El Cortez opens its new Cabana Suites



From our buddy Katz over at the Las Vegas Sun comes this review of the new El Cortez Cabana Suites.  The Cabana Suites was once the Ogden House.  We love the mid-century modern look of the exterior and the interiors!

It’s as if El Cortez took a look around the neighborhood and said, “I’d better clean up my act.”

Structurally and cosmetically made over after a $20 million renovation effort spanning more than two years, El Cortez is doing its best to fit in with new kids on the block like the Griffin, Don’t Tell Mama piano bar, Beauty Bar and Downtown Cocktail Room. Clearly, Fremont East, where Las Vegas Boulevard meets Fremont Street, is trending younger. So is the El Cortez, which not long ago was about as hip as Archie Bunker’s half-smoked stogie. Older casino-dwellers, with their decades-old club cards, fists full of coupons and loyalties to longtime owner Jackie Gaughan (who opened the hotel in 1955) remain El Cortez’s bagel and butter. But today’s hotel execs, long aware of the neighborhood’s shifting identity, are now aggressively tapping into the younger customer base drawn to the district by the new order of speakeasies and lounges. You never know, the kids tumbling out of Beauty Bar at 2 a.m. -- they might well be flush with disposable income.

Unveiled yesterday at the building once known as the Ogden House at 651 E. Ogden Ave., between 6th and 7th Streets, were the boutique-fashioned Cabana Suites. The new hotel is home to 64 new rooms freshly painted in avocado green with black and white design effects. The bathrooms and showers are laden with new marble tile. HDTVs (42-inch flat screens, even), iPod docks and WiFi are a few of the amenities, and the concept is to mix vintage Miami with vintage Vegas. The reality is, it’s a spot tailored to Las Vegans who get a kick out of visiting downtown to spirit off to faux Miami for a night or two. It’s also a convenient destination for couples who might have arrived separately and became acquainted at the Griffin. The current rates to book a room tonight are a non-fleecing $57 for a standard to $157 for a suite.

The $8 million project is tacked on to the approximately $12 million already spent across the street remodeling the main El Cortez hotel-casino. The project nods to authentic downtown culture, as one of Las Vegas’ more prominent artists and downtown fixtures, Jerry Misko, was commissioned to create an art installation in the Cabana Suites’ art deco lobby. The fusion of established and new downtown Vegas was evident at a ribbon-cutting party that included longtime Vegas resort executive Kenny Epstein (who took over as chief executive of El Cortez after Gaughan semi-retired a year ago) and downtown-savvy DCR owner Michael Cornthwaite.

Epstein, taking a break from chatting up Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada chief Larry Ruvo, likened the Cabana Suites project to playing a hand of poker.

“I’m all in,” he said. “It has to work, whether it’s bringing in a younger customer or appealing to those who are older who already like what we offer. But it has to work, period. I’ve got $8 million that says it’ll work.”

Sounds like a man holding a full house.