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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Inside gaming: Who wants ties to that guy?

10 February 2014

LAS VEGAS -- Clearly, Caesars Entertainment Corp. doesn’t want visitors to The Cromwell to gamble, drink, smoke, fornicate or perform any other sinful act at the newly renamed boutique Strip hotel-casino.

I can’t wait to hear the marketing campaign.

Why else would the casino company rename the former Barbary Coast/Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall in a way that could be associated with England’s 17th century “Lord Protector” Oliver Cromwell, a radical Puritan who vowed to rid Britain of its godless ways.

And that’s not even taking into account the carnage Oliver Cromwell caused upon Ireland.

Maybe the folks at Caesars were thinking of Thomas Cromwell, an English statesman and legal adviser to King Henry VIII a century earlier. He authorized legislation that separated the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. The move allowed Henry to divorce Catherine of Aragon, the first of his six wives.

That sounds more Vegas-like.

Either way, University of Nevada, Las Vegas associate history professor Michelle Tusan, who specializes in British studies, found the name choice Cromwell somewhat odd.

Actually, Tusan thought the choice hilarious.

“Maybe they liked the nice way the name sounded when it rolls off the tongue,” Tusan said. “People put British names on bed sheets to make them sound more expensive.”

The Cromwell, when spoken in an aristocratic manner, does have a certain flair.

That may be the most plausible explanation why Caesars chose Cromwell.

To some, the name evokes nobility and expensive taste. Cromwell customers are expected to pay a little more than the average Strip room rate for one of the property’s 188 “Parisian loft-style apartments with distressed hardwood flooring and vintage luggage-motif furnishings.”

The last thing Caesars wanted was any mistake in attaching a third name in less than a year to the small resort at the corner of the Strip and Flamingo Road that is in the midst of a $185 million renovation.

The middle-market Bill’s was closed a year ago. A month later, the project was dubbed the Gansevoort Las Vegas through a marketing partnership with the New York City-based Gansevoort Hotel Group. The company operates luxury boutique hotels in New York and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Massachusetts gaming regulators discovered a Gansevoort investor had reputed ties to organized crime in Russia. So in October, Caesars dumped the partnership in an effort to save its ill-fated $1 billion casino development in Boston.

Caesars executives probably thought it was too late to seek a new high-end marketing partner for the Strip resort. Instead, they came up with Cromwell on their own. A Caesars spokeswoman said the company wouldn’t discuss the naming process.

The Cromwell announcement set off the blogosphere with stories of Oliver Cromwell’s numerous atrocities.

Tusan, who holds a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, said neither Oliver nor Thomas Cromwell evoke much fondness from a historical perspective.

Oliver Cromwell gained power through his role in the trial and execution of King Charles I. He also led an invasion of Ireland, killing thousands while driving Catholics from their homes.

“He wanted to rid England of the monarchy,” Tusan said. “There was nothing aristocratic about him.”

Two years after he died and the British monarchy was restored. Cromwell’s body was unearthed and hanged.

If you can get past the name, The Cromwell has some promise.

Caesars hopes to target a customer looking for a hotel-casino experience on a much smaller scale. The company has found success with its 181-room Nobu Hotel, which is within the confines of Caesars Palace.

Many of The Cromwell’s key elements, announced along with the name Gansevoort, remain in place, including a 40,000-square-foot casino, day and nightlife venues created by Victor Drai, and a stylish hotel lobby area and lounge.

The property’s key amenities include a 65,000-square-foot rooftop nightclub and pool area created by Drai, and Giada, a 260-seat restaurant from television chef Giada De Laurentiis. The venue is taking over second-floor space that once housed a hotel parking garage. The Giada restaurant will offer views of the Strip and Italian cuisine with a California influence.

“I want each person to feel like they’re entering my home, receiving a big welcome hug, and enjoying a fantastic Italian meal,” De Laurentiis said in a statement.

It’s too bad The Cromwell name is taking heat for its ties to a notorious British historical figure.

So let me offer a couple of other Cromwells who might be more pleasing to Caesars officials and potential hotel guests.

There is James Cromwell, the fine character actor who has appeared in dozens of movies. He played a prison warden in “The Green Mile,” a corrupt police captain in “LA Confidential,” a loyal butler in the “The Artist,” and the president in “The Sum of All Fears.”

He might be best known as farmer Arthur Hoggett in the family-friendly film “Babe.”

My favorite Cromwell movie was “Star Trek: First Contact,” in which he played Dr. Zefram Cochran, the inventor of warp drive.

My other suggestion is Nolan Cromwell, who spent 11 seasons as an All-Pro defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams. He was also an All-America quarterback at the University of Kansas. More recently he has been an assistant football coach for several NFL teams, including the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns.

Those are my choices. But Caesars didn’t ask for my opinion.
Inside gaming: Who wants ties to that guy? is republished from