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Shoot Hoops, Bowl Strikes, Spin Tunes, All in Your Place at the Palms14 February 2006
By Howard Stutz
LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- With amenities ranging from a half-court hardwood basketball court to regulation-size bowling lanes to an authentic nightclub-style disc jockey booth, 11 uniquely designed suites inside the Palms' hotel tower expansion are built for entertainment.
They're also designed to generate revenue.
The question, however, is will Palms owner George Maloof get enough use out of the suites to justify their investment, which he hinted was at least seven to eight figures each.
Even Maloof sometimes wonders if he can fill the suites more than just on weekends.
"This is the crown jewel and I could probably get more use of it," Maloof said of the 10,000-square-foot two-level Hardwood Suite, which contains the basketball court complete with working scoreboard, two master bedrooms, a locker room and customized party service.
"But I've kept it going to extreme high rollers and someone who writes a big heck," Maloof said.
The suites, which have been open since December, are part of the still-under-construction, $250 million, 40-story Fantasy Tower. In total, the Palms is spending $600 million to upgrade the 5-year-old West Flamingo Road resort, including the addition of a 600-unit luxury condominum-hotel high-rise that will be built on the 34-acre property's western end.
As a privately held casino -- the Palms is predominantly owned by the Maloof family with small percentages controlled by the Greenspun Corp. and Station Casinos -- public financial disclosures are not required.
Maloof said the Fantasy Tower expansion includes a now-open 8,000-square-foot recording studio, a remodeled pool area, and a 2,400-seat concert venue that will open next February.
When asked how much he spent on the new suites, Maloof replied, "millions." He gave a thumbs-up as if to signal higher when queried if the cost was between $5 million and $10 million.
The 11 suites, which have opened periodically since October, have already generated what Maloof had hoped to achieve -- a fast-moving wave of curiosity and attention.
"George is a smart casino operator, but he is equally as smart when it comes to public relations and publicity," Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Andrew Zarnett said. "These rooms will drive huge amounts of publicity for the Palms, which in turn drives huge amounts of customer volume for the casino."
However, unless you're a Palms' customer with a six-figure gambling budget, a frequently tabloid-mentioned celebrity guest, or have an extra $5,000 to $7,500 lying around for a one-night's stay, it's highly unlikely the average visitor will get a glimpse of the suites.
"For some guests, just getting close to that celebrity thing and the possibility of seeing the suites is enough to bring them to the Palms," Zarnett said.
The 11 suites, on the 25th and 26th floors of the tower, range in size from 1,400 to 10,000 square feet and come with themes such as the g-suite, a replica of the hotel's ghostbar nightclub; the Erotic Suite, which resembles a strip club; the King Pin, with regulation bowling equipment that was home base for New York Yankee all-star Derek Jeter's Super Bowl weekend getaway; and the hip-hop designed Crib Suite.
"These are the most incredible suites ever built and I will challenge anybody to show me any suites anywhere on the face of the earth that look like this," Maloof said.
Zarnett thought that even if they are only occupied on weekends, the Palms customer profile is enough to provide an ample return on investment.
"The Palms caters to that unique, California customer who is young, wealthy, and can afford to play enough to warrant that incentive," Zarnett said.
Another way Maloof is generating revenue from the suites is through corporate purchases. With large conventions a mainstay of the Las Vegas visitor profile, companies are always seeking unique ways to entertain clients and employees. Many businesses take over some of the more popular Strip nightclubs for a few hours for private parties.
During January's Consumer Electronics Show, CNET, an Internet technology publication, transferred its business to the Palms. The company created a block party of sorts on the new tower's 25th floor, leasing seven suites to wine, dine and entertain customers and convention attendees.
"The floors and walls on the floors have special sound insulation," Maloof said. "There was something like 300 people up here. The concept gives their guest an entirely different experience where they can go from suite to suite and have fun. I think it's much better than renting a ballroom or nightclub."
Zarnett said suites work well for product launches and other corporate events.
"George is one of the best at creative marketing," Zarnett said. "I'll bet in six months he comes up with three new different ways to use the suites."
Maloof said the suites were designed by Dallas-based Wilson Design, with input from Maloof and Palms management. The living spaces include other comforts, such as elaborate home-entertainment systems; lavish furnishings; and oversized beds including designs that are round in shape, that rotate, that vibrate and one in the Crib Suite that has an hydraulic lift.
Multiple-person Jacuzzi tubs are standard bathroom accompaniments as are "show showers," multiple person showers with a stripper pole and in-room windows for "audience viewing."
When completed, the new tower will add 347 rooms and suites to the Palms current total of 430 rooms and suites. The bulk of the tower will consist of 200 rooms, ranging in size from 550 to 1,000 square feet that rent for $199 a night during the week and up to $499 a night weekends. The tower will have other suites of varying size.
Six "Sky Villas," which will start on the 27th floor and go up from there, are scheduled to open in April. They range from 7,000 to 10,000 square feet, which include amenities such as fireplaces; exercise rooms; and glass-ended Jacuzzi spas that seat up to 30 people and over-hang the tower's eastern exterior.
The tower will also have a Playboy Club, dance club and Mediterranean restaurant on its top floor. An 8,000 square foot recording studio opened last year and Maloof said it "has become a revenue-generator."
The only casino space the Palms added in the expansion was a two-level high-end gambling pit dubbed, "The Mint" and "Top of the Mint," to pay homage to the former downtown Las Vegas casino of the same name.
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