[The Incidental Tourist]

Don’t sleep on Palace Station’s massive upgrade

The ever-morphing Palace Station.
Photo: Wade Vandervort

Since Station Casinos purchased the Palms a little less than two years ago, speculation and curiosity about the property’s future has steadily grown. We now know about most of the Palms plans—including new restaurants from the likes of celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon and expanded nightlife offerings from the Tao Group and Clique Hospitality—and the excitement continues to build.

Meanwhile, the wholesale revamp of Palace Station has been largely unheralded. Like the Palms, Palace Station is uniquely situated just minutes from the Strip, allowing easy access to both tourist and local audiences. And Station Casinos has been pouring a huge investment into updating Palace—a $191 million overhaul that began in the fall of 2016.

The West Sahara casino and 575-room hotel tower has already added a stylish new façade, porte-cochere and valet and a bright new bingo room, and has made general improvements to parking and access. Current construction projects include: the Regal nine-screen luxury movie theater (that’s the part closest to I-15), an expanded race and sports book and a new Feast Buffet on the casino floor. Also in the works are new burger and Asian restaurants, a new swimming pool, a new central casino bar, renovations to the poker room and a continued refreshing of the casino floor.

If you haven’t visited Palace Station in a while, it might be unrecognizable. Gone are the cheaper courtyard rooms close to the freeway and all evidence of the longtime train station theme. Station actually sent one of its eight train façade-structures to the Neon Museum for preservation—a 17-foot-tall, 1,800-pound behemoth inscribed with “Nevada Southern #9.”

Station Casinos’ reputation as the dominant operator of neighborhood casino resorts in Southern Nevada all began at this property on July 1, 1976. That’s when Frank Fertitta Jr. opened a 5,000-square-foot casino called the Casino, equipped with 110 slot machines, five blackjack tables and a snack bar, designed to cater to hospitality workers from the Strip and Downtown and other locals. A year later, it expanded with a few other features including a bingo room and changed its name to Bingo Palace; the Palace Station name didn’t arrive until 1983 after regular customers were invited to participate in a “name the casino” contest.

Palace Station has been expanded about a dozen times over the years, but it has never been renovated to the scale and scope of the current head-to-toe project. Station Casinos, now led by Fertitta’s sons Frank III and Lorenzo, didn’t open a second local property until August 23, 1994, when Boulder Station arrived in the eastern part of the Valley. Though the Red Rock Resort in Summerlin now serves as the company’s headquarters—and the name of the holding company when Stations went public in 2016—Palace Station will always be the foundation. And it’s quickly distancing itself from the “grind joint” of the old days, transforming into a modern destination closer to the luxurious environment you’ll find at Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch Resort and the new-look Palms.

No matter the changes, Palace Station remains focused on the customer base upon which it was built. There are no current plans to add additional hotel rooms or meeting spaces that would ostensibly capitalize on the Strip developments planned for the next few years; it’s all about enhancing the property and providing more amenities for its neighbors, like the biggest and most centrally located movie theater in the Valley. Palace Station’ upgrade might not seem as sexy or exciting as the Palms’, but without the little casino that could, the sexy excitement over on Flamingo Road could have never happened.

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An award-winning writer who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for more than 20 years, Brock Radke covers entertainment ...

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