Las Vegas Real Estate
Stiffs & Georges
They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
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They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
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As of yesterday, I'm a newly minted Amigo card holder, having joined Station Casinos' spinoff players club for its Fiesta properties. (Chalk up a very modest victory for Fiesta's spirited marketing efforts.) Why Station, having put nearly a decade of effort into building up Boarding Pass, went and pulled it from the two Fiestas in favor of a new card without any brand equity ... well, that's a puzzler.
Perhaps its a way of repositioning the Fiestas for sale, though this is a heckuva time to be peddling assets, even if Station has a trainload of debt to pay down. If that's the case (and I'm 101% speculating here), Station wouldn't be the only company in town to discover that it missed the boat when it came to offloading non-core assets.
Whatever the case, I now have $6.63 in "Samurai Master" winnings to show for my shiny new players card. Yup, "whale" is my middle name.
But what to make of Fiesta Henderson? An "Amigo" here and an El Pollo Loco there, and it's still about as Latin as Nelson Mandela in a sombrero. In the older part of the casino floor the African decor ill-advisedly chosen by original owner Ameristar Casinos is still luxuriating about at every turn. It's not hard to see some of the reasons why, in its original incarnation as The Reserve, this was a rare Ameristar mega-goof, one which has apparently scared the company off the Vegas market to this day.
When it opened, in early 1998, The Reserve was operating in the shadow of Sunset Station (which was also bigger, more fashionable, and a lot closer to where the people were). Even by locals-casino standards of that time, The Reserve had a small casino floor, rendered dark and claustrophobic by the Trader Horn design scheme, with its big fake trees and heavy canopies. Station has considerably enlarged the place and substantially upped the number of amenities. The Station-built side is airier and more appealing, if visually nondescript.
If you look at it from Station's standpoint, with two flagship properties on the Boulder Strip, it made sense not to knock themselves out re-doing The Reserve. They were endeavoring the best of a bad situation: agreeing to take a dud casino off the hands of Craig H. Neilsen so that Station could make a quick getaway from Missouri, where Ameristar assumed control of Station's scandal-brushed riverboats. So what's now Fiesta Henderson arrived on Station's doorstep as sort of a red-headed stepchild and the trick was to make it thrive without eating into business at favored sons Sunset or Boulder Station.
As for the "Fiesta" brand, it was one that George Maloof had grown into marquee value up in North Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Station didn't seem to know what to do with it after buying Maloof out, so now "Fiesta" is just a means of designating casinos that don't rate the "Station" moniker but which are a healthy cut above a Wildfire or a Lake Mead Lounge, to say the least.
So I'm left figuring out where Fiesta Henderson fits into the grand scheme of things. If Arizona Charlie's Boulder has gotten too dingy for you, I can definitely see the appeal. But there's no question that nearby Sunset Station is the infinitely superior casino-hotel product, unless you crave a more a laid-back experience, away from the teenybopper crowd, in which case Fiesta Henderson might float your boat.
Kudos to Fiesta management, by the way, for recycling all the used paper from its bingo rooms. The question for other casinos in town is: Why aren't you doing the same?
Speaking of themed casinos, former bargain-casino mogul Gary Primm is back in the news these days, as though to remind us who we have to thank for New York-New York, home of -- among other things -- the Strip's most dysfunctional sports book. (You have to sit in the slot stools on the other side of the corridor to see the TV screens without requiring the services of a chiropractor.)
MGM Mirage is in the process of effecting an upgrade on the property, one of several they've had to perform in order to gradually de-Primm-ify it. NY-NY was far from the worst of the hyper-themed casinos (Excalibur, anyone?) but it wasn't until the tail end of the cycle, when Paris-Las Vegas was rolled out, that it seemed possible anyone (the late Arthur Goldberg, in this case) could go that route and wind up with something stylish.