LAS VEGAS -- "We've come a long way in a year." That's how New
Frontier sales director Pat Thomas characterized the changes that
have taken place at the hotel casino property since owner Phil
Ruffin purchased what was then known as the Frontier from the
Elardi family in February 1998.
thing, Ruffin ended a labor strike that had plagued the property
for six-and-a-half years. Then he renamed the 986-room hotel
casino, giving the property its third moniker in 46 years, and
began spending millions of dollars to rejuvenate buildings that had
been constructed in the 1960s. "Obviously, the property needed some
real physical repair to it," Thomas said. "Most of the millions
spent so far really don't show -- the changes are not cosmetic in
Such expenditures included reroofing the entire property, she
noted. Other work projects at the New Frontier, however, are more
evident, such as the addition of a Chinese restaurant, Panda's
Express, and Sbarro's, an Italian eatery, as well as upgrades in
the casino and coffee shop areas. All 586 standard guest rooms also
are being renovated.
When the work is completed in early June, Thomas said, standard
rooms will feature two phone lines, data ports, new desks and other
furnishings with a cherry wood finish. "The new rooms are
absolutely wonderful," she said, noting that the average size is
377 square feet. In comparison, she added, the property's atrium
suites measure 600 square feet, while the penthouses range from
1,100 to 1,400 square feet.
Another big change at the New Frontier was the December debut of
Gilley's Saloon, Dancehall & Bar-B-Que, which offers lunch and
dinner menus, live music five nights a week, monthly boxing matches
and sporadic appearances by Mickey Gilley himself. Modeled after
the Texas venue that gained fame in the 1980 film "Urban Cowboy" --
yes, there is a mechanical bull that patrons can try to tame -- the
1990s version of Gilley's cost about $2 million to build and has
been wildly popular, according to Thomas. "It has been so
phenomenally successful that we've started to enlarge [the place],"
Elsewhere on the property, other seeds of change are taking
root. The property's former owners did away with what had been
"considerable" meeting space and, in fact, wouldn't book group,
meeting or convention business, Thomas said.
Now New Frontier officials are expecting to break ground shortly
on a new 30,000-square-foot convention center. "Meeting space
obviously has become extremely important for midweek business here
because Las Vegas is becoming home to all sorts of meetings," she
said. "You need a full-service facility now -- you can't just be a
The property is also embracing the travel agent community, a
relationship that had fallen by the wayside, Thomas said.
In the past, she noted, the property did not pay agents
commissions. That has changed, she said, with agents now receiving
10% commission. "We obviously really have been talking to the
travel agent community and we are dealing with about 30 tour
operators now," she said.
"When I started [here] in March 1998, there had not been a sales
office [at the property] in 11 years. In 1998, our travel agent
base was zero. Now, we have counted in excess of 2,500 travel
agencies that have booked rooms and received commissions."
The property has been operating as a National Hotel by Carlson
since last August. At the end of this August, Thomas said, New
Frontier officials expect to announce that the property has been
flagged by a major hotel chain.
Standard room rates at New Frontier in the off season range from
$55 per night to $60 per night; during peak times of the year,
prices for a standard room run $65 per night to $75 per night.
"We're kind of midpriced, mid-America," Thomas said. "We certainly
don't pretend to be nor do we want to be a Bellagio. Our intent is
to create a warm, friendly, casual atmosphere.
"There's a whole lot of brass and glass going up in Las Vegas
these days, but we want to bring back a country theme. Some of the
megaresorts are just so big. We get an awful lot of reunion-type
groups here, and when we do win a bid, the common denominator to it
is that they feel they can find their friends on the casino floor.
Everything is much more convenient." New Frontier, Phone: (800)
634-6966 or (702) 794-8200.