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 mega-resort 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 in September 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 mega-resorts, opens this spring. The $1.3 billion project will offer 2,567 rooms and suites, 21 restaurants, 130 shops, 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 number-one worldwide in gaming properties, with the most hotel rooms, most casino space, and greatest cash flow. In Las Vegas alone, it employs 17,000 people 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. The purchase price is $275 million in cash.
Las Vegas CVA * Contact: Nancy Murphy, director of sales
* Phone: (702) 892-0711
* Fax: (702) 892-2824
* Total guest rooms: 121,665
* Total gaming venues: About 150
Atlantic City, New Jersey * Renovations estimated at $72 million are under way to transform Atlantic City's Historic Boardwalk Convention Hall into a major special events arena. The new arena will accommodate between 12,000 and 16,000 seats for concerts, family shows, and sporting events. The East Hall Arena will continue to serve as home to the Miss America pageant. West Hall will become a mutifaceted entertainment complex.
* Two major new developments are in the works for Atlantic City's Marina District. Le Jardin Casino Resort, which is to be developed by Mirage Resorts, will be a $750 million, 2,000-room casino hotel opening in 2001. And groundbreaking for The Borgata, a $750 million casino resort being developed by Boyd Gaming Corporation, took place late last year. Plans call for 1,500 guest rooms at the resort, set 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 Confer-ence 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. Total meeting space 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 capabilities.
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 showroom. It is available for groups.
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 TahoeVisitors 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: Dallas, Houston, Tampa, Nashville, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Atlanta. Daily flights rose to 29, increasing seat availability by 70 percent.
* Grand Casino Gulfport has opened the Oasis Spa and Resort, its second hotel, with an additional 600 rooms. 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 holding 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 to 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, 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 Confer-ence 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, connected to the 100,000-square-foot River Center/Adler Theatre, the Quad Cities largest convention center. The hotel recently renovated its 191 rooms.
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 new casinos will remain open up to four years while permanent facilities are built in a riverview 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:
Native American-owned Casinos * Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort--The largest casino between Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Soaring Eagle, in Mount Pleasant, Mich., 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 people.
* Seven Feathers Hotel and Casino Resort--Located in Canyonville, Ore., this seven-year-old facility is owned by the Cave Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Midway between Eugene and Medford, Seven Feathers has more than 21,000 square feet of meeting facilities, including six breakout rooms, that can accommodate up to 1,500 attendees. The resort offers 150 guest rooms.
* Foxwoods--Near the Mystic Coast and Long Island Sound in the Connecticut woods, Foxwoods' 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. (See sidebar on page 58.)
* 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.
On Location: Caesars Atlantic City The newly expanded Caesars Atlantic City feels more like being in ancient Rome than being on the Jersey shore: the hotel's spectacularsix-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.--Helena MieleHelena Miele
The Mississippi: The World's Longest Gaming Strip 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 Pontchartrain) 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.
Gaming Getaways Recognizing a new niche for Las Vegas, savvy hoteliers have created what Thomas Waddell, senior sales manager for The Resort at Summer- lin, 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, 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's Bill Gates and Disney's Michael Eisner.
Set on 21 acres of lakefront, the Hyatt Regency will add sailing, fishing, and kayaking, plus golf, at nearby Reflection Bay Golf Club.
Another variation is the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel on the Strip. A non-gaming hotel adjacent to Mandalay Bay, it has its own entrance, restaurants, meeting facilities, spa, and pool. Guest 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.
Mohegan Sun: More than a Casino Connecticut's Mohegan Tribal Nation, owners of the nation's fourth-largest casino, the Mohegan Sun, is embarking on an unconventional $800 million expansion, which includes a 34-story, 1,200-room luxury hotel tower, 100,000 square feet of meeting space, and a second gaming hall, the 115,000-square-foot Casino of the Sky.
At a Manhattan news conference in February, the Tribal Council unveiled plans that included, among other things, an angular, soaring hotel tower reminiscent of prisms and crystals, and interiors featuring birch bark, waterfalls, and glass beads, all in sync with Mohegan culture. And the new gaming floor will certainly be the world's first with a planetarium dome and a mountain of back-lighted onyx and alabaster. The latter is called the Wombi Rock, and will house a lounge and a dance floor.
The four-million-square-foot expansion will triple the size of the Mohegan Sun, which currently has no hotel or meeting space. Other features of the expansion, scheduled for completion in 2002, include a 10,000-seat arena, 175,000 square feet of retail space, a spa, and a business center. The Mohegan Sun is located in Uncasville in southeastern Connecticut.
David H. Casey, vice president of hotel sales and marketing, says the Mohegan Sun is targeting national trade associations with a northeastern rotation, as well as corporations. "Our location puts us in the middle of 15 million of the most affluent people in the world," he said, referring to the Boston-to-Washington corridor. "It's a fabulous, target-rich environment for corporate businesses."
He stressed that the Mohegan Sun will not be a traditional casino hotel, explaining that the gaming department will control less than 50 percent of the 1,200 guest rooms on weekends. That will enable sizable meetings to book over Fridays and Saturdays, something that is practically impossible at most casino hotels, where meetings are a midweek proposition.
"Another difference," he said, "is that someone can attend a meeting, enjoy the facilities, the gourmet restaurants, the IMAX theater, the shopping--and not once set foot on the gaming floor." --Jay Levin
Reno/Tahoe 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