RIGHT THIS WAY

Station Casinos’ newest resort, the $662 million Aliante Station, will be just the latest evidence of the direction “the company’s going versus where it’s been,” when it opens to the public Tuesday night, the company’s top executive said.

The new North Las Vegas resort is the latest example of the locals gaming company’s continued evolution since it was started 32 years ago at today’s Palace Station, Station Casinos Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frank Fertitta III said.

“You can see with Red Rock (Resort) where we made a departure to go with a more contemporary, clean, forward-looking type of architecture and design,” Fertitta said. “That was very successful and very well received by the local guests.”

The 46-year-old Fertitta said Aliante Station’s design started to take shape after the public’s positive response in April 2006 to the opening of the $925 million Red Rock Resort.

“So many people seemed to have liked that direction we had gone (in),” Fertitta said.

Although the new property has the same look and feel of Red Rock Resort, he said, it has been downsized for the area.

The boutique hotel, at the corner of Aliante Parkway and the Las Vegas Beltway, will open with 202 rooms, compared with 800 now at Red Rock, and 14,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 80,000-square-foot casino has 2,554 slots, 40 table games, a high-limit area and a poker room.

The property, which is on 40 acres anchoring the Aliante master-planned community, is also bringing approximately 1,400 jobs to an area of Clark County suffering from high foreclosure rates and increasing unemployment.

Fertitta said guiding the company during the current economic crisis has been one of the biggest challenges in his 15 years at the helm.

Aliante Station and the company’s 17 other properties, however, are built and remodeled for the long-term, he said.

“The Las Vegas economy will turn around,” Fertitta said. “It’s not a forever thing. We just have to work our way through these challenges and these difficult times. In the short run, it’s very painful.”

Company executives describe the property’s design as “contemporary Scottsdale with a combination of muted and vibrant colors.”

The architecture includes sand beige stone from Indonesia, Jerusalem gold stone from Israel and Inca gold stone from Italy.

Fertitta said despite the upscale feel, customers will find friendly pricing, including 1,500 penny games.

“It’s very comfortable, very approachable,” Fertitta said. “It makes you feel good when you’re in this space. People appreciate the attention to detail, but it’s good value for their dollar.”

Aliante Station is the sixth property built in Clark County by Station Casinos since Fertitta took over the company in 1993 from his father and founder Frank Fertitta Jr.

Fertitta said grand openings of new properties always bring a sense of personal satisfaction and a sense of company’s continued accomplishments.

“It’s always exciting and exhilarating to see something you’ve conceived from nothing, a clean sheet of paper, actually come to fruition,” Fertitta said.

Fertitta, however, is especially excited about the new property’s restaurants.

Aliante Station’s six restaurants are a blend of an old company favorite, company-owned restaurants and three new offerings.

Pips Cucina & Wine Bar, the first restaurant by former Caesars Palace food and beverage director Rino Armeni, brings an extra buzz to the property for Fertitta.

“Having someone like him behind this Italian restaurant will be a big draw and will be something different people haven’t see in other locals casinos,” said Fertitta, who first met Armeni in 1983. “We’re very excited about having a guy like him wanting to be involved in (Aliante Station).”

Pips Cucina & Wine Bar was conceived and developed by Armeni, who left liquor and wine distributor Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada after 14 years to focus on the restaurant.

The Italian restaurant’s menu features many family recipes handed down through the generations and gathered by Armeni’s mother, who traveled from Rome to see the restaurant.

“You can tell he loves what he’s doing, he’s just having a ball,” Station Casinos Chief Operating Officer Kevin Kelly said of Armeni. “When you get somebody that has so much passion and he applies it to his craft, it’s a great formula for success.”

Pip’s joins a lineup that includes Mexican restaurant Camacho’s Cantina, Original Pancake House, T.G.I. Friday’s and the company’s own seafood and steakhouse MRKT Sea & Land, and Feast Buffet.

Other amenities include a 16-screen movie theater, a food court and a pool.

The hotel-casino is Station’s fifth 50-50 joint venture with the Greenspun Corp.

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

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