As owner and CEO of the D Las Vegas and Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, Derek Stevens has become a key part of the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas. His reinventing of the former Fitzgeralds as the D and his renovation of the historic Golden Gate, both in 2012, have helped to rejuvenate the old heart of Sin City. Further innovation is expected following Stevens’ purchase of Downtown’s Las Vegas Club casino-hotel in August. We picked the brain of this influential Las Vegas leader.
LVG: You’re a proud Michigan native with a background in the auto parts business. Why were you so driven to get involved in the Las Vegas hospitality industry?
DS: I always focused on customer service, whether it was in the auto parts industry or the hotel/casino industry. It may seem like a large jump, but there are far more similarities to my businesses than meets the eye.
LVG: Has your “outsider” perspective helped you approach your current role in fresh, nontraditional ways?
DS: I do believe it’s important to have a blend of new creativity with time-tested experience as part of a management staff. I certainly feel that my uniquely passionate team is far more important to our growth than anything specifically that I’ve done. I’ve just made sure to support my team with capital, sweat, equity and creativity.
LVG: What has the D Las Vegas brought to Downtown and to Las Vegas as a whole?
DS: D Las Vegas has brought some new ideas and some fun back to Las Vegas. I still remember the feeling you get when you’re about an hour out of Las Vegas on a flight and the adrenaline boost you get when you get to see the lights of the greatest city in America. I want our customers to have that excitement.
LVG: What about the Golden Gate? What is that property’s continuing contribution to the city and to Downtown?
DS: Golden Gate is a great blend of the old with the new. … I love when people come back to Golden Gate and mention that they haven’t been in the property in 20 years but wanted to come back to see the transformation.
LVG: In August you bought the Las Vegas Club. What are your plans for that property?
DS: We’ve been working inside the property … to prepare for a combination of demolition, renovation and new construction. That’s about all I can say so far, but rest assured we’re going to have a whole lot of fun with this project.
Paul Rogers, Tribune Content Solutions