
Michigan * Detroit became the largest U.S. city to offer casino gambling when the MGM Grand-Detroit opened on July 29. MGM's interim casino is housed in a former IRS building. Two others--Motor City Casino, formerly a Wonder Bread Bakery, and Greektown Casino--will open shortly. Detroit's introductory casinos will remain open up to four years while permanent facilities are constructed in a river-view location, each with an 800-room hotel.
* On opening day 2000, the Detroit Tigers will begin play in their new home, a $240 million open-air stadium called Comerica Park. Groundbreaking for the Detroit Lions football team's $225 million 65,000-seat domed stadium is expected during fall. Side-by-side, the two stadiums will co-anchor a new sports and entertainment area near the city's existing theater district.
* General Motors' $100 million renovation of the 73-story Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center will create a world-class hotel that includes a new ballroom. GM will also renovate the rest of Renaissance Center at a total estimated cost of $500 million.
Detroit Metro CVB * Contact: Janis Schmees, director of sales
* Phone: (313) 202-1800
* Fax: (313) 202-1832
* Total guest rooms: 31,000
* Total gaming venues: 3
Native AmericanOwned Casinos * Foxwoods--Near the Mystic Coast and Long Island Sound in the Connecticut woods, Foxwood's facilities include 1,400 rooms and suites (including 312 four-diamond rated rooms) and 40,000 square feet of meeting space, complete with a fully equipped business center. The complex also features 24 restaurants and regularly attracts world-class entertainers.
* Mohegan Sun--On the other side of the Thames River in Connecticut, the Mohegan Sun is undergoing an $800 million expansion to include 1,200 luxury guest rooms and suites; 100,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 40,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom (the largest in the Northeast); a full-service spa; 29 dining options; a 10,000-seat arena; an IMAX theater; and three live entertainment venues. It is scheduled to opens in April 2002.
* Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort--The largest casino between Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Soaring Eagle has more than 4,000 gaming machines, 512 guest rooms, 26,000 square feet of conference and entertainment space, and banquet facilities for more than 1,000 meeting guests.
* Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley--Both casinos are in central Minnesota, with full-service hotels each offering more than 280 rooms and separate meeting and entertainment facilities (14,000-square-foot ballroom at Mille Lacs and a 10,425-square-foot ballroom at Hinckley).
* Chinook Winds Casino--The facility overlooks the Pacific Ocean 100 miles southwest of Portland near Lincoln City. The city itself has 2,200 rooms, and a free shuttle bus takes visitors to the casino. The Casino also features the largest convention center on the Oregon Coast, with 23,000 square feet of meeting space and two restaurants.
The newly expanded Caesars Atlantic City feels more like being in ancient Rome than being on the Jersey shore: the hotel's spectacular six-story atrium lobby was designed to look like the Forum of ancient Rome.
The $280 million expansion project includes the new Centurion Tower with 640 guest rooms, which brings the total number of guest rooms to 1,144. The luxurious rooms are decorated in warm Tuscan shades of gold, green, red, and cream.
The new Palladium Ballroom accommodates up to 2,000 people, with a foyer for pre-function cocktails. Four new meeting rooms with separate entrances are designed as Italian villas.
Food at the hotel's 12 restaurants ranges from casual dining at the independently owned Planet Hollywood on the boardwalk and the new Rotunda restaurant to formal dining at the award-winning Bacchanal. Dine-arounds are easily arranged.
Like hotels in Las Vegas, Caesars Atlantic City's exciting decor makes the hotel an attraction unto itself.
Stretching 2,300 miles from Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River could be called the world's longest gaming strip. That's because, as Jamie Jensen, author of Road Trip U.S.A., writes, "You'll never be more than 100 miles from a slot machine, from one end of the Mississippi to the other."
When Gaylord Ravenal, the flawed hero of "Show Boat" plied his trade 100 years ago, riverboats were the legendary haunts of gamblers. Today, while some do sail, more often than not the gaming venue is a "boat in a moat." They may look like old-time steamboats, but they're permanently moored, and sometimes even built in a hole dug in dry land and then surrounded with piped-in water.
Like their counterparts in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, many have first-class hotels with meeting space. Ironically, meeting executives can hire non-gaming steamships like the authentically recreated paddlewheelers of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co, headquartered in New Orleans, for incentive trips that include the Mississippi's major gaming areas.
With three gaming locations, the Quad Cities of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, line one side of the river, while Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island, Ill., flank the other. Its riverboat casinos include Jumer's Casino Rock Island, The President Riverboat Casino in Davenport, and the Lady Luck Casino Bettendorf.
Moving south, St. Louis, the nation's second-largest inland port, is also home to the Riverport Casino, one of the largest gaming facilities between Atlantic City and Las Vegas; the President Casino on the Admiral; Casino Queen, directly across from the St. Louis Arch; and Station Casino St. Charles.
Continuing southward, Tunica, Miss., is actually 20 minutes from Memphis, Tenn., and culls most of its customers from the city made famous by Elvis Presley and Beale Street. A convenient shuttle takes visitors to such destinations as Bally's Saloon Gambling Hall & Hotel, Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel, Gold Strike Casino Resort, Grand Casino Tunica, Harrah's Tunica Casino & Hotel, Horseshoe Casino & Hotel, Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall, Sheraton Casino & Hotel, and The Isle of Capri.
Where the river turns eastward toward the Gulf of Mexico lies New Orleans. Famed for Mardi Gras, superb dining, and being the only other city besides Las Vegas without a closing law, The Big Easy opened Harrah's Casino in the heart of town in October. Other nearby casinos include the Treasure Chest (near the airport), Bally's (on Lake Ponchartrain) and Boomtown, in Harvey, on the river's west bank. As "Ole Man River keeps rolling along," the sound you hear is definitely the cha-ching of slot machines.
Recognizing a new niche market for Las Vegas, savvy hoteliers have created what Thomas Waddell, senior sales manager for The Resort at Summerlin, calls "a resort within a resort." At Summerlin, which opened in July half an hour northwest of the Strip, and at the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas, opening in December some 15 miles east of the Strip in Henderson, guests can be near the action without being in the middle of it.
More like Scottsdale and Palm Springs, the emphasis is on golf, spas, facilities for small to mid-size meetings, and fine dining. The casinos are considered just another amenity.
Surrounded by five golf courses, The Resort at Summerlin hosts groups like the recent CEO conference attended by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and Disney CEO Michael Eisner.
Situated on 21 acres of lakefront property, the Hyatt Regency will add sailing, fishing, windsurfing, and kayaking, along with golf at nearby Reflection Bay Golf Club.
Another variation is the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel. Located on the Strip, the Four Seasons is a non-gaming hotel that is adjacent to Mandalay Bay. It has its own entrance, restaurants, meeting facilities, spa, and pool. Its sleeping rooms are accessed by separate elevators on the 35th through 39th floors of the Mandalay Bay tower.
"What our corporate customers like is that you can be in Las Vegas, yet escape from it,"says Waddell.
on Schedule The completion of Monaco's new convention center, the Grimaldi Forum, is scheduled for June 20, 2000, and the first official event will take place that September. "Up until now, Monaco has been a mostly incentive destination for U.S. groups," says Cindy Hoddeson, director, convention and incentive sales, Monaco Government Tourist Office, New York. "But we're hoping to see more of a mix of business from North America, because of this much larger facility, and really good breakout space."
Pharmaceutical and technology conferences are especially well-suited to the new center, adds Remy Cragut, sales and marketing director for the Forum. "It is a conference center, exhibition facility, museum, and opera house," in one, he says. The entire facility is climate controlled and is built on land reclaimed from the sea. "Monaco is very environmentally sensitive. We use sea water in our air-conditioning system," he adds.
Many of Monaco's first-class and deluxe hotels are within walking distance of the new center. Two new hotel projects are expected to be announced soon. Because of the short distances, shuttle buses will not be needed for large events.
The Grimaldi Forum is ideal for groups of 800 to 1,200 people. It will include a 1,900-seat auditorium, 800-seat and 400-seat auditoriums, a meeting room capable of seating 400 theater-style, 23 breakout rooms, and two exhibition halls, one with 42,000 square feet and the other with 45,000 square feet. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Reno is much more than a Vegas wannabe. Just a 20-minute drive from the neon-decorated downtown, the road snakes into the Sierras, and in less than an hour, you can be on the shores of Lake Tahoe, ringed by a playground of peaks and sublime ski resorts. It offers a quiet counterpoint to Reno's burgeoning bustle.
Downtown Reno is booming. A proposed convention center project would nearly double the facility, adding 200,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, including a 30,000-square-foot ballroom. The 600-room Atlantis Casino Resort across the street will open a new tower this spring, bringing the total number of guest rooms to 1,000 and adding 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
Other meeting developments around town include City Center Pavilion, a 40,000-square-foot exhibit facility; the new Nevada Conference and Exhibition Center at the 2,001-room Reno Hilton, bringing the hotel's meeting space to 187,000 square feet; and an expansion at the 1,070-room Peppermill Hotel Casino South of downtown that will add roughly 58,000 square feet of meeting space by next fall. --Susan Hatch
Mohegan Sun is set to transform itself from a gaming and entertainment complex into a "true destination," says David Casey, VP, hotel sales and marketing. It's an $800 million transformation.
The resort is adding a 1,200-room luxury hotel, a 16,000-square-foot world-class spa, 200,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, and the Northeast's largest ballroom (40,150 square feet) to its 276,000-square-foot casino.
The huge casino does not have a huge presence in the new marketing plan for Mohegan Sun. Of the nearly three dozen photographs in the resort's elegantly designed meeting planner binder, for example, only four have anything to do with gaming. The message: It's there, but it won't overwhelm the other facets of the destination. More proof: On weekends, 50 percent of guest rooms will be dedicated to meeting and leisure guests, not to high rollers.
Mohegan Sun was created by the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut in 1996. The new Mohegan Sun is going right after groups, with a total of 100,000 square feet of meeting space and a claim to convenience coupled with size. Here's where the location comes in. "For organizations with large meetings, this is the first alternative for meeting outside urban areas," Casey says. "We're one hour from Providence, one hour from [Hartford's] Bradley Airport. Within a 100-mile radius, there are 15 million people and some of the most influential corporations in the United States. We see our competition as the Marriott Marquis and the New York Hilton."
Mohegan Sun tapped meeting planners at some of those corporations, including many insurers, to sit on an industry advisory board during the early planning stages of the expansion.
In addition to a variety of meeting spaces, including a 12,500-square-foot sun terrace and a 10,000-seat arena, Mohegan Sun offers groups free entertainment in the Wolf Den from the likes of The Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Temptations, and country star Jo Dee Messina. A new arena will welcome back major national acts such as Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, and the Boston Pops. Golf, tennis, theaters, museums, theme parks, and other attractions are nearby.
The project is expected to be completed in April 2002. When it opens, the hotel will be part of the Associated Luxury Hotels network.