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The Vegas RushDecember 28, 2009 By: Lark Ellen Gould Travel Agent
The new 500-room, 25-story Rush Tower overlooking Downtown Las Vegas
The new gold at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas might just be blue. As the legendary Downtown Las Vegas property unveiled its new Rush Tower (as in Gold Rush) just days before Thanksgiving, it was the new 75,000-gallon shark tank that held center stage—a compliment to the 200,000-gallon aquarium just a few yards away.
The aquarium backs the new lobby reception desk and also serves as the centerpiece of Chart House Las Vegas, the newest restaurant in the Chart House chain known for its seafood and stunning waterfront settings.
“Well, we did not have an ocean we could put by this restaurant, so we have the new fish tank instead,” says Golden Nugget representative Justin McVay. Both Chart House and the Golden Nugget are owned by Landry’s Restaurants Inc. out of Houston, which owns and operates more than 200 restaurants in the U.S. Landry’s purchased the Golden Nugget in 2002 and immediately embarked on a three-phase, $330 million redo that included building a shark repository right in the middle of the swimming pool, new high-end restaurants, a new nightclub overlooking Fremont Street called Gold Diggers, renovations in the Spa and Gold towers and now this: a 500-room, 25-story tower overlooking Downtown Las Vegas.
“The property has stayed in good shape,” says Tilman Fertitta, Landry’s president and CEO. “This marks the final phase of a long renovation scheme that actually cost more than [what] we paid for the hotel. We now have a pool that can compete with the best of them; we have an easy hotel to navigate; we have great rooms and great restaurants and can stand up to anything on the Strip—but customers will pay a lot less money.”
The new $150 million tower has a dedicated porte cochere and front-desk lobby with VIP and concierge desks all in front of the hulking new aquarium. Besides the new Chart House, there is a budding bar scene at the Hideout that abuts the tower’s bi-level infinity pool. Rooms are large (minimum 439 square feet) in desert hues featuring a leatherlike couch and divan; a spacious bathroom with comfortable oversized tub set in earthen tiles with rough chrome rainshower fixtures, dual sinks and separate commode; a modern desk area with tech-ready inputs; soft robes and down duvet with large down pillows to sink into; a 42-inch plasma TV; and superb views of Downtown Las Vegas and beyond.
Gilchrist & Soames amenities include shower cap (often overlooked in many Las Vegas hotel rooms) and an amenity tray with Fiji Water for $4. Guests should not expect to find complimentary coffee service or branded filtered water here. Two onsite Starbucks do those honors and, as nice as the new rooms are, the hotel subscribes to the Vegas approach to hospitality that tries to keep the guest in the casino as much as possible, not in the room.
A Piece of History
The Golden Nugget has a lengthy and fascinating history that made the hotel a colorful symbol of the city and the downtown centerpoint long before the fish or new tower came along. It opened in 1946—the same year as Ben “Don’t Call Me Bugsy” Siegel was nailing a dust-bitten chaparral on what is now Flamingo Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard—and is now the epicenter of upscale adult entertainment and excitement.
Golden Nugget owners Guy McAfee and Buck Blaine started the “-est” wars in Las Vegas more than half a century ago by claiming to be the largest casino in the world and then rigging up what was thought to be the largest neon sign in the world of the Nugget logo.
In 1972, Steve Wynn bought the then run-down property and turned it into a golden chrome and white dazzler in the din of Downtown Las Vegas. He brought in such headliners as Frank Sinatra and started a revolution in renovations and sprucing up along the Fremont Street corridor. The hotel’s big attraction: the “Hands of Faith”—the largest known gold nugget on display in the world today—still resides under glass in the North Lobby. Weighing in at 61 pounds and 11 ounces, and now fetching nearly half a million dollars, it was found in 1980 near the Golden Triangle in Australia.
Bringing Uptown Downtown
Today’s Nugget boasts the only spa in Downtown Las Vegas, VIP check-in areas for suites or for a minor addition to the standard room charge (but guests should not expect much more than a desk and a smiling receptionist); a sprawling Spa Tower and now Rush Tower suites for less than what such rooms will cost on the Strip, and new furnishings and appointments throughout the property’s 2,400 guest accommodations.
With or without some of the in-room amenities travelers are accustomed to, the Golden Nugget has consistently earned the AAA Four Diamond rating for more than two decades—the longest winning streak in Nevada’s history.
Rush Tower consists of four Penthouse Suites, 70 Junior Corner Suites and Standard Rooms that are on average 20 percent larger than comparable rooms in the other towers. And for now, those rooms are a veritable Vegas deal, with rates as low as $89 per night. Agents should contact Vice President of Sales Michele Marsee (702-386-8303, [email protected]).
A Standard King Room at Rush Tower, where accommodations average 20 percent larger than same-category rooms in the Golden Nugget’s other towers