When Anthony Marnell constructed the Rio — a Brazilian-themed resort shut sufficient to the Strip to draw crowds of vacationers however far sufficient away from Strip visitors to enchantment to locals — it caught the attention of the corporate that finally turned Caesars Leisure.
The resort trade has a humorous method of coming full circle.
Thirty-three years after the Rio first opened its doorways in January 1990 underneath Marnell, his design firm has been employed as an homage to the Rio’s historical past to supervise a $350 million renovation of the property that begins subsequent month and with its first part anticipated to take a yr and a half to finish.
The property’s new proprietor, Dreamscape Cos., led by New York actual property investor Eric Birnbaum, formally takes over operations Oct. 1, giving Birnbaum loads of time to make plans for his first foray into Las Vegas.
Marnell’s Rio had many crowd pleasers as Southern Nevada’s first all-suite resort product. A swimming pool with a waterfall, a Rio de Janeiro carnivale theme, a few of the prime buffets within the metropolis and occasional appearances by Brazilian jazz musician Sergio Mendes greeted clients.
The resort’s authentic three-wing, 20-story Ipanema Tower noticed an enlargement in 1997 with a 41-floor Masquerade Tower and a two-story retail and restaurant complicated that includes the Masquerade Present within the Sky, a nightly parade of floats suspended from the ceiling.
When Marnell bought the Rio to Harrah’s Leisure — a forerunner to Caesars — for $766 million in 1999, it resulted in additional modifications for the Rio. Below the Harrah’s/Caesars watch, Penn & Teller in 2001 started a file residency on the property unequaled by every other Las Vegas entertainer and the famed World Sequence of Poker made its house at Rio’s conference space from 2005 to 2021.
Caesars bought the Rio to Dreamscape in 2019 for $516 million. So now it’s Birnbaum’s flip to see what he can do with the Rio. Caesars is managing operations of the Rio by means of a lease settlement that runs by means of December, however Birnbaum, founder and CEO of the corporate, appears to make the change to his Dreamscape crew Oct. 1.
In an unique interview with the Assessment-Journal, Birnbaum defined a few of his plans for the property, rigorously not sharing an excessive amount of element to tip off opponents.
“Before everything is getting the rooms as much as a modern-day look,” Birnbaum stated from one of many first rooms already renovated. “And, the Rio is actually going to be loads cleaner, that’s for certain.”
Birnbaum plans a feel and appear of “approachable luxurious,” he stated.
“We’re actually not seeking to compete and get in a knife combat with the Wynns of the world,” he stated. “Our aim is to not win on value and undercut the market by being the most cost effective on the market by any stretch of the creativeness. What we’re actually attempting to do is stability worth for expertise. After I have a look at the market and have a look at who is concentrated on that, I discover it very exhausting to discover a actual true competitor.”
Dreamscape has a plan to take about 10 % of the rooms offline at a time within the Ipanema Tower, assuring that there’s no building noise within the ground above and under the ground that’s getting the overhaul.
After 18 months, the second part of renovation will happen with rooms within the Masquerade Tower.
Dreamscape has partnered with Hyatt Resorts to draw loyal Hyatt clients to the Rio. Birnbaum figures that relationship also needs to jump-start conference visitors on the property.
Birnbaum’s firm plans to benefit from the 250,000-square-foot conference facility that has separate entry, ingress and egress. Conventions will probably be a part of the technique, however not the one technique.
“There’s not only one factor that you may say, ‘Hey that is why a visitor goes to come back to your asset.’ It’s important to give them causes, plural, to come back to your asset. So an ideal gaming expertise, hopefully nice meals, nice atmosphere and a spot that they really feel snug with (is what Rio will supply).”
Buffets are out
So far as meals goes, Birnbaum isn’t sharing any particulars about particular distributors. However one factor is for certain: The buffets are out.
“They (Nevada Gaming Management Board regulators) saved hounding us in regards to the buffet,” Birnbaum stated. “And I used to be very sincere and stated sadly the buffet has most likely seen its final day. It’s not that we wouldn’t be supportive of it and we actually know the historical past of the buffet right here, however from only a pure financial perspective, it’s actually, actually tough to make that math work, after which while you layer in COVID and the best way folks’s sensibilities of getting meals out within the open and germs …
“Individuals’s psychology has modified and in consequence, we’re not going to have a buffet, however we will probably be having a meals corridor that we’re very enthusiastic about and that we predict will hopefully ship a distinct however nearly as good as an expertise.”
Birnbaum has employed executives from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the place that property operates Block 16 City Meals Corridor.
“It’s an ideal instance of a well-executed meals corridor at The Cosmopolitan. A lot of our government crew got here from Cosmopolitan. We’re following a bit of their footsteps. Hopefully what you’ll see is one thing that’s extra of a 2.0 model of that in our personal method.
“I don’t know that we wish to essentially tip our hand simply but and say who these distributors are and who we’re partnering with, however suffice to say we’re aiming to raise the product and provides an actual cause for folks to wish to come right here.”
Birnbaum stated the on line casino would have all new slot machines and orientation with a brand new loyalty membership on the best way Oct. 1. It’ll be known as “Rio Rewards” and Birnbaum guarantees that it will likely be “probably the most profitable reward program within the metropolis.”
And the leisure lineup, for now, would stay the identical as it’s with Penn & Teller because the anchor performers with their hilarious takes on magic.
“I believe they’re observing one thing like their thirtieth yr on the Rio,” Birnbaum stated. “We’re not going to be those to inform them that they weren’t going to be right here for his or her thirty first yr. A part of the historical past of the Rio is Penn & Teller. We’re very excited to have them as companions and from an leisure standpoint, I don’t wish to give any extra past that.”
Birnbaum was additionally cryptic about probably restarting the Masquerade Present within the Sky.
“A component of that’s within the playing cards,” he stated. “All of the floats nonetheless exist and are able to be introduced out. How we implement the floats and what narrative we do round that’s nonetheless to be decided. However that’s actually one thing that’s on the desk.”
Birnbaum stated he has been appreciative of Caesars’ administration of the property by means of the transition, calling it “an unbelievably good, collegial partnership for us.”
However Birnbaum and Dreamscape are prepared for his or her second within the solar.
“We’re trying ahead to exhibiting off the product and we’re all the time going to be listening (to clients),” he stated. “I get up each day and take into consideration how we are able to make the Rio higher.”
Contact Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Comply with @RickVelotta on Twitter.