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Hotel Case Studies

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Reaps the Rewards of a Max Bet


The hotel and casino in Maricopa, Ariz., invested $180 million over three years to modernize and add new amenities that will attract new and returning guests.

After three years and a $180 million investment, every square inch of Harrah’s Ak-Chin in Maricopa, Ariz., has been modernized and new amenities have been added to attract new customers and leave returning customers in awe. “Any time you build, people want to experience the end-result,” Regional President and General Manager Robert Livingston says.

Adhering to the best practice of investing in capital improvements, Harrah’s Ak-Chin is well-positioned to become a leading attraction in the growing Phoenix metropolitan area. The complex expects its investment to attract a broader crowd as new developments gain traction in the area.

Thanks to a 16-year, $55 million overpass project the city completed last summer, traffic is flowing more easily between the north and south. “In 1994, when we opened, I think the population of Maricopa was less than 1,000 and now we are at 52,000 and growing,” he explains. “The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad runs through the city, separating the north from the south. We expect the completion of the overpass to stimulate some nice growth to the south.”

In fact, Livingston says Harrah’s Ak-Chin is part of the Caesars Entertainment family of casinos that include more than 40 regional and destination casinos across the country. “Being part of a large network of properties has its advantages. One advantage is that we leverage the best demonstrated practices from across the company giving us an edge in the market,” he adds. “As a company we got smarter, focusing on business process improvements that are focused on attacking the root cause of a problem to make us stronger.”

A Complete Overhaul

Harrah’s Ak-Chin opened in 1994 with a few hundred slot machines, poker and a bingo hall. “The existing property was getting tired as we approached 25 years,” Livingston notes. “Since the renovation, we have received overwhelming excitement over the new look and feel of the space.”

The expansion includes a spa, fitness room and new poker room, and added 30,000 square feet to the casino that accommodates more than 1,100 slot machines. Harrah’s Ak-Chin also added a hotel tower with 230 rooms, bringing its guestroom total to 529 units. The hotel and casino now offers 18,000 square feet of event center, meeting and multipurpose space that will seat more than 2,000 for concerts and 1,000 for a banquet.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin has revamped its food and beverage program. The property added Oak & Fork, a wine bar and small plate restaurant, and Chop Block & Brew, a steakhouse that features a mesquite wood-burning grill. The company also added seating in its Copper Cactus Grill and completely renovated its Agave’s Restaurant.

A brand-new pool area complete with 12 cabanas and three new hot tubs is sure to entice guests in the desert. The original 148 rooms that surrounded the pool area were completely renovated. Gated outdoor patios were added to the rooms on the ground level, providing direct access to the pool area.

Rolling in Rewards

Under the Caesars Entertainment portfolio of brands, Harrah’s Ak-Chin’s customers gain access to the entire Caesars’ network through the company’s Caesars Rewards program. For example, a Seven Star, Diamond or Platinum customer can go to the Harrah’s Resort property in Atlantic City and be recognized and treated at that level.

Loyal Harrah’s Ak-Chin customers can join the Caesars Rewards program. This program gives them access to everything Harrah’s Ak-Chin has to offer, which includes tickets to local events such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open or tickets to see professional sports in the area.

Caesars Rewards members also receive offers to go to a show in Las Vegas or attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans. “We have the strongest loyalty program in the casino industry and Caesars is the largest network that exists in the casino business,” Livingston notes. “It will only get bigger with the Eldorado Resorts merger.”

Eldorado Resorts is buying Caesars Entertainment for $17.3 billion to create the largest gambling company in the United States. Eldorado operates 26 gambling properties in the United States in Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana and New Jersey. The company will operate under the Caesars name and take control of its portfolio that includes Caesars Palace, Harrah’s and Bally’s, totaling 60 properties in 16 states.

“Eldorado Resorts has a lot of locations in states we aren’t in now,” Livingston notes. “When we become one, which should happen in 2020, we will be a much bigger network of properties and the Caesars Rewards program will include all those additional properties. It will strengthen the program, making it bigger and better with more casinos.”

Moving forward, Harrah’s Ak-Chin has no major capital improvements in the works just yet after its recent $180 million investment, but it will continue to add new slots as it does every year. The company is hoping to add sports betting to the property if approved by the state.

“The whole feeling at Harrah’s Ak-Chin is an adult playground,” Livingston says. “We keep everything loose and fresh, making it fun for the guest so everyone has a good time.”