Peppermill Moves Forward on $230M NV Project

Mon November 14, 2005 - West Edition
Emily Christianson

Reno visitors can look forward to a complete resort experience as the Peppermill Hotel Casino moves forward on its $230 million expansion project, which includes an increase in casino space, a hotel tower, a state-of-the-art parking garage and more.

Although the demolition of older motel units started in October, crews will break ground on the first phase of the project Nov. 28.

“I just can’t emphasize enough how excited we are that they are bringing such a quality project to the community,” Reno Councilwoman Sharon Zadra said. “They are already recognized within the community and within the tourism trade as being a quality destination, but this is going to take them to a much higher level.”

The 17-story curved glass all-suite hotel tower features wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling views. The 600 suites range from the 550 sq. ft. Tuscany Suite to the 2,800 sq. ft. Palace Suite and include amenities like plasma televisions and oversized marble bathrooms with separate spa tubs. The new accommodations bring the total number of rooms to 1,625.

“Most hotel rooms run about 260 to 380 square feet so [these suites] are a lot bigger … The intent is to have a look that is equal to or exceeds the best that Vegas has to offer,” said Bill Hughes, director of casino marketing operations.

Plans include expanding the casino from 80,000 sq. ft. to 94,000 sq. ft. making room for a total of 1,900 slot machines and 60 gaming tables.

In addition to a year round Tuscan-themed pool and garden area, the property will offer men’s and women’s spa and salon services and a state of the art fitness center.

“We are going to expand the pool area so it’s more of a resort type of a pool … right now we already have three pools out there, but the pool area will triple in size,” Hughes said.

Entertainment and dining upgrades include increasing buffet capacity from 370 seats to 700, relocating the Italian Romanza restaurant to the new tower, adding a 10,000 sq. ft. night club and building an entertainment deck overlooking the pool.

“I think people come here for a get-a-way and we are working very hard to create a complete resort facility here,” Hughes said.

A new 50,000 sq. ft. convention center, exhibition hall and entertainment center is also on the list. The space will accommodate banquet seating for 3,000, concert seating for 4,800 or 300 trade show booths. The improvements will result in a total of 90,000 sq. ft. of convention space.

“I am also one of the board members for our Convention and Visitors Authority so I know the challenges they face in trying to put prospects out for certain kinds of meeting groups,” Zadra said. “Many want their participants to be able to stay in the very hotel where their show or conference is or certainly within walking distance … The Peppermill, by having these new meeting rooms and volume of space will be a tremendous boost for the Convention and Visitors Authority here.”

Hughes said the project mainly involves new construction and the Peppermill will announce the general contractor later this month. Crews will start work on the 1,600 space parking garage first. He said owners anticipate the structure will be complete by May 2006 and hope to complete casino construction by August 2006 and the hotel tower by September 2007.

“Hopefully we will be able to open a floor at a time, but again that becomes a function of how the construction is bid and how the contractor thinks he can finish the floors,” Hughes said. “Ideally if you can get in there in July or August and open one floor every couple of weeks that would be great … you’ve got an existing operation already so it makes it worth while.”

The project could also breathe some new life into the local economy, which Zadra said suffered after a casino opened an hour away in Roseville, CA.

“We actually experienced a decrease in visitor volumes when that casino operation first opened and it’s been slowly building back and it has come close to achieving the levels that it was at prior to that particular casino opening,” she said. “There has been no gaming expansion in our market for some ten years.”

She hopes the high end upgrades will lead to a boost throughout the local economy.

“These types of visitors that will be coming for this new kind of a product in Reno will be looking for other kinds of activities and therefore they will spend their money in our arts and culture district and our dining area and at our recreational attractions so it will have an anticipated significant trickle down effect,” Zadra said.

The Peppermill is a privately held company with a property in Sparks, NV, and three in Wendover, NV, near the Utah border. CEG

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