|By Amanda Finnegan, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 13, 2011--Straddling the Strip and downtown, the Stratosphere has long toed the line between an Old Vegas resort and a modern mid-level hotel. Its Top of the World restaurant with its pricey steaks speaks of a luxury resort, but its rides atop its tower say family fun on a budget.
Now, the Stratosphere is spending about $20 million on renovations and reimaging to better position itself among its posh neighbors to the south. The resort has updated its rooms and casino floor and has a new marketing campaign to match.
The Stratosphere also announced Wednesday that Paul Hobson of the property's sister hotel, the Aquarius in Laughlin, will step into the role of general manager at the property.
With a small budget of $20 million, Hobson said, the first priority in the renovations was the hotel rooms. The Stratosphere has about 900 revamped rooms to offer guests, with more to come, he said.
"We wanted to definitely address a good portion of the hotel rooms, and then we wanted to put a new face on the entire casino and public areas," Hobson said. "Then we wanted to relocate the entrance of the property to its proper spot. Those were the three main items we wanted to address."
The Stratosphere's renovation is most obvious in the remodeled rooms in its Premier Tower. The rooms, known as Stratosphere Select rooms, have been redone in a red, taupe and black color scheme for a more stylish look.
New linens and furnishings from local manufacturer Foliot Furniture have been brought in and jacuzzi tubs are standard in all of the Stratosphere Select rooms.
The Stratosphere Select rooms aren't a big departure from the hotel's remaining older rooms but are still an upgrade. The resort's older rooms all have flat screen TVS but little color and almost no artwork on the whitewashed walls.
The rooms will be priced about $15 more than the standard rooms on weekdays and $20 on weekends.
The Stratosphere is getting the word out about its new rooms with new marketing campaign and slogan -- "New up, down and all around."
Las Vegas residents may have seen the property's new billboards, and Hobson said the Stratosphere's new commercial aired during the BCS Championship game in the Southern California market on Monday.
The Stratosphere renovations are first evident from Las Vegas Boulevard. The front entrance of the property that once only accommodated walk-in traffic has been turned into a valet area. New landscaping has been added and new signs are coming soon.
Just inside, the resort has a revamped welcome area with marble flooring and a seating area with modern white couches for guests to wait for cabs or airport shuttles. A new VIP gaming lounge is just a few step further where the Stratosphere high-limit players can check into the resort in private.
The casino floor has been covered with new carpeting and there have been some slot machine upgrades. Keeping with the trend of popular Strip casinos, the Stratosphere has added a "party pit" of table games with scantily clad dealers.
Some of the Stratosphere's food and beverage venues have also received a facelift, and a few new options have been added.
What was known as the Courtyard Buffet at the Stratosphere has been rebranded as Plate. Murals of brightly colored hot air balloons have been replaced with artsy food photos, and the buffet has been given a new green, brown and beige color palate.
Most of the stations remain the same in the buffet, but the hotel plans to add some live-action cooking stations and a grill for cooked-to-order steaks and chops with an upgraded buffet ticket.
Some indoor patio seating has been added at Roxy's Diner where diners can watch 1950s movies such as "Beach Blanket Bingo" and Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock." The menu has also been revamped with breakfast items to make Roxy's Diner a 24-hour restaurant.
On the 108th floor of the Stratosphere tower, a lounge and sports bar called Air Bar has been added. The hotel boasts it's the highest bar in Las Vegas.
Other subtle changes dot the resort. The hotel's ticketing counter has been moved to the casino level, the showroom entrance has been redone and the resort is slowly replacing its brass fixtures with brushed nickel.
"I think it's just going to be a continuous process for us. There are certain other areas that we'd certainly like to get into, eventually," Hobson said. "We'll sort take it as it comes."
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