Reno-Sparks developers jumping on non-gaming, boutique hotel model
Special to the NNBW
RENO, Nev. — Reno-Sparks isn’t short on hotel rooms — there are more than 16,000 rooms available at varying properties across the Truckee Meadows, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority reports.
Historically, hotel rooms were located at large casinos such as the Grand Sierra, Atlantis and Peppermill, and downtown properties such as Circus Circus, Eldorado and Silver Legacy.
But as Northern Nevada drifts away from its longtime gaming roots, its preferred lodging model also is drifting away from the bright lights of the casinos.
Sure, a few small non-gaming hotels have always existed in Reno-Sparks, but over the last few years, there’s been a proliferation of non-gaming lodging options built in the Truckee Meadows.
Examples include new boutique hotel properties near Reno-Sparks International Airport, Legends at Sparks Marina, Meadowood Mall and Greater Nevada Field, to name just a few.
The last hotel-casino tower built in Reno-Sparks was the Peppermill’s 600-room Tuscany tower, which opened back in December 2007. And that very well could be the last large-scale hotel-casino development for quite some time.
There’s been talk of new hotel-casino properties in the region — namely at Sparks Marina, Park Lane Mall and across the street from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center — but those plans all came to naught, while developers continue to jump on the boutique hotel lodging model.
‘It’s not as risky’
The new four-story, 132-room Hyatt Place hotel to be built at Summit Sierra in south Reno is the latest select-service property to join the ranks of non-gaming hotels.
Developer Steve Pelzer of Pelzer Hospitality Group says the property’s cutting-edge architecture will set it apart from competing properties. The hotel will be located between Jared Galleria of Jewelry and the Century Summit Sierra movie theater.
The new Hyatt Place hotel will be built by Tolles Development Company, with groundbreaking expected this spring, with opening sometime in 2021, says Kyle Rea, chief operating officer of TDC.
The select-service model is simply a better, more efficient development option, Pelzer says.
“It’s not as risky,” he says. “You don’t require as much staff, and it provides travelers with what they really need: a clean, comfortable room, (along with) a bar, lounge, business center, gym and pool. Service levels also can be extraordinary because you are not running a big monster hotel.”
Guests also will have their pick of amenities from nearby Summit shops, which include a number of restaurants, clothiers and upscale retailers such as Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma.
“We have to give credit to the owners and managers of the Summit for being inspired by this idea with us and thinking outside of the box on the idea of putting a hotel in the shopping center,” Rea says. “When you settle on a plan to build a shopping center, you typically aren’t thinking about putting a hotel there.
“But they’ve seen the trends across the country in hospitality.”
Increased daily room rates
Meanwhile, the addition of nearly a dozen select-service hotels to Greater Reno-Sparks room offerings not only bolsters the region’s diversified economy, but strong occupancy in the sector is lifting the tide for all lodging properties.
Ben McDonald, senior communication manager for the RSCVA, says the spate of new, non-gaming hotels continues to drive a rising regional average daily rate — particularly at a time when casino-resort rooms are on a slight decline.
The average rate for all hotel properties in Reno-Sparks was $114 in January of 2020, the RSCVA reports — down just 1.5 percent from one year earlier. The slight dip likely can be attributed to the mild winter that’s kept hordes of skiers and fly-in visitors on the other side of the Sierra.
Midweek occupancy is bolstered by the addition of non-gaming properties as well, McDonald says.
“The influx of non-gaming properties is great for the local economy, but it’s also a hint at where Reno-Tahoe is heading,” he says. “With Reno-Tahoe International Airport steadily adding flights to key markets, and a local economy that continues to attract new, diverse businesses, the addition of these properties is an indication of sustained economic growth and a promising sign for the future of Reno Tahoe’s tourism industry.”
Shifting the model to downtown Reno
While most of these new boutique hotels are scattered around town and address infill need, there’s also a shift underway in the historic gaming heartbeat of the region.
The downtown core has seen many of its former hotel-casino properties transition to non-gaming, including Whitney Peak, Harrah’s (forthcoming) and Renaissance Reno. There also are plans underway to erect upscale non-gaming hotels in the downtown core.
As the region adds more non-gaming hotels around the perimeter of the urban areas, McDonald says, it makes sense that some of those hotels will push into the downtown core, McDonald says.
“Something to keep in mind, however, is that these are primarily select-service properties,” he adds. “While they are convenient or familiar for some of our visitors, they don’t offer the vast array of restaurants, spa amenities and family activities you’ll find throughout the destination’s larger casino resorts.”
And that last point is what truly appeals to the millions of visitors who visit Reno and Las Vegas, says Virginia Valentine, Las Vegas-based president of the Nevada Resort Association. Hotel-casinos offer unmatched amenities and experiences at reasonable cost, Valentine says.
“Gaming resorts are a great deal,” she says. “We have casino gaming, sports betting, all kinds of expanded dining options, entertainment, nightlife and retail shopping. Many of our members have fabulous spas, big swimming pools, night clubs, recreational facilities, bowling and convention space.
“Pound-for-pound it’s a great value, and we will continue to appeal to a wide variety of guests. What we offer is really hard to beat.”
Bryan Wachter of the Retail Association of Nevada said his organization is “very concerned about disruptions to the supply chain.”