Circus Circus' Mile Is Progressing According to Masterplan

Reed Travel Features

LAS VEGAS -- Circus Circus Enterprises is making swift progress in its Masterplan Mile project on the Strip here.

The firm imploded the Hacienda Hotel and Casino on New Year's Eve to make way for the development of a megaresort as part of the project.

Circus Circus purchased the 11-story Hacienda and the 73 acres adjacent to the property in 1995 to enable the firm to expand southward from its Luxor and Excalibur properties.

When combined with those two, the acquisition gave Circus Circus one continuous mile of Strip frontage extending from Tropicana Boulevard to Russell Road.

Under Circus Circus' Masterplan Mile project, the area is slated to become a multiresort, casino and entertainment development, which will be unveiled in phases over the next several years.

Eventually, Circus Circus expects to own or control as many as 20,000 hotel rooms on the Masterplan Mile.

Although specific details about the upscale property to be constructed at the Hacienda site have not been released, Circus Circus said it will consist of approximately 3,600 rooms and be connected to a stand-alone, 400-room Four Seasons Hotel, providing the city's first five-star property.

The luxury Four Seasons property, which is expected to open in 1998, will be owned by Circus Circus.

In addition to Four Seasons, Circus Circus said there is a possibility that other major players in the casino resort industry might participate in joint ventures for other developments on the 73 acres next to the Hacienda site.

A groundbreaking date for development of the megaresort at the Hacienda site has not been set, but the project will represent the second major phase in the Masterplan Mile project.

The initial phase of the program, which is under way, includes the expansion and renovation of the firm's Luxor Las Vegas and Excalibur casino resorts.

The most ambitious effort taking shape is a $240 million project at the Luxor.

Under the expansion and renovation program, the property added two stepped, pyramid-shaped hotel towers, which brought 1,948 more guest rooms on line and increased Luxor's total room count to more than 4,400.

At the existing Luxor pyramid, other features of the initiative that were to be unveiled with the opening of the tower rooms included a new front entrance, where the registration desk and VIP check-in area have been relocated; a tour and travel check-in area with bus parking; a remodeled Nefertiti's Lounge; a coffee house called International Grounds, and an IMAX Theatre, which will feature 3-D movies.

Luxor also is completing various cosmetic enhancements in the property's interior and is remodeling guest rooms, and it opened a lounge called the Nile Bar.

The property's Nile River Ride closed, and Luxor is planning to debut another multimillion-dollar attraction this year.

The expansion program will feature the opening of additional facilities at the existing Luxor pyramid this year, including two dining venues, a steakhouse and an Italian restaurant; an Egyptian-themed, 1,200-seat showroom, where a new stage show called "Imagine -- A Theatrical Odyssey" will be performed, and a wedding chapel.

In the new towers, expansion features expected to debut this year include 20,000 square feet of additional meeting and convention space; a 12,000-square-foot spa, and a shopping arcade.

Luxor will be connected to Excalibur by an enclosed, climate-controlled moving walkway, which opens this month.

At Excalibur, an expansion and renovation project also is under way.

Under the program, the property will add 14 suites, which are scheduled to open at the beginning of this year, construct meeting and banquet facilities and make other enhancements.

This month, Excalibur also will begin a major renovation and redesign of its third floor, where it will create 13,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space that can accommodate from 25 to 2,000 people.

It will be the first time Excalibur offers extensive meeting facilities; the property expects the addition to boost its appeal in the group marketplace.

To make way for the third-floor development, which will be called the Great Hall, the property's gourmet restaurant, Camelot, will close and be moved from the third floor to the second floor, where Excalibur's coffee shop currently is located.

The coffee shop, which will be expanded, will be moved to the casino level, enabling the property to offer all 24-hour outlets on the casino floor.

The Excalibur wedding chapel also will be moved from the third floor to the second floor.

The Camelot restaurant is scheduled to reopen in September, while the wedding chapel will reopen on Valentine's Day.

Outside the Masterplan Mile project, the firm is nearing completion on a $60 million expansion and renovation project at its Circus Circus property.

Circus Circus was scheduled to open a 1,000-room hotel tower last month, boosting the property's room count to 3,774.

The 35-story structure, called the West Tower, is the property's third hotel tower. It is similar in design to the existing Skyrise Tower and is situated between Grand Slam Canyon (Circus Circus' theme park) and Circus Tower.

Under the expansion program, the entranceway to Grand Slam Canyon was torn out to make way for the new hotel tower, and a new theme park entrance is located on the second level and is connected to the promenade.

A new hotel lobby, with valet parking and one central registration desk for the entire property, is situated on the first floor of the West Tower.

On the second floor of the West Tower will be a 40,000-square-foot promenade, which will connect all three towers.

The promenade, which debuts this month, will feature 14 retail outlets and three restaurants: the Promenade Cafe, offering typical American fare; Stevali's, a casual fine-dining venue offering Italian specialties, and Comida Rica, a Mexican restaurant.

The Promenade Cafe and Stevali's are additions to the Circus Circus lineup, while Comida Rica is an existing restaurant in the property's theme park, which will be connected to the promenade.

Within the first half of this year, Circus Circus is scheduled to complete a variety of other enhancements, including two new rides at Grand Slam Canyon theme park and approximately 8,000 square feet of additional meeting and banquet facilities.

With the expansions at Luxor and Circus Circus and the opening last June of the 3,014-room Monte Carlo, a joint venture with Mirage Resorts, the firm will have debuted 6,000 hotel rooms in 1996.

The expansions and renovations, in addition to planned projects, are expected to cost approximately $1.5 billion.

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