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Keeping Up on the Strip

March 2, 2011 By: Andrew Sheivachman Travel Agent


The Stratosphere Casino
Guest rooms at The Stratosphere have been updated to draw both first-time guests and Las Vegas regulars.


After the opening of City Center in Las Vegas in late 2009, it didn’t take long for the veteran hotels on the Strip to realize the need to update their looks and offerings. Properties such as Monte Carlo, the 2,992-room hotel and casino that opened in 1996, began implementing changes last year to modernize and increase accessibility to its new neighbors.

“The opening of CityCenter was really what Monte Carlo was getting ready for over the past few years,” says Mike Pistana, vice president of hotel sales for Monte Carlo. The ability to easily walk to nearby CityCenter or hop on the upgraded Bellagio-CityCenter-Monte Carlo tram helps guests get the most out of their Monte Carlo stay. “We’re physically connected to ARIA, so you can walk through the Street of Dreams directly into ARIA,” he says.

Monte Carlo made updating the look and quality of its guest rooms a top priority as well. This has helped it earn back the four-star rating from AAA. “We’ve done a refurbishment of the guest rooms since last summer,” says Pistana. “We put in all-new bedding, linens, 40-inch LCD TVs, iLive clock radios, lighting and chair coverings. It’s really brought us on a par with a AAA four-star hotel, and we have once again earned that in 2011.”

Mandalay Bay’s
The four-story Wine Tower at Mandalay Bay’s Aureole restaurant has become a socializing hot spot.

Pistana believes that the hotel’s new focus on quality will complement the top-notch service the property already provides its guests. “The level of service has always been here,” says Pistana. “You can have a nice product, but it’s the service that gets you over the hump. We make our guests feel rich even if they’re not. Everyone wants to feel rich, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be one of our guests.”

By offering a quality product at a lower price, Monte Carlo plans to differentiate itself from its pricier neighbors. It hopes to generate a buzz with its entertainment options as well; the Blue Man Group just announced that it will take up residency at Monte Carlo beginning in 2012.

“We are the value alternative next door,” says Pistana, referring to the hotel’s proximity to ARIA and the brand-new Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. “We are so lucky to be sitting next to that product—there are still a lot of people out there who know it’s open, but don’t realize Monte Carlo is right next to it. You can stay with us and experience everything we have to offer over at ARIA; it’s so convenient.”

For those clients seeking a little more luxury, the top floor of Monte Carlo is home to Hotel32, an upscale hotel-within-a-hotel whose suites and VIP-level amenities are still priced lower than CityCenter properties.

“We have a nice hidden gem in Hotel32,” says Pistana. “The top floor of Monte Carlo is a separate hotel with private elevators and 50 rooms and suites. It’s a luxury product in a casual atmosphere. Our official term is ‘unpretentiously luxurious.’ It’s very upbeat and modern, yet comfortable and fun.”

Keeping It Fresh

Monte Carlo isn’t the only established Las Vegas property that has put an emphasis on updating its product to appeal to price-conscious visitors.

“One of the keys that has always made Las Vegas so marketable is the desire to always see what is new and fresh,” says Chuck Bowling, president and COO of Mandalay Bay, which, like Monte Carlo, is an MGM Resorts International property. “MGM has done a great job of keeping our properties fresh.”

Mandalay Bay has prioritized upgrades to its restaurants, bars and lounges to diversify the options and give returning guests something new to explore. Bowling points out that Mandalay Bay has attractions that are unique not only to Las Vegas, but to North America. “We have so many things under one roof—three hotels, and great attractions like the shark reef, which 11 years later is more popular than ever before,” he says, adding that the first Guinness Pub and retail store outside of Dublin will open here around St. Patrick’s Day.



Monte Carlo’s Hotel
Monte Carlo’s Hotel32 offers perks like the Loft Lounge at value prices.


Bowling also explains some tweaks to the layout of the resort that have improved guest satisfaction and helped promote Mandalay Bay’s unique offerings. “Charlie Palmer, one of the great architectural designers, designed a wine tower for us but we kind of hid it,” says Bowling of the distinctive four-story wine tower at the restaurant Aureole. “So, in December, we opened up that wine tower to let everybody know what a unique atmosphere we have down there. That’s just become a new place to hang out and relax.”

The hotel’s guest rooms were most recently updated in 2009. “We were very fortunate,” says Bowling. “We’ve had a long commitment of reinvesting in our properties. We went into the recession in very good shape.”

Creating a New Experience

As part of The Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower’s continuing renovations, guest rooms have been outfitted with unique furniture and amenities.

“We’ve been planning the renovations for some time now,” says Paul Hobson, general manager of Stratosphere. “If you look back at it, we started with the hotel rooms we’re calling Stratosphere Select. We completely re-imagined them.” By increasing the quality for guests, Stratosphere hopes to draw first-timers and entice Las Vegas regulars to give the hotel another look.

“It’s a thorough update; we’ve redone all the furniture and fixtures throughout,” says Hobson. So far, 909 of the hotel’s 2,427 guest rooms have been converted to the new Stratosphere Select design. “The bathrooms, for instance, have gone from a linoleum floor to all tile. We brought it into the now.”



The Stratosphere’s public areas have new fixtures, lighting and carpeting for a more current feel.


Significant changes have been implemented to the Stratosphere’s public areas to attract more foot traffic and surprise guests. Hobson explains: “We got away from the older-style brass fixtures you’d see in the 90s and made those current with stainless steel; dark, rich carpeting; and cool LED lighting features, which change the scene from time to see them the minute you walk in.

“We made our primary entrance for all hotel and valet guests in the front of the property right off Las Vegas Boulevard, which used to be a cab entrance. We’ve redone that front entrance and come up with a concept that flows really well and looks stunning, really inviting.”

Soon, the hotel plans to upgrade all its remaining guest rooms to the Stratosphere Select level. “We are also spending some more money behind the scenes,” says Hobson. “We intend to take the design scheme in Select rooms and extend it throughout the property.” Despite the updates, Hobson believes Stratosphere remains true to its goal of providing a desirable experience to guests at different price points.

“What we’re trying to do is elevate the experience of the guest looking for an updated presentation,” says Hobson. “We have something that appeals to multiple price points. You can get that elevated experience, but if you are value-conscious, we still have rooms that fit into that category. We’re basically covering the whole spectrum. We sit in a nice spot.”

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By Andrew Sheivachman | March 2, 2011
The opening of the CityCenter on the Strip ushers in upgrades among the veteran hotels in the neighborhood.