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Summerlin resort poised for a comeback

Jan 8, 2002 9:15 AM

Coming off a $30 million turnaround, Summerlin’s first gaming resort is brandishing two new names and a revamped casino.

The Casino at the Resort at Summerlin ”” formerly the Regent Las Vegas ”” is adding restaurants to accompany its new J.W. Marriott hotel brand. A gourmet dining room is moving into space previously occupied by the poker room. A buffet and coffee shop is also moving closer to the gaming action.

“There are a lot of exciting plans in the works,’’ Lanis O’Steen, president and CEO at the resort, told GamingToday. During construction, players are being treated to complimentary hors d’oeuvres.

Purchased by Hotspur Resorts of Canada late last year for a heavily discounted $80 million, the Summerlin property (original pricetag: $276 million) is poised to climb back into the black.

“This place has been so close to closing down,’’ O’Steen said, noting crucial bankruptcy dates in December 2000, February 2001 and June 2001. “But we never used all of the ”˜dip’ loan, thanks to our 1,000 employees who made tremendous personal sacrifices.’’

By containing costs and bolstering its customer base, the resort has improved from a $30 million deficit to a break-even position, O’Steen reported. That turnaround surprised analysts who figured the post-Sept. 11 downturn would deliver a knockout blow.

The new owner, Hotspur, has retained Bill Paulos’ Millennium Management Group to operate the casino under a lease agreement. State regulators are expected to approve that arrangement by the end of March. Paulos helped launch the Excalibur and Luxor casinos and currently runs the Greektown casino in Detroit.

Hotspur, meantime, has obtained the J.W. Marriott name for the 461-room upscale hotel, which will benefit from the chain’s worldwide reservations network.

The Mormon-owned Marriott, however, scrupulously avoids involvement in gaming. “There will probably be two names on one sign out front ”” The Casino and J.W. Marriott,’’ O’Steen predicts.