The first guests at Durango were bathed in desert sunlight as they placed their inaugural bets and swiped hotel keys at Station Casinos’ newest resort-casino, a property designed to be an oasis for players and foodies.
Durango resort-casino opened its doors to the public Tuesday to a steady crowd of loyal customers and curious Las Vegans who wanted to see inside the first locals-focused resort since the M Resort opened in 2009.
The doors opened at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour earlier than anticipated, to whooping and cheers from excited first customers. Many had their phone cameras rolling as they walked around for the first time.
Diane Anderson of Omaha, Nebraska, and her son, Las Vegas resident Kent Glazier, were among the first to enter the casino. They waited with a crowd of about 200 who lined up in the morning.
“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 lives close by and is delighted with the convenience of Durango’s location — at 6915 S. Durango Drive in the southwest valley.
“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.”
Red Rock Resorts CEO and Chairman Frank Fertitta III said he hoped people would like the company’s new approach to luxury offerings and continued focus on service.
“It’s a new idea, it’s a fresh idea,” Fertitta told the Review-Journal while standing in the center of a suddenly buzzing pit about 10 minutes into operations. “The casino’s very light with a lot of sunlight coming in.”
The property sheds some of Station Casinos’ typical offerings like a movie theater, bowling alley and spa in favor of a focus on gaming and food and beverage outlets. The 83,000 square-foot casino has 2,300 slot machines, 63 table games and a race and sportsbook. The book — which features a dual-sided, center-hung LED display above the bar and 4,200 square feet of screen space — connects to The George Sportsmen’s Lounge, a Las Vegas-based Fine Entertainment concept with indoor and outdoor space.
General Manager David Horn said Monday he expects the casino will have some overlap with the company’s flagship property nearly 9 miles away, Red Rock casino. But the company still expects that they’ll reach a new customer base in Mountain’s Edge, Rhodes Ranch and other new communities south of the beltway. The only other gaming in a 5-mile radius is restricted to taverns.
“We built this casino here to look at incremental behaviors and players and invite new guests into our casino,” he said. “This pit is speaking to those folks.”
Customers were steadily and eagerly milling around the property throughout the day. Small lines queued in front of ATMs and cash-out voucher redeemers and longer waits snaked around the player services desk and in front of counters in the food hall.
Parking became scarce within a few hours and traffic backed up on arterial roads and the 215 Beltway throughout the afternoon.
Las Vegas resident John Dye sat in the sportsbook while reading newspapers he brought, expecting to read while playing live keno in a lounge as is his tradition at Red Rock. But the property doesn’t have live keno (nor does it have a bingo hall).
Dye said he was disappointed, but was interested in learning more about sports betting. At the same time, his wife won $500 playing Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
“Since I don’t have live keno, I have to get to know sports betting,” he said while gazing up at the odds board.
Simi and Martha Maea 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 company’s newest property.
The couple described the check-in process as easy and the room rates as reasonable, especially compared to nice hotels in California. Rates for the 200-room resort begin at $399 for midweek, according to the hotel.
They had a room with a king bed and couch that Martha Maea described as “beautiful.”
“This is the top dog, compared to the other (Stations) casinos,” Simi Maea said.
“I’m already (willing) to come back and stay again,” Martha Maea said.
Plenty to eat
Other customers were excited by the property’s expansive food offerings of four stand-alone restaurants, two bars and the 11-stall “Eat Your Heart Out” food hall. It features a mix of locally known restaurants, like Shang Artisan Noodle, Yu Or Mi Sushi and Nielsen’s Frozen Custard, as well as new-to-market concepts. Guests were steadily in line at Los Angeles staple Irv’s Burgers and the Durango Oyster Bar, even as early as 10 a.m.
Joshie Jacobs, a recent Southern California transplant, said she was impressed by the property’s convenience to her neighborhood and the food options.
“I think I’m going to go over and get some sushi,” she said. “I really like that they have so many food choices.”
Vesta Coffee founder Jerad Howard floated between his cafe’s two locations in the hotel lobby and the food hall throughout the morning. Howard said the boutique coffee shop brand, launched in 2016, had been working on the new locations since Station approached them two years ago.
“We’re relieved,” Howard said outside the lobby cafe, directly in front of the hotel’s front doors and a bright pink floral display that became a popular photo spot. “Opening is the hardest part. Now this is the fun part — we’re really excited to get customers and guests here to wow them.”
McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X. Contact Richard N. Velotta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X. R-J reporter Sean Hemmersmeier contributed to this report.