Las Vegas hotels are facing a dilemma these days: how can they continue offering the newest and best facilities? Vegas is adapting to a harsh economy, and no brand-new hotels will be built any time soon, but the city still attracts over 37 million visitors a year. The answer? Renovations–and all that fixing up is giving Vegas a bigger supply of nice budget-priced rooms. Several hotel casinos have already undergone or have started remodeling, and in downtown Las Vegas, the renovation craze has really hit big.
The El Cortez and the Gold Spike both have worked hard to improve and modernize their properties. The El Cortez has been continuously updating its rooms for a few years now, and it just held a contest for local designers to remodel suites (a Mob-inspired design won the contest). This classic Vegas hotel is historic (Bugsy Siegel was once an owner), and it consistently offers good room values.
Before its recent renovation, the Gold Spike had been relegated to the “you get what you pay for” category. After an extensive make-over, it’s now in the “a good value for your dollar” category. This is not the place to find remote-controlled curtains or world-class spa service, but your bill will reflect that.
The Plaza Hotel Casino, located at the top of Fremont Street, closed its hotel portion in November 2010 after beginning renovations. It acquired new furniture from the failed Fontainebleau project on the Strip and will hopefully have success in transforming itself. In recent years, the Plaza has struggled to overcome major challenges with the quality of its rooms.
The primary drawback with any Las Vegas downtown hotel is that the grittier neighborhood may be a problem for some guests–despite downtown’s effort to clean things up. On the upside, downtown is the place to squeeze lots of value out of your vacation dollars. Table limits are lower, room rates less, and restaurant specials abundant. Downtown’s funkier, hipper attitude (especially found in the East Fremont district) is a sign of its success in revitalizing and remaking itself–but make no mistake, downtown Las Vegas is a rougher neighborhood than the Strip.
Not all renovations are confined to downtown Las Vegas. The Tropicana completed its first renovation phase in 2010, and its new pool club, Nikki Beach Club, is scheduled to open in summer 2011. The Stratosphere just announced plans for a $20 million remodel. Who might be next? Several older Las Vegas hotel casinos could benefit from a face lift, and with times still tough on the Strip, the renovation craze probably won’t stop any time soon.
Photo of El Cortez courtesy of Allen
Photo of East Fremont Street courtesy of Olaf
Photo of Vegas skyline courtesy of Dion Hinchcliffe