|By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 7, 2006 - When they sat down to design Red Rock Resort a few years ago, Frank Fertitta III and his brother, Lorenzo, harkened back to their days growing up in Las Vegas, when a big night out was at the Desert Inn or the Sands.
The once-popular but long-since imploded Strip casinos possessed what the brothers considered a resort atmosphere mixed with contemporary elegance.
Now, the Fertitta brothers hope Red Rock Resort has captured the class of the long-past casinos and added a dash of the future for the 21st century crowd. The brothers are six weeks from unveiling the $925 million hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Valley's western edge.
Station Casinos will open Red Rock Resort on April 18. The company's leadership is beginning to give selected audiences a peek into the property, which will initially have 415 hotel rooms, a casino with 3,000 slot machines and 62 table games, 11 restaurants, four entertainment venues, 94,000 square feet of meeting space, a luxury spa and a three-acre centerpiece pool area.
But to the Fertitta brothers, the connection to bygone days is represented in the property's crystal chandeliers, which contain some 3 million pieces of crystal.
So, with Red Rock Resort's desert-themed influence, which includes a variety of red, gold and brown stones and tiles and 5,400 square feel of onyx fixtures and countertops, are the dozens of chandeliers of all shapes, sizes and varieties. A 60-foot-long, box-style crystal chandelier hangs over the high-limit gaming area.
"That's what we remember most growing up here were the chandeliers, but they've all disappeared," company Chairman Frank Fertitta III said Monday while inspecting the final stages of the resort's construction. "We've brought that idea back, and we think it adds a touch of elegance to the property."
With its modern design, Red Rock Resort was also built for customer convenience, Fertitta said. Easy in-and-out access dominates the hotel-casino's design.
"Our customers have told us convenience is their number one concern, so we've built a property with six different entrances, two different valets, two parking garages and two big surface parking areas," Frank Fertitta said. "You don't have to walk through the casino to go to the meeting rooms or the spa. That kind of flies in the face of the old Las Vegas theory of making the people walk through the casino to get anywhere."
The Fertittas believe Red Rock's customers will find the gaming areas. Stone and tile paved walkways, including some as wide as 12 feet, allow for easy casino access.
"We've created a lot of transitional spaces and we've created a lot of things for people to do while they are on the property," said Station Casinos President Lorenzo Fertitta. "There are some concepts from Green Valley Ranch that we've taken and made a little bigger."
Gaming analysts said they think the Fertittas will exceed the property's expected return on investment.
In a research note to investors on Feb. 8, a week after Station Casinos released its fourth-quarter results, Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Marc Falcone said Red Rock Resort could surpass the company's success at Green Valley Ranch Resort, a similarly styled hotel-casino with fewer rooms.
Falcone said that Summerlin, a master-planned community, will continue to grow at a stronger pace than anywhere else in the valley. The Summerlin Centre location for the casino will also benefit from additional growth.
"We believe the Summerlin market will only get better (with) more housing, including condos, and nearly 2 million square feet of office and commercial space as well as a new regional mall to be developed by General Growth Properties," Falcone wrote to investors. "The population of Summerlin is also expected to double over next five to seven years. As such, we believe Red Rock's operating leverage over the next three to five years will be very significant."
Even though he doesn't expect to tour the property until April 4, Falcone said others in the gaming industry that have viewed the under-construction resort have been impressed.
"We believe Red Rock will redefine a new development and experience standard for both the locals and Las Vegas Strip markets," Falcone said.
The hotel-casino will employ 2,600 and Red Rock general manager Scott Kreeger said four weeks of training will be held to try to ensure a flawless opening. He said the hotel rooms will each house guests three different times before the paying public is allowed in.
"We'll serve 62,000 meals before we even open to our customers," Kreeger said.
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