RENO, Nev. -- The Atlantis Casino Resort here is poised to become
this city's premier property, thanks to an expansion project
totaling more than $70 million.
The construction, which began last June, includes a
glass-enclosed skyway pavilion, a 27-story luxury hotel tower and
an additional 20,000 square feet of convention, meeting and
special-event space, all of which are slated to be finished by the
beginning of summer.
to be done by the first of June," said John Farahi, the property's
chief executive officer and general manager. Some project elements,
however, will be finished sooner than others. For example, the
skyway pavilion opened March 19, and several of the new tower's
guest rooms will be ready in April, Farahi said.
The skyway pavilion connects the resort, located two miles from
the Reno/Tahoe Airport and across the street from the Reno-Sparks
Convention Center, with Atlantis' newly expanded parking lot on the
west side of South Virginia Street. The diamond-shaped, all-glass
structure is designed to carry the resort's lost city of Atlantis
theme and is flanked on either side by 100-foot-high Grecian
columns containing lighted torches.
The pavilion's interior features an oyster bar that is open
daily from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., the Java Coast Espresso Lounge &
Pastry Bar, which offers round-the-clock service, and about 100
video poker and slot machines. "Inside, we have made [the pavilion]
so that it is not only a skywalk by itself but an entertainment
center with fabulous views of the [Sierra Nevada] mountains and the
city lights," Farahi said.
Atlantis' newest hotel tower -- which will add 500 rooms to the
property's existing 486 -- will be the highest building in south
Reno and will include 46 suites offering either a Jacuzzi or a
steam shower. Of these suites, four will be designated concierge
suites measuring 2,000 square feet and two will be grand penthouse
suites with 4,000 square feet of space.
The tower's top seven stories will be concierge floors -- a
first for Reno -- where the guest rooms offer more space and
floor-to-ceiling tinted windows with mountain views. These floors
can be accessed by three glass express elevators whose use is
exclusively for concierge floor guests.
According to Farahi, the concierge floors will raise the bar for
the Atlantis' standards.
"We are taking the property to a four-star level by adding
[these] floors," he said.
The resort's gaming space, too, will be expanded by about 50%.
When the construction project is finished, Farahi said, the casino
will boast 1,500 slot machines and 40 table games.
A 250-seat Italian restaurant also will be added to the list of
Atlantis' offerings, as will a health club with mountain views and
an enclosed swimming pool.
All of this is a far cry from the property's modest beginnings
more than 30 years ago as the Golden Road Motel and Copper Kettle
Coffee Shop. Over the years, the hotel was affiliated with the
Travelodge and Quality Inn brands, and when a franchise agreement
with Clarion was not renewed in 1996, the Clarion Hotel Casino --
as it was known then -- began operating independently under its
Two other times within this decade -- in 1991 and 1994 -- the
property was expanded, and if Farahi has his way, this most recent
work project will not be the last. "We have one more phase approved
by the city that would take us to 1,500 rooms that we are hoping in
the next few years to accomplish," he said.
Then, too, there is the matter of 16 acres across the street
from the Atlantis that is held by the property's parent company,
Monarch Casino & Resort Inc. "Our goal is to put a separate
hotel and casino property [there]," Farahi said.
Farahi is a member of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, the
airport authority of Washoe County and a representative of the Reno
Tahoe Airport Task Force on the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors
board of directors.
"We [Monarch Casino] have a lot of confidence in this
destination for tourism," he said. "Unfortunately, people compare
us to Las Vegas. We are not a Las Vegas, nor do we want to be a Las
"The Las Vegases of the world will never be able to buy or
duplicate the Sierra Nevada mountain range or Lake Tahoe," Farahi
said. "For us, frankly, once you shift into talking about things
that attract tourism, such as natural beauty, that's a strong
selling point to drawing visitors.
"Where we've missed the boat -- the [Reno-Sparks] Convention and
Visitors Authority and the industry as a whole emphasized gaming,
gaming, gaming." This change in the area's marketing strategy,
combined with Monarch's history, adds up to winning futures for
both the city and the company, he said.