NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario -- The Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort
celebrated its grand opening here this month, but the impact of its
presence on Fallsview Boulevard was felt long before the first
wager was made or the first hotel room was occupied.
Six years in the planning, the $800 million, upscale
casino-resort has spurred unprecedented growth in this area's
tourism sector, according to Victor Ferraiuolo, vice president of
the Niagara Falls Tourism, Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Ferraiuolo said he expects the resort to help boost tourism to the
area from the current 14 million visitors per year to 20 million by
The resort was conceived as a permanent replacement for the
98,000-square-foot Casino Niagara that opened in late 1996. Last
April, however, the provincial government announced that the older
casino will remain open.
"Independent market studies indicated that there was market
capacity for the additional property," said Jim Dougan, president
and chief operating officer of the Falls Management Co., which
developed and manages the new property.
Dougan said he believes the area's recent spurt of development
is a direct result of gambling's arrival.
"From the introduction of Casino Niagara to the development that
has spun off of [the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort's] going in,
it's really quite phenomenal.
"The Hilton wasn't here [prior to the casinos], the Embassy
Suites [wasn't here]. The Marriott was smaller, the Radisson was a
smaller version, the Sheraton was small -- they've all either
renovated or built new properties. A Crowne Plaza is going up, a
Doubletree is going in just down the road; all are the results of
[the Niagara Fallsview] and its 374 rooms."
That number of rooms may seem small in comparison with the size
of the casino -- 200,000 square feet, which resort officials said
is larger than that at the 5,000-room MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"That was part of the province's development agreement with the
city to help promote that this property is really a destination, a
magnet to draw people to the area," Dougan said. "Other businesses
can also participate in this property's success, mainly the other
hotels and restaurants. That was sort of the key strategy."
Of all the Fallsview's attributes -- and there are many, as I
discovered during a recent hardhat tour of the property -- perhaps
the best is its location on a 23-acre site overlooking the
Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border and the American
Falls on the U.S. side.
All of the guest rooms in the hotel, which is affiliated with
Hyatt Hotels, face the Niagara River. Of the property's 374 guest
rooms, 90 are suites and nine of those are designated VIP
Standard room rates start at around $200 per night.
Other venues in the property also offer grand views of the
falls, including a 750-seat buffet restaurant and the Galleria,
which features nearly 50 retail shops and food outlets.
The casino reminded me of the gaming floor at the Bellagio, with
its handpainted ceilings and crystal chandeliers.
Other resort features include 50,000 square feet of meetings and
exhibitions space, a 15,000-square-foot spa and fitness center and
a 1,500-seat performing arts theater.
The property will add a wedding chapel to its roster, probably
within the next six months, Dougan said.
For more information or to book, call (888) 325-5788 or visit www.discoverniagara.com.
To contact reporter Amy Baratta, send e-mail to [email protected] .