As soon as SBE Entertainment and Stockbridge Real Estate Funds closed on the purchase of the old Strip heavyweight in August, the new owners went to work. Their short-term plan was ready to go the minute the ink dried.
Many of the public areas in and outside the Moroccan-themed resort were improved and refurbished. The hotel lobby is now more welcoming with new sofas and chairs and the black-and-white photos of past entertainers lined up behind the front desk are greeting guests with more flavor. Customers visiting the dining rooms make selections from fresh menus and the outdoor areas have seen the deft hand of professional landscapers.
There also is a long-term master plan. To work on that SBE hired two experienced Las Vegas firms, Marnell Corraro Associates as the general contractor and Bergman, Walls and Associates as the architect, to prepare a redesign draft for the 55-year old property. One thing, though, is certain, they assure everyone. The hotel won't be imploded which has been the sad fate of many old-timers on the Strip. Remember Dunes, the Sands, Stardust and many others.
SBE is going to take its time in deciding what exactly to do. The north end of the famous boulevard is presently undergoing a significant transformation, as new resorts are being built or are on the drawing board a mere stone's throw away. Crown Las Vegas is working on plans for a $5 billion mixed-use project next door that would have 5,000 units, including condominiums. MGM Mirage owns a large parcel across the street and is teaming up with Kerzner Holdings International to develop that site. Fontainebleau Hotel is already under construction and will feature about 3,800 rooms and suites when completed in 2009.
With that kind of competition in the neighborhood they want to make sure their product will find its niche among them. They look to differentiate themselves. One of the unique draws could be the inclusion of the legendary performers of yesteryear somehow into the marketing mix. Think Johnny Carson, Dean Martin, Tina Turner, Pat Boone, Connie Francis to start with and convey their aura into a distinctive business proposition.