Wednesday, Dec. 18, 1996 | 6 a.m.
The $173 million Orleans hotel-casino opens its doors at 7 tonight, bringing an upscale property reminiscent of the French Quarter to Las Vegas.
The 840-room resort, developed by Coast Resorts -- owner of the Gold Coast and Barbary Coast -- tries to capture the authenticity of Bourbon Street from its hand-carved door frames, lattice work and ornate ceiling trim to its restaurants featuring Cajun dishes such as crawfish and jambalaya.
A fireworks display also is planned, as Las Vegans and visitors will brave un-bayou-like high-20-degree temperatures to catch a glimpse of the colorful explosions and enjoy the Mardi Gras-like atmosphere.
The latest addition to the Las Vegas landscape is on 88 acres at Tropicana Avenue and Arville Street. Just off the Strip like the Gold Coast, Orleans is expected to attract a mix of locals and tourists.
To attract more of the latter, room rates during the first week of operations will be $39 for two nights. After that, the normal rate will be $69-$89 a night.
The resort features a 999-seat Branson Theatre country-western showroom, a 344-seat French Market buffet, five other restaurants and a 70-lane bowling center. There also is a wedding chapel and a 40,000-square-foot convention area.
Other features include fancy chandeliers, a French Quarter-styled facade towering five stories above the gaming tables in the 92,000-square-foot casino and oversized rooms with couches and stuffed chairs and wall pastels of New Orleans river scenes.
Major shareholders in Coast Resorts are Michael Gaughan, Tito Tiberti, Jerry Herbst and Frank Toti.
Gaughan and the other general partners last year merged the Barbary Coast on the Strip and the Gold Coast on West Flamingo Road into one corporation, enabling it to secure lower interest rates in financing its new developments.
In addition to the Orleans, Coast Resorts plans to build the Sundance hotel-casino in the Peccole Ranch residential development at the far west end of the Las Vegas Valley. Groundbreaking is scheduled as early as next summer.
For the nine months that ended Sept. 30, Coast Resorts' net revenue increased 10.9 percent to nearly $142 million, compared with the same period in 1995. During that time, gaming revenues increased nearly 15 percent from $94 million to $107 million.