Station's latest big bet: Durango Casino & Resort

The $780 million Durango Casino & Resort, opening Nov. 20 southwest of the Las Vegas Strip, is the first of a series of projects that could double Station Casinos’ footprint in southern Nevada by 2030.

The 209-room resort will have an 83,000-square-foot casino with the latest slots and table games as well as high-limit slot and table-game rooms.

Stone floors and walls will greet guests in a lobby filled with natural light. The lobby flows into a bar with distinctive nooks, sofas and art that create a comfortable space to work, converse or relax.

David Horn, Durango’s vice president and general manager, has heard the resort described as “Southern California cool. I’ve heard Palm Springs-esque. I’ve heard desert blend. To me, it’s warm … and, yes, it is desert-centric.”

Beyond the soft, inviting entry, Horn said he is proud of how the STN sportsbook incorporates the George Sportsmen’s Lounge, with live entertainment, bar-top gaming, patio parties, full-service dining and cocktails.

“[It’s] going to be like nothing else that the city has seen,” Horn said. “It’s going to be very exciting. That’s a very key energy point for us in the building.”

The dynamic, 24-hour concept by Fine Entertainment Management is a shout-out to the classic Vegas big tipper, called “a George,” a reference to Washington’s portrait on the dollar bill. In addition to watching sports on a 56-foot LED screen and 60 additional TVs, guests can play cornhole, shuffleboard and other patio games.

Los Angeles staple Irv's Burgers will be among the offerings at the Durango Casino & Resort's Eat Your Heart Out Food Hall.

The Eat Your Heart Out Food Hall will be another focal point. The 25,000-square-foot space will have favorites such as Los Angeles’ Irv’s Burgers, New York’s Prince Street Pizza, Philadelphia’s Fiorella by Marc Vetri and the Hawaiian Ai Pono Cafe.

Clique Hospitality will operate Mijo Modern Mexican Restaurant; the Bel-Aire Lounge, a blend of what company officials call “old-school glamour with contemporary flair”; and the poolside Bel-Aire Backyard. Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants will open Summer House with a California-inspired menu. 

Enticing large groups will be 20,000 square feet of meetings space with a ballroom, breakout rooms and an event lawn.

The company’s priority is efficient guest service from Day 1, Horn said, whether it’s creating a sense of familiarity for locals or making a strong first impression for tourists.

A rendering of the George Sportsmen's Lounge, which will feature live entertainment, bar-top gaming, patio parties, full-service dining and cocktails.

Room to grow

Although Station Casinos closed and demolished three of its older southern Nevada hotel-casinos and sold the underlying land in the past year, the company has at least six other undeveloped parcels on the city’s outskirts and on the south end of the Strip to expand its brand by the end of the decade.

“They’ve long had a separate land-acquisition strategy in place in the valley, snapping up these attractive sites,” said Anthony Lucas, a professor at the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “It’s almost like a chess game. … You have to lock up the parcels and wait for the city to grow in that direction. And they’ve been brilliant at that.”

With an initial emphasis on gaming and food and beverage, Durango will open without a bowling center, movie theater or spa — amenities that may be considered in its next phase.

“Station’s model is, you buy more ground than you need. That way, if you need to expand, you have the capacity to do it,” Lucas said. “Depending on how successful it is, they’ll decide when and if they want to go phase two or phase three. But they’ll have the land to do it because they think ahead.”

The 800-key Red Rock Resort, which opened in 2006 with Strip-like amenities, remains the flagship of Station Casinos, which along with Boyd Gaming has dominated the locals market for decades. Durango guests can expect price points between Red Rock and Green Valley Resort, which opened in Henderson in 2001, when its booking engine opens.

Why would visitors seek a primarily locals casino such as Durango instead of the Strip’s glamorous behemoths? There’s the novelty, the more intimate scale of both the facilities and service, lower prices, free parking and ease of access (Interstate 215 and Durango Drive). 

“You don’t have to be stuck in the weekend traffic hordes,” Horn said. “You don’t have to worry about the parking costs. You have some really good amenities, and you’re closer to some of the outdoor offerings that the city has. There’s a lot more flexibility to do what you’re going to do.” 

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