Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 1:33 p.m.
Hidden among the behemoth hotel constructions of the last 20 years, smaller, older properties generally fail to register on the typical tourist radar. They weather harshly or wither altogether. Some of the megaresorts would have us believe that their only slightly smaller recent additions — with rooms still numbering in the thousands — are "boutique" hotels. But no, even mini-mega is not boutique.
To be boutique, says Siegel Group director of business development Michael Crandall, a property should offer "an intimate setting, where guests truly experience service on a one-on-one basis. You feel at home and comfortable, yet you know you're in one of the hottest places in town." Downtown's El Cortez did a spectacular job last year of turning the decrepit Ogden House into the El Cortez Cabana Suites, a 64-room, nongaming, throwback-chic hotel offering stays for around $70.
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To that same end, the Siegel Group, helmed by founder and president Stephen Siegel, aims to revive, reintroduce and in some cases entirely reinvent older properties, namely the Artisan, Gold Spike, St. Tropez (now Rumor Boutique Resort), Downtown's Travel Inn (now Oasis at The Gold Spike), and the Mt. Charleston Hotel (now The Resort on Mt. Charleston).
"Our boutique hotel collection is for the customer looking for the Vegas experience without the hustle and bustle of the Strip," says Crandall. "They don't have to wade through large casino floors and deal with staff who won't know their name or face."
Rumor, which at 150 suites is the largest of Siegel Group's five projects, will open in June just across Harmon from the Hard Rock's new HRH Tower. Its hollow oval design puts two levels of suites facing the city, and two facing the upgraded courtyard. The original pool has a depth enviable by today's little party-puddles and is flanked by mature palms strung with hammocks. Daytime and nighttime parties will flow easily from the open lobby lounge, modern tapas restaurant and 16-seat private dining room through the French doors onto a patio and lawn, where locals will enjoy free yoga classes during the week.
Rumor will offer anonymous lodging for celebs seeking a lower-key stay with minimal gaming; there are just eight bar-top games in the lobby lounge. "This is going to be the coolest place in Las Vegas to go," says Crandall, "for locals and for tourists."
Meanwhile, Downtown's Gold Spike is enjoying its own $6 million makeover by the Siegel Group — the tiny lobby serves as registration, sundries shop and pizzeria. In hues of fresh turquoise, brown and cream, the eight penthouses (some connected) offer balconies with wraparound views, a stripper pole and even a tangerine pool table. A small park-like corridor leads guests next door, where the Oasis (formerly the Travel Inn) brings 50 more midcentury rooms to the party, along with a classic pool deck and six rooms about as close to Las Vegas Boulevard as can be achieved without sleeping on the sidewalk.
"We're all for revitalizing Downtown," says Crandall, who sits on the board of the Neon Museum. "I appreciate restoring Downtown, but only while maintaining the integrity."
Meanwhile, the changes continue at the Artisan with the reopening of the property's restaurant and a reinvigorated nightlife program. Up at Mount Charleston, the Resort prepares to receive a pool and a spiffy new resort feel.
At a time when some megaresorts are running at a reported 63 percent occupancy rate, and other huge projects have stalled, it's not difficult to imagine how growth in small waves might be better than flooding the market with thousands of new suites, restaurants and attractions. And for those skeptics who think the boutique manifesto a pipe dream, Siegel Group is hardly doing any harm, cleaning up this town one all-but-forgotten landmark at a time.