Monday, Jan. 24, 2011 | 2:10 a.m.
- Primm Valley casinos betting on Hispanics (1-18-11)
- Gaming Commission approves Herbst reorganization (12-16-10)
- Regulatory board OKs company to run Herbst Gaming (12-2-10)
- Buffalo Bill’s at Primm to close temporarily for renovations (11-29-10)
- Primm’s lure: Freebies (7-2-2009)
- Herbst Gaming files for bankruptcy protection (3-22-2009)
- Betting it all on bankruptcy? (3-17-2009)
- Reports: Gaming revenue down, casino debt climbing (1-30-2009)
- Herbst misses debt payment, again (12-4-2008)
Beyond the Sun
In a resort about 40 miles from the Las Vegas Strip sits a hotel room filled with sleek and modern remnants of the shuttered Fontainebleau project. If not for a painting on the wall of a horse grazing by a mountainside, for a moment, you’d almost forget you were inside Buffalo Bill’s at Primm Valley Resorts.
Buffalo Bill's recently underwent a set of upgrades, but the hotel-casino isn’t giving up its western-themed roots. The railroad-like roller coaster tracks and faux rocky cliffs inside remain, but the casino floor and hotel rooms are being spruced up.
The renovations at Buffalo Bill’s are part of a larger project to update Herbst Gaming’s Primm Valley Resorts — the first major remodel since the resorts opened in the 1990s. Herbst Gaming will have spent $8.5 million on renovations at two casinos when the project is completed in April.
At Buffalo Bill’s, about $1.5 million was spent on renovations, which included $500,000 worth of furnishings it acquired from Fontainebleau to redo half of its 1,242 rooms. The cost breaks down to a bargain price of about $800 per room.
In the past, the resorts received hand-me-down furnishings from other properties belonging to MGM Resorts International (then known as MGM Mirage), which owned Primm Valley Resorts until it sold the development to Herbst Gaming in 2006 for $400 million.
The Herbst family, which was pushed out when Herbst Gaming emerged from bankruptcy a few weeks ago, never had the resources to do a proper overhaul after purchasing the resorts, said Stuart Richey, vice president of marketing with Primm Valley Resorts.
He said the Fontainebleau furniture came along at the right price and the company saw the opportunity to do the updating Buffalo Bill’s needed.
“We had a list of things we wanted to do, like every hotel does, and new rooms, carpeting and restaurants had been on the list,” he said. “December is a time when the business is low for everyone and having three properties and demand for only two allowed us to accomplish the things we needed.”
Buffalo Bill’s shut down from about Thanksgiving through Dec. 23 to complete the renovations.
In all of Buffalo Bill’s rooms, the thin floral comforters were trashed and the triple sheeting found at modern Strip hotels was added to new mattresses.
New dressers, desks, bedside tables and lamps were brought into the rooms. Armchairs with colorful striped pillows replaced the round table and chairs in the corner. A chrome and leather desk chair is intended to give the room a more high-end feeling.
“That chair (at a non-discounted price) probably cost more than we were willing to spend on the entire room,” Richey said.
Richey said the company hopes eventually to complete renovations in all of the rooms at Buffalo Bill’s, but the resort will likely wait for another deal on furnishings.
Aside from the rooms, the property added new carpeting, refinished some of its surfaces and replaced old lighting on the casino floor with energy-saving LED bulbs.
Buffalo Bill’s also spent about $300,000 to clean up and rebrand its coffee shop as a Denny’s, a recognizable brand the company hopes will grab more drivers as they pass through Primm.
Herbst Gaming is also turning its focus into modeling the 624-room Primm Valley Resort & Casino into a boutique resort.
Richey said the $7 million renovation at Primm Valley Resort & Casino is just as much about marketing the property as it is about updating the rooms. Primm Valley Resorts’ main customer base comes from the high desert area, including the Southern California towns of Baker, Barstow and Victorville, with the occasional Las Vegan who comes out for a specific event, Richey said.
“I don’t think consumers look at Primm Valley and think about it in the way that it is really meant to be positioned, which is a much better amenity package,” Richey said. “Bill’s is the family property, across the street is the roadside inn and Primm is the boutique, little premium.”
The 779-room Whiskey Pete’s is being left out of the renovation. Richey said they treat the hotel-casino on the southbound side of Interstate 15 as an extension of the other properties, closing it during weekdays when demand is low and opening it on weekends and for big events, like Snoop Dogg's appearance in March.
Primm Valley is halfway through a room remodel, which is expected to be completed this spring. On the casino floor, new carpeting and signage can be found and new flat-screen TVs have been added to the sports book. The resort's coffee shop has also been revamped.
The spa at Primm Valley was redone last year in a more modern design that could rival some spas on the Strip. The resort is hoping to entice guests with a $99 room and spa package.
Primm Valley is offering a $99 "stay-and-play" package, which includes a round of golf at its Primm Valley Golf Club across the state line in California.
“I don’t think people realize that they can come out here and the wife can go to the spa, the husband can golf, and we have a wonderful shopping mall and great steakhouse,” Richey said. “When you finally put those all together, you’ve finally got something that can stand on its own.”