Renovation is transforming downtown’s Plaza Hotel
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- Plaza Hotel set to reopen after renovations (6-15-2011)
- Firefly won't reopen at Plaza (6-8-2011)
- Plaza to lay off 400 workers, temporarily close hotel (9-13-2010)
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In the blistering June heat construction workers stand perched under the iconic dome at the Plaza Hotel, swapping out the 45,037 light bulbs that illuminate the downtown Las Vegas casino’s facade.
The joke is too obvious, but here’s the answer: It takes two of them, at a rate of about 3,000 a day, over the course of several weeks.
But it’s not a punch line. It’s all part of the $35 million renovation at the Plaza and its grand reopening this summer.
The workers are swapping out the 45-watt bulbs for 3-watt bulbs to save energy and cut down on costs in leaner times, which is what much of the Plaza renovation has been about. The property purchased furnishings and fixtures once bound for the never-opened Fontainebleau at bargain prices to update its hotel rooms.
The property got almost everything it needed from Fontainebleau to outfit the new rooms — beds, chairs, accessories, carpeting and marble. The rest of the furnishings ended up at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm for the resort complex’s $8.5 million renovation.
Tony Santo, CEO of PlayLV that runs the Plaza and its sister properties, wouldn’t share the cost of the Fontainebleau deal but said it was “cents on the dollar.”
The result hardly looks like a hotel full of bargain furnishings. The Plaza’s new rooms are sleek and modern with high-end chrome fixtures, new Jacuzzi tubs and marble in the bathrooms. In the bedrooms and sitting rooms, new linens, couches, wall coverings and flooring have been added.
It’s a major improvement for a hotel that has not seen a major renovation in so long that its new operators can’t recall its last update. At least not in the past 20 years, Santo and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Rosen agreed.
“I wouldn’t even call this a renovation. It’s a complete remodel. I think when the Plaza closed, people didn’t believe what we could do. It’s a big investment in the Plaza and a big investment in downtown,” Santo said.
The rooms in the South Tower have been completed, and the North Tower is expected to be finished within the next few weeks. The rooms will reopen to the public Sept. 1 with rates starting at $44.
The new Plaza will be a blend of old and new Las Vegas, with murals and old photos the hotel in its prime mixed in with the new décor. Preserving the property’s 40-year-old history was something the hotel’s operators kept in mind when redesigning the property.
“The whole thing is trying to get the existing customers that were here mixed in with some new customers. We want everyone to feel comfortable,” Rosen said.
They’ll also be adding more lounges and bars to the hotel that go with the new young, relaxed vibe downtown — but without the $300 bottle service Strip casino lounges charge, Rosen said.
“It’s more of a traditional Las Vegas experience downtown, but then you have Fremont East where you have that new generation of customers coming down here,” Santo added.
On the main level of the Plaza, the casino floor has been gutted — taking with it the smell of stale smoke — and is awaiting new slots, table games and a sports book. On the edge of the casino floor, the Plaza will be adding new food and beverage offerings, but neither Rosen nor Santos were willing to give details.
And everyone is curious what is going in the Plaza’s glass dome overlooking Fremont Street since the restaurant Firefly will not be returning. The hotel’s operators are also keeping those cards close to their vest.
The Plaza is exchanging its Rat Pack show for more updated entertainment, but is leaving the showroom the same. Santo said it’s one of the few Las Vegas showrooms that has remained the same through the decades.
The next challenge will be marketing the new Plaza. Rosen said they’ll be launching a new ad campaign once the renovations are finished, mainly in Las Vegas.
“We wanted to get people while they are here instead of just going out and reaching any individual anywhere,” Rosen said. “That’s really what we want — the people who are coming to Vegas to say ‘Hey, there’s a new experience.’ ”