It’s the signature feature of the Las Vegas skyline, an icon as synonymous with Sin City as neon lights, Frank Sinatra and 99-cent shrimp cocktail. And now, with a multimillion-dollar “reimagining” recently completed, a hot new headlining act and some intriguing menu changes at its multiple restaurants, the Stratosphere is hotter than ever.
“From the moment guests walk into the building, they would think that they’re in an entirely new property,” said Stratosphere general manager Paul Hobson.
The stunning contemporary makeover includes new carpeting and marble, a new VIP lounge and atmospheric color-changing LED lighting. In all, most of the public areas of the property’s casino level have been elegantly transformed. Furthermore, 909 of Stratosphere’s 2,427 guest rooms and suites have been remodeled into “Stratosphere Select” accommodations, with flat-screen TVs and updated bathrooms with granite countertops, new tile and tubs.
Despite all these improvements, Stratosphere’s most famous feature — affordability — remains unchanged, with Select rates only around $15 per night more than their standard (and also very well-appointed) rooms.
“We’re creating a really accessible experience for the guest, value-wise,” Hobson said, “but putting them in a nicer setting than you would expect for our room rate.”
Icing the cake of Stratosphere’s transformation is exciting new resident headliner Frankie Moreno, who began a two-year engagement last month. A young and contemporary crooner-pianist who has earned rave reviews in various Las Vegas lounges of late, Moreno recently signed a recording contract with Sony Records’ subsidiary label Masterworks.
“Like us, he’s on the rise,” Hobson said.
Unlike many Vegas musical acts, Moreno mostly performs original songs, though he’s perhaps best known for his cover of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” with violinist Joshua Bell.
“He’s got a 10-piece band backing him up — everything from strings to horns,” Hobson explained. “He really fills the room with sound: lots of energy, really fun.”
Moreno is scheduled to perform on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and on Wednesdays at 11 p.m.
A perennial Vegas attraction since it opened in 1996, the 1,149-foot Stratosphere Tower — the tallest structure in Las Vegas and the fifth tallest in the United States — offers visitors unrivaled views of the city, Red Rock Canyon and the mountains beyond. Yet the spectacular panorama is only one reason to visit.
As well as its famous observation decks, there are Stratosphere Tower’s near-legendary thrill rides, including Big Shot, which launches riders to well over 1,000 feet, and SkyJump Las Vegas, which made international headlines as the world’s tallest controlled-descent ride when it
debuted last year.
The Stratosphere Tower also offers gourmet dining at its revolving Top of the World restaurant, which was named “Best Restaurant” by Nevada Magazine in August — a huge accolade, considering the array of world-renowned eateries and celebrity chefs in Las Vegas.
“I think the venue is what brings people up here — the view and the setting,” Hobson said. “But the reason they come back is because the food’s so good.”
Under the direction of Executive Chef Rick Giffen, the Stratosphere dining experience has been revitalized. At Top of the World, Chef de Cuisine Claude Gaty has brought his French heritage, Thai training and 26 years of culinary experience to the table with an ever-changing menu of American classics with distinctly global accents.
Alongside USDA Prime steaks, Iowa pork, Colorado lamb and California duck, Top of the World’s cosmopolitan menu currently includes foie gras, Scottish salmon and Mexican prawns.
“We are so pleased with the side dishes on the winter menu Chef Gaty has created,” said Matthew Mascali, Stratosphere’s vice president of food and beverage. “He has selected vegetables, spices and unexpected ingredients to create the perfect complement to our delicious entrées.”
Top of the World makes a complete rotation every 80 minutes, meaning that every diner gets to take in the entire 360-degree view. Above Top of the World, Level 107 Lounge is both a stunning spot to start the night off right and a nightlife destination in and of itself.
“We do a killer happy hour there,” Hobson said. “In addition to drink specials you can get bite-size plates of some of the items served at Top of the World — they come out of the same kitchen.”
Easier to access from I-15 than hotels further south, the Stratosphere is perfectly situated to explore both Las Vegas’ Strip and its Downtown area. With unrivaled views, redesigned guest rooms, unbeatable eats and a must-see headliner, the stars have aligned to make Stratosphere the new way to stay in Sin City.
—Paul Rogers, Custom Publishing Writer