Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 | 2 a.m.
You’ve heard of the megaresort, the destination resort and the locals casino. But the “locals resort”?
Station Casinos executives have coined the term for Aliante Station, which opens Nov. 11 as the latest step in the evolution of the suburban Las Vegas casino.
Located in the Aliante master-planned community in North Las Vegas, a well-to-do neighborhood in a city known for warehouses and gritty streets, Aliante Station is a study in contrasts.
It’s stylish but not too fancy. It’s comfy enough for locals while offering enough eye candy to satisfy friends and relatives visiting from out of town.
Station executives refer to their Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch Station Casino as “destination resorts” for tourists as well as locals, but Aliante Station General Manager Joe Hasson calls his property a “resort for locals.”
Red Rock Resort wowed locals and casino insiders when it opened two years ago as the valley’s most expensive suburban casino, with custom-made Swarovski chandeliers and walls of solid onyx and exotic woods. Some thought Station Casinos had built a palace when customers would have been happy with a mansion.
Red Rock Resort cost about $400 million more than Aliante Station, which has half the hotel rooms but about as much gambling. The $662 million, 202-room Aliante Station is a joint venture between Station Casinos and the Greenspun family, which owns the Las Vegas Sun.
Locals might be surprised to see in Aliante a casino that seems every bit as posh.
The property uses more carpet and less onyx than Red Rock. Yet it features elegant stone accented with oxidized iron and copper for a “Scottsdale resort” look, Hasson says.
There’s no spa or nightclub at Aliante. It has a TGI Friday’s, as well as a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Johnny Rockets burger joint. It also has a large bar called ETA — something between a nightclub and video poker bar — that will offer food, DJ entertainment and semiprivate seating.
There are no high roller suites, but there are nine larger suites offering living rooms with marble countertops and 65-inch flat-screen TVs. Even standard rooms have iPod docking stations and TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors.
There’s a small high-limit room with relatively low minimum bets in elegant surroundings. There will also be a sports book with three display screens spanning 96 feet.
Aliante has only 14,000 square feet of convention space (compared with 70,000 square feet at Red Rock). But there’s a 16-screen movie theater and a 650-seat, multipurpose showroom.
The Access Showroom will offer tabletop seating as well as deep-booth seating reminiscent of old Las Vegas showrooms. Hasson calls Access Aliante’s “crown jewel.”
In a town overflowing with Mexican and Italian restaurants, Aliante will open with family-owned outlets aiming for authenticity.
Camacho’s Cantina is opening its first restaurant outside of Southern California. The Aliante location features green glass chandeliers as well as a sculpture made from 2,700 empty bottles of tequila.
Pip’s Cucina & Wine Bar is the first restaurant from Rino Armeni, a former executive with Southern Wine & Spirits. The restaurant will use his family’s Italian recipes and feature machines that dispense wine by the ounce, allowing guests to sample wines in a wide price range.
Both restaurants strike a balance between low-key and refined, with menus offering a night out for less than $20 per person.
Aliante Station, planned when business was booming, will open during a steep consumer downturn. The surrounding neighborhood has been hit hard by foreclosures.
Yet Hasson says it will be tough for future suburban casinos to equal Aliante in craftsmanship and elegance.
“We’re not building this for tomorrow but for the long term,” he says.
Meanwhile, the property will open with $59 rooms. Unlike Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch, which attract tourists who want to stay off the Strip, Aliante’s hotel customers will likely be friends and relatives of nearby residents.
“I want to make sure my neighbors have a chance to experience the entire hotel,” Hasson says.