Maloof finds a profitable balance between celebrities and commoners

Ah yes, I remember it well. This 30-something kid said he was going to open a hybrid casino and market to two distinct groups — locals and Hollywood hipsters.

In the wisdom of my many years, I knew it wouldn’t work. Celebrities don’t want to mix with locals, and locals don’t care to mix with celebrities. Not content with keeping my impressions to myself, I told others that the marketing idea was doomed. The target should be one or the other, not both.

More than five years later, George Maloof was right, and I am proven wrong … again. The Palms opened in November 2001, right after the economic downturn from 9/11, and Maloof’s idea worked. Guess there’s a reason he runs the family-owned casino and I’m hunched over a computer.

Yet, before hearing his speech Wednesday at a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce luncheon, all Maloof was to me was a frequent mention in Norm Clarke’s column and a periodic business page story. I hadn’t met him, hadn’t interviewed him and didn’t move in his intertwined circles of basketball and babes.

Before a sell-out crowd of more than 500 at the Four Seasons, Maloof, 42, came across as a low-key but humorous fellow who had a confession to make: “I always wanted to be Dan Tanna.”

Maloof was in his hormone-driven teens when Robert Urich portrayed Dan Tanna in “Vega$,” a popular television show from 1978 to 1981.

The young Maloof was smitten by the portrayal of a gun-toting private eye surrounded by an ever-changing stable of beautiful women and Las Vegas celebrities. Hmmmmmm. Don’t need Freud to figure that one out.

The show was also a teaching tool. Based on his own reaction to it, Maloof realized the value of TV as a PR tool. So two decades later, he welcomed MTV’s “Real World” to film in the Palms and created such a buzz that the beautiful 20-somethings and wanna-bes flocked to his new joint.

“I really felt if I could connect the pop culture with the celebrities, with television, and build a great and unique resort, that would help build a brand that beat anything in town,” Maloof said. “People want to stay where celebrities stay. It’s that simple.”

In a quick interview after his speech on his marketing success, Maloof explained that the two distinct crowds don’t mix because of the hotel’s design. The locals come in from the entrances, which put them close to the slots, the movies, the sports book, the buffet and coffee shop.

About 9 p.m., the local slot players tend to go home, and the crowd looking for clubs and high-end restaurants filters in. From the front entrance, the cool kids turn left; locals turn right.

“The locals don’t care about the nightclubs. If Paris Hilton eats in our buffet, nobody cares. She will eat in our buffet, and it’s just another day. She will go to N9NE Steakhouse, which is 50 feet away, and they will go crazy,” he said, calling it bizarre and funny.

“I always used to watch how everybody connected in the center,” he said, referring to the glams and unglams mingling in the front entrance area. “It’s very interesting and very delicate. Sometimes the two markets don’t care about each other, don’t want to be around each other.”

But to succeed, Maloof said, “You gotta have both. It used to be 80 percent local. Now locals are closer to 65 percent in revenues.”

The local base remains level while more celebrity-seeking tourists are filling the additional hotel rooms.

Two events at the Palms this week demonstrate the hybrid nature of the Maloof family’s casino. For the locals, he opened a new buffet, the Bistro Buffet. And for the groovy, tonight he’s opening The Pearl concert theater with Gwen Stefani.

The celebrities will be there in full force, naturally, some with their knickers, some without.

But if the glamour kids happen to wander into the new buffet, they’ll find a crowd that cares not a whit about their celebrity antics. In that room, they are anonymous babes in buffetland.

Paris Hilton can prance there unsought and unrecognized, if that’s really what she wants.

Ya think?

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at or call 383-0275.

Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like