Vegas for Everyman (and Woman) – Vegas Seven

The key to Las Vegas’s post-recession rebound (I don’t like to call it a recovery because the casino industry didn’t take back lost ground; it pivoted into slightly new areas to make up for its losses), some argue, is doing everything bigger and flashier. It’s hard to argue with that approach since many of the places that give more bang for more buck are doing well. But are there people who don’t want all that expense and pretension when they come to Las Vegas? The Stratosphere is betting yes, as I explore in my latest Green Felt Journal:

Back in January 2015, the Stratosphere launched a marketing campaign aiming to capitalize on people who miss the old Las Vegas. “Take Vegas Back,” declared a series of billboards. Since then, the casino has amplified that message, promoting an alternative to a Las Vegas that some say has lost its roots. According to Rachel Hunt, the Stratosphere’s assistant vice president of marketing, it was the right idea at the right moment.

Read more: Vegas for Everyman (and Woman) – Vegas Seven

I want to see if visitors vote with their wallets on this one.

Frank Riolo’s leap of faith in Vegas 7

Finally, another Green Felt Journal in Vegas Seven. And this is a good one, too:

It’s not often that a CEO becomes a hero by jumping off a building, but most CEOs aren’t like Frank Riolo. And most companies don’t operate observation towers attached to a Las Vegas casino.

Since May 2008—just about the start of the current economic slide—Riolo has helmed American Casino & Entertainment Properties, the company that operates the Stratosphere, Laughlin’s Aquarius and Arizona Charlie’s East and Decatur for Whitehall Properties, an investment arm of Goldman Sachs.

In April, Riolo’s main charge, the Stratosphere, was putting the finishing touches on its new Sky Jump ride. As part of the opening festivities, he opened up the ride for free to all employees who wanted to try. It looked like so much fun, he joined them.

via Leap of Faith | Vegas Seven.

All of this grew out of a conversation I had with Mr. Riolo after he heard me on KNPR’s State of Nevada. As we were chatting, it dawned on me that he had a story everyone should hear.

While he was walking me around the property we ran into Brian Thornton, which turned out to be quite fortuitous, since he was an excellent guy to talk to about the El Cortez suite design competition. It’s another reminder of what a small town this really is. That’s not always a bad thing.

Stratosphere renovations

After hearing–then reading about–one frequent Vegas traveler’s experience with the new Stratosphere, and seeing billboards trumpeting the “new” Strat splashed liberally around the valley, I was planning to head down to see what all the fuss was about.

Then I got a call from KNPR’s State of Nevada to talk about the impact that the $20 million renovations will have, and what they all mean. I agreed to do the interview, and after poring over some American Casino & Entertainment Properties SEC filings, felt like I had a good grasp of the context of the renovations. After a fairly in-depth discussion with host Luis Hernandez, I was pleasantly surprised to get an email from ACEP Ceo Frank Riolo inviting me to come down and talk about the renovations, and get a look at the place. [Full disclosure–I had lunch with Mr. Riolo at the Top of the World restaurant, and the company took care of my Philly Style Grilled Flank Steak sandwich, which was, incidentally, pretty good.]

In addition to talking with Mr. Riolo, I also got to meet Brian G. Thornton, the designer behind the renovations.

So here are some pictures and a few thoughts. Rather than duplicate the excellent over on VegasTripping, and because I didn’t get to see a spa suite, you’ll be getting a view inside a standard room.

More after the jump…
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