Red Rock opens doors to priciest off-Strip casino in Las Vegas

Las Vegas (AP) – Nestled near the entrance to a scenic national conservation area, Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa is set to open its doors Tuesday, becoming the priciest off-Strip casino resort ever built in Las Vegas.

Resort owner Station Casinos is hoping to lure people away from the bright lights of Sin City to an opulent vacation spot set against the western mountains about 10 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, where visitors can launch rugged adventures, be pampered in a spa, gamble, and indulge in a decadent nightclub.

„We’re really capitalizing on the great outdoors, being so close to Red Rock Canyon,“ spokeswoman Lori Nelson said. „By day, it’s truly a resort experience. You hang out at the pool, get your spa treatments, go do some adventure hiking, and at night you have the excitement of Vegas.“

At USD 925 million, the cost to build Red Rock is a fraction of the cost of MGM Mirage Inc.’s planned USD 7 billion Project CityCenter or the USD 2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas opened last year in the heart of the city.

But it is more than twice the USD 415 million Station Casinos spent on Green Valley Ranch, its predecessor in southeastern Henderson that opened in 2001.

Red Rock’s hotel lobby is swathed in brown Macassar ebony wood, teakwood sandstone and Michelangelo marble. The shapes, colors and designs throughout the structure mimic the surrounding rocky, desert landscape.

The glitz of Las Vegas shines through 3.1 million pieces of crystal used throughout the property, including a 32-foot high chandelier in the rotunda and a waterfall column that appears to spill over the bar in the Lucky Bar.

Most of the casino resort’s revenues are expected to come from nearby residents. Chief financial officer Glenn Christenson said Red Rock’s location in the growing, upscale suburb of Summerlin will help it quickly recoup development costs.

„A lot of these folks, when they go on vacation, they’re used to staying in Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons or St. Regis,“ he said. „This is an experience that is, I think, consistent with what they generally do for entertainment.“

The company is hoping for a five-star rating on the property, which will open with 414 rooms, a 35,000 square-foot spa, 62 table games, 3,200 slot machines and a three-acre pool and beach area that has rental cabanas and outdoor dining.

Upstairs from nine restaurants, a poker room, a 16-screen theater and a sports book with three screens spanning 96 by 18 feet, guests will find rooms equipped with 42-inch plasma TVs and iPod-ready Bose stereo systems. Up to 850 rooms are to be ready by early next year.

At night, the operators expect to draw on the Los Angeles celebrity crowd to help fill its Cherry nightclub, owned by club magnate Rande Gerber, husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford.

To get to Cherry, fronted by a sculpture of two cherries by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, patrons will walk through a carnal red tunnel to pulsating music, Gerber said.

„Once you get into that tunnel, you’re not hearing the bells and whistles and slots of the casino,“ he said. „All of the sudden you’re in this womb-like tunnel. There’ll be a lot of bass, it’s almost like a heartbeat, boom, boom, boom.“

Inside the more scandalous men’s washroom, thinly partitioned from the women’s, are urinals shaped like women’s lips, which Gerber called a „silly but interesting“ detail.

Observers said the scale and luxury of Red Rock, Station’s 15th casino in southern Nevada, is a far cry from the Bingo Palace that the company opened with residents in mind in 1977.

„The Las Vegas market is becoming very sophisticated,“ said David Schwartz, coordinator of the Gaming Studies Research Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. „If you work at the Bellagio or you work at Wynn Las Vegas, you’re familiar with the amenities that guests get. The local residents want something like that for themselves. This is a recognition of that.“

„Every time I think we’ve hit the limit, we go beyond the limit,“ said Michael Green, a history professor at the Community College of Southern Nevada.

„We’ve come a long way since the $ 6 million Bugsy (Siegel) spent for the Flamingo“ built in 1946, he said.