|By Delen Goldberg, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 16, 2011--Las Vegas tourists often come to the city looking for a bargain, especially as the economy continues to falter. Caesars Entertainment is counting on the boutique feel of a new hotel tower to attract customers despite its higher prices.
Finishing touches are being put on Octavius Tower, Caesars Palace's "hotel within a hotel," in advance of its Jan. 2 opening. The 668-room, 23-story hotel complex on the Flamingo Avenue side of the resort features a private valet, entrance and lobby, large rooms with custom furniture and technological upgrades, and direct pool access.
"Caesars Palace is a large property, and we want guests to enjoy all of it but with a quicker check-in experience, better service and a small hotel feel," said Stephen Thayer, director of hotel operations.
Rooms run large -- the standard measures 550 square feet -- and are awash with glass and marble and cool green tones. Sitting areas feature custom-patterned chaise lounges and velvet sofas. Flat-screen TVs with media hubs that can stream content from personal computers and smartphones hang on the walls.
The luxury comes at a premium. A standard room in the Octavius Tower averages about $249 a night, compared with $179 for a classic room in Caesars' Roman or Centurion towers. During peak weekends or conventions, Octavius rooms can run as much as $889. Regardless, many nights already are sold out.
"The price differential between the rooms (in Octavius and less expensive towers) is a nice dinner out," Thayer said. "We've seen a lot of great indicators here in Las Vegas and at Caesars specifically that point to a recovery. Occupancy and room rates are up. Even with things shaky in the market, we felt it was the right time to roll out the rooms. The project has been on mothballs so long, we could have waited a bit longer if we didn't feel that way."
Completion of the Octavius Tower, part of an $860 million resort expansion, stalled like many Strip developments in 2009 when the economic crash crippled demand for hotel rooms. Caesars officials, then under the umbrella of Harrah's Entertainment, decided to delay the tower's opening until the market improved. The expansion originally was announced in July 2007 when resort construction was still booming.
Octavius Tower is Caesars' sixth hotel tower and brings the resort's room count to just under 4,000. The project created 450 jobs.
Among the perks tower customers will receive are technology upgrades designed to make their stay more comfortable. Besides the media hubs, a new mobile application available to all Octavius guests brings concierge service to their fingertips by allowing them to virtually book dinner reservations or a spa appointments, request their vehicles from the valet or schedule wake-up calls.
Despite its grand opening next month, a few more upgrades are still in the works for Octavius Tower. Three penthouse floors of suites are expected to come online in mid-January, and three new villas are set to debut this summer.
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