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Palms ready for big crowds when resort reopens Wednesday night

On the eve of what could become one of the city’s largest special events, the Palms is reopening its doors Wednesday night with the first tribal ownership of a Las Vegas resort.

Palms executives say they’re ready for big crowds that are expected to come calling with Thursday’s opening of the NFL draft, just down Flamingo Road from the 766-room resort.

The doors to the public open at 9 p.m., the first time the property has been accessible to the public since March 17, 2020, when Gov. Steve Sisolak instituted an emergency order to close casinos to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

‘Good nervous energy’

“When we were in executive meetings making decisions about the opening day, we had a lot of conversations about do we open right before the draft, and I think it’s the perfect time to re-unveil and reopen our property during what’s hopefully going to be one of the busiest times for Las Vegas,” said Raul Daniels, vice president of event sales and catering for the Palms. “We have good nervous energy all around the hotel.”

Construction crews were putting the finishing touches on the property Monday and Tuesday, and employee groups were completing their training for the reopening of the 20-year-old, off-Strip property.

Members of Southern California’s San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and its San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority will officially begin the opening process with a special private ceremony under the property’s porte cochere Wednesday afternoon.

VIP guests will begin arriving for a pre-opening party late in the afternoon and will enjoy poolside cocktails at the Kaos nightclub and dayclub. They’ll then make their way around the property to sample food from the restaurant outlets.

Before the property opens, representatives of William Hill will cut a ribbon to start that company’s operation of the property’s revamped racebook and sportsbook.

Fireworks to light up sky

At 9 p.m., when the doors officially open to the public, the slot machines and table games will be activated. The traditional first roll of the dice is expected to occur just after the doors open. A fireworks display is set to begin at around 10:45.

Casino openings traditionally attract large crowds of people seeking to be among the first to play a slot machine or play at a blackjack table at a property. It’ll be a little different at the Palms this time, since the Maloof family first opened the resort Nov. 15, 2001.

Las Vegas-based Red Rock Resorts’ Station Casinos Inc. bought the Palms from the Maloofs in May 2016 for $312.5 million. The idea of owning a hybrid property that could attract local players by day and celebrity players by night appealed to Station, which invested $600 million in renovations there in 2019.

High-rolling players were attracted to some of the most expensive suites in the industry at the Palms, including the two-story Hardwood Suite, with its own private basketball court with scoreboard, professional locker rooms and butler services.

Palms executives said the $25,000-a-night Hardwood Suite has been reserved for Thursday night, the first time it’s been occupied since the pandemic.

Within two years, Station opted to sell the resort to the San Manuel tribe for $650 million. The tribe operates the Yaamava’ Resort in Highland, California, and is connected through philanthropy to Southern Nevada with $15 million in financial gifts to UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality and the William S. Boyd School of Law.

Tribal leaders were licensed to operate the Palms in December and promised the spring opening that has now arrived.

Few new additions

Many of the property’s star attractions will return with the reopening, but there are also a few new additions for visitors to see — and not see.

Returning are Mabel’s BBQ, a staple from Cleveland, Scotch 80 Prime, Tim Wo Han, Send Noodles and the A.Y.C.E. Buffet.

New to the mix will be the Serrano Vista Cafe, a sister property to a similarly named restaurant at Yaamava’.

The William Hill sportsbook also is appointed with new furniture, including tables and chairs for dining, and food from the various restaurants can be delivered for eating at the book.

Michael Grodsky, William Hill vice president and general manager-Nevada, said the sportsbook space will be flexible and become an entertainment venue at the property.

Also returning to the Palms will be the 14-screen Brenden Theatres, which have been updated, and the multilevel, 73,000-square-foot space offering two main pools and 39 cabanas, most with their own private pools.

Palms’ Ghostbar, on the 55th floor of the Ivory Tower, will open later this summer as will the 2,500-seat Pearl Theater.

One big difference at the Palms won’t be seen by most guests.

The tribe has invested heavily on back-of-the-house features, including a new employee dining room, locker rooms and lounge space.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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