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Las Vegas Stripe at The Cromwell

Despite his extensive background in game analysis, Blake Segal doesn't need a complicated spreadsheet to realize the limitations he faces as general manager of The Cromwell.

There are no dancing fountains in front of the Las Vegas Streep boutique hotel casino, and there are no giant buffets for guests to access the canyon. In fact, with 40,000 square feet of gaming space and just 188 rooms on the tower above, the Barbary Coast and Bills Gamelin Hall and Saloon's former home, Cromwell, two blocks south of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino (60,000 square feet of gaming, 2,500 rooms) and some of its fellow Caesars Entertainment casinos, such as Caesars Palace (120,000 square feet of gaming, 3,700 rooms) across the street.

When asked if this difference in size and space is a competing drawback, Segal smiles as if she is sitting in front of the Ace King at one of the blackjack tables a step away.

"It's about understanding your position in the market and doing what it takes to win a fight," Segal explains, comfortably sitting on one of the sofas at Bound, an ultra-hip cocktail lounge behind the casino. "We think what we're doing here is the best way to differentiate us, and I think our guests will agree."

Segal's point is that with the launch of many new services, including casual restaurants, social bars and gathering places, and state-of-the-art sportsbooks, Cromwell is turning its scale into a strength, aiming to become the most player-friendly casino on the strip.

Value-seeking gamblers will definitely be able to take advantage of the new game options unveiled at Cromwell this week. In recent years, Strip has lost popularity with blackjack games, paying 3-2 with low minimum bets or double-decker options. Gone are the days of the EZ Baccarat table, zero roulette wheels, and 100x Crab Odds. But all those friendly services are now available at Cromwell, and according to Segal, it's the venue's small location that made it all possible.

" Look, if I'm sitting in a place like Flamingo or Caesars Palace, this is a strategy that we never want to participate in," he said. "Other than Cromwell, you'll have to overcome a lot to make it happen. But because of the size of this property, we're able to do it."

Segal adds that while attractive gaming options are already starting to lure new gamblers into casinos ("Word tends to get out pretty quickly"), Cromwell is fully aware that it's important to provide the kind of convenience and comfort that can keep players playing and entice them to take a return trip. That's where the list of new amenities emerges.

When Cromwell opened in 2014, it instantly became known for its unique design and modern feel. There are Parisian-style awning and fixtures; a hotel reception room is a true meaning space with shelves filled with leather-bound books; and stylish rooms offer a waterfall shower, wooden floors, a leather sofa, and a vanity area with "showgirl" lights.

But over the past year, Segal and his team have collaborated on dozens of cosmetic changes, with the goal of lighting up and brightening buildings in every corner.

"We built a more vibrant atmosphere," he said. "We weren't trying to fundamentally break away from the existing ones, we were trying to maintain the brand quality that we initially introduced, improving what was already implemented from a touch-and-finish perspective."

Cromwell's main locations, Drai's After Hours, Drai's Beach Club and Nightball, and GIADA, remain wildly popular attractions, but Segal calls the property a "game-changer." Eatwell is located just off the strip near the entrance to Flamingo and offers guests an informal restaurant with menu items that include breakfast sandwiches, Starbucks coffee, pizza, tacos, and Coney Dogs.

"We regard it as a gaming amenity as much as a non-gaming amenity. Because it's a really great addition for people on tables or slot machines who want a quick drink or a bite," Segal said, adding that menus will be relegated to the entire property.

As for the sportsbook, the book will be open until the start of the upcoming football season, and so far Cromwell is a welcome addition to the building, as it has been one of only three strip venues with no sports betting. The book features a 32-foot-by-9-foot video wall and a 9-foot-by-5-foot LED Odds ticker that can be seen on a significant portion of the casino floor. So, while technically there are about 50 seats, the wide-open layout and flex seating will allow more people to see the action, especially on a screen that says it will feature the first and only 1.8 millimeter pixels of the Seagull strip on Bound adjacent to the new sportsbook location.

"It's going to give you an intimate feel, but at the same time it's going to be one of the most luxurious and technologically advanced books," Segal confidently said.

Speaking of technology, Cromwell recently became the first strip casino to allow guests to use the option of an electronic key instead of a traditional hotel card key in their room. Immediately after entering the room, guests can be contacted via text by Ivy, a personalized virtual concierge service. Ivy communicates throughout the stay, receives requests for towels or concert tickets, answers questions such as what time the pool opens, offers food and drink specials, and requests immediate feedback.

"It's important to get direct feedback because we often don't hear from customers," said Segal, who said Ivy already has access to the Nobu Hotel in Caesars Palace and Harath Resort Southern California and will soon launch at Caesars Palace and Linku Hotel & Casino.

Segal looks around at the bustling casino floor as he walks from "bound" to "interlude." Segal has held several executive positions at Caesars for 14 years, but it's clear that his mission and vision for Cromwell is something he has been working on for, and for, the last eight months. And now, it's all coming to fruition.

"It's exciting," he said. "We know we have a great product here. We need to bring this news to our customers who may have caught our attention due to their recent Las Vegas Strip experience, and let them know that there's a place where they can provide not only fair and player-friendly gaming options, but also the services and amenities they deserve."

"We know this is a small boutique property that may not be for everyone. And that's fine.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2024
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