New Orleans, Tunica, and Detroit have joined Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City as gaming destinations offering not only first-rate casinos and entertainment, but also the necessary infrastructure to host groups. Here is the latest on acquisitions, new construction, renovations, and airline news from these destinations.
Las Vegas, Nevada
National Airlines, Las Vegas' only hometown airline, continues to grow. Service to Chicago's O'Hare began in January, adding to already-existing service to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago's Midway Airport, Dallas, New York (JFK), Philadelphia, Newark, and Washington, D.C. National ranks fifth among Las Vegas carriers in seat levels and departures. Go to www.nationalairlines.com.
MGM Grand purchased Mirage Resorts, now MGM Mirage, for $6.4 million in March, adding the mega-resorts Mirage and Bellagio, among others, to its hotels and casinos. Meanwhile, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino recently renovated the 4,200 rooms in its Grand Tower. The redo is part of an overall effort to transform the 115-acre resort complex into “The City of Entertainment.” Each of the tower's rooms was redesigned to replicate an MGM Studios bungalow. Other recent projects include the 380,000-square-foot tri-level conference center, which offers two ballrooms and up to 50,000 square feet of pre-function space; the 22,000-square-foot Studio 54, MGM Grand's nightclub; and the 6.6-acre Grand Pool and Spa complex, which includes a 1,000-foot-long flowing river. The resort has a total of 5,034 rooms and suites. Go to www.mgmgrand.com.
The Venetian Resort Hotel — Casino, which opened in May 1998 with 3,036 suites, features the Grand Canal Shoppes, a 500,000-square-foot retail center. The $1.5 billion resort, with its Renaissance Venice theme, also features 120,000 square feet of gaming, 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. Go to www.venetian.com.
The tropically themed, $950 million Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, which opened last year with 3,644 rooms and suites, has added The Shark Reef aquarium attraction, featuring sharks and endangered aquatic species. Also available: the Mandalay Bay Events Center, a 12,000-seat sports and entertainment complex; the 1,800-seat House of Blues live music theater; and more than 190,000 square feet of meeting space. The adjacent Four Seasons Resort has a separate 10,000-square-foot ballroom, plus additional meeting rooms. Go to www.mandalaybay.com.
The $800 million Paris Las Vegas Casino Resort has 2,916 rooms, an 85,000-square-foot casino, eight French restaurants, a 1,200-seat theater, an 87,900-square-foot ballroom, and 140,000 square feet of pillarless function space. Go to www.parislasvegas.com.
The $1.3 billion Aladdin resort opened in August with 2,567 rooms, 130 shops, 21 restaurants, the 7,000-seat Theater of the Performing Arts, 100,000 square feet of meeting space, and the 500,000-square-foot retail center Desert Passage. Go to www.aladdincasino.com.
Park Place Entertainment Corp., a Hilton spin-off, bought Caesars World Inc., including Caesars Palace, from Starwood, making it number-one worldwide in gaming properties, with the most hotel rooms and most casino space.
Steve Wynn, former owner of Mirage Resorts, bought the Desert Inn for $270 million from Starwood in June. The property closed in August. Plans to implode it and build a new resort, possibly several, are being discussed.
A 1.3-million-square-foot expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center is under way. On completion in 2001, the center will total 3.2 million square feet.
Las Vegas CVA
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 $90 million will transform Boardwalk Hall into a special events arena to accommodate 12,000 to 16,000 people. It will remain home to the Miss America pageant.
Construction is under way on “The Borgata,” Boyd Gaming Corp.'s $750 million casino resort in Atlantic City's Marina District. The 2,010-room property will open in 2002.
MGM Grand plans a $700 million casino hotel with 2,000 rooms.
A $200 million, 900,000-square-foot, mixed-use project will be built between the Boardwalk and the convention center. The project is a joint venture of the Cordish Co. and the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
Atlantic City CVA
Phone: (609) 449-7110
Fax: (609) 345-3685
Total guest rooms: 16,000
Total gaming venues: 12
Reno/Lake Tahoe, Nevada Reno
Silver Legacy Resort Casino expanded its convention space to 90,000 square feet. The property has 85,000 square feet of gaming space and six restaurants. Go to www.silverlegacy.com.
Reno Hilton has 200,000 square feet of meeting space and more than 2,000 rooms. Go to www.renohilton.com.
Atlantis Casino Resort offers a 27-story luxury tower called the Sky Terrace and 37,000 square feet of meeting space. Go to www.atlantiscasino.com.
Phone: (775) 827-7600
Fax: (775) 827-7666
Total guest rooms: 20,000
Total gaming venues: 69
•Lake Tahoe is experiencing a renaissance with more than $1 billion in development. The centerpiece: a gondola from the South Lake Tahoe/Stateline district and its 5,000 hotel rooms to Heavenly Ski Resort. The redevelopment effort also includes a 91,000-square-foot convention center. An additional 540 hotel rooms will be built, and a two-acre replica of Lake Tahoe will serve as an environmental learning center and outdoor recreation center. The project is slated for completion in 2003.
North Lake Tahoe Resort Assn.
Phone: (530) 581-8709
Fax: (530) 581-8779
Total guest rooms: 6,800
Total gaming venues: 4
South Lake Tahoe Visitors Auth.
Phone: (530) 544-5050
Fax: (530) 544-2386
Total guest rooms: 11,000
Total gaming venues: 6
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans opened last fall with 452 rooms.
The 209-room Renaissance New Orleans is slated for a mid-2001 debut.
Jazzland, a 140-acre theme park with a nightly Mardi Gras parade, opened last spring.
New Orleans Metro CVB
Phone: (504) 566-5011
Fax: (504) 566-5046
Total guest rooms: 31,000
Total gaming venues: 4
Mississippi Gulf Coast
The 236-room Palace Casino Resort opened last year with 12,000 square feet of meeting space. Go to www.palacecasinoresort.com.
Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino expanded its meeting space to 50,000 square feet. Go to www.ipbiloxi.com.
StarShip Dining Super Yacht is one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast's newest venues for corporate events. The 180-foot yacht accommodates up to 600 for a reception and up to 575 for banquets. Go to www.starshipcruiseline.com.
Gulfport Biloxi Regional Airport has 50 flights daily. Northwest Airlines added a daily flight to Memphis; AirTran added one to Atlanta; and Canada 3000 now offers seasonal direct flights to Toronto, Ontario, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, through December.
Mirage Properties' $680 million Beau Rivage is a 32-story beachfront resort with 1,780 rooms, 12 restaurants, and a 50,000-square-foot conference center. Go to www.beaurivage.com.
Mississippi-Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau
Phone: (228) 896-6699
Fax: (228) 896-6796
Total guest rooms: 18,000
Total gaming venues: 12
Nine months after the opening of the Casino Factory Shoppes' phase one, construction has begun on a 60,000-square-foot expansion, which will bring the outlet center to more than 200,000 square feet.
Isle of Capri Casino opened the $14 million Paradise Entertainment Center, with two theaters under one roof: the Flamingo Bay Theater with fixed seating for 1,280 and the Caribbean Cove Show-room with theater-style seating for 500. Go to www.isleofcapricasino.com.
Tunica Convention & Visitors Bureau
Phone: (888) 488-6422
Fax: (662) 363-1493
Total guest rooms: 6,000
Total gaming venues: 10
Kansas City, Missouri
The Flamingo Hilton Casino, sold to Mississippi-based Isle of Capri Casinos, is undergoing a $15 million renovation. Go to www.isleofcapricasino.com.
The Hotel Phillips, one block from the convention center, is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation. Marcus Hotels and Resorts bought it from a division of Wyndham International in May. The renovation will reduce the 240 rooms to 170 suites by June 2001.
A $45 million expansion of the Mardi Gras Casino at Harrah's North has begun. Go to www.harrahs.com.
Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Kansas City
Phone: (816) 221-5242
Fax: (816) 691-3805
Total guest rooms: 22,500
Total gaming venues: 4
The final of Detroit's three temporary casinos, Greektown Casino, opened in November. It joins the MGM Grand-Detroit and Motor City Casino. The temporary casinos, which include 75,000 square feet of gaming, will be replaced by permanent casinos over the next four years. Each will have 100,000 square feet of gaming and an 800-room hotel. All three will be within a half-mile of the Renaissance Convention Center.
General Motors' $120 million renovation of the 73-story Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, to open this fall, will create a world-class hotel with a new ballroom. GM will renovate the rest of Renaissance Center at a total cost of $500 million. GM hired Taubman Centers, one of the nation's top developers of upscale malls, to draw stores and restaurants to the Renaissance Center.
Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau
Phone: (313) 202-1800
Fax: (313) 202-1832
Total guest rooms: 31,000
Total gaming venues: 3
Native American Casinos
Foxwoods — Operated by the Mashan-tucket Pequot tribe in Ledyard, Conn., this 4.7-million-square-foot destination resort has three hotels with 1,421 guest rooms, 314,000 square feet of gambling space, and the 54,000-square-foot Grand Pequot Conference Center. Also available at the complex are 25 restaurants, a spa and fitness center, tennis, golf, a pool, and big-name entertainment. Go to www.pequotcasino.com.
Mohegan Sun — On the other side of the Thames River in Connecticut, Mohegan Sun is undergoing an $800 million expansion scheduled to open in April 2002 (see sidebar, page 46). Go to www.mohegansun.com.
Chinook Winds Casino — The facility overlooks the Pacific Ocean 100 miles southwest of Portland near Lincoln City, Ore. The city has 2,200 rooms; 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. Go to www.chinookwindscasino.com.
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 meeting guests. Go to www.sagchip.com.
Mohegan Sun Focuses on Service
Mohegan Sun, the Uncasville, Conn., casino that is spending $1.1 billion to create a resort and gaming complex, recently made meeting industry news when it announced that it will provide — free of charge — Meeting Quality Evaluation benchmarking software to all meeting planners conducting events of 50 to 800 attendees at the complex. The software, developed by the Meeting Professionals International Foundation, features “MeetingLevel,” a new set of national norms against which meeting professionals can benchmark typical meetings of the same category.
Mohegan Sun also announced recently that it is requiring all its conference services staff and senior managers to earn a CMP or CMM within a year. The property will underwrite the application and examination for qualified employees.
Currently the nation's fourth-largest casino, Mohegan Sun completes its four-million-square-foot expansion in March 2002, adding a 1,200-room luxury hotel tower, 100,000 square feet of meeting space, a 10,000-seat arena, 175,000 square feet of retail space, a spa, a business center, and a second gaming hall, the 115,000-square-foot Casino of the Sky.