Renovation work continues at Grand Sierra Resort

Meruelo Group, owner of the Grand Sierra Resort, continues to revamp the largest casino-hotel property in northern Nevada.

The company headquartered at Downey, Calif., completed approximately $25 million in renovations last August as part of the property’s grand reopening and rebranding. Current renovation plans include construction of a 25,000-square-foot nightclub and swimming pool where Mustangs, Johnny Rockets and the sports book once were located, and construction of a 7,500-square-foot spa and other retail amenities on the property’s lower levels.

GSR hopes to have the new nightclub opened before New Year’s Eve festivities, says Dan Uonites, executive vice president and assistant general manager. The spa is scheduled to open in late July.

Uonites say it’s important for Grand Sierra Resort to continually modernize the property and increase its amenities to remain among the leaders of the Reno-Sparks gaming market.

“This particular property has been well-known as a city within itself because of its many amenities and the options it has,” Uonites says. “Now we have expanded those options. We have seen the momentum and seen that Reno is really reacting positively to what we have done here.”

Renovations have been almost non-stop since Meruelo Group took over the resort in 2011. Grand Sierra recently completed a more than $2 million renovation to completely rework its race and sports book, which is now located at the site of Xtreme Sports Bar (or the comedy club for old-time Renoites). The new sports book, operated by William Hill, includes separate VIP rooms, state-of-the-art audiovisual systems and more than three times the television screens of the previous facility.

The new pool nightclub will be a split-level concept with a bar/lounge in the front and VIP seating. Grand Sierra has not yet begun to hire additional staff for the nightclub and spa, but Uonites says the property will need to ramp up employment to meet the needs of the new concepts.

“We are investing a lot of capital into that space, and it will rival anything in Las Vegas,” he says. “As we open these venues we will need qualified employees. We need to bring individuals in with talent to staff the new nightclub and spa because these are expanded roles.”

Construction has proved relatively easy, Uonites says, as the work abuts the northern portion of the building’s footprint. Steelman Partners, designer of some of the most notable buildings in Las Vegas and Macau, is the designer for the project.

Johnny Rockets will move to the lower level next to a renovated entrance to the pool area. The popular hamburger eatery will be accessible to swimmers and sunbathers without leaving the pool area. The entire downstairs area also is being renovated with new carpets, ceiling and wall treatments and lighting to shed the dark look that’s fallen out of favor at casino properties. Several new retail concepts also will take space downstairs.

“These are components that are important to our customers and this is what we really need to add to make sure we are capturing the right customer base here. It is something that this property hasn’t seen.”

Future renovations at Grand Sierra Resort include remodeling and improving the main valet entrance, as well as other entrances at the property. Grand Sierra also has just seven of 27 floors left to complete in its room renovation plan. Beyond that, though, Uonites says, management may pull back the reins.

“There are no other plans at this point in time, but keep your eye out because there is always something new that we are bringing to the table,” he says. “We are very innovative and on the edge, and we want to make sure that we are bringing those amenities here that give Reno what it is looking for. The renovations that we have put together, we are seeing increased traffic and customers coming in. Grand is what people are talking about right now.”


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