Hooters Hotel offers the expected with a few twists

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Hooters and Las Vegas. You cant help but wonder what took the two paragons of vice so long to get together. According to Richard Langlois, senior vice president of marketing at the new Hooters Casino Hotel, the mating dance had been going on for some time.

Our group had been shopping the Strip for five years, looking for the right property, said Langlois. It took that long for us to find it.

The right property turned out to be the former Hotel San Remo, a 700-room, budget hotel-casino on Tropicana Avenue, just east of the Strip, that had been fraying around the edges for quite a while.

A recent weekend inspection demonstrated what a difference a top-to-bottom renovation -- and 200 Hooters Girls -- can make.

The Hooters marketing strategy has been built around buxom waitresses, beer and chicken wings, all delivered in large quantities.

Hooters management has expanded that formula at their casino-hotel in Las Vegas by targeting a broader demographic than their core, high-testosterone customer.

In fact, management here goes out of its way to appeal to couples with what most thought would be a niche product for single men.

A fine-dining restaurant, a spa/salon combo, a martini bar and an upgraded pool area are designed to make the product appealing to women, said officials.

The middle-aged, middle American fanny-packer, a typical Hooters restaurant customer, will be counted on to drive the propertys midweek business. 

In many locales, the Hooters Girls push the envelope with their short-shorts and tight tank tops. But in Las Vegas, their positively clean-cut, cheerleader look seems tame compared with the standard cocktail waitress profile, not to mention that of the average Strip showgirl. 

For that midweek customer, then, Hooters Casino Hotel is a familiar and relatively wholesome experience in decadent Sin City, and therein lies its appeal.

On the other hand, the typical weekend guests -- party-hearty, Gen-X bachelors -- will find the boisterous atmosphere to their liking.

A roundup review of service, accommodations, dining options, public spaces and overall ambience follows:

" Service: The makeover of the property demonstrates Hooters ability to deliver a friendly, relaxed and inexpensive hospitality product in the land of the giants.

Total staff has more than doubled since the San Remo conversion -- to 1,300, up from 550 -- thereby ratcheting up the service level. 

While moving up their learning curve, staff exhibit a can-do attitude along with a generous helping of genuine care, a rare combination in todays Las Vegas.

" Accommodations: Standard rooms in the 696-room tower are furnished in an island-casual theme, which means floral-print bedding and cedar trim.

Configuring each 385-square-foot space isnt much of a challenge, with either a king-size or two queen-size beds facing a desk and a small, high-top table (just big enough to hold a six-pack) with three barstools.

The bath is unremarkable but functional, supplied with the usual amenities.

" Dining/Bars: With nine fine-to-funky restaurants and bars, the property sports a range of affordable eating and drinking establishments. 

Starting at the high end, Dan Marinos Fine Food and Spirits is the ex-football stars eponymous ode to Big Food for Big Boys, a.k.a. seafood, meat and potatoes. The kitchen does a commendable job on the basics, with most entrees in the $15 to $25 range. 

Pete & Shortys Book and Bar, meanwhile, offers drinks and burgers in a small-town tavern atmosphere, along with the worlds most compact sports book.

The always-packed Hooters restaurant doesnt disappoint, with scores of perky Hooters Girls and its familiar bar menu featuring chicken wings and burgers. 

A welcome, and surprising, addition is 13, a retro martini lounge featuring near-continuous live entertainment.

The Bait Shoppe offers poolside sushi, and the Dam Restaurant serves a coffee-shop menu around the clock, augmented by a buffet during traditional meal hours.

Party central can be found at Porch Dogs, a Caribbean-style, indoor/outdoor club featuring dueling guitars and pianos.

" Public spaces: Blindly faithful to the restaurant chains decor, the motif throughout the resort property is cedar, cedar and more cedar. A woodpeckers dream and a firemans nightmare, the overuse of cedar is a bit tiresome.

Featuring a new line of cardio and strength-training equipment, SASS is the resorts compact but complete Spa and Salon Services facility.

The revamped pool area includes a swim-up bar. 

Despite being 30,000 square feet, the casino feels cramped and is burdened by excessively loud music and overhead monitors displaying sporting events. A Hooters Girl Party Pit is the casino highlight, where you-know-who deals the cards.

The distinctiveness of this new property stems not just from the attractive Hooters Girls but the refreshingly irreverent attitude evident in everything from the self-mocking signage to the official corporate tag line: Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined. 

That motto concisely sums up this hotel. Definitely not for everyone, the Hooters Casino Hotel is designed, built and run for those who can appreciate its charms. 

Where else, after all, but at Hooters Casino Hotel would one encounter a sign at the front desk that says Guaranteed same-day check-in?

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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