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All that is GRAND

Brook Bentley
bbentley@nnbw.biz
Grand Theatre rendering
Courtesy Grand Sierra Resort |

The Grand Sierra Resort has been undergoing what seems like endless upgrades throughout their property since it was purchased by the Meruelo Group in 2011.

“We are very diverse, but the idea is to provide the best experience for guests,” Christopher Abraham, vice president of marketing for the Grand Sierra Resort (GSR), said.

Having recently invested $5 million in renovations on their Grand Buffet, which reopened last month, as well as upgrades to their Summit Tower rooms and a new wedding chapel, the list of property improvements continues to grow.

The Grand Theatre, which reopened August 2015, experienced a $15 million renovation that included seating for three thousand people and a $2 million sound system. The theater maintained its status as the largest indoor stage in the world at over one acre (a full-size airplane from ‘Hello Hollywood Hello’, a show once performed in the theater, still hides in the back, as it is too large to move). The money invested in the Grand Theatre allows GSR to book at least 60 shows a year, including big names that sell out.

“Experience, in our industry, is so important,” Christopher Abraham, vice president of marketing at the Grand Sierra Resort

It doesn’t stop there, however. The casino, sports book, spa and establishment of Lex Night Club, a $15 million addition, have all been part of the transformation. Now the company is looking at investing in their outdoor pool area, as well.

“We have all the space that we can dream up what’s best for the guests, community, property, and our owner has the passion to make it happen,” Abraham explained, referring to the large footprint of the GSR property.

Abraham added the GSR is not just a passing interest for Alex Meruelo.

“Mr. Meruelo is extremely passionate about business, he has invested a great deal of time, effort and money into the property and believes in the market here, so he is moving to Reno — he is becoming a member of the community,” Abraham explained.

With over $100 million invested in the property, the 2,000 rooms and 200,000 feet of convention space have also seen upgrades and been remodeled under the majority ownership of Meruelo. The resort’s vast convention space makes the GSR second to only the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in the area and likely one of less than 10 hotels throughout the country that offer that, Abraham explained.

The GSR is hopeful to gain its AAA Four Diamond rating within the next 12 months.

“(We are) finalizing some service touches and amenity touches,” Abraham said. “The Diamond Rating is not only the physical attributes of a room, but the service aspect of the property.”

“Experience, in our industry, is so important,” Abraham said. The GSR has 2,400 team members with approximately 1,500 of those being full time. They are one of the largest employers in Washoe County and are a top contributor to room tax revenue.

One adversary they face with getting the most use possible out of their convention space is direct flights to Reno-Tahoe International Airport. However, Abraham, like many, is excited to see more flights being added.

The GSR does not rely on one aspect of the property for a majority of revenue. Abraham indicated that it depends a great deal on the profile of their guests. If a volleyball tournament is going on, then their hotel revenue goes higher versus a casino event that would drive gamers.

So, what is the end goal for GSR with all the upgrades, change and Mr. Meruelo’s vested interest?

“To exceed expectations in the experience really regardless of who you are, be it a high end casino guest, a group that’s coming in for sales meetings of three, four hundred or up to 1,500 people, families coming in for a volleyball tournament, business travelers with the growth of the business community here with Tesla, Switch and these companies, we are ideally situated to house them and their groups,” Abraham said.

As Reno-Tahoe is working to change the perception of what is here, the GSR is working to change the perception of their property too.

For more information about the GSR, visit http://www.grandsierraresort.com.


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