Trop tale in Vegas Seven

My latest Green Felt Journal piece is out, in Vegas Seven. I get to name-drop Heraclitus to sound sophisticated before talking about the redo of the Trop:

That’s because the only thing that doesn’t change around this town is change. There are few other places where anyone would even consider spending $150 million to “relaunch” a resort that cost $1.4 billion to build a mere seven years after its opening. But when that happened at the Aladdin/Planet Hollywood in 2007, few were surprised.

A similar change is taking place at the Tropicana, and not a moment too soon. One of the oldest resorts remaining on the Strip (it opened in 1957), the Tropicana, after an increasingly parsimonious corporate stewardship over the past few years, is enjoying a renaissance under the leadership of Alex Yemenidjian, chairman and CEO of Tropicana Las Vegas, and new president Tom McCartney.

The current economy dictates nothing too ambitious—certainly nothing like the 10,000-room mega-expansion previous owners Columbia Sussex mooted back in 2006. With a recent Tropicana financial filing admitting there is an “imbalance” in room inventory, it’s not a question of trying to add capacity, it’s about competing with bargain rates at younger properties.

via Transforming the Tropicana | Vegas Seven.

Interesting to see what’s going on there–and if you’re in town, enjoy the opportunity of seeing the casino in mid-change.

Author: Dave

Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and author of several books, including Roll the Bones: The History of Gaming. Also Gaming and Hospitality editor for Vegas Seven magazine.

7 thoughts on “Trop tale in Vegas Seven”

  1. For years I’d thought that Alex Yemendijian was about 70 or 80, being that I’d read he was very close friends (partner?) with 94 year old King Kirk.

    Last week, after you went to that Nikki Beach pool event I looked at the photos and was really surprised to see and read that Alex is just 53 (and a young looking 53 at that).

    The Tropicana has a huge potential to easily become a favorite place to stay for a young Twenty-something crowd (many of whom end up staying at the far-away Sahara). If its prices are reasonable, and I imagine they are going to be, that is a prime location for a young-crowd to stay at – since so much club action and fun happens around that corner (with Excal, NY, MGM, Lux, Mandy, Monte, City and Hard Rock Cafe and Diablo’s all within walking distance).

    In the Trop, a person doesn’t have to walk as far as they do thru other huge casinos like MGM. I would think that convenience alone could be it’s main attraction.

    If they create a really exciting place and identity I don’t think they will even have to worry too much about making their room prices competitively low. If it’s known as a popular ‘young people’s place’ it could become like the Palms of the Strip (except with a better location).

    If you really think about it there really aren’t many hotels on the Strip that identify their hotel as a young people’s hotel.

    “If I Ran the Trop:”

    * I’d try attracting all those young people that wind up at boring Ballys, Flamingo, Imp Palace, Stratos, Saha and the Riv. I’d publicize the fact that the Trop’s Prime Location will save them $30 dollars a day in cab fare and that they won’t get blisters walking from their room to the front door…and that the New Trop is the easiest hotel to navigate inside of (plus I’d actually make that point true by providing “You Are Here” maps all over the place).

    * I’d heavily advertise the fact that the New Trop is the exact opposite of everything people dislike about the huge-mega-hotels.

    * I’d make ‘parking convenience’ a key issue and let guests with cars realize that the Trop allows them the easiest access of any casino on the Strip. “Just turn left at the Tropicana off-ramp and avoid the traffic snarls”.

    * Plus. If that ancient doorman is still working there, I’d move him to another department and hire all new young door people. I’d remove that little bottleneck at the driveway (15 feet west of where the cabbies pick-up and the limos block the narrow driveway) and make that driveway and taxi-line super-efficient.

    * Plus. I’d publicize the fact that the Trop is super-close to the airport and that cab rides are usually under $9…with few departing traffic jams to contend with. “Just minutes to and from the airport”.

    * I’d make sure to change that dreadful coffee shop so that it isn’t so claustraphobic and likely build a new one (with giant windows) that overlooks the pool-gardens. Then I’d turn the garden area into a nightly “Lake of Dreams’ style colored light-show. Maybe even hire some Mermaids to lounge around.

    * Lastly. I’d make all those outer rooms (the two-story sections not in the tower) high-roller rooms (for reasons too long to go into here).

    Eventually I’d buy the Hooters-Remo building and make that whole area from Trop to Hooters a one-of-a-kind fun-zone.

    “If I Ran The Trop”.

  2. Good ideas I think.
    Most of all this remodel and re-branding seems to involve decorations and items that don’t really make the place any better. I wonder if anyone will ever think that soap, water, paint, new mattresses are what is important and the rest of the capital improvement fund should be going to Comps (and the toke fund to make the dealers who work there happier and more helpful).

    Forget the movie stars, guitars, sculptures, etc. Make the place a bargain. A pleasant bargain… but a bargain!

  3. As WestVegas mentions above the Tropicana has a very good location at the corner of Tropicana Avenue and the Strip. There is always plenty of places to park in the parking lot between the Tropicana Hotel and the Hooters Hotel so you don’t have to drive on the congested Strip. The pool area used to be pretty nice last time I was there (back in the late 90’s) so hopefully they can also improve that.

  4. I’ve made the observation that the two most profitable casinos (by percentage) of the MGM strip casino are Excalibur and NY/NY (3 diamond properties). It shows the value of reasonable prices and good location. I am surprised that the Tropicana is aiming at a 4 diamond rating putting them in another level of competition.
    Personally, I don’t think that is a wise decision. I don’t think it will work at that price point.

  5. I’m very bullish on the new Trop expansion. I think people vastly underestimate the clientele that Nikki’s Beach will draw. Let’s face it: Reno was the wrong place to put something like that.

    I also like how they are bucking the trend with the design. Light and airy and beachy and tropical. It will take a while for word to get out and people who have written the place off to give it a second look. But as they do, I believe the Trop will garner many new fans.

  6. Dr. Dave, nice read, thanks. WestVegas, before I ever knew much about Alex, I thought the exact same thing! You have some great suggestions too. On the Nikki thing, I was a bit dismayed and still am that they would set up their franchise there. Nikki Beach is a high-end operation which made me think the Resorts AC and Sierra Reno moves were quite interesting as well which ultimately did not work out. Customers to Nikki are typically international and typically loaded. I think it would be a better fit at a Wynn or other high-end resort. Customers looking for a value-oriented vacation in Vegas are going to now look at the Trop again. Dropping a few hundred dollars for a bottle of liquor at the Nikki infused Trop pool does not sound likely. I wish them luck though.

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