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Durango’s debut delights local residents — BLOG

Updated December 5, 2023 - 9:55 pm

Station Casinos’ Durango Resort & Casino opened its doors to the public for the first time Tuesday.

The 200-room, 83,000-square-foot-casino property is parent company Red Rock Resorts’ first new property in more than a decade. The property has 2,300 slot machines and 60 table games, a 25,000-square-foot, 11-stall “Eat Your Heart Out” food hall, four standalone restaurants and two bars.

Follow the excitement of Durango’s opening day:

9:03 p.m. Neighbors jazzed to have casino so close

Ruben Anchondo and Michelle DiTerlizzi live in nearby Rhodes Ranch and watched the almost 10-minute fireworks show from the exclusive outdoor viewing area with about 100 other guests, many of whom held their phones up to record.

DiTerlizzi talked about the convenience of having a resort so close to home.

“I think it’s pretty awesome,” she said.

They stood by one of several tables set up next to the pool and under a heater.

The restaurant options and casino impressed Anchondo, who described the casino resort as upscale.

“Being so close, it’s definitely something I’ll be back to,” he said.

Despite living so close, the couple had to Uber on Tuesday night and were dropped off blocks away.

“I trucked it in my 4-inch heels, but that’s Vegas right there,” DiTerlizzi said. “And they’re still on four hours later.”

8:20 p.m. ‘It feels like a haven for Instagram content’

Karen Weldon and her son Jeffrey Weldon sat poolside in an exclusive outdoor viewing area about 40 minutes before the fireworks show.

They arrived about an hour earlier and described themselves as loyal Station customers.

“It feels like a haven for Instagram content,” Jeffrey Weldon said.

His mother called the property beautiful and modern.

“Fireworks is a bonus,” Jeffrey Weldon said. “We’re from New England and it feels like home any time there’s fireworks.”

7:36 p.m. Luna gets in on the action at Durango

Las Vegas resident Corey Sweeney had just arrived and sat at a gaming machine next to his wife.

“It took us a long time to park so we feel like we’ve been here an hour,” Sweeney said.

Their small dog Luna sat between them in a stroller. He joked that Luna was handling the occasion better than her parents.

Sweeney said they usually go to Red Rock. “Red Rock is really nice and it doesn’t seem as nice as Red Rock,” he said of his first impressions. He said he enjoyed the sports book and planned to try his hand at the tables before leaving.

7:03 p.m. Walkways, elevators packed tight

Packed elevators carried guests who snagged the last few available slots on the third floor of the parking structure down to the casino entrance. Walkways connecting the food court to the main casino floor were packed tight with guests walking shoulder to shoulder. A staff member greeted guests, “Welcome to Durango,” and assisted people in getting where they needed to go.

— David Wilson

5:25 p.m. Check-in process was easy

Simi and Martha Maea, a married couple, drove from Long Beach, California, to stay for the first three nights of Durango’s opening. The couple said they’ve been Station Casinos rewards members for over a decade and wanted to check out the newest property for the company.

The couple described the check-process as easy and the room rates as reasonable, especially compared to nice hotels in California. They had a room with a king bed and couch. Martha Maea described the room as “beautiful.”

“This is the top-dog, compared to the other (Stations) casinos,” Simi Maea said.

“I’m already will to come back and stay again,” Martha Maea said.

— Sean Hemmersmeier

5 p.m. Casino is ‘absolutely beautiful’

Susan Harrington got to Durango around 4:30 p.m. and said she is impressed by the casino-resort. It is “absolutely beautiful,” she said.

Harrington mostly visits casinos for the slot machines and dining options and was most looking forward to checking out the Eat Your Heart Out food hall.

Although Harrington lives about a mile away from Durango she said it was difficult to find a parking spot.

“It was a mess finding a spot but it’s opening day so I expected it,” she said.

Harrington wasn’t going to stay the night at Durango but does eventually want to book a hotel room but only if rates come down from the $250 -$400 a night they are currently.

— Sean Hemmersmeier

4:30 p.m. Lounging sports book

All parts of casino are crowded with lines around most ATM machines late into the afternoon of Durango’s opening day.

Tony Espinosa, a Las Vegan, was sitting at a table next to the bar in the Durango sports book late in the afternoon. He is a regular at sports books in Las Vegas and visits one every day.

He said he likes the layout of the Durango sports book but thought it was more geared towards lounging with more open floor space and tables.

“Other sports books focus on the viewing and betting for sports,” Espinosa said. “This feels like it’s geared towards consumption with a restaurant and bar next to it.”

— Sean Hemmersmeier

2:40 p.m. No live keno

Las Vegas resident John Dye sat in the STN race and sportsbook Tuesday afternoon, flipping through old newspapers while waiting for his wife to finish her gambling. As a Rhodes Ranch resident of four years, he said he usually brings stacks of old papers to the keno lounge at Red Rock and expected to do the same today but was surprised to find there was no live keno.

“Since I don’t have live keno, I have to get to know sports betting,” he said while gazing up at the odds board.

Durango has limited additional amenities beyond its casino floor and food outlets. Other staples of the Station brand, like movie theaters, bingo halls, bowling alleys and spas, are not at the new property. Some could be developed in future phased expansions on site — though plans aren’t solid.

— McKenna Ross

2 p.m. Traffic outside Durango growing

The word apparently is out — Durango is a pretty cool place to check out.

The traffic in the area surrounding the property was getting steadily busier in the early afternoon. Several security officers manned the parking garage and helped direct cars and kept vehicle flow moving.

On the 215 Beltway, exits at Durango Drive and Sunset Road were starting to back up and traffic short signal cycles prevented cars from clearing intersections resulting in some backups. Westbound entrances to the beltway on ramps were blocked by cars turning onto Durango forcing motorists to wait a little longer to get on or off the freeway.

Eventually, those problems should resolve themselves as the novelty of the new property wears off.

But for now, expect a few delays getting in and out of the property.

— Richard N. Velotta

1:30 p.m. Check in for ‘approachable luxury’

Hotel guests in the 200-room tower were lucky enough to get to check in a few hours early on opening day. Front desk attendants said guests some began arriving as early as 9:30 a.m.

The rooms and suites — described as “approachable luxury” — start at $399 for the 83 double-queen rooms and 97 king rooms. Prepare to pay more for a good view of the Strip to the east or the Spring Mountains and Red Rock Canyon to the west.

— McKenna Ross

12:03 p.m. Hard to find a seat

It was hard to find a seat at the Eat Your Heart Out food hall.

All the mini-restaurants of the area were as busy as the casino floor and people seemed excited about the wide variety of the fare.

Meanwhile, the high-limit rooms of the casino were just as busy as the main casino, with tables filled with players spending $100 a hand for blackjack and slots with multiples of $25 a spin in play.

— Richard N. Velotta

11:30 a.m. ‘This is so exciting’

Joshie Jacobs, who moved to Las Vegas from California, decided to take a break from all the casino activity in the comfy hotel lobby seats near the front desk.

“This is so exciting,” she said of her first-ever resort opening.

The Summerlin resident said she and a friend who lives near the property made plans to come over early expecting there to be long lines, but was delighted with the manageable crowd that grew progressively through the morning.

“I don’t have a problem going down to the Strip,” she said, “but this is so convenient and so nice.”

She said she feels like a true Las Vegan, now that she has a casino opening under her belt.

“Have you been down to the Sphere?” she asked. “I went to see ‘Postcard from Earth’ and I enjoyed it so much.”

After a short rest, her friend arrived and she was ready for her next look at the property.

“I think I’m going to go over and get some sushi,” she said. “I really like that they have so many food choices.”

— Richard N. Velotta

11:15 a.m. Atmosphere is cheery, busy

It’s hard to tell how many people are at Durango more than an hour after the planned opening, but it’s pretty busy.

Asked how many he thought was in the building, a Durango ambassador said, “I have no idea.”

But the crowd is robust and the atmosphere is cheery.

Getting into the property off the 215 Beltway this morning was painless and devoid of traffic jams.

Prior to the doors opening, there were several Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers present with red-and-blue lights flashing. But the crowd was orderly and there were no disturbances.

Mingling through the crowd were dozens of people capturing the event with phone videos. They’ll be able to share what they saw on this bright December morning.

— Richard N. Velotta

11:10 a.m. Parking lot filled quickly

Surface lots at Durango filled quickly during its first hours of operation, with few spots visibly available by mid-morning. Casino officials said law enforcement groups were helping direct traffic around the new property near the Durango exit on the 215 Beltway.

— McKenna Ross

10:30 a.m. Slots more popular than table games

Table games weren’t nearly as busy as the slot areas. Durango opened with $15 and $25 blackjack minimums, $15 on roulette with $15 on three-card poker and some $100 baccarat tables.

Every once in awhile, you’d hear a cheer and players would exchange high-fives after a winning hand.

— Richard N. Velotta

10:15 a.m. Oysters for brunch

Who would’ve thought of oysters as brunch cuisine? But more than a dozen people filled the Durango Oyster Bar in the Eat Your Heart Out food hall, their coffees sitting next to Tabasco sauce and shells.

— McKenna Ross

10:05 a.m. Casino is bright

By 10 — the expected time of Durango’s opening — the place was rocking, with all sorts of people wandering around, checking out the features. One guest with a stroller with a dog aboard gazed all around while his dog rested comfortably.

There were a handful of guests with children — aren’t they supposed to be in school?

A player playing a Triple Play Draw Poker machine zipping through hands at hyperspeed looked up occasionally from the screen.

“Nothing … nothing … almost got a royal (flush) there … nothing,” said Angie Bangert of Las Vegas.

Bangert, like others, were impressed with the casino’s brightness, thanks to the many floor-to-ceiling windows.

“I’ve seen a lot of these, I was born here at Sunrise Hospital, she said.

— Richard N. Velotta

9:50 a.m. Beeline for favorite slot machines

Once the doors opened, early guests beelined toward their favorite slot machines. First in the door was Michelle Marshall, who lives in the neighborhood near Durango.

“This will actually be my second time in because I have friends who invited me for family-and-friends night,” she said. “I really like this place because you can see outside and it’s just so bright compared to other places,” she said. “And it’s a lot closer for me. Now I won’t have to go over to Red Rock.”

Right behind Marshall in line were Diane Anderson of Omaha, Nebraska, and her son, Kent Glazier of Las Vegas.

“I come out about three times a year and I wanted to come out for this opening,” Anderson said. That required her to change her plane reservations. “I was all set to come out in November, but they changed the date.”

Glazier admitted he hadn’t heard about the date change until his mother informed him. He, too, lives close by and is delighted with the convenience of Durango being nearby.

“I’ve been watching it go up since they broke ground,” said Glazier, a retiree. “On the outside, it’s just beautiful so I knew I had to be one of the first to see it inside.”

About 200 had formed a pair of lines to go in when the doors opened. It didn’t take long for the raucous sounds of a busy casino to take hold once the doors opened.

— Richard N. Velotta

9:40 a.m. ‘Buzzing’ casino pit

Casino doors opened a half-hour earlier than anticipated after brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta threw the first ceremonial craps dice roll. Crowds of eager gamblers whooped and cheered as they walked in, heading to their favorite games and taking in the casino floor.

“It’s a new idea, it’s a fresh idea,” Red Rock Resorts CEO and Chairman Frank Fertitta III told the Review-Journal while standing in the center of a suddenly buzzing pit. “The casino’s very light with a lot of sunlight coming in.”

Fertitta said they had more than 40,000 applications to work at the new resort. Executives previously said they received thousands of internal applicants from other Station properties.

“We’re excited because it’s been about 10 years since we opened our last project,” President Scott Kreeger said. “Every time we try to do something new and exciting, our team members respond incredibly well. They always like to be a part of the next evolution of Station Casinos.”

— McKenna Ross

9:32 a.m. Christmas came early

Christmas came early for the man dressed in a Santa suit in line to get into Durango. The doors opened earlier than expected. When security guards opened the doors, a group ready to go in squealed in excitement and filed in.

— Richard N. Velotta

9:25 a.m. Opening moved up

Customers wait outside in perfect weather for the Durango grand opening. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas ...
Customers wait outside in perfect weather for the Durango grand opening. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto

Customers wait outside in perfect weather for the 10 a.m. opening and find out the casino will open at 9:30 a.m. instead.

— Kevin Cannon

9 a.m. Opening is two years in the making

Executives, invited guests, social media influencers and some Durango staff mingled under the porte cochere ahead of the public opening of Station Casinos’ $780 million property in the southwest valley.

Social media influencers Norma Geli and Lydia Penn await the grand opening of Durango Resort an ...
Social media influencers Norma Geli and Lydia Penn await the grand opening of Durango Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto

Parent company Red Rock Resorts President Scott Kreeger said the moment was more than two years in the making for the 47-year-old locals casino company.

“We have one principle and that is to create lasting connections with our guests and elevate the local Las Vegas market,” Kreeger said before top brass Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta cut the ceremonial ribbon. “When we opened in the new neighborhood, we quickly become part of the community.”

- McKenna Ross

More coverage:

By George! Durango tavern welcomes food, fun, betting

— First look inside Durango — PHOTOS

— Where to eat at Durango

— What to expect at Durango’s grand opening

— Inside Durango’s hotel rooms

— Eat Your Heart Out food hall

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