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Do your restaurants add or subtract from profitability? It all depends on how well you execute the 5 Ps: product, positioning, pricing, processes and of course, people. BY BOB BOUGHNER AND STEVE GALLAWAY



The best hotels are always working to refresh the guest experience, surprising and delighting patrons with innovative amenities. BY DAVE BONTEMPO


More resorts are opting to renovate rather than build new. Our world-renowned architects and designers explain how to do it right, with minimum disruption.




6 BUILDING EXCITEMENT Our annual roundup of the year’s most innovative and exciting casino developments.



34 BINION’S LAW Industry legend Jack Binion knew how to create lifelong, loyal customers: by treating them with top-notch service and appreciation. That approach is even more vital today.



50 ELVIS LIVES! Elvis Presley was part of the fabric of Las Vegas. We celebrate his contribution to the city’s uniquely flashy, kitschy appeal. BY PATRICK ROBERTS

Party at the pool. Recover at the spa. The formula is working at casinos everywhere. These amenities keep patrons on-property, increase their spend, and create a buzz you just can’t buy. BY WILLIAM SOKOLIC

STYLE SPOTLIGHT Cintas Corp. Cuningham Group Architecture





Yes, you can leapfrog over the OTAs for more direct bookings, and book highervalue customers for maximum revenue. Our experts tell you how.

44 44


Duetto Entertainment Design Corp. Gary Platt Manufacturing HBG (Hnedak Bobo Group)





Lifescapes International Patir Casino Seating SOSH Architects Thalden Boyd Emery Architects






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nless you work at an integrated resort on the Las Vegas Strip, where more than 65 percent of revenue is generated by non-gaming amenities, you’re devoted to the casino floor. In most other jurisdictions, including the “locals” casinos of Vegas, gaming revenue accounts for at least 70 percent of total revenue, up to as much as 95 percent. It’s no surprise that many casinos are slow to grasp the importance of non-gaming revenue and the capital reinvestment it requires. When most of your revenue is a result of gaming activity, why upset the apple cart? And how much “incremental” revenue will these costly non-gaming attractions bring in anyway? Your current customers provide great action, and you take good care of them. Why try to draw people who may not gamble—or not as much—and may get in the way of your best players? Good questions. And the answers can sometimes be down in the weeds. The definition of incremental revenue is a slippery thing. It can mean a very small portion that will add pennies on the dollar. It can also mean revenue you don’t now have, that you can build on and increase over time with a sincere commitment to the concept. Non-gaming attractions are already part of all casino operations, no matter how gamingcentric. All casinos need restaurants. If a hotel is involved, you’ve got a pool, sometimes a spa, a gym and maybe a small number of meeting rooms. You’ll need a gift shop to sell your logo merchandise and other high-margin items. And in most cases, you need entertainment, whether it’s a lounge with a torch singer or a showroom with star attractions. In fact, a casino is often a collection of different businesses under one roof. So if you’re in the hotel business, why not make the best you can? And we all know repeat customers are the rule at great restaurants. How about more than a gift shop? Quirky and unusual stores are sometimes big hits in a casino. And of course meeting and conventions can be a very lucrative business if you get the right mix of groups and excellent execution. I know players are our lifeblood, and if they want a comped room or meal, that will eat into profitability. But that’s where revenue management comes in. If you’re getting your profit on the casino floor, you can afford to give up something in hotel or food and beverage. But there’s another element to this equation as well—increased competition. You’ve got to protect your territory, and what happens if existing or new competition adds the elements you’re missing? Full suites instead of just rooms? A noodle house for your Asian customers? Or an outlet mall connected to the property? You could lose loyal customers, no matter how well they’re treated, if there are more reasons to visit your competition. So be proactive. Don’t let your competition get the jump on you. Your property needs to be the leader in the market, not the follower. You stand to lose your loyal customers no matter how well they are treated because there are more reasons to visit your competition. The only answer is to be proactive. Don’t let your competition get the jump on you. Your property needs to be the leader in the market, not the follower. The biggest argument for non-gaming amenities is to protect your market. If you’re truly treating your players right, they’ll sample the competition and then return to the place that makes them feel special. Don’t let complacency rule. Take the lead and control the market.

—Roger Gros

A GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS PUBLICATION 2017 Roger Gros, Publisher Frank Legato, Editor-in-Chief Marjorie Preston, Editor Robert Rossiello, Art Director John Buyachek, Director of Sales & Marketing Floyd Sembler, Business Development Manager Becky Kingman-Gros, Chief Operating Officer CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Dike Bacon • Dave Bontempo • Ed Healy Pamela D. Jones • Marjorie Preston • Aaron Stanley Erica Sweeney • Patrick Roberts • William Sokolic EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Rino Armeni, President, Armeni Enterprises • Mark A. Birtha, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Hard Rock International • Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, President Lifescapes International • Nicholas Casiello Jr., Shareholder Fox Rothschild • Jeffrey Compton, Publisher, CDC E-Reports • Geoff Freeman, President & CEO, American Gaming Association • Dean Macomber, President, Macomber International, Inc. • Stephen Martino, Vice President & Chief Compliance Officer, MGM Resorts International • Jim Rafferty, President, Rafferty & Associates • Thomas Reilly, Vice President Systems Sales, Scientific Games • Steven M. Rittvo, Chairman Emeritus The Innovation Group • Katherine Spilde, Executive Director, Sycuan Gaming Institute, San Diego State University • Ernie Stevens, Jr. Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association • Roy Student, President, Applied Management Strategies • David D. Waddell, Partner, Regulatory Management Counselors PC Casino Connection International LLC. 901 American Pacific Dr, Suite 180, Henderson, NV 89014 702-248-1565 • 702-248-1567 (fax) The views and opinions expressed by the writers and columnists of Casino Style are not necessarily the views of the publisher or editor. Copyright 2017 Global Gaming Business LLC., Henderson, NV 89014 Casino Style is published annually by Casino Connection International, LLC. Printed in Nevada, USA.


Postmaster: Send Change of Address forms to: Global Gaming Business, 901 American Pacific Dr., Suite 180, Henderson, NV 89014

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A dozen of the best contributions to the gaming industry by the leading architects, designers and builders

Earth Meets Sky

MOHEGAN SUN, UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT TRIBAL HERITAGE IS EVIDENT THROUGHOUT the Mohegan Sun complex, operated by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. The hotels speak to oneness with nature—hence,

the high-rise Sky Tower and the all-new Earth Tower, which debuted in November. The 242,000-square-foot, $139 million Earth Tower grew out of “our overarching need for more rooms to accommodate over6 l CASINO STYLE 2017

whelming guest demand,” says Ray Pineault, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun. “Earth Tower is roughly a third of the height and total rooms of Sky Tower, but incorporates much of the exterior look and feel.” The new tower offers state-of-the-art in-room technology including intelligent thermostats with occupancy detection, ultra-fast Wi-Fi, and in-room tablets to provide information about goings-on at Mohegan Sun. There are video dining menus with ordering capabilities in every guest room. The tower also has 39 suites, including Horizon Suites (a minimum of 770 square feet) located at the end of each hall. They include pull-out sofas, separate living room areas and views of the Thames River.

The hotel lobby is home to indoor and outdoor lounge areas as well as the Bean and Vine Café & Wine Bar. The outdoor Earth Tower Terrace features gas fire pits and food and bar service, weather permitting. The 2,800-square-foot Mandara Spa (at left), a Steiner Spa Resorts brand, is designed exclusively for massage and facial therapies. It features a seven-room refuge with a couple’s suite, six dual-use rooms, a waiting lounge and retail area. Earth Tower is a short walk from its sister structure and is linked by a scenic connector constructed from the Sky Tower lobby. Earth Tower also connects to the Casino of the Earth. “In other words,” says Pineault, “Earth Tower, while set off from much of the casino action, still allows folks to easily access Mohegan Sun’s original casino and hotel with all its amenities.” —William Sokolic OWNER: Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority ARCHITECT: Kohn Pedersen Fox BUILDER: A/Z Corp.

INVESTMENT: $139 million

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Florida’s Biggest Secret SEMINOLE HARD ROCK TAMPA

IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT A CASINO FEW have heard about is actually one of the most successful in the United States. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa has more available gaming positions for customers and a virtual monopoly on the west coast of Florida. To keep the property up to date, however, the Seminoles have constantly added to and renovated the facility. In May, the latest $100 million renovation was revealed. Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and chief executive officer of Seminole Gaming, says the designers went the extra mile with this project. “Frankly, the intricacy and high level of finishes in this design rival anything, not just here in the state of Florida, but in Las Vegas and even the new casinos in Macau and Singapore,” he says. The Art Deco-inspired mezzanine-level casino covers more than 26,000 square feet and offers 500 of the newest slot machines as

History in the Making


REBRANDING AN ENTIRE CASINO can be a daunting task. Doing so for multiple casinos can be overwhelming. But that’s what confronted Jack Entertainment when it took over the Horseshoe casinos it co-owned with Caesars Entertainment in Ohio. To add another level of complication, the company renamed the Greektown casino in Detroit (which Jack bought after the Caesars deal) as the Jack Detroit Casino Hotel Greektown. The entire exercise was undertaken when the former Rock Gaming decided to rebrand as Jack Entertainment. In Detroit, an $80 million renovation and rebrand was capped off by a bit of history. Joining the property was the former St. Mary’s School, designed by Puis Daubner, built in 1868 and used as a school, orphanage

well as 15 live-action table games. The new space contains approximately 14,000 square feet of Italian marble, which provides a luxurious backdrop for all the action. For guests who don’t partake in tobacco, the smokefree casino has doubled in size, with a dedicated smoke-free entrance, smoke-free bar with video poker, dedicated cage and player’s club. Additionally, it contains over 20 big-screen TVs for sports enthusiasts. Memorabilia items include a jacket from Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and a leather shirt from the Who’s John Entwistle. The new 700-space Orient Road Garage has a walkway where guests can take a selfguided memorabilia “Rock Walk” tour showcasing more than 100 of Seminole Hard Rock Tampa’s prized memorabilia pieces, including new items from artists such as Beyoncé, Carrie Underwood, Stevie Nicks, Bon Jovi, Nicki Minaj and many

and sisters’ residence for nearly a century. When the school closed in 1966, it became the St. Mary’s Community Center, and was given Michigan historical status in 1980. The former St. Mary’s is now the headquarters of Jack Entertainment, joined by a skywalk to the Jack Greektown property.

Jack Entertainment’s new home is designed to foster collaboration among team members while preserving and enhancing the building’s original architecture. The contemporary new offices will feature large open spaces, modern furniture and a beautiful fifthfloor mezzanine. Jack Entertainment will occupy the second through fifth floors, leav-

more. The opening of the Orient Road Garage also reopens 700 spots on a surface lot, giving Hard Rock Tampa more than 5,000 parking spaces. The opening of the new spaces is only Phase I of an ambitious program that will add another hotel tower, more non-gaming amenities, and more jobs for central Florida. —Patrick Roberts OWNER: Seminole Tribe of Florida ARCHITECT: Friedmutter Group


ing the first floor for a future retail tenant. Matt Cullen, president and CEO of Jack Entertainment, says the company is committed to urban revitalization, pointing to company founder Dan Gilbert’s role in revitalizing downtown Detroit and Cleveland, where he owns the NBA’s Cavaliers. “At the core, our company is committed to urban revitalization,” says Cullen. “We believe in fostering positive change in the downtown areas where we reside. Our move is not only good for our business, it also gives new life to this historic building and it benefits those around us. Success for our Greektown merchants and community means success for Detroit.” —Roger Gros OWNER: Jack Entertainment

DESIGNER: Neumann/Smith Architects

INVESTMENT: $7 million (including a total $80 million renovation of Jack Casino Hotel Greektown) 2017 CASINO STYLE l 7

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Crest of a Wave

HILTON ARUBA CARIBBEAN RESORT AND CASINO PRESERVE THE PAST, ENHANCE THE FUTURE. That could be the motto for the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino, which started 2017 by unfurling a $25 million renovation. The investment includes redesigned guest rooms and suites, refreshing landscapes, reconceptualized menus and décor at the property’s five eateries and a new open-air lobby. Each room has a patio or balcony. Aruba’s unspoiled sparkling blue water is an ideal backdrop for casino-hotel operations. Each of the resort’s guest rooms and suites features neutral and earth-tone colors reflecting Aruba’s natural beauty complete with new curtains, window treatments, carpeting, wood beds with plush new bedding, lounge or patio chairs and 50-inch HDTVs. Original works of local art inspired by historical images adorn each room and offer guests a lens into the resort’s storied past. The renovation was strategic for the beachfront oasis on Aruba’s famous Palm Beach coastline, less than 10 miles from the capital city of Oranjestad. It embraces the iconic vision of Morris Lapidus, architect of

some of Miami’s most famous hotels, who brought audacious opulence to resort design. The renovation aimed to blend his mid-century style with an elegant, contemporary beachfront flair. The Hilton Aruba includes enchanting gardens, an expansive pool complex, a kids’ club, a water sports and dive center, a world-class spa and an on-site casino. The casino’s table games include blackjack, roulette, craps, Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride, Three-Card Poker and Texas Hold’em; more than 200 slot machines; video poker; and a sports book, as well as promotions like daily bingo and weekly poker tournaments. “With a history spanning more than half a century, Hilton Aruba is embedded in the island’s culture,” says General Manager Hans-Georg Roehrbein. “By issuing modern updates to every corner of the resort, we’re preserving the nostalgia of the property for the contemporary traveler while delivering an approachable guest experience unlike any other on the island.” —Dave Bontempo ARCHITECT: IMD Aruba



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WHEN THE HOTEL DE PARIS MONTE-CARLO opened in 1864, casino magnate and SBM founder Francois Blanc said it “surpassed everything that has been created until now, even the Hotel du Louvre and the Grand Hotel in Paris.” When the 150-year-old hotel needed an upgrade, architects Richard Martinet and Gabriel Viora approached the task with the sort of reverence befitting a historic restoration. But this wasn’t just a facelift for the fabulous five-star hotel. The painstaking task, which began in October 2014 and will not be complete until September 2018, is meant to “carry on and exalt the spirit of the hotel, while anchoring the establishment firmly in the 21st century,” according to the hotel website. The far-reaching project will add a center garden courtyard, a new spa, fitness and pool area, a modern wing of suites and an exclusive rooftop villa with its own garden and pool. The hotel’s elaborately sculpted Belle Epoque facade, of course, will remain as-is, along with the lavishly appointed entrance hall, the world’s largest wine cellar, and popular destinations like Le Bar Américain, La Salle Empire and Le Louis XV. In May,

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the famous Michelin-starred Le Grill restaurant reopened with an expanded terrace and a new Winston Churchill private dining salon, all with stunning views of the Mediterranean. The project is also BREEAM-rated for sustainability and energy efficiency. The Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo has always attracted the rich and celebrated— from Verdi and Dumas in a bygone era to Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan today. In addition to hosting the two James Bonds, the Hotel de Paris also provided the backdrop for two 007 films: Never Say Never Again and GoldenEye. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s most elegant hotels by Conde Nast and Travel + Leisure, the grande dame of this coastal principality is almost ready for her close-up. —Marjorie Preston OPERATOR: Society des Bains de Mer

ARCHITECTS: Richard Martinet, Affine Design and Gabriel Viora, Architect Viora

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IT’S BEEN DECADES SINCE THE COWLITZ Indian tribe of Washington state declared it wanted to build a casino in the southwestern part of the state near Portland, Oregon. Opponents sprang up, ranging from the state to private citizens to surrounding tribes. Despite the challenges, construction began in 2015, and in April 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the ilani Casino Resort to open. The project was made possible by a partnership with the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which funded construction and manages the property. “This is the culmination of a pledge to the Cowlitz Indian tribe by the MTGA, and it represents an enormous accomplishment by the dedicated teams of both organizations and all our talented construction partners,” says Mitchell Grossinger Etess, chief executive officer for MTGA. Mohegan tribal member Kara Fox-LaRose

New Horizons


THE $285 MILLION RENOVATION OF Pechanga Resort & Casino is a meaningful development for the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, who operate the property on their tribal reservation in Temecula, California. The comprehensive overhaul was undertaken for good reason: the resort, which opened in 2002, is consistently 100 percent occupied with a lengthy waiting list, and even in slow months is forced to turn away thousands of would-be guests. The expansion will add a 568room, AAA four-diamond hotel tower; a 23,000-square-foot, twostory standalone spa; a 4.5-acre family-friendly pool area; a 67,000-square-foot convention and event center; and two new food and beverage outlets, including a poolside bar and grill, among other amenities. The property’s fivelevel, 2,400-space “intelligent” garage, complete with way-finders and charging stations,

is the president and general manager of ilani. “In addition to a variety of gaming and entertainment options, we’ve assembled a fine collection of restaurants, bars and retail establishments to provide a fabulous experience for our guests at every turn,” she says. While there’s no hotel at this time, the resort offers 15 restaurants and bars, including Michael Jordan’s Steak House for elevated comfort food; Rose & Thorn, serving handcrafted cocktails and upscale international street food; Longhouse, a raw bar, sushi and noodle shop; Line & Lure Seafood Kitchen and Tap, showcasing the best from local waters; and many others. Shoppers can have a day away at ilani as well. Select retailers include Marshall Rousso women’s fashions, from casual to evening wear; and Ruby Blue for accessories, handbags, jewelry and gift items. The Cowlitz Trading Post stocks ilani merchandise, gaming gifts and an assortment of other items. Designed by the Friedmutter Group, ilani incorporates high-quality aesthetics and Pacific

opened in April. The impressive upgrade will enable the tribe to keep pace with its many competitors in Southern California; by the end of 2017,

Northwest elements—including plentiful wood, stone and glass—while ensuring stunning views. Gamblers will feel right at home at ilani inside 100,000 square feet of gaming space with 2,500 slots and 75 gaming tables. —Patrick Roberts OWNER: Cowlitz Indian Tribe

ARCHITECT: Friedmutter Group

DEVELOPER/MANAGER: Salishan-Mohegan LLC CASINO FLOOR: 100,000 sq. ft. INVESTMENT: $510 million

Harmon, deputy director of Riverside County’s Workforce Development Division. “This announcement demonstrates Pechanga Resort & Casino’s presence as a large-scale employer and an economic driver for the Southwest region.” The Pechanga have also introduced a new, digital-friendly logo: the letter “P” with a sleek, stylized feather silhouette. “This new logo is modern, elegant, and captures the essence of Pechanga Resort & Casino: laid back luxury,” says Edith Atwood, president of the Pechanga Development Corp. “This new look and feel is all about positioning Pechanga Resort & Casino for the future.” —Ed Healy

the expanded resort will offer more than 1,000 rooms, making this the largest hotel in the Golden State. The additions could mean a total economic benefit to the region of about $550 million, and will also add some 750 new jobs. “This is great news for Riverside County,” says Carrie

OWNER-OPERATOR: Pechanga Band of

Luiseño Indians ARCHITECT: Delawie


INVESTMENT: $285 million

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Runaway Success


SCIOTO DOWNS, OHIO’S FIRST RACINO, IS home to some of the industry’s best VLT games, ranging from penny to high-limit action. Scioto Downs is filled with excitement from gaming, racing, live music, entertainment, restaurants and bars. As part of the racino’s expansion plans, Scioto Downs enlisted SOSH Architects to oversee the endeavor, which included a modern microbrewery, and an expanded smoking

patio and gaming area. The Brew Brothers. The microbrewery was a cornerstone of the expansion. To support the innovative Brew Brothers brand, SOSH’s design team created a vibrant 8,600-square-foot bar and restaurant space that puts the inner workings of the brewing process right on display. Rustic materials like reclaimed wood, metal and concrete blend with warm colors and elegant design elements to give the décor an upscale yet comfortable feel. The design includes a 44-foot bar and 127 seats, ideal for enjoying meals, music and microbrews. The youthful energy of the restaurant carries through to a patio beer garden with seating for 80 and an outdoor fire pit. Open-Air Gaming Pavilion. SOSH was then invited to design a second and expanded open-air gaming pavilion. The result is a seamless 4,000-square-foot outdoor expansion

Another Chapter

POTAWATOMI HOTEL & CASINO, MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN THE BEST STORIES LEAVE YOU WANTING another chapter. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino will expand its Milwaukee hotel in 2019. The next chapter includes a new tower with 119 additional rooms and suites. Owned and operated by the Potawatomi Community, the expansion will also feature a spa and additional meeting space. “By adding nearly 60 suites to the property, we’re prioritizing our casino guests and their experience when visiting,” says Rodney Ferguson, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino chief operating officer. “The rooms along with the spa will bolster the property’s reputation as an attractive destination for visitors in the region and beyond.” The modern building features green tinted glass windows, including a scattering of sloped bay windows that reflect the shimmering waves of nearby Lake Michigan. The Potawatomi are known as the “Keepers of the

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Fire.” In keeping with that tradition, the design team incorporated a modern flame atop the hotel as a symbol of the tribe’s traditional role and to welcome guests. Guests entering the two-story hotel lobby will walk through a colorful, abstract interpretation of a forest with sunlight streaming through the ceiling’s canopy of leaves. It features illuminated glass wall murals and a warm, colorful palette accentuated with abstracted rock outcroppings. A natural wood

complete with plush carpeting, casino-grade upholstery and a full heating and cooling system for four-season comfort. Big Ass Fans and an intricate mechanical exhaust process ensure the space is comfortable for smokers and non-smokers alike. Hardy metal and stone finishes guarantee that the patio can stand up to the open-air environment. Packed with more than 100 slot machines and a centralized bar with Madison Square Garden-inspired big-screen TVs, the Gaming Pavilion is the only area where guests can smoke, gamble and drink, making it one of the most popular gaming amenities on the property. Both additions highlight the client’s commitment to exceed guest expectations with world-class entertainment and amenities. —Ed Healy OWNER: Eldorado Resorts, Inc.




(Brew Brothers) and Gilbane Building Co. (Gaming Pavilion)

INVESTMENT: $9.5 million

and stone lobby bar will provide inviting gathering spaces for guests. As visitors venture to their rooms, they will transition from the casino’s high-energy entertainment venues to relaxing getaways via playful colors and carpet patterns inspired by city lights on rivers and lakes. Its distinctive design will leave guests wanting another chapter. —Marjorie Preston OWNER-OPERATOR: Potawatomi Indian


ARCHITECT: Cuningham Group


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City of Light

PARISIAN MACAO, SANDS CHINA IN MACAU, IT’S DIFFICULT TO CREATE something over-the-top spectacular because each of the preceding properties has been so grand. So when Charles Lee, senior architect with the Gensler firm, was given the task, he turned to what may be the most spectacular city in the world: Paris. Now, Paris has been the inspiration in several iterations, most notably at Paris Las Vegas, a Caesars Entertainment property. So Lee took it even higher, taking into consid-

Lobby rotunda

The pool deck was modeled after Marie Antoinette’s tower in Versailles, and the retail shops are recreations of the famous shopping boulevards of Paris. The porte cochère resembles the famous Paris train station Gare du Nord, and the rotunda’s elegant bronze and gilded Fontaine des Mers welcomes visitors with a dramatic vista. But the Parisian Macao is no boutique hotel. With 3,000 rooms and suites, the facility features the finest elements of the best

The spectacular front desk at the Parisian Macao

eration the other Macau properties under development at the time, including Studio City, Wynn Palace and MGM Cotai. Lee’s design didn’t disappoint. He gathered a team of 50 people with a goal of creating a property respectful of its model and authentic down to the finest detail. From the dramatic centerpiece Eiffel Tower to the delicate floral designs and pastels borrowed from Les Jardins des Tuileries, guests truly get a sense of the City of Light as they walk through the doors. The grand lobby is inspired by Palais Garnier, capped off by a massive dome in the rotunda evocative of the L’Hotel National des Invalides, one of the most exquisite domes in all France. 14 l CASINO STYLE 2017

integrated resorts. It also features expanded meeting and convention area (conveniently located near the huge Venetian meeting space); a 1,200-seat theatre (currently featuring a Michael Jackson-themed show, Thriller Live); and more than a dozen restaurants. More than 170 unique shops can be found at the Parisian, including many famous French brands not available anywhere else in Asia. And with connections to the rest of the Venetian complex, guests have access to more than 650 stores, 150 restaurants, four- and five-star hotels, two additional theaters and the 15,000-seat Cotai Arena. With the Parisian, Sands China has once again raised the bar on expectations. —Roger Gros

OWNER: Sands China


INVESTMENT: $2.5 billion

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Destination in the Desert

SYCUAN CASINO AND RESORT EL CAJON, CALIFORNIA THE SYCUAN CASINO AND RESORT MAY HAVE originated as “a humble bingo palace,” but the property in El Cajon, San Diego County, California has grown into a premier tourist destination and literal oasis in the desert. Operated by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the property recently embarked on a major $226 million expansion that will add a 12-story luxury hotel with 300 rooms including 50 opulent suites. The contemporary tower in the semi-arid climate of the San Diego Valley will be surrounded by lush greenery, gardens and palms; a pool and garden area with cabanas; a bar and grill; a rolling lazy river feature; and dedicated adult and family pools. The hotel will also feature an 8,000-square-foot spa and fitness area with full-service treatment rooms offering steam and sauna. A multi-purpose 11,400-square-foot ballroom will do at least triple duty, serving as a

Gold Medal Winner

conference space, a 1,200-capacity concert hall, and banquet facilities with seating for 700. A junior ballroom overlooking the pool, gardens and surrounding hills will be the picture-perfect spot for weddings, parties and other social functions. A mix of restaurants will include everything from fast-casual to fine dining and a craft brewery. The expanded casino floor space will accommodate a total of 2,500 Class III machines, 300 Class II machines and 80 table games. An additional 21,000 square feet of gaming space will be added in a planned Phase II expansion, which will also add an additional hotel tower. “It is with great excitement and pride that we are making this investment,” says Cody Martinez, chairman of the Sycuan Tribal Council. “This is not only on behalf of the tribe, but on behalf of our team members and our

guests. We are taking Sycuan to the next level.” The expansion will be complete in December 2018. —Marjorie Preston OWNER-OPERATOR: Sycuan Band of the

Kumeyaay Nation





INVESTMENT: $226 million


Siberia. Sochi was added to the list to make use of infrastructure created for the Olympic Village. Gaming is just part of the entertainment at the resort, designed by Vegas-based architectural firm Steelman Partners. Its Velvet

THE NEW SOCHI CASINO & RESORT, which debuted in January in the mountain resort of Gorky Gorod, Russia, was originally built as a media center for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Today it’s a dazzling resort in the Las Vegas tradition: a progressive feast of grand spaces, sweeping vistas, and a casino with 70 gaming tables, 560 slot machines and a poker club. It’s all the sparkle and glitz of the Strip—on the shores of Black Sea. And it’s already hosting headline events—the 2017 PokerStars Championship was held there in May. In 2009, Russia limited gaming resorts in the country to a handful of designated zones: Azov City in the Krasnodar region; Primorye near the Far East port of Vladivostok; Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea; and Altai in

bistro, Baffet, serves up breakfasts in the Russian, European and American styles). Evgeniy Kudelya of Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency has called Sochi “the most popular and one of the best resort areas in Russia,” set between the sea and the towering Caucasus Mountains. The new casino is expected to not only boost tourism but lengthen the tourist season, and attract visitors from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Israel as well as mainland China. “Sochi Casino and Resort is the first entertainment complex of a global scale” in the area, said Mikhail Danilov’s Domain LLC in a statement. “It’s a project with a unique concept for Russia, in the spirit of the best casinos of Las Vegas.” —Marjorie Preston

Theatre features Russian pop stars like Vladimir Presneyakov and Vera Brezhneva in a cabaret setting. The resort has nine bars, a cluster of boutiques, and several restaurants under the direction of Executive Chef Ilya Zakharov (six days a week the casual-dining

OWNER/OPERATOR: Domain LLC ARCHITECT: Steelman Partners INVESTMENT: $63 million

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Kwi Noodle Bar at Caesars Atlantic City






The Yards at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City

Chef’s Stage Buffet at Harrah’s Cherokee Resort

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Maximize the Value of Your Restaurants and Bars with the Right Product, Positioning, Pricing, Processes and People BY BOB BOUGHNER & STEVE GALLAWAY

n today’s business environment, casino operators must find ways to enhance and maximize the appeal and gross operating income of their food and beverage venues. An effective food and beverage strategy should not only attract and retain gamers, but generate profit through proper pricing and planning. Las Vegas Strip operators have clearly demonstrated how profit can be gleaned from F&B operations. Bars and restaurants today are a significant generator of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for many Vegas resorts. Outside Vegas, many operators have discovered how well-run restaurants and bars with quality food offerings can benefit the bottom line. While regional casinos differ substantially from those on the Strip, they can apply the same practices to turn a profit from dining.


THE PRODUCT o optimize guest count and the restaurant’s financial contribution, you must first determine the appropriate product. Too often, casinos add certain venues just because their competitors have them. In the past, the perfect formula for any casino included a coffee shop (not Starbucks, but your 24-hour café), a buffet, a steakhouse, and one or more quick-serve outlets. But this formula may not be right for your casino. Even if it is, you must determine the ideal positioning for each of those venues. Should the steakhouse be operated in-house or leased? What grade beef should be provided? Such choices can have a significant impact on costs, and some casinos cater to enough premium customers that offering prime steaks at the premium steakhouse is appropriate. For most, however, it’s likely that spending extra money on prime beef doesn’t yield incremental benefit to the operation. Depending on the casino’s proximity to the surrounding population, the best choice may be to convert the steakhouse into a branded mid-market operation such as Texas Longhorn or Outback. These products can attract people as stand-alone business-

es. And the cost of goods is generally lower. Lower-cost steaks can yield incremental profit to the overall operation. Buffets have long been a means of attracting people to a casino through price-driven meals. But buffets are usually inefficient and result in large amounts of food waste. Often casino management believes a buffet is necessary; they think the patrons love it. But are those patrons gamers or families coming in to enjoy the low price? Also, while customers may say they love the buffet, perhaps there’s an alternative solution they would enjoy even more, one that would turn a profit. Only by evaluating the customer base, speaking with guests and evaluating the competition can the right product be determined. Buffets require a compelling environment and quality food in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. In regional markets, differentiation of the buffet may not be necessary, as the consumer may view it as more of a commoditized experience: quantity and low price.



nce you’ve decided the suite of food offerings, the next question is: How should they be positioned? All businesses compete using one of two basic strategies: a pricing strategy or a differentiation strategy. Businesses that compete on price strive to reduce the costs of production to deliver a product or service at a lower price than the competition. This strategy works well for commodities in which the products are undifferentiated. Wheat and oil are commodities, and producers compete solely on price. Products that are clearly differentiated, through features or other unique elements, can command a higher price. Some products and services can compete using either strategy. An example in manufacturing would be automobile products. A Kia automobile delivers basic transportation at a low price. A Mercedes Benz delivers the same basic function, but the product is differentiated so the manufacturer can command a much higher price. Kia 2017 CASINO STYLE l 19

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Buffet at Harrah’s Southern California

employs a pricing strategy. Mercedes Benz employs a differentiation strategy. And both enjoy favorable reputations and robust sales. This principle holds true for the casino industry as well. In Las Vegas, the Excalibur Hotel and Casino was designed from the ground up to compete on price. Its 4,000 rooms are relatively modest, all bathrooms contain shower stalls to reduce cleaning time, and its restaurants offer modestly priced fare with relatively few selections. It can thus deliver a vacation product priced lower than the competition and still make an attractive profit. Wynn and Encore are designed with a wealth of amenities that differentiate them from the competition. Richly appointed rooms and suites, private gaming salons, stunning restaurants and a private lake all drive up the cost of doing business, but allow Wynn to command a much higher rate. Both Excalibur and Wynn deliver value to their customers. The pricing strategy for casino restaurants should follow the positioning strategy of the overall facility. It would be as inappropriate to put an Outback Steakhouse at Wynn as it would be open a Del Frisco’s at Excalibur. Operators must know the positioning of their property to make ideal restaurant decisions.



A deep dive into matching the quality of product to the price of product can have an immediate impact on a restaurant’s bottom line.

THE PRICING estaurant pricing takes two primary forms. The first, as described above, is determining the correct positioning strategy. The second? Identifying the correct per-item pricing. Restaurateurs can leave money on the table by undercharging for certain items. For example, does your casual cafe charge $1.50 or $2.85 for a fountain soda? If McDonald’s charges $2.85 for a Coke or Sprite, so can you. By making such small changes, you can almost immediately realize substantial levels of profit. In your fine dining restaurant, are you charging $2.50 for a fountain soda or $5? While $5 may be too much, bringing out an 8-ounce glass bottle of Coca-Cola can now garner the higher price point. Furthermore, the presentation—a beverage being poured from a glass bottle—enhances the customer’s perception of the overall dining experience. The opposite of this strategy also applies. Customers can be turned off when venues apply sneaky pricing. If a customer goes to the casino’s three-meal unbranded restaurant, orders a $12 club sandwich and is charged $4.50 for a fountain soda, it could prevent them from returning in the future. To best set

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EVERY BUILDING ® TELLS A STORY Potawatomi Hotel & Casino – Hotel Tower II Milwaukee, Wisconsin The next chapter, currently in design

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he broad appeal of fast-casual and fast food spots make them essential to the F&B lineup. They’re inexpensive, consistent and familiar, and the portable meals can be enjoyed anywhere, from poolside to the slot floor. Fast-food staple Subway has more than 40 casino locations. Liz Smethurst, global account manager for new business development, expects the number to grow. “We have a simple operation and no heavy equipment, like deep-fat fryers or grills. So decision-makers find us an easy partner to work with.” Along with speedy meal prep, Subway lets customers order exactly what they want, and prides itself on better-for-you meals on the go. “A lot of casino patrons are looking for fresh, quick options,” Smethurst says. “One location at Foxwoods is by the bus pickup point. It’s an easy, convenient way to grab a sandwich for the ride after a day at the casino.” Pie Five Pizza Co., a subsidiary of Dallas-based RAVE Restaurant Group Inc., is another fast-casual restaurant making inroads in the casino market. Its build-your-own approach lets customers design their pies, choosing among different crusts, sauces and toppings. The pies are baked in under three minutes, says Kurt Guttshall, a partner at Slice of the Pie LLC, which is leading the concept’s nationwide casino development. “So by the time you pay, your pizza is sizzling hot, ready to go,” he says. “There’s no delay. And no matter what you put on it, it’s $8.99.” The restaurant has been a big hit at the Hard Rock in Biloxi, Mississippi. It’s Pie Five’s only casino location, but more are in the works. “We had such a great response,” 22 l CASINO DESIGN 2017

says Guttshall. “We’re anticipating the market to be really strong.” Pie Five comes with low build-out costs and ovens that can crank out up to 500 pizzas per hour. At Hard Rock, Guttshall says, customers can use their player comps at the restaurant. “That’s huge for us, and it’s huge for them.” The menus are usually the same at locations inside and outside casinos, but most in-casino eateries stay open later. Subway’s casino locations are open 24 hours, and Pie Five stays open until around 1 a.m. The restaurants have the added advantage of brand familiarity. “Franchisees benefit from the fact that they’re joining a brand with national advertising campaigns, which keep the company name top-of-mind for consumers,” Smethurst says. With familiarity comes consistency. Customers know what to expect from well-known restaurant chains, and they appreciate choices. “When a guest visits a Subway restaurant, regardless of where it’s located, they’ll find their favorite subs,” says Smethurst. “Casinos show they’re responsive to customer needs by offering a better-for-you, portable food option. It’s smart business.” Pie Five’s menu emphasizes pizza and salad, but Guttshall, who also operates non-casino locations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, says the company is testing wings and sandwiches too. “No. 1, the price point is right,” he says. “And it’s so convenient. Casinos need different dining options to keep people on-property. If they’re staying four nights or seven nights, they don't want to dine at the same place every day. Variety is really important.”

—By Erica Sweeney

prices, undertake a comprehensive pricing-competitive shopping program. Look at restaurants in the surrounding areas where your core customers originate. By charging customers prices they expect, you’ll get fewer complaints and find ways to derive additional profit. Alternatively, the best approach may be to set pricing for the buffet at $1 more than the competition—and then deliver a better experience.


PROCESS & PEOPLE estaurants’ primary operating expenses are comprised of two items: the people (employees) and the cost of goods sold. Having the right people (and the right number of people) is crucial to the success of any restaurant, regardless of the price point. Operators must take the time to hire the best candidates and then train them. This goes beyond how to set a table. You must arm your employees with the right responses to customer complaints, and train your kitchen staff to consistently prepare the same dish utilizing the same ingredients and portion size. The right people include chefs who can run a smooth kitchen, ensuring hot meals are served hot and cold dishes are served cold. Only by training employees properly can you implement the processes that will lead to success. In addition to having the right people to provide a positive experience to the patron, the operator must also evaluate staffing schedules to ensure the correct number of servers and kitchen staff are on duty. Particularly with servers, this can entail a precarious balance of forecasting business trends. Restaurant servers don’t appreciate when too many others are on the same shift, as it’s difficult to make tips when they don’t have enough tables to cover. On the other hand, when management is afraid of overstaffing and overwhelms servers and bussers with too many tables, customer service goes down and the restaurant is usually dirty. By understanding business trends, implementing tried-and-true training techniques, and using best practices to determine how many tables per server should be assigned, the operation can have an efficient and happy staff who will serve their customers with a smile.


COST OF GOODS SOLD (COGS) long with staffing, cost of goods sold makes up the largest expense in any restaurant operation. By gaining control of this single entity, operators can have a large impact on the bottom line.

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Celebrities and chefs go hand-in-hand. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the successful partnership between chef Nobu Matsuhisa (far left) and the actor Robert DeNiro (center, next to chef Gordon Ramsay), who opened the Nobu Hotel in Caesars Palace Las Vegas. The 11,200-square-foot dining area and adjacent lounge feature a sushi bar, private dining area and circular central bar. It’s also the only U.S. Nobu offering teppanyaki tables. Typically, COGS represents 30 percent to 35 percent of revenue. Premium steakhouses will likely be higher. Operations that are lower than 30 percent COGS are usually quick-serve outlets or specialty small-menu venues such as a pasta bar, Asian noodle bar or taco shack. When COGS rise above 35 percent, this can usually be attributed to three factors:

LOSS FACTOR 1: Mismatch of Product Quality to Restaurant Positioning Food is expensive. It’s not appropriate for a steakhouse that sells a steak for $25 to serve prime steak. Organic heirloom tomatoes should not be served on salads at the coffee shop unless you’re the premium casino in town and charge $18 for the salad. A deep dive into matching the quality of product to the price of product can have an immediate impact on a restaurant’s bottom line. However, the inverse applies as well. If a restaurant is positioned as a farm-to-table operation but is not performing well, the worst decision would be to stop buying local ingredients and revert to the Sysco weekly ingredient. That would mean a short-term gain for a long-term loss, as the quality of the food would then diminish. In this situation, an analysis of why the restaurant is failing is more important. Perhaps it’s the wrong product for the market. Perhaps the restaurant isn’t being marketed to the local populace. Maybe the menu is too diverse and is resulting in too much food waste.

While the Cheesecake Factory has a 100-item menu, you should not. Economizing ingredients is one of the greatest ways a restaurant can save on COGS. Unless the venue is a barbecue venue that roasts whole pigs on a spit, offering a BLT, a pulled pork sandwich, a bánh mì wrap and a club sandwich is inefficient. Choose one meat from the pig and make it apply to multiple items. For example, the BLT could evolve into a Cuban BLT, where the pulled pork is used for the bacon, the bánh mì wrap is replaced with a Lechon Asado wrap, and the club becomes the “House Specialty Club” with pulled pork instead of ham. The menu has now been enhanced and four ingredients have been replaced with one. Not only does this reduce food cost, as inevitably there will be less wasted, but the more frequently used ingredients will now be fresher, increasing the overall quality of the restaurant. Alternatively, you can skip the pulled pork and offer lots of bacon—people love it.

LOSS FACTOR 3: No Scale All loading docks need a scale, and every non prepackaged item needs to be weighed! Seasoned food and beverage or hospitality professionals weigh everything—if you don’t, you could be overpaying. When venues don’t weigh food deliveries, vendors can deliver light loads, or meat and fish can start to disappear between the loading dock and refrigerators. Requiring that food is weighed and quality checked is a standard operating practice that must be in place at every venue’s loading dock.

LOSS FACTOR 2: Too Many Ingredients In designing a menu, the focus should not only be on quality dishes that will resonate with the key demographic, but dishes that can share perishable ingredients.

Bob Boughner is a senior partner at Global Market Advisors. Steve Gallaway is managing partner of Global Market Advisors. GMA is the leading provider of consulting services to the gaming and hospitality industries. 2017 CASINO STYLE l 23

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the Resort

Guest Room

King room, Hard Rock, Tampa

Hotel rooms are an essential part of resort branding and a vital way to convey guest importance. Here’s how three operators have invested in their hotels: Genting, Hard Rock International and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians.




hen it opens in 2020, Resorts World FANTASY ISLANDS Las Vegas—now rising on the site of as Vegas-based Steelman Partners the former Echelon project on Las is directing the design of Resorts Vegas Boulevard—will include a World, a project of Malaysian gaming operator Genting Group. 175,000-square-foot casino, a 4,000-seat theater, a Principal Paul Steelman has worked for a retail and dining sector and convention space. who’s-who of the gaming industry That’s not all. The project will including Kirk Kerkorian, Steve Wynn, Sheldon Adelson, Francis Lui and also feature a rooftop sky park and Stanley Ho. observation deck, bowling alley, Steelman’s interior design subsidiary, ice-skating rink, panda exhibit, Dalton Steelman Arias & Anderson, aquarium and four hotel towworks every facet, from concept and space planning to construction adminisers with more than 6,500 tration. Its role includes interior develophotel rooms in an area ment, custom lighting, furniture and custhat will cover nearly 22 tom textiles for restaurants and lounges, million square feet. casinos and VIP gaming salons, spas, Control systems like Alexa are the wave of the retail and performance venues. With that overall future for casino hotel rooms “Casino spaces should be bright and investment—estimated fun,” says DSAA Principal Nicole Dalton. “Operators want to at between $4 billion and $7 billion—there’s no such wow their customers in the lobby, empower them in the casino, and make them feel at home and special in the guest room.” thing as an ordinary room. 24 l CASINO STYLE 2017

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Operators want to wow their customers in the lobby, empower them in the casino, and make them feel at home and special in the guest room.

—Nicole Dalton, principal, Dalton Steelman Arias & Anderson

Behind closed hotel room doors, “you want to create a detour from reality, an escape from everyday life,” Dalton says. “In the guest room, you want to create different fantasies that they don’t have at home, an environment that’s out of the ordinary.” Dalton approaches room design with an eye for both past and future. “We’re designing rooms to have a more ‘residential-luxe’ feel. The bed linens and pillows are luxurious, yet the design of the bedding remains white, which is always timeless. “I see the trend of accent throws at the foot of the bed going away. We’re adding fully upholstered walls to create a more invit-

frosted doors to allow more light into the space, and natural stone whenever the budget allows to create a more residential feel. To create the look of a high-end marble bathroom, we’re now using engineered stone, which is far more durable and less expensive than natural stone—again, to create a high-end residential look.” The approach to wall art has shifted away from typical framed pieces, she says. “We try not to do the expected when it comes to art in our guest rooms. It doesn’t have to be just framed images on a wall; it could be a screened wall pattern used as a divider between the guest room and the bathroom.” In one novel creation, “we designed a channel-tufted, fully upholstered wall with artwork printed across the entire length of the room, creating one large piece of art.”


WHAT MILLENNIALS WANT illennials are an increasingly important demographic. Perhaps surprisingly, the uber-social generation also demands privacy, says Dalton. “They don’t necessarily want to interact with anybody. During their stay, many things are customizable onto their iPhone. They’d like to check in with their iPhone, unlock their door with their iPhone. You swipe your phone and the television comes on to something you like. You can order things off your phone, have food sent directly to your room. We’re incorporating more of that into the design.” Younger guests “want a space that feels modern and will change with their mood. We’re designing rooms with control systems like Alexa so the guest can say, ‘Close the When it opens in 2020, Resorts World Las Vegas draperies. Buy a concert ticket. Turn on the will have more than lights.’” 6,500 hotel rooms Dalton has worked with many of the world’s leading gaming companies including ing space. Our goal is to create a room that doesn’t have any negthe Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, Station ative feedback on sites like TripAdvisor.” Casinos and Caesars Entertainment. For her, the experience never The furniture is designed to be multi-functional, she notes. grows stale. It can run several months to a year and a half, span“Often due to space limitations, we’ll create a chaise longue that’s ning hurdles and adrenaline rushes. not only inviting to relax in, but also a place for people to work “You get most excited during that two weeks before the and dine, rather than adding a traditional dining table, install,” she says. “You see it coming together and you remember desk/workspace. We’re creating more multi-use spaces.” the beginning of the project, sitting in that meeting and looking Bathrooms offer another area for innovative luxury. “Good at the faces of your clients and knowing you’ve captured what lighting is essential,” says Dalton. “We use lighted mirrors and they want. They understand it. They get it. They want it.” 2017 CASINO STYLE l 25

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Doing it right doesn’t just mean some new carpet. It means a complete renovation. —Jim Allen, chairman, Hard Rock International, on planned upgrades of the former Taj Mahal in Atlantic City

(above) Penthouse suite at Viejas Casino & Resort; (at right) Savoy suite at Hard Rock, Tampa; Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen (center) at the former Trump Taj Mahal


HARD COMMITMENT t’s been quite a year for Hard Rock International. In March, the gaming giant purchased the former Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, with plans to reopen the property next year as a casino hotel. In April, Hard Rock unveiled a smashing new high-end Art Deco-inspired mezzanine-level casino in Tampa, Florida. The developments were welcome news in their respective markets. Atlantic City, beset in recent years by the loss of five casinos, will be invigorated by the financial muscle of Hard Rock. Its acquisition and planned renovation of the Taj could reach the $400 million range and add some 3,000 temporary and permanent jobs. The move also signals, for Atlantic City optimists, the bottom of its recent slide. “We’re going to do this right,” says Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and an Atlantic City area resident. “Doing it right doesn’t just mean some new carpet. It means a complete renovation of all the guest rooms—not just bedspreads, but literally taking the bathrooms out and redoing them. It means all new furniture and a complete redesign of the casino floor.” He adds that “some narrowness and obstructions” in the original structural design will also be eliminated. The company hopes to install 2,400 slots and 130 table games in Atlantic City. The property also will boast a redesigned interior and new first-class food and beverage concepts headlined by Council Oak Steak & Seafood, made famous at the Seminole Hard Rock properties in Florida. The Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City will feature an upgraded 400-seat venue, including a new stage and central location within the property. Hard Rock will offer live music, sporting events, conferences and shows at two separate arenas with capacity for more than 7,000 people; a full-service Rock Spa; and the Sound of Your Stay music amenity program offering complimentary in-room Fender guitar checkouts. 26 l CASINO STYLE 2017



or Atlantic City residents, the future looks exciting. For Florida residents, the future just arrived. The Tampa expansion, which opened in April, includes more than 26,000 square feet and offers 500 of the newest high-tech slot machines and 15 live-action table games including blackjack, Double Deck Blackjack, 3 Card Poker, Casino War, Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Crazy 4 Poker. “We’re enthusiastic about opening this new casino space, which is just one of the expansion projects scheduled for this property,” says Joe Lupo, president of Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. “We certainly want the Tampa Bay community to come out and experience this first-class facility.” Wimberly Interiors, considered one of the world’s leading design consultants in the hospitality industry, created the Art Deco casino. The new space contains approximately 14,000 square feet of Italian marble. The lighting in the new venue includes chandeliers that are reminiscent of Jazz Age flapper dresses. The new Orient Road Garage will have a walkway into the mezzanine-level casino where guests can take a self-guided “rock walk” tour showcasing more than 100 memorabilia pieces from artists such as Beyoncé, Carrie Underwood, Stevie Nicks and Bon Jovi.


GET SMART iejas Casino & Resort near San Diego, owned by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, has been in a state of expansion since 2013. The 25-year-old property added a second luxury tower two years ago including five luxury suites with high-end amenities (multiple HDTVs, wet bar, exquisite handcrafted furnishings, oversize walk-in showers,

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designed to inspire architecture • interiors • planning

atlantic city • new york • philadelphia

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Ringside Seats Comfort is paramount in the casino. Outfit your floor with seating expressly designed for the gaming resort. BY DAVE BONTEMPO


dedicated slot lover can play for hours if the seating is comfortable. The same player may move on within minutes if the seating lacks support or does not move easily. Casino seating—from slots to tables, from sports books to bingo halls and bars—must be durable but stylish, and able to withstand continuous use. Gary Platt Manufacturing took a seat at the gamingindustry table more than two decades ago. The Reno, Nevada-based firm found a niche and struck it rich. Each chair in its collection is hand-crafted and customizable with a wide range of upholstery, design and accent options. Gary Platt supplies virtually every casino in North America. Its proprietary foam—the heart of the chair—is injectionmolded with built-in

lumbar support to fit the human form. The seat has a waterfall front edge to relieve stress on the legs. The wood is also fully contoured to match the foam, so neither will break down over time. Slider glides make the chair userfriendly and easy to move. Munich-based Patir Design has earned a place of distinction in the casino and hospitality industries. For more than 20 years, the familyowned and operated firm has created premier seating that stand up to 24/7 use while maintaining its smart, lustrous look and abiding comfort. Manufactured with fabrics that are exceptionally robust, Patir chairs ensure that casino customers can relax in comfort for the duration of their play—and then some. Operators can mix and match from a range of bases and upper seating to meet their specific needs. Patir’s designers and engineers will happily customize casino seating from existing product lines, or create something new and exclusive just for your property. Patir also offers friendly expert advice, short delivery times and ongoing, first-class service. Pamper your customers with seating that’s comfortable, attractive—and keeps them in play.

(l.) A Sonoma Bench from Gary Platt; (above) a chrome slot chair from Patir 28 l CASINO STYLE 2017

Jacuzzis and whirlpool jets). More innovations are coming, according to Tom McCartney, president and general manager of Viejas. “Loyal guests and players to the property are looking for more reasons to visit,” he says. “We’re aiming for an integrated resort experience in which people can interact with the property as they see fit. From the expansion of our gaming offerings and new restaurants to adding more amenities like an adult-only pool and tower, our guests will have many more ways to experience our property.” McCartney combines an aesthetic and pragmatic approach to the rooms. “The ideal hotel room needs to be two things above all else: well-functioning and comfortable,” he says. “While our rooms go above and beyond, those are the two unwavering foundations of a great room experience. If you can easily navigate and use a room, and it has intuitive features like lighting and bathroom fixtures plus high-quality beds and linens, guests will be happy.” Beyond meeting basic expectations, “we also want to ensure all amenities and services match what they can experience at home,” he says. “For example, rooms shouldn’t have alarm clocks in them, because who uses them anymore? These are a thing of the past. Properties should strive to have their rooms be modern and complement your overall brand.” Interactive electronics like Alexa, Amazon’s “intelligent personal assistant,” in each room give guests specific information about the property and what’s going on. Where does it all end up? “The message we want to send our guests is that this is an escape from their everyday lives,” says McCartney. “A place where they can come to relax, have fun and experience the thrill of winning.” Viejas offers outlet shopping, an outdoor concert space called the Park, a 10,000square-foot roller rink in the summer which turns into an ice rink in the winter, a luxury pool area, deluxe dining options and more. “It’s only getting better with the new additions,” says McCartney. “We offer a completely integrated property that combines gaming, amenities and entertainment.” Classic touches remain, like turndown service featuring gourmet chocolates. Soft music plays in contrast to the noise, adrenaline and excitement downstairs. An improving economy is one incentive to lure customers. New amenities may persuade them to stay longer.

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The sports book at Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nevada added dynamic video walls from NanoLumens Inc., then refreshed the space with new furniture, fixtures and carpeting



As gaming markets continue to mature, the engine of growth is shifting away from new construction to the renovation of existing properties By Aaron Stanley

RENOVATING TO GAIN MARKET SHARE, INCREASE REVENUE or just keep up with the Joneses is a critical component of a casino’s business model. These projects have become more complicated as the gaming industry expands beyond its traditional client base. A successful renovation must leverage creativity and aesthetic appeal with a property’s current assets and market position, and re-envision the space in a way that will attract new demographics—all while minimizing disruption and inconvenience for existing customers. “It’s complicated,” says Paul Steelman, founder of global casino architecture firm Steelman Partners. “It’s science meets arts meets commerce. Throw in a little psychology there—and voila.”


WHAT’S DRIVING THE CHANGE? xperts say that the key to any successful renovation is understanding the motive behind it. This requires honest introspection, examining strengths and weaknesses, and identifying core objectives within the context of a broader business plan. 30 l CASINO STYLE 2017

A property may renovate to protect existing sales, grow market share, compensate for a poor initial design—particularly in the case of an acquisition—or stay ahead of the competition and avoid becoming stale. It may do so to lure a new demographic. “You have to stay nimble, you have to stay ahead of the curve and look at what’s happening in the travel and hospitality industry,” says Lori Nelson, vice president of corporate communications at Station Casinos, which is currently renovating its flagship Palace Station property in Las Vegas. While the process can be difficult and at times painful, casinos have become quite proficient at it. “One of the good things about working in the gaming industry is you’re working with experienced operators. They know their business and they know their clientele,” says Bill Salerno, principal at SOSH Architects in Atlantic City. “For the most part, they’re knowledgeable and decisive because they have to be. When you get a client outside that realm, it’s almost like they’re in slow motion.” The pressures of an increasingly competitive gaming market and the normal wear and tear on hotel rooms and

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casino floors necessitate the renovation and refurbishing of INTEGRATE TO DIFFERENTIATE? casino properties every five to 10 years, experts say, depending on current customer and revenue draws. he trend is so-called integrated resorts, which pro“I do think it varies by the situation, but if you talk to vide a wide array of entertainment offerings to interior designers they’ll say things like every five years you gamblers and non-gamblers alike, as well as a have to do soft goods—carpets, upholstery, etc.—and seamless vacation experience in which guests don’t need to every 10 years you have to redo spots in your casino,” says leave the property to enjoy dining, shopping, entertainTom Hoskens, partner and vice president at the ment and other leisure activities. Cuningham Group. “But the reality is, depending on how As such, renovations of older properties must incorpowell these things are performing, you’re going to do it rate some degree of non-gaming activities. more quickly or slowly.” “The standard amenities for these gaming resorts are “We think hotels should be renovated every five years. restaurants, a hotel and an event center. Those are the If you take longer than five years then they really start to generic standards,” says Hoskens. look bad,” says Steelman. Adding non-gaming amenities is necessary, but it’s not The return on investment from such a project comes in enough. The integrated resort route is undoubtedly the part by attracting new clients and taking better care of forward evolution of the industry, but operators need to existing customers, increasing their length of stay and ultiintroduce them in a way that works with their property. mately increasing time on device. Simply slapping on a hotel, convention space, restaurants, “If a renovation is done correctly, casinos can substanfitness centers, retail and theaters may not yield the desired tially increase the time on the machines and the time on gaming tables—it’s almost like adding a casino. It would seem to me they have to be looking at a 20 percent ROI or they wouldn’t do it,” says Steelman, adding that the best return he’s seen from a renovation within a property’s existing infrastructure is 30 percent —Bill Salerno, principal, SOSH Architects to 35 percent. It almost goes without saying that one of the deciding factors in a renovation’s success is how well the proper- effect if it’s not done strategically. ty was initially designed. “We’re very careful,” says Nelson. “You don’t just “If it was thoughtfully designed and constructed initial- bring something new in for the sake of bringing it in. You ly, it’s a lot easier because you don’t have to go back and do it because it’s something unique that fits well into the patch or fix things,” says Salerno, adding that a challenge property and is something the guest is going to like. We’re for older structures is reconciling historical building code very thoughtful in that decision-making. We don’t just and style requirements. “If you had a very large renovation pull the trigger to pull the trigger.” 30 years ago and then another large renovation 10 years Steelman says operators must be realistic about what ago, your project has to span across two different eras of they can do to improve their existing assets. construction.” “Everybody who owns a casino thinks they have the Ultimately, it’s critical to keep an eye on the future makings of an integrated resort, even if they really don’t. when renovating, as consumer tastes and technological Once they’re built and the land is purchased, if casinos are trends can change much faster than architects and enginot programmed correctly as integrated resorts, they’ll neers can keep up with them. It’s especially important for never become one. Some of them can’t operate the amenicasinos, which must evoke a certain aesthetic and emotion- ties profitably and look at it like a giant retail mall where al response from customers and passersby. they stuff it with stuff. Stuffing it with stuff isn’t necessari“Casinos are like a five-minute thing,” Steelman says. ly the best thing.” “People look left, look right—either they like what they With non-gaming offerings, the balance is in finding see or they don’t.” fresh and novel experiences that can be profitable within

and sizzle that were “ Thepartglitzof casinos 20 years ago

are being phased out. Today’s materials selections are more subdued and more indigenous.

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PHASING IS AMAZING he most difficult part of any renovation may be the disruption of construction. Good upfront planning and communication among stakeholders can help mitigate the impact. When it’s time to renovate, shutting down part of your property may allow the project to be completed more quickly. But the hassle for your customers may be too great a cost. That’s why most renovations employ a phased construction approach, which lets the whole property remain operational while minimizing the aggravation for customers. And while this route keeps guests and revenue coming in, it’s far from a simple task. “It’s a lot more complex than doing an expansion in a dedicated area or building from the ground up,” says Lori Nelson, vice president of corporate communications at Station Casinos. Adding signage, keeping more staff on hand to reroute guests, and good-quality, visually appealing construction barriers can go a long way toward easing any friction. “You try to give them a picture of what’s coming up through renderings and things like that so that they understand what you’re doing and get enticed about the new thing that’s coming,” says Tom Hoskens of Cuningham Group. “You have to be really thoughtful and artful about renovating and moving the construction around so you’re not impacting the bottom line,” says Bill Salerno of SOSH Architects. Nobody enjoys walking under scaffolding or through a maze of detours to get to their favorite entertainment spot. So reward customers for their continued loyalty during a renovation. On this front, the operator must strike a balance between the project’s capital expenditures and the marketing costs needed to reward loyal customers and appease disgruntled ones.

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the existing infrastructure. “There’s a spirit in the buildings now that you need to have alternative things for people to do and experience. Starbucks is not a unique experience,” says Steelman. A good place to start for rebranding as an integrated resort is building out the hotel, as hotel guests are generally the casino’s best customers, spending more time on the gaming floor and more money at other amenities. “If you say to yourself ‘OK, we must expand our attractions to attract more gamblers,’ the first thing you probably have to do is expand the hotel,” Steelman explains. “If you can’t justify expanding the hotel, then maybe you’re not ever going to be an integrated resort. “Face it—there are pokey slot parlors all over the world. Maybe you’re going to be that forever.”



he billion-dollar question for the industry remains how to renovate and rework properties and casino floors in a way that will entice younger people to not just show up, but to stick around and gamble. There’s no consensus or cookie-cutter template prescribing the best approach to doing this, but it’s clear that longstanding assumptions about space usage and consumer preferences must be continually rethought. “Just creating a space and throwing in a couple of skillbased games does not make a millennial area,” says Hoskens. What’s been kicked to the curb is the traditional notion of a casino floor as some sort of window-less alternate dimension designed to psychologically manipulate a gambler’s senses. “That’s old school,” Hoskens says. “You had a black box, you never told anyone what time it was and you hoped they’d stay forever.” Architects and operators are now finding that a more natural and less intrusive sensory experience is actually conducive to gambling because it helps patrons feel more comfortable and at ease in the environment. “You have windows in casinos now,” Hoskens points out. “As a matter of fact, we’ve had some clients tell us that the machines next to the windows actually produce more because people like to know what’s going on outside.” “The glitz and sizzle that were part of casinos 20 years ago are being phased out,” says Salerno. “We’re not seeing the reflective surfaces and polished brass finishes. Today’s materials selections are more subdued and more indigenous: more wood, more stone, more authentic.” Steelman concurs that creating a natural ambiance with greater exposure to the outdoors will be “paramount” to the success of casinos in the future.

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The all-new Bingo Room at Palace Station in Las Vegas, designed by the Friedmutter Group

tion, almost like the creation of the iPhone. Once we get this done, it’ll cause a lot of casinos to be renovated. I think the casino market will need to do it before five years’ time.�


PLAY IT STRAIGHT, DON’T PROCRASTINATE hile the calculus that goes into renovating a casino is very much a case-by-case exercise, resist the temptation to be pound-foolish and/or procrastinate. Punting to a later date may save money in the short term, but will inevitably mean higher capital costs, more intrusive construction and greater disruption to operations in the end. “The renovations that are not that successful are at the casinos that have let it go for 20 years,� says Steelman.

“We think millennial casinos will have more windows and more daylight,â€? he says. “Kids and 30-year-olds do not live in eternal darkness.â€? Traditional notions of return on investment on the gaming floor are also being re-evaluated. Areas must be allocated for uses like lounges that will generate returns in a way that is not as immediate or easily quantifiable as those from slot machines and table games. “I think the biggest thing that a millennial casino will contain will be a diverse space. It won’t be a giant warehouse filled with slot machines,â€? says Steelman. “There will be some drama, some lighting, some natural effects.â€? ENTERTAINMENT ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN While the recent trend has been ,ASÂŞ6EGASÂŞ\ÂŞ-ACAUÂŞ\ÂŞ:HUHAIÂŞ\ÂŞ!MSTERDAMÂŞ\ÂŞ(OÂŞ#HIÂŞ-INHÂŞ#ITY toward building out non-gaming WWWSTEELMANPARTNERSCOM amenities, there will be a renewed focus on the gaming area as the center of the property. Sports and entertainment lounges, skill-based and competitive gaming arenas, additional non-gaming attractions and offerings that have yet to be developed will keep energy levels up and re-establish the casino as the place to hang out on-property. “The goal is to make the casino the most fun room in the building. We’ve lost track of that a little bit,â€? says Steelman. Another reason casinos must be versatile and timeless in their use of space is that the games of the future have yet to be invented. SOCHI CASINO & Resort, Russia “There’s a desperate need to create a gaming slot product that’s fun for a 3TEELMANÂŞ0ARTNERSÂŞ!äLIATEDÂŞ#OMPANIES younger person,â€? Steelman continues. “Most of the casino companies are depending on slot machine manufacturers going through a major revolu-

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Making the Connection


Gaming legend Jack Binion knew the resort experience isn’t simply business—it’s also deeply personal. BY DIKE BACON

ack in the early 1990s, I had the great fortune to work with and learn from one of the best owner-operators in the history of gaming: Jack Binion. Many know the legendary story of Jack and his company, Horseshoe Gaming. Jack took his style of hands-on, personal customer service, practiced and perfected for years at Binion’s Horseshoe on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, added $25 million of his own money, and parlayed them into one of the most successful riverboat gaming companies in the nation. Horseshoe Gaming never went public, and in 2003, Jack sold the company to Harrah’s for $1 billion. To this day, Caesars Entertainment continues to successfully leverage the Horseshoe brand and the legacy of Jack Binion in multiple markets. Jack’s fundamental business premise was simple: make customers feel important. He’d give them the best guest rooms they’d ever stayed in, the best meals they’d ever eaten, and of course, the best gambling experience. It could be argued that Jack was a

Jack Binion and the legendary Binion’s Horseshoe

renegade in his day. At a time when the gambling industry was migrating to the word “gaming” and becoming less personal, Jack and his executive team would walk the floors of his casinos, meeting and greeting customers and getting to know them by name. That level of engagement with customers, whom we now call guests, is as important today as it was then—perhaps even more so. Creating a truly great hospitality experience today takes a nuanced approach that is personal, memorable and experiential. The difference now is that we have incredible new tools that can help us learn about our guests and achieve a greater connection with them. One of the biggest emerging technological tools is Big Data. Connecting with today’s guest requires an understanding of frame of mind and frame of reference; likes and dislikes; behaviors and preferences. It takes data technology (lots of it) to measure, track and understand guest insights. It’s a huge opportunity to know our guests at a deeper, more personal level than Horseshoe Gaming 34 l CASINO STYLE 2017

ever could. The assertive leverage of Big Data can unlock significant value by making guest activity and transactional information transparent and applicable to virtually every aspect of gaming resort design. Data can also provide very specific levels of psychographic information that can drive design program elements and influence design decisions and directions. Big Data represents a distinct shift—from standing in your guest’s shoes to leaping into their brains. The challenge for the gaming and hospitality industry will be its willingness to deliver on those insights and reorient the guest experience to engage in a more personal, memorable way. Of course, major gaming corporations and tribal operators have used data mining for years. It represents a sea change, an opportunity to micro-target guests in ways that Jack Binion and his team would have thought unimaginable. Personalizing the guest experience goes hand-in-hand with creating memorable, experiential guest interactions throughout the gaming resort. These principles drive competitive differentiation and guest satisfaction by offering new and memorable experiences in completely unexpected ways. Differentiation constantly informs marketing and promotion plans, and subsequently drives social media activity and the sharing of positive reviews. A differentiated, personal and memorable guest experience can be the best marketing machine in the world. First-time guests initially choose one gaming resort over another based on word of mouth or interesting things they’ve seen across various media platforms. But what are the memorable touch points and experiential moments that will compel them to return? A property’s primary brand message is a promise that creates expectations. Guests return because the resort delivered on its promise. How does all this trickle down to the millennial generation? The industry has been bombarded with ominous warnings about the “cataclysmic impact” of the younger audience. While this demographic segment is important, what’s lost in the conversation is that a great hospitality experience is not generation-specific. As Nathan Peak, AIA, design leader and principal at HBG Design, often reminds me, “Good design is attitude-driven, not age-driven.” He’s right. Good design shouldn’t alienate one generation in order to appeal to another. Good design is not a lifestyle choice or a fad that moves in and out over time. Good design and accompanying quality and service commitments appeal to all ages and are important to all guest segments. The best and most successful resort destinations, large and small, base their design and service offerings on the personal, the memorable and the experiential. They’re gaining distinct cross-generational appeal and creating a loyal customer base that will serve them well today and in the future. Jack would have an absolute blast if he owned a “gambling joint” today. Dike Bacon is Principal and Partner at HBG Design.

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BE OUR GUEST: Revving Up Resort Revenue


Is your resort filled with loyal, influential, high-value customers who’ll go on to rave about your property to their peers? If not, you’re systematically shortchanging your bottom line. BY MARJORIE PRESTON

WE HAVE GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS. First the good news. According to Fitch Ratings’ 2017 U.S. Lodging and Leisure Handbook, it should be a good year for the hotel and hospitality industry, thanks to a more buoyant U.S. economy. “With consumer confidence, employment and household balance sheets at or near the strongest levels in 15 years, lodging and leisure sector fundamentals are on solid near-term footing,” said Stephen Boyd, senior director of U.S. Corporates. Now the bad news: many hotels are forfeiting revenues and profits because of inadequate (or non-existent) revenue management. In 2013, former Harrah’s executive Matthew Perkins signed on as vice president of marketing at Pearl River Resort in Choctaw, Mississippi. A self-described “analytical guy,” Perkins made it his priority to check out the resort’s revenue management system. And soon realized there wasn’t one. “The hotel was managed on a what-feels-right, first come/first served basis, with demand stimulated through direct mail at worth segments we were only guessing at,” he says. “We were in fill-thehotel mode, putting anyone and everyone in our database. “I knew we were leaving money on the table,” adds Perkins, now VP of marketing and operations at the resort, owned and operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. “The bad thing was, we couldn’t quantify it.” It was time to get serious about revenue management, summed up (a bit long-windedly) by Xotels founder Patrick Landman as “selling the right room to the right client at the right moment at the right price on the right distribution channel with the best commission efficiency.” 36 l CASINO STYLE 2017

We’re not just talking just heads in beds, but high-value customers who boost profitability and act as brand ambassadors—the de facto salespeople who leave your property singing your praises. While the goal is straightforward, the path can be steep. There’s a seemingly endless array of must-have solutions that amass customer data but may not fully interpret it. There’s a glut of online travel agencies—now the middleman in so many transactions— pitching rooms mostly on price. There’s the challenge of sifting through mountains of intel about guest behaviors, preferences and spend, then making it work for you. And until you tease out the value and factor it into strategy, data is just clutter. Here are a few ways to personalize offers based on customer worth for optimum price and maximum growth.



TAs and other channels like Groupon and wholesalers are always going to try to negotiate the lowest price they can with suppliers,” says Tammy Farley, president of the Atlantabased Rainmaker Group, provider of revenue management and profit optimization software for the gaming and hospitality industries. “But no one can force hotels to discount. You drive revenue and eliminate price wars through proactive execution of strategy.” There’s no way to completely sidestep OTAs, which have cornered serious market share since Expedia burst onto the scene in 1996. Phocuswright Global Travel Market Research reports that 2016 was the first year in which OTA revenues in the U.S. surpassed in the hospitality sector.

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Don’t reflexively use price as a lever. Rather, give guests a reason—or many reasons—to book direct. “Instead of being instantly gratified by watching lots of bookings come in from discounted rooms, go back to basics, starting with a value proposition that goes beyond room rate,” says Farley. “Come up with a customized price or offer that an OTA can’t emulate. That compels direct booking.” Ongoing mergers and acquisitions should give brands more bargaining power with OTAs, which collect 10 percent to as much as 30 percent in commissions. But even independents shouldn’t play a defensive game, Farley says. “I think hotels have become victim to feeling they must give OTAs what they want in order to maintain first page. Hoteliers have lots of other ways to look internally to get customers.” Shopping around is second nature to today’s consumers, who have been “empowered by the choice available to them across the web,” says Fig Cakar, managing director for the Americas of SiteMinder, a provider of cloud-based software designed to attract and convert more hotel guests. “For hoteliers, it can be tempting to lower room rates in order to fill empty beds, but it’s a dangerous game.” Knee-jerk discounting undermines profitable revenue, making it hard for hoteliers—especially independents—to recover. “Many will struggle to balance revenue with the cost of acquiring that guest,” says Cakar. “That said, while pricing should never be the only way hotels differentiate themselves from their competitors, it does play a big part for undecided patrons.” Twenty years ago, OTAs took hotels by surprise. “They didn’t really understand the changing environment and how to attract customers through their own websites, so the OTAs took over, especially with mobile customers,” says Marco Benvenuti, co-founder and chief analytics officer for San Francisco-based Duetto, whose products like GameChanger and ScoreBoard help hotels make pinpoint decisions about room pricing. The tug-of-war continues, and OTAs are dead serious about corralling more consumers. Bloomberg’s Drake Bennett, who visited Expedia’s “Usability Lab” in Bellevue, Washington last year, reported that researchers tested subjects in real time as they booked travel online, “measuring their impulses and facial muscles and even using

an eye movement tracker to deconstruct the psychodrama known as travel planning.” Recognizing that for most people planning a trip is stressful and often a big investment, Expedia’s goal is to get customers to “enjoy this process more and get them to spend more money on the site,” says Bennett. Hotels should do likewise: make it easier, more fun and more rewarding to book direct. It’s also vital to…



ou’ve heard of the Pareto principle, which holds that in many cases, 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts. That ratio isn’t fixed—it could be 80/20 today, 60/40 tomorrow— but there’s no disputing that high-value customers, especially at casino resorts, are a significant, dependable source of revenue whose value trumps that of one-off, transient business. Casino loyalty programs have trained customers to load all on-property spend— on the gaming floor, at restaurants, at the spa, and so on—on a single card. The system builds customer profiles that theoretically should make pricing, comps and other rewards easy to calculate. But the system must readily respond to the data; the right PMS, CRM and marketing automation systems are critical. Duetto’s My Rate app gives casinos the ability to instantly call up personalized room rates for loyal guests based on their individual worth to the property, says Benvenuti. “If you have a property management system where you collect all your folio information on the customer and send us that folio, we can give you a personalized price for that customer. If you have both the folio and gaming card data and a way to link the two to a personalized ID, we combine those sources to provide a personalized price”—in moments. Hotel chains including Marriott, Hilton and IHG now have loyalty programs with premium status and discounts for card holders—but only if they book direct. Last year, Hilton introduced discounted rates for Hilton Honors members; according to Worldwide Chief Marketing Officer Geraldine Calpin, within six months the app was the No. 1-rated hospitality app on the Apple Store, “higher than any competi-

“ Once the customers arrive, the onus is on you to deliver such a positive experience that the relationship becomes yours.”

—Tammy Farley, president, the Rainmaker Group

tor, third-party booking site or anyone else in hospitality—including Uber,” she says. Hilton’s “Stop Clicking Around” campaign reportedly grew the hotel giant’s database by 3.64 million members, “enough to fill the Wimbledon tennis stadium 250 times over,” Calpin adds. But discounts—say, 10 percent off the top on hotel rooms for members—are just the start of exceptional service. In fact, that 10 percent discount may be meaningless to a high-value customer, who could get the same savings by booking through AAA. And it’s not really personalized. If customers are willing to pay $199 for a room, says Farley, let them! Then reward them with something they really want. “You must look at the value each customer brings and their preferences before you offer them “x”,” adds Benvenuti. “You need an offer that is relevant to them with a price that is personalized to them.” Consider MGM Resorts’ ubiquitous M Life loyalty program. It promises “the ultimate way to earn rewards for virtually every dollar you spend” with “best room rates guaranteed” at resorts from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Washington, D.C. to the Vegas Strip. In June, Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa introduced the program, which ranks guests from Gold to Platinum to Noir (the latter offers a 40 per-

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A cultural change “needs to happen in the hotel industry in general. If you ask a hotel what platform their technology is built on, most don’t know.” —Marco Benvenuti, chief analytics officer, Duetto

cent bonus on points and express comps). Top-tier members are tantalized by so-called “M Life moments” (sunset schooner cruises; lavish couples weekends; the chance to play DJ for an hour at an MGM nightclub, etc.; these are experiences people will remember and share via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ad infinitum). And of course, once your guests arrive…



hether they book through or a third-party distribution channel, when guests walk in that door, your job is to woo them, win them and utterly exceed their expectations. “Once the customers arrive, the onus is on you to deliver such a positive experience that the relationship becomes yours,” says Farley. Some people want to be pampered, cosseted and shown constant love and attention throughout their stay. Others prefer benign neglect: to check in without fanfare, have their needs quietly met, and basically be left alone. It’s Customer Service 101. “Get back to the business of hospitality—from knowing who I am at the front desk to knowing my 38 l CASINO STYLE 2017

address to knowing if I like a particular room type and having it available,” says Farley. “If I’ve stayed with you five times, don’t ask for my address. It’s in your court to deliver the experience to make me as the customer want to come back direct.” “From the moment the guest arrives and checks in until the moment they leave, it is a constant communication,” says Benvenuti. “It is just not about personalized price; they need to feel valued.” Would your customer love access to a spa, pool or health club? Does he or she want a pet-friendly room? Extra pillows? A corner suite on an upper level with a terrace overlooking the pool? Are there dietary requests or medical needs to accommodate? An anniversary to celebrate? Loyal guests shouldn’t have to ask twice. “It’s a great feeling to walk into a room and find a bottle of red wine waiting for you if that’s what you like—it’s like, ‘Wow,’” says Farley. “It’s easy to do it when the guest is on-property, and not so difficult to continue that relationship throughout the year. If there’s a seasonal pattern to one of your loyal guest’s visits, why not market to them in advance of the particular season that drives their business, saying, ‘We know you like to come when the leaves change?’” And please don’t short-sheet your OTA guests! Farley recalls a hotel stay she booked through an OTA. “The room was not as nice as one I would’ve gotten had I booked direct. I wasn’t able to use points because I’d booked with somebody else.” But that was then. These days, “hotels want to treat OTA customers better so they come back direct.” With all this in mind, be sure to…



e’re seeing more personalization through emails and social media, but they sometimes get put in place without any forethought into strategy,” Farley says. “Online presence and social media reputation allow a hotel to maintain rates.” So stay in touch via booking confirmations that inquire about or confirm personal preferences; customer service surveys that invite comments, critiques and suggestions (which you’ll graciously respond to and act on); and persuasive communications that engage customers on the plat-

forms where they live. Monitor your click-through rate to see what’s working. And keep an eye on sites like TripAdvisor. A 2013 report showed that leisure travelers prowled as many as 38 websites before booking a vacation, and more than 15 of those sites in the week before. Consumers do their research across multiple devices and multiple sites—and some want to know what everybody else has to say, says Farley. “The message here to hoteliers is to make sure that your brand is well represented on every kind of form factor and every site you can be represented on.” She notes the practice of astroturfing, in which people post inaccurate reviews—positive and negative—in exchange for discounts or other remuneration. “When I’m reading a review on TripAdvisor and somebody thought this three-star hotel was the most fabulous thing ever, in my mind I’m thinking, ‘Do they usually stay at Motel 6?’ “If you have a negative review score, it puts you in a position of weakness. How can you charge a premium rate when the product has a sub-par reputation?”



t the Pearl River Resort in Mississippi, Matt Perkins replaced the guesswork approach to pricing with the Duetto pricing system, with impressive results. “Our best customers are still able to get in the hotel whenever they want for free, and now our lower-worth customers have to pay a little. Everyone has an offer, whether free or varying rates by worth,” he says. “With the Duetto dynamic pricing system, we increased our hotel cash revenue without sacrificing occupancy.” Despite the vast data-gathering tools at their fingertips, many hoteliers and resort operators still don’t use them to get a full picture of their customer base, which can enable them to manage and maximize revenues. “A cultural change needs to happen in the hotel industry. If you ask a hotel what platform their technology is built on, most don’t know, and the ones who know have platforms that were built 20 or 30 years ago,” says Benvenuti. “Our biggest competitor in this industry, whether casinos or hotels or resorts, is still the Excel spreadsheet.”

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The pool has become an important destination for resort guests—part day club, part nightclub, and all-weather watering hole

Harrah’s Atlantic City’s Pool After Dark; (below) Revelers at Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas


THE ACME WIDGET CORP. WILL HOLD ITS SEMI-ANNUAL MINIconvention at a hotel in Las Vegas, with lots of conferences, including one on widget sales in the Far East. But instead of being held in Meeting Room A, the Far East sales panel will take place poolside, amid sparkling waters, lush landscapes—and, of course, a bar. In the past, the resort pool was just a place to swim, catch some rays and imbibe a margarita or three. The attractions have evolved into premium social hangouts, nightclubs with A-list DJs, and day clubs with private cabanas, private massages and other amenities to pamper resort guests.



n 2003, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas introduced its Rehab Pool Party and put the cement pond centerstage—almost by accident. “Rehab started as a one-day event for the local club and entertainment employees,” says Joe Bravo, director of nightlife/day life at Hard Rock. “Very quickly it became the best party in town. The innovation and craziness of the party became legendary with a reality show, and from there it evolved into a multimillion-dollar industry and the Greatest Pool Party in the World. There are very few venues in the history of this country that can say they spawned an industry.” Rehab offers visitors the opportunity “to let loose and be silly. We give them the space to do so. That will never change. This is why pool clubs are usually crazier than nightclubs,” says Bravo. The pool became a primary focus not just in Las Vegas but in Atlantic City, California, Florida and elsewhere. “The key is social interaction,” says Andrew Kreft, director of 40 l CASINO STYLE 2017

design for Lifescapes International. “Everyone wants to be part of the mix in some way; the pool area becomes the focal point in the center of it all. “ Pools also promote a longer stay, he adds. Such grand amenities speak to the proliferation—and importance—of non-gaming attractions in the casino resort. According to David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, only 4 percent of visitors to Las Vegas last year said they came primarily to gamble. And 31 percent, the highest proportion in history, didn’t hit the tables at all. “Pools and, in the bigger picture, health, beauty and fitness facilities, are valuable amenities,” Schwartz says. “They’re relatively not labor-intensive and are usually good investments for casinos. By paying a DJ, casinos can charge a cover and sell expensive drinks, thus making money from square footage that in the past was merely an amenity for guests.”



ools are “a reflection of the style and mood of the properties they’re on,” says Kreft. Red Rock Casino Resort, for example, embodies the desert that surrounds Las Vegas, and the pool area also captures that feeling. “We designed a palette of drought-tolerant materials that reflected the desert motif and provided lushness, while being water-sensitive,” says Kreft, whose company also created waterscapes for Wynn, Encore

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and many other resorts. “Wynn and Encore were devoted to gardens and required more of a verdant, bountiful appearance.” The monetized elements affect the placement of bars, lighting and sound equipment. Red Rock required mobile cabanas which can be removed for concerts and events. “After Encore opened, the west porte cochere was removed to make way for Encore Beach Club, which was designed for decadence and enjoyment,” Kreft adds. Both Wynn and Encore offer temperature-controlled pools surrounded by gardens. Guests can reserve a private cabana complete with mini-fridge, plasma TV, plush chairs and sofas. “The secluded, adults-only, 21-and-older European pools are an ideal retreat,” says Yentl Lieuw, spokeswoman for Wynn Las Vegas. Named as one of the top 3 pool complexes in Las Vegas by Travel + Leisure, the three-tiered Encore Beach Club is a day club that also offers night-swim events. Named 2017’s Las Vegas Day Club of the Year by the Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association, the club is home to artists like David Guetta, Diplo, Alesso,

blurring the line between inside and out, so you can enjoy the dance floor in the interior or let the party spill out to the luxury cabanas around the pool.” Most pool settings feature standard elements such as long poolside perimeters to allow as many people to gather as possible, as well as cabanas, daybeds and bars that accommodate shifting functions from day to night. Many resorts also offer at least one heated, year-round outdoor pool. Encore Beach Club has six pools set yearround at 82 degrees, says Lieuw. However, the use of the pool area as a whole is more difficult in the cooler months, even in Las Vegas, Kreft adds. “In order to keep revenue streams available, you’re seeing more properties come up with winter activities, such as temporary ice rinks or seasonally tenting over or enclosing parts of the pool area to give them what could be year-round weatherized use.” Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in southern Florida welcomes guests to the day life experience at a 4.5acre lagoon-style heated pool retreat. Amenities include lounging at a private

Major Lazer and the Chainsmokers. It features 26 cabanas, each stocked with a refrigerator, flat-screen TV and a plush daybed. Eight bungalows offer private bathrooms, an infinity dipping pool, a cooling system, a view of the Las Vegas Strip from a private balcony and an oasis-like pool scene.

cabana, taking a dip in the pool or sipping signature cocktails at the Beach Club. Jacuzzis too. At Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California, Lifescapes took a different approach, adding family activities around the pool, integrating splash pads, slides, beach entries, bocce and horseshoes, as well as a nearby event lawn for private functions, concerts, fitness classes and the like. The complex, set to open in 2018, will measure 100 feet longer than the height of the Empire State Building. There will be three primary pools, one with a family lagoon.



asino resorts often use the pool area as an extension of the action indoors, Kreft says. “At XS Nightclub in Encore, the walls open up,

Spa pool at Borgata’s Water Club

SEA OF TRANQUILITY Think of the spa as the shy, reserved cousin of the pool: just as vital to the resort experience, but less visible. The pool is the place to party and frolic. The spa is sedate and serene, a retreat where guests can relax in a Jacuzzi, enjoy a facial or spend a few minutes in the steam room. Both Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas offer Jacuzzi spas by their pools. “Additionally, our spas offer guests poolside spa services. Guests can enjoy a massage in the comfort of their room or suite or in a private poolside cabana,” says Wynn spokeswoman Yentl Lieuw. The spa at Harrah’s Resort Southern California is so important to the resort experience that it’s almost quadrupled in size, from 3,000 square feet to 11,000 square feet. The new spa offers 15 treatment rooms, salt baths, a barbershop and salon. According to a statement from the company, it’s a “casual yet elevated” space providing “ultimate relaxation in true laid-back Southern California style.” Meanwhile, the Pechanga Resort in Temecula, California has added a new 4.5-acre pool complex as part of a massive $285 million expansion project. The attraction features no less than eight pools and five spas, including a two-story, 24,000-square-foot spa with 17 treatment rooms and a salon. Borgata in Atlantic City offers massages daily at its outdoor pool, says Jennifer Aarons, director of spa operations for Spa Toccare and Immersion Spa at the Water Club. The Indoor Pool & Gardens at Spa Toccare offers not just a pool but two whirlpools and a tree-lined outdoor garden area for lounging. “At Immersion Spa, customers have exclusive use of our lap pool, which is located 32 stories high” with amazing views, says Aarons. By definition, there’s a limit when it comes to commingling pools and spas, says Joe Bravo, director of nightlife/day life at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Vegas. “We’re fortunate to have a huge 5.5-acre pool complex with the most beautiful pools in the country, offering something for everyone. While we do poolside massages, Rehab isn’t really a ‘spa’ atmosphere,’” he says. “The Nirvana pool is perfect for a spa day, but Rehab is why you need a spa day in the first place.” 2017 CASINO STYLE l 41

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When the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas needed additional party space, it expanded vertically, transforming its underused rooftop deck into one of Downtown’s mustdo hotspots. The Pool at the Plaza is a 70,000-square-foot playground complete with a wet deck where guests can recline on lily-pad daybeds and luxury cabanas complete with TV, fridge and private safe for valuables. There are updated tennis and pickleball courts and foosball tables; a gaming area with minicraps and blackjack; and tons of fun for the see-and-be-seen crowd. Guests can make new friends in the 12-person hot tub or dance under the stars at concerts, holiday celebrations and special events like Hawaiian luaus. One of the largest rooftop decks in Las Vegas, the renovated space combines a vintage vibe with up-to-the-minute amenities. It’s also a one-and-done destination. An on-site food truck serves up dishes like lobster rolls and tuna ahi wraps. Guests can also order in from Pop-Up Pizza and Zaba’s Mexican Grill. The pool opened with plenty of fireworks on July 4, 2016. Phase II will add five new suites with direct access to the deck for a reported investment of $60,000 per key. The Pool Patio Rooms will “reflect the pool’s aesthetic with a mix of contemporary and midcentury decor and matching color scheme, as well as private patio space on the outdoor deck,” according to Travel Weekly. And the fireworks continue. —Marjorie Preston 42 l CASINO STYLE 2017

European Pool at Encore “We’ll have several swim-up bars, a pool bar and grill, food and drink service, cabanas available for rental and other activities,” says Patrick Murphy, head of the Pechanga Development Corp. “Native plants and lush landscaping will be woven through and surround the spacious area.” The pools will be heated to accommodate cooler weather. “The pool complex will become an integral part of Pechanga because it and the luxury 25,000-square-foot spa will give guests the full-service resort experience at another level,” Murphy says. “Day and night usage is currently in the planning stages.” Back in Atlantic City, Borgata’s outdoor pool is open only for the summer months. For those 21 and over, it offers daybeds and cabanas surrounding a 3,200-square-foot Roman-style pool. Guests can feast on a menu created by Borgata Executive Chef Tom Biglan. VIP cabanas provide canopy coverage and comfortable furnishings with space for up to 10 people. Each includes a refrigerator stocked with non-alcoholic beverages, hydrating water spritzers, sunscreen and a complimentary frozen fruit tray. The pool grew out of the success of the indoor pools at the Water Club hotel, says Liza Costandino, Borgata’s director of communications. “As an all-encompassing, Las Vegas-style property, it’s important to create an experience unlike anything else on the East Coast,” Costandino says. “The outdoor pool adds a lavish yet comfortable setting to our open-air space, especially coupled with the Borgata Beer Garden, which features live music and games.”



he Pool at Harrah’s is a different story—and was a game changer in Atlantic City when it opened in 2007. The cavernous area features a 90-foot-

high glass dome and 82,000-gallon pool with lush foliage. By day, guests can lounge in private hot tubs and even order up a poolside massage. But at 10 p.m. every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, it becomes the Pool after Dark, one of the city’s most popular nightclubs with a revolving cast of reality TV stars and entertainers such as Amber Rose, 50 Cent, Jesse McCartney, assorted Kardashians and Hiltons, and resident DJ Pauly D of Jersey Shore fame. “We’ve added a new stage area to host performances by today’s hottest artists; a new, elevated DJ booth with an LED video wall as its focal point; and an updated sound system,” says Noel Stevenson, spokeswoman for Caesars Entertainment in Atlantic City, which owns Harrah’s. In 2009, Harrah’s added the Loft, a $1 million upper-level gaming area where guests can play blackjack or roulette while looking out at the party. Harrah’s just redesigned the Loft, upgrading the cabanas, daybeds and lounge furniture and revising the open floor plan. “All Jacuzzis will be refreshed, as well as the venue’s main pool, the centerpiece of the nightlife experience,” Stevenson says. Casinos will continue to cater to VIPs with private pools and spas, cabanas, and gardens—whatever their guests need or want, to the limits of imagination, Kreft says. “We’re designing day clubs and nightclubs that cater to outside guests, too, with all the recreation, cabanas, VIP treatment, etc., that one would expect from a full-service resort without ever staying at the hotel. “Flexibility, climate control and exclusivity will define the well-designed environments of the future, which means a potential for greater use, day to night and all throughout the year.” Adds Bravo, “The great thing about the competition in Las Vegas is that it forces you to stay on your toes and to innovate. We’re consistently looking for those opportunities.”

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17th Annual

Nominations are open for the gaming industry’s most prestigious awards. The GGB Gaming & Technology Awards are the casino industry’s most prestigious awards for technology, products and services. The honors are designed to recognize and encourage innovation and technology in the rapidly changing casino industry. Winners will be announced in the November 2017 issue of Global Gaming Business magazine and awards will be presented at Global Gaming Expo (G2E), October 3-5, 2017 in Las Vegas. DEADLINE: August 18, 2017

• Best Consumer-Service Technology • Best Productivity-Enhancement Technology • Best Slot Product • Best Table-Game Product or Innovation

Nominations are now open in the following 4 categories:

All Non-Slot Product nominations will also automatically be nominated for the “Progressive Products” feature in GGB’s 2017 G2E Preview magazine. Slot products will be featured in the October issue of GGB, distributed at G2E.

For details and to enter online visit:

John Buyachek • Sales Director 702-248-1565 ext. 227


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asinos looking to take their POS mobile should get their hands on full-featured mobile POS experience—InfoGenesis Flex by Agilysys. Entertainment facilities are under pressure to differentiate their guest service from that of competitors. And guest expectations continue to increase with a growing population that demands greater convenience. In fact, according to a recent Forrester Research report, consumers will own 257 million smartphones and 126 million tablets by 2018. And that’s just in the U.S. Serving this population in a more meaningful and quicker fashion is where InfoGenesis Flex shines. Whether they accommodate dozens of guests or thousands, businesses succeed when they appreciate the value of every single relationship. POS mobility helps forge those lasting guest relationships.

ality. With broad temperature tolerance, drop- and shock-resistance and long battery life, taking more orders is easy.

Let InfoGenesis Flex, the leader in POS mobility, do all the work:

• Count on unprecedented payment security with PCI-validated P2PE (point-to-point encryption) when integrated with rGuest Pay.

• Boost guest spending with mobile tablets that facilitate order placement and payment acceptance. Servers are available to satisfy guests’ immediate requests while providing faster service.

• Enjoy 24/7 access to advanced support from an established industry leader with a reputation for quality and a proven track record of exceptional customer service.

• Accommodate more guests by augmenting stationary terminals with mobile alternatives that use the same unlimited POS function-

For more information about InfoGenesis Flex, email or call 877-369-6208.

Look Sharp


FROM CASHIERS TO COCKTAIL SERVERS, BELL CAPTAINS TO BACCARAT DEALERS, casino employees are the front line of the property—the first to greet guests and the last to bid them farewell. That’s why it’s so important that they look and feel great in attire that’s stylish, flattering and functional. For more than 25 years, Cintas Corp. has been getting employees “Ready for the Workday” at MGM Las Vegas, Bellagio, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun and other resorts. Cintas collaborates with each client to select the perfect uniform cut, color and fabric. The reception has been enthusiastic. Cintas consistently is recognized for design excellence by the North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers & Distributors through their Image of the Year Awards. Recent prize-winners include the Cromwell Las Vegas, Greektown Casino-Hotel and Saratoga Casino Hotel. Cintas offers everything from ready-to-wear options to custom, one-of-a-kind designs from its in-house fashion designers. Seeking durable back-of-the-house uniforms, sleekly attractive dealer ensembles or the latest trends for the cocktail apparel, Cintas has the solution. No wonder more than 5 million people go to work each day in a Cintas uniform. For more information, visit or call 702-435-1262.



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Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Best Reinvestment Decisions



ncome from rooms and nongaming sources continues to drive profits. For new insights into consumer demand and more targeted pricing strategies, look to Duetto’s revenue management solutions. Casino hosts shouldn’t rely on “gut feelings” to offer guests a comp or casino rate, or base the decision solely on information from the gaming floor. With Duetto’s Personalized Loyalty Pricing, casinos can incorporate new data sources and predictive analytics into their reinvestment decisions and direct-marketing programs. That feature is part of GameChanger, a revenue strategy application that allows casinos to dynamically flex rates across all segments and room types according to demand. It incorporates total customer-worth data—ADT from gaming, plus spending for F&B, spas, golf and entertainment. The “Find My Rate” app, available on most devices, allows frontdesk agents, hosts or pit bosses to find player information with the push of a button and get the right rate—for the guest and for the bottom line—immediately. Comps are reserved for the highest-value guests. And other spenders are rewarded for their contribution to profitability. Individualized loyalty rates reflect a guest’s true value to a property, avoid cookie-cutter loyalty programs, and entice the right guests to return. For more information, visit




Cuningham Group Architecture is on the cutting edge of imagining “Casinos of the Future.” Shifting demographics and the younger generation’s desire for experiences that are personal, mobile and social are the challenges facing the future of games and the facilities that house them. Cuningham Group is committed to a client-centered, collaborative approach called Every Building Tells a Story, emphasizing oneof-a-kind solutions that reflect clients’ vision and the character of each property and site. This philosophy challenges clients to embrace bricks-and-mortar changes that support the evolving nature of gaming and its customer base, while setting new standards for the future of entertainment. What qualifies Cuningham Group for this forward-thinking work? More than 25 years of

Award-Winning Attractions

gaming and hospitality experience. It’s brought clients award-winning and dynamic design solutions that add value and advance the art of entertainment design. Cuningham Group’s world-class portfolio— covering the spectrum from small, delicate spaces to complex, expansive projects—includes casinos, hotels, convention centers, restaurants, retail, master plans and support facilities for gaming and resort destinations throughout the U.S. and around the world. Entertainment-based work has been a significant focus for the international design firm, which was founded in 1968 and provides architecture, interior design and planning services for a diverse mix of project types with a staff of more than 375 located in 10 offices. For more information, visit

Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas


The term “location-based entertainment” in an integrated resort has such a broad definition. What does EDC specifically offer to IR developers? EDC offers bespoke attractions and branding icons for developers. Hired much like a commissioned artist would be, EDC leans on its 50-plus years of experience in film, TV, theme parks and theater to create large kinetic art that entertains guests and brands entire developments. EDC’s projects have been fortunate enough to win Guinness World Records, Emmy Awards and themed entertainment awards. What kind of art does EDC create? EDC creates one-of-a-kind art that tells a story, similar to the Crane Dance at Genting Resort World Sentosa’s harbor, the Fortune Diamond at Galaxy Macau and the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas.

How is success measured for clients? Metrics are calculated in Twitter hits, Instagram photos and Facebook posts of guests taking photos with EDC’s work. From those simple posts, EDC knows it’s accomplished two things: 1) The piece has inspired a sense of wonder and awe within guests. 2) The piece functions as a marketing point for IR developments. EDC has been very fortunate to work alongside developers who understand what the company tries to create and why. For more information, visit

2017 CASINO STYLE l 45

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A leader in entertainment architecture and interior design, HBG Design specializes in creating personal, memorable and transformative design environments for national and international clients. HBG Design’s talented team delivers innovative design solutions from offices in Memphis and San Diego. A five-time G2E Casino Design Award-winner, HBG Design is one of a select few design firms working in gaming/entertainment design today to own, operate and develop its own fourstar hotel—giving the firm a distinct edge in understanding hospitality operations and market differentiation. HBG Design has created more Guest House at Graceland Resort than 21 million square feet of resort, hotel, gaming and entertainment space, including more than 20,000 four- and five-star hotel rooms. HBG Design recently worked with 20th Century Fox Dubai World, Las Vegas Sands, Hard Rock International and Caesars Entertainment, and proudly serves more HBG DESIGN than 35 tribal nations across the United States, developing experiential gaming destinations that enrich and advance tribal enterprise. BG Design (formerly Hnedak Bobo Group) creates gaming HBG Design currently is designing the proposed Rock & Brews and hospitality experiences that delight and inspire. Casino Resort for the Kaw Nation in Braman, Oklahoma, a brand coRecently, HBG worked closely with Elvis Presley Enterprises founded by rock legends KISS. Other current design projects include and Priscilla Presley to design the new four-diamond Guest House at the expansion of the Choctaw Grant Casino Resort in Oklahoma, the Graceland Resort in Memphis, Tennessee. expansion of the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in New York and the While the outside is traditional, in keeping with the mansion’s Point Casino Hotel in Kingston, Washington. original style, inside the experience is brimming with subtle and notso-subtle homages to The King, with a contemporary design inspired Get to know the HBG Design team and portfolio at by Elvis’ personal style.



Handcrafted To Perfection GARY PLATT MANUFACTURING

GARY PLATT MANUFACTURING HAS A LONG AND SUCCESSFUL HISTORY OF WORKING WITH designers on a broad range of casino projects. One reason designers prefer Gary Platt is that every chair in its collection is customizable, with a wide range of upholstery, design and accent options. Plus, each chair is handcrafted to perfection, bringing unsurpassed comfort to each player’s gaming expearience. One of Gary Platt’s newest creations is the Monaco line, which has a distinctive style and attitude, stripping down preconceived notions of casino chairs and remixing them from the foundation up. Monaco chairs’ patent-pending design and razor-sharp details bring a new meaning to unsurpassed comfort with a chic essence worthy of the name Monaco. The San Remo model takes its name and inspiration from the Mediterranean village of San Remo, nestled against the shore in western Italy. Gary Platt’s San Remo chair perfectly blends the city’s elegance and coastal atmosphere with clean lines and a curved back that gently surrounds each player with a gentle embrace. Its front and seat are leather, and its fabric back allows each designer to fully execute a design vision. Also new in the collection is the Sonoma Bench. Perfect for dual-play environments, the Sonoma Bench features a seamless seat and a long, sleek back that is gently curved on each side, creating an intimate seating environment for couples. Leather seat and front combine with a fabric back to create visual intrigue. A surround footrest provides room enough for both players to relax in style. Experience these innovative seating designs and many more at Gary Platt’s G2E Booth 2618 at the Sands Expo Las Vegas, October 3-5. For more information, visit 46 l CASINO STYLE

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PARADISE CITY, THE FIRST FULLY integrated resort complex in Northeast Asia, opened in April, close to the Incheon International Airport, 90 minutes from Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo and 40 minutes from Seoul. Lifescapes International designed the landscape environment for Paradise City, infusing vibrant landscaping throughout the main resort-style pool, complete with an outdoor bar and private cabanas for an exciting nightlife setting. The firm also designed a large Las Vegas-style main entryway, wedding gardens, private villas and gardens that flow throughout the interior and exterior of the project. Lifescapes understood the project must highlight South Korea’s rich cultural identity while also appealing to international business. By integrating a diverse range of native plants, Lifescapes preserved the integrity of the cultural experience while also bringing the excitement of Las Vegas to drive tourism and put South Korea on the map for international travelers.

“As Korea’s first ‘art-tainment’ integrated resort, Paradise City offers an unparalleled guest experience,” says Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, president of Lifescapes International. “This mega-resort combines a diverse range of hospitality, gaming, art and retail amenities, allowing guests to experience luxury, beauty and entertainment like no other in Northeast Asia.” Established in 1958, Lifescapes International Inc., based in Newport Beach, California, has been a significant design influencer for casinos and destination resorts, mixed-use developments, commercial, retail centers, entertainment-driven projects and residential projects worldwide. The firm, which employs more than 40 talented professionals, has designed the landscape for more than 15 casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as an additional 80 casinos and resorts across the United States, Asia and Europe. For more information, visit


mart casino operators know every customer is a VIP whose comfort comes first. That starts with seating. For more than 25 years, Patir Casino Seating has created premier seating for the casino and hospitality industries. “Player seating is subject to wear and tear,” says Natalie Heldt, sales director for the firm’s Las Vegas branch. “It must be manufactured according to the highest quality standards with fabrics that are exceptionally robust. Comfort has a direct influence on the length of stay at a machine.” Patir seating is known for its beauty, function and flexibility. Consider the recent Noblesse Collection, with quality finishes and accessories including: • Stylish metal hand-pulls for easy movement • Elegant quilted patterns on backrest covers

• High-gloss mahogany finish on the collection’s wooden chairs • An innovative new material, Depar, with improved flexing endurance, tear strength and color fastness Patir can customize seating from existing bases and upper seating components, or create exclusive custom-made seating just for your property. Patir Casino Seating makes the difference —on the floor and in the bottom line. For more information, visit or email 2017 CASINO STYLE l 47

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OSH Architects was founded in 1979 on the core conviction that quality design continually rewards the community, the client and the design team. The firm has steadily grown from a company of four partners to its current size of approximately 50 design professionals and support staff engaged in the execution of master planning, architecture and interior design commissions worldwide. SOSH’s philosophy drives a design process that values exploration, visualization and the contributions of multiple voices to deliver the best design solutions that are the result of thoughtful collaboration and creative analysis. With offices in Atlantic City and New York, SOSH has worked with an impressive array of hospitality design projects from restaurant rebranding and new tower construction to complete resort expansions. SOSH has handled every aspect of hotel and casino designs on multiple properties, nationally and internationally. Every project brings with it a

All Hospitality, All the Time TBE ARCHITECTS FOR 45 YEARS, THE NATIVE AMERICAN-OWNED FIRM TBE ARCHITECTS has become one the best-known casino-hotel architects in America. “All Hospitality, All the Time” is not just a tagline. It’s the firm’s client base. TBE has a depth of experience like no other Native Americanowned architecture firm, having worked with more than 113 tribes and

Brew Brothers, Sciota Downs, Ohio unique mix of space types including gaming floors, hotel rooms, restaurants, entertainment venues, ballrooms, retail stores, lounges, pools, wellness retreats, office space and food service. Each has its own unique set of challenges and technical requirements, which SOSH addresses to meet the business objectives of its clients. For more information, visit or contact 609-345-5222 or 212-246-2770; email

First Nations, designing more than 200 casino projects and 400 hotels. The firm combines the Native American background and architectural expertise of Chief Boyd, chief executive officer and principal; the creative hotel and casino design expertise of Rich Emery, president and design principal; the design acumen of David Nejelski, creative director and principal; and the management talents of Nick Schoenfeldt, vice president and principal. TBE Architects provides full architectural services including master planning, engineering and interior design, and delivers projects on time and on budget. Currently the firm is designing a new home for the Quil Ceda Creek Casino across from its existing facility in Tulalip, Washington. Affectionately known as the “Q,” the casino provides a comfortable, familiar atmosphere for guests—a key component of the new design, ensuring “There’s more to love at the Q.” The design emphasizes warm colors and natural materials with the recognizable “Q” woven into the carpet, lighting and signage. The gaming floor provides a sense of intimacy with high and low spaces and ceiling designs. TBE Architects is an active associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, the Arizona Indian Gaming Association and the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. For more information, visit or contact Linda J. Roe, vice president, client development at 602-321-6207.

TBE is serving as the architect for a multimilliondollar renovation project at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa, Arizona 48 l CASINO STYLE 2017

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Elvis Will Never Leave the Building


The love affair between Elvis Presley and Las Vegas continues to this day BY PATRICK ROBERTS

50 l CASINO STYLE 2017

days before that, however, the Westgate was forced to close its exhibit, “Graceland Presents: Elvis the Exhibition” due to a dispute with the presenting company. In the meantime, a treasure trove of memorabilia— stage outfits, jewelry and letters, among other artifacts from the career, home and wedding of Elvis—are stored

away while the matter is being adjudicated. But you can still find tributes to Elvis on every corner in Las Vegas. Residents of the city are surprised to find themselves in checkout lines in the grocery stores behind Elvis impersonators. The spirit of Elvis lives on in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas News Bureau

lvis Presley’s first Las Vegas performance was a bust. He was a 21-year-old singer on his first national tour. He spent a week in Vegas in 1956, billed as the “Atomic-Powered Singer.” (Seems everything was atomic-powered in Vegas in those days.) But his raw virtuosity was lost on the audience and he was panned in the local media. Bill Willard, a writer for the Las Vegas Sun, summed it up: “For the teen-agers, the long, tall Memphis lad is a whiz; for the average Vegas spender or showgoer, a bore. His musical sound with a combo of three is uncouth, matching to a great extent the lyric content of his nonsensical songs.” Thirteen years later Elvis returned to Vegas to shoot a movie with Ann-Margret called Viva Las Vegas, which includes a song of the same name that is often noted as the city’s theme song. The movie was a huge success and began Elvis’ close relationship with the city. But it wasn’t until 1969 that the images became synonymous. He was signed to appear at Kirk Kerkorian’s International Hotel (later the Las Vegas Hilton). Over the next seven years, he put on 837 sold-out performances in front of 2.5 million people. More people saw Elvis perform at the International/Hilton than anywhere else in the world. It wasn’t just a show, however—it was an experience. A $17.50 ticket got you a steak or a lobster dinner, and slipping the maitre’d $50 or $100 got you seats down front. Elvis himself had an ongoing party in his suite high atop the International. Visiting musicians would gather with him and sing until the sun came up. Las Vegas was the last place to host a performance by Elvis. He was scheduled to perform again at the Hilton in 1977, but his life was cut short by his untimely death on August 16 of that year. But Elvis lives on in Las Vegas. Just last year, the former Riviera Boulevard, connecting the Strip with the Westgate Hotel (the new name of the International/Hilton), was renamed “Elvis Presley Boulevard.” Just

(from top) A poster for Elvis’ live show; the marquee at the International; the singer on stage in his classic white jumpsuit; unveiling of the Elvis statue at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1978, with Vernon Presley, Priscilla Presley and Barron Hilton. The statue now adorns the lobby of the Westgate Las Vegas Casino.

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Š 2016 Cintas Corporation. All rights reserved.


We know that to get ahead in the gaming industry, you need to stand out. Your staff and your property need to shine to make sure your guests are happy. Cintas will get you Ready™ to create a lasting impression. Come see the latest apparel trends in the gaming industry on 0DUUI 0D at the Cintas Ultra-Lounge Fashion Show located within the Integrated Resort Experience at G2E. G2E Booth #1235 #).4!3

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Casino Style 2017  
Casino Style 2017  

Non-Gaming Amenities for Integrated Resorts