Stratosphere's new owners set out to prove it's more than a view

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Golden Entertainment is injecting $140 million into the Stratosphere over the next three years, starting with a new baccarat gaming pit, which opened this spring.
Golden Entertainment is injecting $140 million into the Stratosphere over the next three years, starting with a new baccarat gaming pit, which opened this spring. Photo Credit: Peter Harasty
Sarah Feldberg
Sarah Feldberg

When locals get disoriented in Las Vegas, there's an easy trick for finding their way: just look for the Stratosphere. Like the Giralda in Seville and other notable towers around the world, the casino's 1,149-foot spire serves as a visual anchor in the city's landscape, a beacon guiding those who gaze upon it back to their inevitable destination — the Las Vegas Strip. 

But for plenty of visitors, the Strat's appeal starts and ends with its sky-scraping appendage. 

"Some people think that the Stratosphere is just an observation deck," said resort general manager Chris Fiumara. "We're trying to reposition as a resort experience."

New owners Golden Entertainment — which in October purchased American Casino & Entertainment Properties, including the Stratosphere, two Arizona Charlies in Las Vegas and properties outside the city — are investing $140 million in the Las Vegas Boulevard casino over the next three years. The goal is to reach new markets, entice locals and remind visitors that, beneath the 108th-floor observation deck and dizzying thrill rides, there's an entire integrated resort to experience.

Some developments have already debuted. Earlier this month, lion dancers tromped through the 80,000-square-foot casino floor to celebrate the opening of a new gaming pit with six baccarat tables and a new Asian menu at the 24-hour Roxy's Diner.

"We look at the Nevada Gaming Abstract, which shows which games are getting the most play in the market," said Fiumara. Over the past two years, he added, baccarat, popular with Asian gamblers, has been very strong. 

"That was a segment that was not serviced by the property, so we've enhanced our offerings," said Fiumara. 

This year's renovations are using $32 million of that $140 million booster shot to refresh about 300 of the resort's 2,429 guestrooms, open a beer hall with food from chef Johnny Church and update the race and sports book and viewing lounge.

In addition to sprucing up the casino, part of the new strategy for the resort is tying the Stratosphere closer to its parent company. That means familiar PT's brews on tap and a player loyalty card that links Golden's venues across the city. Play video poker at a PT's Pub and guests will earn points they can redeem for Stratosphere's renovated hotel rooms or cocktails overlooking the Vegas Valley.

Bridging the gap between the Strip and Downtown, the Stratosphere is working to step out from its own shadow. 

"We're really excited to reintroduce the Stratosphere to the world," Fiumara said. "I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised."

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