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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Caesars Palace renovating hotel tower for $75 million

26 October 2015

Caesars Palace, which marks its 50th anniversary next year, is spending almost four times the original cost to build the Strip resort in order to remodel the property's first hotel tower.

A $75 million renovation of the 587-room Roman Tower began this month, which will include renaming the structure the Julius Tower.

The hotel's first guests stayed in the Roman Tower when the late Jay Sarno opened Caesars Palace on Aug. 5, 1966. The tower's cost was $19 million.

The rooms will be upgraded and modernized and will welcome their first guests on Jan. 1. The renovation is expected to be completed by April.

"As we enter into our milestone golden anniversary year, we continue to reinvent Rome, and Las Vegas," Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner said in a statement.

The rooms, designed by KNA Design, will include new interiors, upgraded furnishings and bathroom fixtures, and a stylish design.

"We set the standard of luxury when we first opened our doors almost 50 years ago and are proud to continue to raise the bar for excellence in every way," Selesner said.

LESS THAN FLAWLESS OPENING

The opening of Caesars Palace in 1966 — the Strip's most elaborate resort at the time — didn't go off without a hitch.

As recounted in the biography of Sarno, "Grandissimo - The First Emperor of Las Vegas" by David G. Schwartz, work was still being completed on the rooms when some 2,000 guests — including Hollywood celebrities, local dignitaries and state and local politicians — were arriving for the opening festivities.

"Some guests checked in to find carpenters and plumbers still hard at work, while others had to wait outside their rooms while crews laid down the carpet," wrote Schwartz, who is the director for the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV. "One visiting starlet was surprised when a group of workers 'accidentally' barged in on her as she was changing into her bikini."

According to Schwartz's book, Sarno funded construction of Caesars Palace through loans from the Teamsters Pension Fund. Then-Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa attended the opening night celebration but left without spending a night in his suite. The room was then given to a young businessman named Steve Wynn, who had come to Las Vegas to try and pay off his late father's debts.

Caesars Palace is the company's only Strip resort that is included in the bankruptcy of Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., the largest operating division of Caesars Entertainment Corp. The company owns nine properties on or near the Strip.

CEOC hopes to eliminate $10 billion of the unit's debt by converting the division into a real estate investment trust. In addition to Caesars Palace, CEOC controls Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah's Reno and more than a dozen regional properties.

When the bankruptcy was filed in January, Caesars Entertainment stated the company's casinos, including the resorts that are part of the bankruptcy, would continue to operate without interruption.

CAPITAL EXPENDITURES INCLUDED

"The bankruptcy court has already approved a capital expenditure budget," a Caesars Entertainment spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "We continue to operate our properties in the ordinary course and this capital expenditure is part of that approved budget."

Caesars Entertainment has a gaming industry-high $22.6 billion in long-term debt, much of what is due to the company's $30.7 billion leveraged buyout by two private equity firms.

While Caesars Palace is part of the bankruptcy, the property's Octavius Tower is owned by another company subsidiary and is not part of the legal proceedings.

Caesars Palace has more the 3,980 hotel rooms over six towers, including the 181-room Nobu Hotel, which is incorporated into one of the structures.

The transformation of the Roman Tower into the Julius Tower continues a renovation plan at the property. In December, Caesars plans to open the seventh location for Mr. Chow, a popular Asian restaurant that originated in London that now has two locations in New York City and one each in Beverley Hills, Calif.; Malibu, Calif.; and Miami.
Caesars Palace renovating hotel tower for $75 million is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.