Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 | 8:01 p.m.
Robin Leach has wound down his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, and many of our Strip personalities again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin starts to pick up pen, notepad and tape recorder to resume his Strip coverage, we continue today with Derek Stevens, who has helped lead the revitalization of downtown as co-owner and CEO of his D Las Vegas hotel.
I was recently watching high-flyers from SlotZilla zip through the air past The D Las Vegas’ vintage casino balcony, and I couldn’t help but smile. I thought, “I am a lucky man. Every day, I watch and mingle with people who are having the time of their lives in the most thrilling city in the world.”
I smile when I walk around The D and see the casino floor buzzing with people. This is exactly how I imagined it when I first undertook what seemed like a mammoth task of transforming the historic Fitzgeralds into The D. We eliminated thousands of F’s and hordes of leprechaun green. We invested millions in making The D a destination for people who want to have a great time.
In the course of just a year and a half, The D has become one of the hottest spots downtown. From the high-energy party atmosphere with sexy dancing dealers on the first floor to the throwback to Vintage Vegas vibe on the second, not a day goes by that I don’t find myself smiling just a little bit more.
I love that I was able to bring little pieces of my hometown Detroit to downtown Las Vegas — not only through restaurants like American Coney Island (if you haven’t tried their classic Coney dog, you haven’t lived) and Andiamo Italian Steakhouse, which I believe is one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas — but also through using all American-made furniture in our new rooms and suites.
As I’ve said before, this isn’t a “Detroit-themed hotel.” But The D truly captures the Midwestern spirit in a tourist town. When you look around, our guests are actually talking and getting to know one other. There’s a genuinely friendly vibe throughout the property, which is best experienced with a single drink at Longbar, our signature feature on the first floor of the casino.
Just beyond our door, the energy and excitement on Fremont Street Experience is almost overwhelming. There are nightly concerts, shows overhead on the Viva Vision canopy and fantastic special events nearly every week.
When we open the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center this year, it will serve as a downtown hub for concerts, festivals, viewing parties and other events, elevating the experience at The D and throughout downtown even more.
I am proud to be a part of all the exciting changes happening in our historic downtown neighborhood, from welcoming our new Zappos neighbors to the opening of SlotZilla to the continued growth of Life Is Beautiful.
I love to see the continuing growth on Fremont Street Experience as well as Fremont Street East and can’t wait to see what else is yet to come and be a part of downtown’s bright future.
Be sure to check out our other guest columnist today, Frankie Scinta, who headlines at The D Las Vegas. On Sunday, we meet up with restaurateur Elizabeth Blau, “Defending the Caveman” star Kevin Burke and TV commercial king Josh “The Chop” Towbin from Towbin Automotive.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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The D Las Vegas is the new revved-up name for a longtime downtown Las Vegas hotel, Fitzgeralds, which had been in operation since 1987.
Owner Derek Stevens rebranded and refurbished the hotel in fall 2012 to give it a motor city theme, using the nickname of his beloved city, Detroit, for the name of the new hotel. He also brought in two restaurant favorites from Detroit: American Coney Island and Joe Vicari's Andiamo Italian Steakhouse.
The property features 638 remodeled contemporary rooms and suites. The unique two-level casino included slots and table games. Dancing dealers are featured on the first floor. And the second floor transports guests back in time to old-school Vegas with its Vintage Casino.
The casino also features the LONGBAR, the longest bar in Nevada, where sports fans can watch games on big screen TVs. Outside on Fremont Street, D Bar invites guests and passerby alike to enjoy refreshing frozen libations and specialty cocktails as talented, trickster bartenders send bottles and glasses flying through the air.
The Showroom at the D features the interactive comedy show, "Marriage Can Be Murder," where guests can be part of the mystery.