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September 30, 2014

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Women fitting into influential roles on the Strip

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L.E. Baskow

Olivia Newton-John presents Eileen Moore, Regional President of the Flamingo Las Vegas, with a her very own “Pink Ladies” jacket on Wednesday, April 2, 2014.

When Eileen Moore landed in Las Vegas to assume her executive post with Caesars Entertainment last fall, she was contacted by a couple of colleagues who worked for a rival company.

They were Renee West, president of the Luxor and Excalibur, and Cynthia Kiser Murphey, president of New York-New York. Together, the three are in charge of more than 16,000 rooms on the Strip.

The ladies met for lunch at Il Fornaio at New York-New York. As regional president and general manager of the Flamingo, Quad and just-opened Cromwell, Moore is the most recent member of this still-exclusive club.

Monday night during an opening party for Giada, the Cromwell’s rooftop restaurant operated by Giada De Laurentiis, Moore recalled that initial meeting with West and Murphey.

“I was really, really impressed,” she said. “Not just by the level of achievement, but that they thought to invite me to meet them. I’d like to do more of these lunches.”

It was impressed upon the Las Vegas newbie that when a fourth (and fifth and sixth and so on) female is appointed president of a Strip resort, it will not be such a noteworthy event. Three might be a trend, Moore said, but “after four, it’s not such a big deal anymore.”

Moore then pointed out De Laurentiis, the rare female star chef to operate a restaurant under her name on the Strip; Cromwell General Manager and Vice President Karie Hall; and Melissa Fielding, assistant general manager and director of hotel operations.

What does it mean? Women occupy the top three executive posts at the Cromwell, and its most nationally famous partner also is led by a woman. No other Strip hotel features women so prominently in high-powered positions.

“There is a lot of girl power at the Cromwell,” Moore said.

Other resorts will surely follow suit, if not in suits.

• • •

There is nothing like a dispute in a production show to tip off a citywide conversation about a resort being sold. A recent upheaval in “Raiding the Rock Vault” at LVH sparked conversations in a handful of Las Vegas hotels, on and off the Strip, about the future of the old Las Vegas Hilton.

The tip of the iceberg was the suspension of “Rock Vault” frontman, singer, bassist, co-creator and writer John Payne, which took effect May 18 and is indefinite. Payne and show producer “Sir” Harry Cowell are in a business dispute, and Cowell sidelined Payne with no indication when he is to return, if at all.

This move has brought into question the larger issue of the state of LVH ownership. Current owner Goldman Sachs, which has invested a healthy sum to keep “Rock Vault” from closing at the LVH Theater, has been shopping the hotel aggressively for many months. Those with reliable knowledge of the prospective sale say that Westgate Resorts, under the ownership of David Siegel, is about to finalize purchase of the hotel. Westgate also once owned PH Towers, just south of Planet Hollywood, now the Elara Hilton.

The extravagant lifestyle of Siegel and his wife, Jackie, was chronicled in the 2012 documentary, “The Queen of Versailles,” which featured interviews with the couple and followed the construction of their 90,000-square-foot home. That manse is known as the Versailles House and aims to be a replica of the real palace. But it remains unfinished, with a targeted completion date of 2015, and was listed for sale this year for $75 million.

Meanwhile, the decline in value of the LVH has been a common method to measure the damage the recession has delivered to Las Vegas.

Around 2007, when the hotel was a hot convention destination and boasted the famed Star Trek Experience attraction, the Hilton was said to be commanding purchasing bids of close to $1 billion. And turning them down.

But a representative of a company that this year tried and failed to buy the hotel – famous as the original home of Elvis and several other superstars, including Liberace and Wayne Newton – said the sale price is closer to $150 million.

Stepping in to snap up a bargain is Westgate. As they say, they got it for a song.

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