What will $620 million buy in Las Vegas? A top-to-bottom renovation of the Palms Casino/Resort/Spa, one mile west of the Strip.
Starting with the porte-cochère arrival area and extending throughout the property, visitors will find a totally different hotel-casino, one that hotel manager Jon Gray expects will position the Palms alongside some of the city’s finest resorts, the Wynn included.
“Take a tier-one property or luxury property in Las Vegas, we [now] view that as competition,” he said.
With the pricey overhaul, Gray’s claim is no poker room bluff. From the rooftop nightclubs to the employee dining room in the basement, nearly every space is being revamped, in some cases for the first time since the property opened in 2001.
New rooms in the Fantasy Tower welcomed their first guests in late June. Rollouts of more renovations in the resort’s more than 700 rooms are expected in July. Each space is being reworked, from standard “resort” category rooms to high-end suites and six luxurious Sky Villas.
“The standard room product in the Fantasy Tower hadn’t been touched since they were built. There were still [original] tubs and shower curtains in those rooms,” Gray said. Now those bathrooms feature walk-in showers made of marble.
Possibly the most striking work is Hirst’s “The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded),” a 13-foot-long tiger shark that has been sliced into three pieces and suspended in 7-foot-tall tanks filled with formaldehyde. It is surrounded by paintings with colorful dots, which reflect on the shark. Hard to miss, the eye-grabbing piece rises above Center Bar, which Hirst designed, in the middle of the casino.
While work on the shuttered main pool and several restaurant concepts continues, Scotch 80 Prime, a new upscale steakhouse, opened in May. In addition to plenty of steaks and seafood, a dedicated bartender oversees the restaurant’s $3-million collection of whiskies.
“We really felt we needed to transition to a more of a luxury property that spoke to more of a luxury guest,” Gray said. “We had a Hooters here in the past, so we’re going from Hooters to Bobby Flay and Vandal.”
Gray sums up the overall changes at Palms: “For all intents and purposes, it’s a complete rebrand.”
Resort rooms with one king-sized bed on Saturday nights in July and August range from $219 to $319. The remodel is expected to be complete next spring.