|By Scott Ritter, The Day, New London,
Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Jan. 26, 2007 - MASHANTUCKET -- The gaming world is changing. And it's Barry Cregan's job to make sure Foxwoods Resort Casino keeps pace.
Cregan, the casino's new senior vice president of resort operations, joins an executive team recently recruited by President John O'Brien to guide the company as it prepares for next year's opening of MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
The hotel and gaming-industry veteran has a long list of responsibilities in his new job, overseeing everything from hotel operations to retail, security and construction. But he says his focus in coming months is to help develop a master plan to update Foxwoods so that it works "seamlessly" with the MGM-branded hotel and casino under construction next door.
"Right now we've got a lot of new blood up here, and we're thinking it through and generating some creative ideas, but there's nothing finalized yet," he says. Executives are meeting with architects and designers, and say they're considering changing the décor, tweaking the mix of restaurants and shops, and other options.
Cregan comes to Foxwoods after the departure of several key executives in an management overhaul last fall. Foxwoods' owner, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said the shakeup was meant to better position the casino for future growth.
Indeed, the tribe is midway through a $700 million expansion that will add a 30-floor glass-encased hotel tower, a casino, ballroom, performing arts theater and other amenities when it opens in the spring of 2008. The project will borrow the well-known MGM brand under an alliance with Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage.
Cregan, who is in his early 50s, has more than 25 years of experience in the industry, most recently overseeing both the Westin Rio Mar Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Puerto Rico and the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino as a senior vice president for New York-based Tishman Hotel Corp.
He also served as president of the Trump Plaza Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, the Plaza Hotel in New York and, more recently, with Marriott International and Starwood Hotels. He helped develop The Clinton Hotel South Beach in Miami.
Industry analysts and executives say Foxwoods did well to recruit Cregan and other key executives, including Joseph Jimenez, who was recently hired as senior vice president of casino marketing.
Cregan takes the post as the gaming industry continues to remake itself in an increasingly competitive market. Foxwoods, like its Connecticut rival Mohegan Sun, is looking to expand and improve its range of offerings -- such as the recent addition of its Lake of Isles golf courses -- as it evolves into a destination resort.
"The gaming industry at one time was all about table games and slot machines," Cregan says. "Today it's about table games and slot machines, but it's also about all the amenities and the offerings that you give people to attract them to your property."
He adds: "You've got to keep yourself current, and you've got to keep yourself on top of the trends. The trends are always changing, and you want to be with them. That's the type of thing we're doing with this master planning."
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Copyright (c) 2007, The Day, New London, Conn.
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