Thursday, Feb. 5, 1998 | 10:22 a.m.
The Westward Ho, the North Strip no-frills hotel that is among the very few Las Vegas properties owned and operated by a local family, is being sold to Frank Zarro, a Florida resort owner, for an undisclosed price.
The deal is expected to close next week, said sources close to the sale.
The 700-plus room hotel, which for two generations was owned and operated by the Petersen family of Las Vegas, was put on the block in November after Dean Petersen died in a local hospital at the age of 63.
Petersen, a 42-year-resident of Las Vegas, and a native of Hyram, Utah, owned and operated the Westward Ho for more than 30 years.
Since Petersen's death, the hotel has been operated by his sister, Faye Johnson, also a resident of Las Vegas.
Hans Dorweiler, president of the casino, declined to comment on the impending sale, other than to say that it will not affect casino operations or the employees.
"It will be business as usual," Dorweiler said.
Because of its location, shape and history, the Westward Ho probably will fetch a higher-than-expected price, speculates David Atwell, a hotel broker who has represented clients in the purchases of several Las Vegas properties in recent years.
"The property, based on its track record and potential can very possible be sold for more than standard industry prices," Atwell said.
The Westward Ho, which fronts more than 250 feet on the Strip between the Stardust and Slots-A-Fun, is situated on a several-acre rectangular parcel that stretches between the Strip and Industrial Road. Behind the hotel are 1,000 low-priced motel rooms, many clustered around outdoor pools.
The first-floor casino area, while not as large as those of its North Strip neighbors, still contains more than a dozen blackjack tables as well as craps, roulette and Let It Ride. There are also more than 1,000 slot machines and even a stage show: "Hurray America," performed on the second floor.
Atwell noted that even though the North Strip location is less valued than the South Strip to prospective buyers, "I believe that with the recent renovation of the Sahara and the planned development of Mr. Bennett's 40-acre parcel across the Strip, as well as the planned expansion of Circus Circus, it makes this property very desirable."
What might be of most interest to a prospective buyer is the Westward Ho's track record -- which is consistently in the black. Atwell says steady, strong business combined with relatively low overhead has spelled profits for decades.
"The hotel has an excellent track record," Atwell said.