The word “lodge” is generally associated with snow and greenery, two things the desert isn’t exactly known for.
But after Nevada Restaurant Services — parent company of the Dotty’s tavern chain — purchased the Hacienda in December 2013, a vision was already set in motion to give the building the feeling of a Northwest lodge inside one of the country’s warmest climates.
The Hacienda is in the midst of a transformation that will eventually turn it into the Hoover Dam Lodge, a rustic desert destination that plans to give everyone who walks through its doors a tranquil feeling.
“The transformation from the Hacienda to the Hoover Dam Lodge has definitely developed since we imagined this lodge concept,” said Ally Estey, who serves as the casino marketing and store development director for Dotty’s.
Estey, who’s father Craig Estey owns Nevada Restaurant Services, wanted to bring the Northwest to the Southwest, which meant giving the old Hacienda a new look.
Hacienda General Manager Steve DesChamps said they want the Hoover Dam Lodge to be the hub for visitors who come to the area to the enjoy the outdoors. According to DesChamps, half of the property’s business comes from Boulder City and Henderson residents, while the other half comes from tourists.
The remodeling began with the removal of more than 300 slot machines before installing 150 new ones. DesChamps said there is expected to be between 200 to 250 new slot machines by the project’s completion.
“There will be a casino game area like you see now that are geared more toward tourists, and then you’ll see games in a more traditional Dotty’s style format,” he said. “It allows us to offer really good customer service in those smaller environments.”
Another cosmetic addition to the building includes a line of windows that runs along the front of the entire property, a model that isn’t custom to most of the bigger casinos, DesChamps said.
“Our customers have told us, ‘The more natural light, the better,’ so we’re being more responsive toward that,” he said.
DesChamps said they will keep The Steakhouse since it was a favorite spot for those who visited the Hacienda, and a 24-hour cafe also will be available.
Other new features throughout the property include fully refurbished rooms on floors 14 through 17, and upgraded rooms on floors 2 through 12. Their color schemes were meant to reflect the desert environment, and the use of reds, yellows and browns in each room mimics the mountain views outside.
“We really wanted to embrace that, because most people are here to enjoy the wonderful desert,” Ally Estey said.
The property will have approximately 280 rooms after the first phase of the project is completed, with the top four floors expected to be finished by Labor Day.
The Hoover Dam Lodge also will feature a Dotty’s tavern on each side of the building, a sports bar with a Louisiana theme, a convenience and gift store with a grab-and-go deli with bistro seating and a renovated lobby that will include a large, stone fireplace with rock and timber throughout.
The lobby is expected to be the final portion of the first phase of remodeling and changes for the hotel-casino, but DesChamps doesn’t believe it will be finished by the end of the year.
A plan to implement a walk-over bridge from the Hoover Dam Lodge to a new full-travel convenience store is in the mix as well, DesChamps said. The lot would have plenty of parking for trucks and RVs, though that project isn’t scheduled to begin until at least next year, he said.
Estey admitted that her family is new to the hotel business, but she’s excited for the opportunity to see her father’s vision come to life.
“We grew up around lodges. It’s really neat to see my dad’s original businesses kind of transform and be able to make our own lodge out here in Nevada,” she said.
DesChamps said the property currently employs 99 workers, but could increase to 125 when the project is completed.
The name change is expected to be finalized by the fall, with most of the renovations scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.