Stratosphere renovations

After hearing–then reading about–one frequent Vegas traveler’s experience with the new Stratosphere, and seeing billboards trumpeting the “new” Strat splashed liberally around the valley, I was planning to head down to see what all the fuss was about.

Then I got a call from KNPR’s State of Nevada to talk about the impact that the $20 million renovations will have, and what they all mean. I agreed to do the interview, and after poring over some American Casino & Entertainment Properties SEC filings, felt like I had a good grasp of the context of the renovations. After a fairly in-depth discussion with host Luis Hernandez, I was pleasantly surprised to get an email from ACEP Ceo Frank Riolo inviting me to come down and talk about the renovations, and get a look at the place. [Full disclosure–I had lunch with Mr. Riolo at the Top of the World restaurant, and the company took care of my Philly Style Grilled Flank Steak sandwich, which was, incidentally, pretty good.]

In addition to talking with Mr. Riolo, I also got to meet Brian G. Thornton, the designer behind the renovations.

So here are some pictures and a few thoughts. Rather than duplicate the excellent over on VegasTripping, and because I didn’t get to see a spa suite, you’ll be getting a view inside a standard room.

More after the jump…

Before we get to the good stuff, here’s a few random facts:

1. There are several different configurations of standard rooms because of the way the tower angles around–I believe about 20. Because of this, a lot of the furniture (desks and wardrobes) was made in small lots, since they had to fit it to the room.

2. Including the work done on the hallways and flat screen TVs in all 2,447, the cost of the 909 room remodels was about $14,500 per room.

3. Per Mr. Riolo, the remodels include “all new carpeting, paint, drapes, and hard and soft goods.” That includes a new safe, new bathroom tile (replacing vinyl flooring), new room furniture and headboards, new sheets, lighting, and plumbing fixtures. They changed out just about everything except the mattresses, which were replaced about a year ago, and the shower-tubs, which were refinished.

4. When Mr. Riolo showed me the safe, I mentioned the VT comment about the safe was big enough for a laptop. He said that’s exactly why they got them.

Here is the new entrance–the photo doesn’t really do it justice, but you get the idea:
New entrance--inside

Inside the new VIP check-in:
Stratosphere VIP check-in

Opposite angle of the VIP check-in. In keeping with the general new look, it’s modern but not austere, but it’s not exactly ornate, either.
Stratosphere VIP check-in

Here’s an unrenovated room:
Old room

The old bed:
Old room--bed

The old bathroom flooring:
Old room--vinyl floor

The old vanity:
Old room--vanity

Here’s the first shot of the new room. This model had two queen beds:
New room--beds & window

Opposite angle of the new room, showing the desk & TV.
New room--TV wall

View from the window. This was on the 24th floor.
View from room

Wardrobe and red chair:
New room--wardrobe

And, because you were nice enough to persevere through my amateur hotel room picture-taking, here are a few shots of the 107th-floor Air Bar, which replaced a Starbucks:
Air Bar
(yes, that’s me reflected in the column)

Air Bar

Expect to read more about Frank Riolo and the Stratosphere. I’m going to be writing a Vegas Seven story about the renovations, with a slightly different emphasis than what’s already been covered. It’s a fascinating story.

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