|By Rod Smith, Las Vegas Review-Journal|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 27, 2004 - Caesars Palace wrapped up core construction Tuesday on its new $289 million luxury hotel tower, hoping to lure enough added guests to boost casino play and profit margins to historic levels.
Part of a $376 million expansion, the resort's 26-story, 949-room Augustus tower is expected to generate enough added room demand to increase occupancy and room rates after it opens in the third quarter of 2005, as was the case when the last tower opened at Caesars Palace in November 1997.
The new project, which includes a $76 million addition to the resort's convention and meeting facilities and $11 million in related enhancements, will add 600 permanent jobs to the work force at Caesars Palace when it opens next summer.
Caesars Palace President Mark Juliano said the new tower, which faces Flamingo Road just west of the Strip, will give customers what they have said they want when they visit Caesars Palace.
Caesars Entertainment President Wally Barr said when the project was announced a year ago that Caesars Palace's 2,400 rooms compare unfavorably with the more than 5,000 at the MGM Grand, although the two resorts have comparable casino space.
"We just haven't had the room count to support the casino side of the business," Barr said.
When completed, the new 345-foot-tall luxury tower will bring the number of rooms at Caesars Palace to 3,349.
The tower is part of a master plan aimed at refurbishing the 37-year-old megaresort that has included the addition of the 4,100-seat Colosseum, the open-air Roman Plaza, the expanded Forum Shops and the new Forum Casino entrance.
The tower topping off, which marks the end of the exterior construction work, comes less than a week after Friday's opening of The Forum Shops expansion, which added 60 new shops and restaurants to the 100 existing establishments in the shopping plaza.
Las Vegas-based Perini Building Co. was general contractor for the project.
Mike Nunn, executive project manager for Perini, said his company and its subcontractors have invested 562,000 hours in the construction project since work started almost a year ago.
As floors were installed, crews responsible for the exterior finish followed, streamlining the construction schedule.
Nunn said his crews of 500 to 600 workers have the project moving rapidly forward on schedule and budget, and that it should be ready to turn over to Caesars Palace by August as scheduled.
The new tower includes a breakfast-lunch-dinner restaurant on the first floor, with terrace seating overlooking the Roman Plaza, three-star Michelin Chef Guy Savoy's first restaurant outside Paris on the second floor, a new night club and three wedding chapels.
The Augustus tower is adjacent to an all-new hotel reception area.
Project architect is Bergman Walls Associates, the structural engineer is Martin & Peltyn, the mechanical engineer is JBA Engineering and the electrical engineer is RHR.
BY THE NUMBERS
Overlooking the new pools and water features on the south property perimeter, the new all-suite Augustus tower will include:
--Twenty-three three-bay, 2,470-square-foot suites.
--Six two-bay, 1,470-square-foot suites.
--Twenty-three 1 1/2-bay, 1,060-square-foot suites.
--Some 874 petite suites ranging from 650 to 760 square feet.
The rooms have been designed with 9-foot ceilings and floor plans that begin at 650 square feet, about 50 percent larger than typical upscale hotel rooms in major cities.
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