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January 29, 2015

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$8.5 million renovation a first for Primm Valley casinos

Two of 3 resorts will see enhancements purchased at discount prices


Steve Marcus

A recently remodeled room is shown at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. Designer desks, chairs, dressers and night stands that were intended for the failed Fontainebleau project were picked up by Primm Valley Casino Resorts.

Primm Renovations

A couple walks though the casino floor at Buffalo Bill's in Primm on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. The casino recently replaced older light bulbs with energy-efficient lighting throughout the casino. Launch slideshow »


In a resort about 40 miles from the Las Vegas Strip sits a hotel room filled with sleek and modern remnants of the shuttered Fontainebleau project. If not for a painting on the wall of a horse grazing by a mountainside, for a moment, you’d almost forget you were inside Buffalo Bill’s at Primm Valley Resorts.

Buffalo Bill's recently underwent a set of upgrades, but the hotel-casino isn’t giving up its western-themed roots. The railroad-like roller coaster tracks and faux rocky cliffs inside remain, but the casino floor and hotel rooms are being spruced up.

The renovations at Buffalo Bill’s are part of a larger project to update Herbst Gaming’s Primm Valley Resorts — the first major remodel since the resorts opened in the 1990s. Herbst Gaming will have spent $8.5 million on renovations at two casinos when the project is completed in April.

At Buffalo Bill’s, about $1.5 million was spent on renovations, which included $500,000 worth of furnishings it acquired from Fontainebleau to redo half of its 1,242 rooms. The cost breaks down to a bargain price of about $800 per room.

In the past, the resorts received hand-me-down furnishings from other properties belonging to MGM Resorts International (then known as MGM Mirage), which owned Primm Valley Resorts until it sold the development to Herbst Gaming in 2006 for $400 million.

The Herbst family, which was pushed out when Herbst Gaming emerged from bankruptcy a few weeks ago, never had the resources to do a proper overhaul after purchasing the resorts, said Stuart Richey, vice president of marketing with Primm Valley Resorts.

He said the Fontainebleau furniture came along at the right price and the company saw the opportunity to do the updating Buffalo Bill’s needed.

“We had a list of things we wanted to do, like every hotel does, and new rooms, carpeting and restaurants had been on the list,” he said. “December is a time when the business is low for everyone and having three properties and demand for only two allowed us to accomplish the things we needed.”

Buffalo Bill’s shut down from about Thanksgiving through Dec. 23 to complete the renovations.

In all of Buffalo Bill’s rooms, the thin floral comforters were trashed and the triple sheeting found at modern Strip hotels was added to new mattresses.

New dressers, desks, bedside tables and lamps were brought into the rooms. Armchairs with colorful striped pillows replaced the round table and chairs in the corner. A chrome and leather desk chair is intended to give the room a more high-end feeling.

“That chair (at a non-discounted price) probably cost more than we were willing to spend on the entire room,” Richey said.

Richey said the company hopes eventually to complete renovations in all of the rooms at Buffalo Bill’s, but the resort will likely wait for another deal on furnishings.

Aside from the rooms, the property added new carpeting, refinished some of its surfaces and replaced old lighting on the casino floor with energy-saving LED bulbs.

Buffalo Bill’s also spent about $300,000 to clean up and rebrand its coffee shop as a Denny’s, a recognizable brand the company hopes will grab more drivers as they pass through Primm.

Herbst Gaming is also turning its focus into modeling the 624-room Primm Valley Resort & Casino into a boutique resort.

Click to enlarge photo

New signage is shown over the hotel lobby at the Primm Valley Hotel & Casino in Primm on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.

Richey said the $7 million renovation at Primm Valley Resort & Casino is just as much about marketing the property as it is about updating the rooms. Primm Valley Resorts’ main customer base comes from the high desert area, including the Southern California towns of Baker, Barstow and Victorville, with the occasional Las Vegan who comes out for a specific event, Richey said.

“I don’t think consumers look at Primm Valley and think about it in the way that it is really meant to be positioned, which is a much better amenity package,” Richey said. “Bill’s is the family property, across the street is the roadside inn and Primm is the boutique, little premium.”

The 779-room Whiskey Pete’s is being left out of the renovation. Richey said they treat the hotel-casino on the southbound side of Interstate 15 as an extension of the other properties, closing it during weekdays when demand is low and opening it on weekends and for big events, like Snoop Dogg's appearance in March.

Primm Valley is halfway through a room remodel, which is expected to be completed this spring. On the casino floor, new carpeting and signage can be found and new flat-screen TVs have been added to the sports book. The resort's coffee shop has also been revamped.

Click to enlarge photo

The men's spa area is shown at the Primm Valley Hotel & Casino in Primm on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.

The spa at Primm Valley was redone last year in a more modern design that could rival some spas on the Strip. The resort is hoping to entice guests with a $99 room and spa package.

Primm Valley is offering a $99 "stay-and-play" package, which includes a round of golf at its Primm Valley Golf Club across the state line in California.

“I don’t think people realize that they can come out here and the wife can go to the spa, the husband can golf, and we have a wonderful shopping mall and great steakhouse,” Richey said. “When you finally put those all together, you’ve finally got something that can stand on its own.”

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  1. I thought it's ready by long is it gonna take now? And what's more important...will the Roller Coaster be in operation by April?

  2. the problem is, even if the rooms are nice , it's not VEgas, and it's too far out there. Not worth the long drive just to save a few bucks for staying overnight for cheap unless you plan 2 nights with shopping and roller coaster spectacular and some gaming. that would be an idea....

  3. Good for them. I hope they can turn the operation around.

  4. Loose the Denny's

  5. Chunky says:

    Congrats on the renovation! At least Chunky's opinion of the property went from ewwww to hmmmmm!

    In the past he wouldn't even stop to use the restrooms there!

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  6. The Buffalo Bills Casino mangangement, as part of its upgrade strategy, might well consider establishing a non-smoking zone, or even better,a smoke-free partitioned hall similar to Red Hawk and Thunder Valley Indian Casinos in the Sacrmento Valley region.

    The smoke-free areas at RH and TV, from my observations, are always equally, or more patronized (percentage of machines available and occuppied), as compared with the smoking-allowed areas.
    Unfortunately, neither RH nor TV have table games in the smoke-free environments--only slots, and fewer selections, at that. But something is better than nothing.

  7. Clarification on previous comment re:upgrade ideas.

    Red Hawk's non-smoking area is the entire lower floor of the two-level casino. The upper floor,smoking allowed, is about three times the size of the non-smoking lower floor. Both floors have tables and the player-per-machine or table percentage seems about equal.

  8. In our country, almost all casinos have gone completely non-smoking with their table games and even most of the slot machines are now in non-smoking zones. There are certain zones with slots for smokers and some casinos have very few tables for players where smoking is permitted.
    It is very unusual to see that the country that came up with the most restricted rules against smoking in public zones is still dominated by the casino lobby that's strong enough to keep most areas of their gaming floor open for smokers. It really works well over here and everybody agrees that the times for smoking in public zones are over. Very strange that Nevada still allows smoking in the casinos. Very very unusual in my eyes...
    From Switzerland

  9. Boris--

    As always, your comments are well-informed and interesting. Thanks for your information on the prevalence of non-smoking.

  10. I went to check out the non-smoking zone at the pretty nice but slowly run-down Arizona Charlie's on Decatur. I love that casino for the coffee shop and its specials, plus for the old school super 8 race machines right nearby between the coffee shop and the escalator leading to the 2nd floor and the buffet. They created a non-smoking zone which, compared to the rest of the casino, reminds me of a hospital zone where the air is so clean, well, in a way it's a little "too clean" compared to the stinky air in the rest of the casino. What I think is not so fair is the fact that the better paying videopoker machines at that property cannot be found in the non smoking area of the casino. Almost looks like a videopoker enthusiast must pay the price of breathing in highly contaminated nicotine air when he wants to have the privilege of playing on a high percentage machine. Since there are no more 2-for-1 buffet coupons in the 2011 LVA booklet, I have no reason to visit Arizona Charlie's anymore. I used to gamble there, but not anymore. Save on providing coupons to the gamblers, .... lose the gamblers' business.

    From Switzerland