$1 Billion M Resort Opens in Vegas

The new M Resort, Spa and Casino has opened during what has been a tough stretch for casinos in Las Vegas, but chief executive Anthony Marnell III said timeless tenets - service and value - will push his company forward.

But he acknowledged that filling the 390 rooms at the $1 billion resort after its first month is tougher than he thought it would be.

"I do feel good that I don't have to fill 3,000 of them every night, because that would be a daunting challenge that the Strip is facing right now," Marnell told The Associated Press. "I think that we can carve out our little tiny niche down here with this product."

The 90-acre M Resort, located about 10 miles south of the Las Vegas resort corridor in the suburb city of Henderson, is depending on locals and drive-in traffic, mostly from California, to become regular customers. Marnell said the hotel is also advertising near the airport in hopes of showing how the property stands out.

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M Resort has nine restaurants, including a buffet with beer and wine included in its price, as well as a cooking studio that can support television filming. A wine cellar uses a special dispensing system to preserve bottles, allowing it to offer 120 wines by the glass.

"The value has to be there, it has to be consistent through the business model and the life cycle because that's what builds the loyalty over time," Marnell said. "I think that it'll do well by you in both bad times and in good."

Las Vegas added 7,500 rooms in 2008, but visitor volume dropped 4.4 percent, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Room rates were down nearly 10 percent to $119.19 per night, tourism officials said.

Marnell said casinos everywhere are under pressure because their debt restricts their freedom to operate the way they might want to. Customers don't see those pressures, but they feel them on the casino floor, Marnell said.

"If you see the staff getting reduced back, everything starts to degrade day by day, the comps get tighter, the payroll gets less, it just goes on and on until they eventually feel like 'What am I going here for,'" Marnell said.

Marnell said he told his new staff that it is important for them to be the best at what they do and keep customers happy when they come.

"I'm excited to stop looking at drawings, too, and to start looking at customers and talking to people," he said.


If You Go...

M RESORT, SPA AND CASINO: 12300 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Henderson, Nev., about 10 miles from the Vegas resort corridor; http://www.themresort.com/ or 702-797-1000. Rates range from $75-$225 depending on room, date and season.

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