Artisan Hotel gets new life

Local hospitality operator Siegel Group acquired the Artisan Hotel on Friday, adding the troubled property to the company’s growing portfolio of local boutique hotels.

In addition to the 64-room property on Sahara Avenue, Siegel Group owns the 62-room Resort on Mount Charleston and the 150-room St. Tropez on Harmon Avenue.

Siegel Group’s first order of business for the Artisan is to restore the property’s reputation among its customers and remaining employees, Stephen Siegel said. He said the previous owner’s cost-cutting measures and bankruptcy filing caused significant damage to the property’s reputation. Additionally, the property was hit with numerous health-code violations late last year.

Although only 12 employees were on the payroll when Siegel Group foreclosed on the property Friday, the property is open and all rooms are available, said Michael Crandall, Siegel Group director of business affairs.

The restaurant will reopen by Feb. 1, he added.

Siegel said he plans to improve the nongaming hotel’s customer service and correct any longstanding operational issues.

The Artisan, known for its framed reproductions of famous art work throughout the property and the large fountain in the lobby, will retain the “same theme, same feel, same name.”

Siegel added: “We’re just modernizing and bringing it up to our standards.”

The Siegel Group acquired the property’s bank note for $1.4 million from the Artisan’s lender, the Citizens Banks of Oregon in Missouri.

The hotel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2008, listing more than $10 million in assets against Citizen Bank’s $1.8 million bank note. The bank filed a secured claim that month for an additional $6 million.

Crandall said the company started to take over the property in late November after the bank decided it did not want to continue talks with the former owner, Doug Da Silva, to restructure his debts. Da Silva also owns a second Artisan Hotel in El Paso, Texas, which is also in bankruptcy.

Da Silva bought the 1.35 acre property, which was a Travelodge, in late 2001. He added hundreds of reproductions of artwork by classic artists such as Paul Cézanne, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” throughout the hotel.

The property’s served as the backdrop for many television shows, including “Criss Angel Mindfreak,” Cinemax’s “Sin City Diaries” and a photo shoot for the Las Vegas-based band Panic at the Disco.

Siegel said his company will launch an extensive advertising campaign to bring back customers who frequented the Artisan before its sharp decline last year.

The Southern Nevada Health District temporarily closed the restaurant in October after the agency found numerous problems, including spoiled food, dirty food surfaces, a broken dishwasher and mouse droppings on the floor in food storage.

The agency also found insects in the liquor, mold in the ice machine, and dirty linens in rooms.

Crandall said the property has been issued temporary licenses by the health district. Final inspections are scheduled for Friday.

“We have an unbelievable relationship with the agency,” Crandall said. “They know when we come in we don’t mess around.”

Crews have been working to prepare the kitchen for reopening within the next two weeks, and Crandall said the remaining liquor was tossed out and replaced.

Many of the Artisan’s vendors had stopped delivering products and services to the hotel for lack of payment by the old owner.

But Crandall said Siegel Group’s good relationship with vendors — the company also owns the refurbished Gold Spike downtown and Siegel Suites flexible-stay apartment complexes — have helped the company move quickly to address the Artisan’s problems.

Beyond restocking the bar, Siegel has already added televisions to the bar, upgraded the property’s sound system, replaced the boiler and addressed extensive cleaning and landscaping needs.

Immediate plans include reopening the restaurant by Feb. 1, hiring nearly 60 additional staff, including a general manager, chef, bartenders and cocktail servers.

The Siegel Group plans to spend nearly $400,000 on the property to add a secured valet parking area, replace some air conditioning units, add a smoke extraction system and purchase new bedding.

Siegel’s plans include renovating the pool furniture, marketing an indoor chapel and outdoor area for weddings, building a second bar and opening a hair and tanning salon.

“We’re planning with some different concepts,” Siegel said. “Gaming, nongaming and some retail components that will drive more traffic here.”

Siegel said he has not decided if he will bring limited gaming to the property’s bar. Nonrestricted gaming was reinstated at the Resort on Mount Charleston with 10 slot machines in September, and will be available when the renovated St. Tropez reopens in April.

“We can bring games in here, but we’re teetering back-and-forth with it,” Siegel said. “There’s a big following here that doesn’t want video games here. We’re talking maybe three or four on the backside of the bar.”

Siegel said the hotel’s room rate will likely fluctuate between $79 and $129 per night.

“The property’s location to the Strip is unbelievable,” Crandall said. “There’s a lot of people out there in this country or around the world who love coming to Vegas but aren’t necessarily coming to Vegas for the gambling. So this will be a place for them to stay and have an unbelievable experience, and still go to the Strip and enjoy it.”

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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