The glimmering curves of Encore loom above a faded blue building at 99 Convention Center Drive.
If the Royal House (formerly known as the Royal Resort) looks like a run-down relic of Las Vegas' heyday, well, that's because it is. Or it was.
Though the Royal's exterior still looks a little worse for wear, there are big changes happening inside the resort. And soon, the Royal's outsides will match its upscale interiors.
Hospitality executive Adam Mizzi, who once worked for MGM Resorts International, is behind the Royal's transformation, which so far has included a remodel of the hotel lobby, den, lounge and restaurant, now called the Barrymore. Mizzi's company, Authentic Entertainment Properties, last summer signed a long-term master lease with the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based owners of the Royal. Over the past year, Mizzi has focused on reviving the property, which is tucked away on Convention Center Drive just east of the Strip, beginning with the first-floor renovation, which cost more than $2 million.
Mizzi said the first phase of the renovations was challenging. The Barrymore was once an Italian restaurant, Cosmo's, which was in pretty bad shape, Mizzi said -- "not just the restaurant, (but) the entire lobby, lounge, bar (area) was in really bad shape," he said.
"They had a comedy lounge on the far side (of the lobby) that was makeshift, constructed out of two-by-fours."
But the structure of the building was solid, he said.
Mizzi's team replaced the ceiling, light fixtures and furniture and began creating what Mizzi calls an "authentic Vegas" vibe. Not retro.
The $2.4 million second phase of the remodeling project, which begins after Thanksgiving, includes repainting the property, installing a new marquee and sign, adding a slot parlor in the lobby, bringing in a blow-dry bar/tanning salon and refurbishing the hotel's 191 rooms. The new signs will cement the property's new moniker, the Royal House, and its new identity as an East Fremont Street-meets-The Cosmopolitan hangout.
"The idea is to bring in a little bit of both (downtown and The Cosmopolitan) and create that critical mass of attractions in a good real estate location that's easy and accessible for both locals and tourists," Mizzi said.
Mizzi said the Royal has been relying on locals' word-of-mouth to boost interest in the remodeled property. The resort hosts themed nights, like "It's a Woman's World Wednesdays" and Thursday "Speakeasy Nights," during the week to draw nightclub hosts, restaurant executives and other industry insiders.
"We were trying to position (the Royal) as the industry local hideout or clubhouse," Mizzi said.
Mizzi envisions the Royal as the pinnacle of boutique hotel culture. While there are other boutique hotels, like Rumor and the Artisan, Mizzi said the Royal's location and development potential make the property unique.
Another unique facet of the Royal is its timeshare component. Before Mizzi's takeover of the property, 36 of the hotel's units were sold as time shares operated by Trading Places International. Those units will have to be taken into consideration as the renovation proceeds, Mizzi said.
The room renovations are scheduled to be completed in about a year. Mizzi said he plans to remodel one floor at a time, with the first finished product, the second-floor suites, expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2012. Local design firm Yates-Silverman is involved in the process, which will also have an authentic Vegas feel.
The third phase of the Royal's makeover will entail the estimated $100 million redevelopment of the remaining real estate beneath the property. The Royal sits on seven acres, which includes the Gold Key Shops just west of the property, facing the Strip. Mizzi said future plans for the retail center are still in the early stages.
Contact reporter Caitlin McGarry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273.