|By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 11, 2005 - The Roman Empire has fallen in Lake Tahoe.
Columbia Sussex Corp., which purchased Caesars Tahoe in June for $45 million, announced Monday the property will be renamed MontBleu in an attempt to capture a theme that mirrors the character of Lake Tahoe.
"We're very conscious of the serene nature of Lake Tahoe, and we hope the new name reflects that idea," said Fred Buro, chief operating officer for Columbia Sussex, which is based in Kentucky and operates eight casinos including the Horizon in Lake Tahoe, the Westin Casuarina in Las Vegas and the River Palms in Laughlin.
Caesars Tahoe, which has 440 rooms and a 40,000-square-foot casino, will lose its ancient Roman theme in favor of a more contemporary look. Interior hotel and casino areas will soon begin the transition.
By February, Buro said, the blue MontBleu logo will have replaced the Caesars signage.
Columbia Sussex plans to refurbish the aging property, offering four nightlife venues and seven restaurants. Also, MontBleu will have the region's largest spa.
Buro said the property will stay open through the changes.
Outside of the Nevada, Columbia Sussex is dealing with extensive hurricane damage to its Belle of Orleans riverboat casino in New Orleans. The floating casino, which was moored onto Lake Pontchartrain, will have to be towed by tugboats to a location for repairs. Buro estimated the casino may not be operational until after January.
Hurricane Katrina's storm surge, Buro said, lifted the casino barge from its moorings and deposited it onto a dry dock area atop about 30 sailboats.
He said the company is exploring other options for moving the casino barge in different area of Lake Pontchartrain.
Columbia Sussex bought the Belle of Orleans earlier this year from Caesars Entertainment, prior to the company's buyout by Harrah's Entertainment.
"It's very sad because that whole market is gone right now," Buro said. "We're looking at alternatives."
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