As is always the case in ever changing cities such as Las Vegas, many of the original casinos have now been demolished and have been replaced with brand new casinos, shopping malls or have even been turned into desolate wastelands.
One casino and hotel complex that was imploded back in 2015 was the Clarion Hotel and Casino, and as such to commemorate this once legendary venue we have dedicated this website to it, and below you will find a range of interesting facts and figures surrounding this sadly now gone venue!
History of the Clarion Hotel and Casino
When the front doors of the Clarion Hotel and Casino finally closed it marked the end of a long history for the building. It was not always called the Clarion and as such let us now present to you a complete overview of the history of the building and look at its many different names and uses.
Royal Inn – The Clarion originally started life as the Royal Inn which was opened in 1970. At the time the $3 million cost of opening the 200 room hotel was huge, and is was only two years later that the casino part of the venue was purchased by Frank Toti and his business partner Michael Gaughan.
Royal American Hotel – The profitability of the Royal Inn as it was known back then proved not to be as great as it was hoped and in 1979 a proposal was put forward by Horn and Hardart, who at the time was a very successful fast food outlet operator, to purchase the Royal Inn.
This proposal was soon accepted and the new owner then set about revamping the venue with a New York theme and the building was renamed the Royal American Hotel. Thanks to the huge input of cash set aside for the rebranding, additional rooms were built which boosted the number of available at the venue rooms from 200 to 300.
It was hoped that that $3.5 Million investment on bringing the hotel up to date was going to increase the footfall into the casino and help improve the number of rooms successfully rented out. However, this was not the case and by 1982 only a couple of years after the investment and rebranding the owners then decided to close the hotel.
Paddlewheel Hotel and Casino – After securing some additional investment the venue was then re-opened and once again it as re-branded, this time becoming the Paddlewheel Hotel and Casino. The venue was marketed as a child friendly venue and to appeal to a family orientated clientele amusement rides where installed and all of the very latest video games were also rolled out onto the once gaming dedicated casino floor.
However, the take up of hotel rooms and the financial viability of this now familiar focused venue didn’t take off and the building was then returned to an adult themed venue complete with its own adult revue show bar and the usual slot machines, card- and table games replaced the video games. The entire building was then put back up for sale once again in 1990 after closing its doors once again.
The building was then put up to auction, and was sold for $2.2 Million, and it took a lot of locals by surprise to discover the new owner of the building was Debbie Reynolds and her husband Richard Hamlet who put in the winning bid.
Debbie Reynolds and Richard Hamlet
The main reasons why Debbie Reynolds and her husband bid for and ultimately bought the Paddlewheel Casino and Hotel in that auction was they were on the lookout for a venue that could be used as both a museum at which they could display their huge range of different Hollywood memorabilia and also with the aim of building a fully functional theatre consisting of some 500 seats where Debbie could perform.
After a short period of time renovating the building it reopened once again in 1993, however as both Debbie and her husband had no interest in operating the casino side of the venue, this was put out to tender and Jackpot Enterprises took over the day to day running of the casino.
However, Reynolds was unable to finance the venue and as such she decided to raise the money by turning the venue and the business into a public company owned one which was achieved in 1994 and a year later the museum was finally opened to the general public.
Sadly, once again the casino was proving to be unprofitable and in 1996 it closed with Jackpot Enterprises pulling out of the deal to operate the casino, and as Reynolds was unable to secure a gaming license to operate it herself due to her company’s poor financial standing it remained closed.
There was a glimmer of hope at the time as a company called ILX Inc. put forward proposal to purchase the property and develop it into time share properties, however this deal fell through and Reynolds and her company had to file for bankruptcy protection not long later in 1997. This resulted in the property once again being put up for auction in 1998.
World Wrestling Federation
Despite it very checkered past, there was a lot of interest in the auction, and the final hammer price was $10.65 Million and the proud new owner of the entire building was quite surprisingly the World Wrestling Federation!
The aim of the World Wrestling Federation was that they intended to completely demolish the building and build a brand new 35 storey hotel and casino which would boasts a Wrestling theme on the land. This plan was put into action almost straight away with the building being stripped of all of its internal fittings and fixtures in preparation for its removal.
However, upon further inspection the available land was deemed to be not large enough for their proposals! The Hotel was then reopened once again for a short space of time and was known as the Convention Center Drive Hotel.
As it was going to be no longer financially viable to turn the building into their proposed Wrestling themed casino and hotel the World Wrestling Federation then put it up for sale and in the year 2000 the Mark IV Reality Group put in a bid to purchase it for $11.2 Million and that offer was readily accepted.
Greek Isles Hotel
The new owners then set about remodelling the hotel and it was then reopened was again and was called the Greek Isles Hotel. The business did survive for a number of years, thanks in part to both a deal struck with Delta Airlines as a venue for their flight crews to stay on over stop overs and a steady flow of visitors who wanted to stay at a relatively modestly priced Strip property.
However, in 2007 the hotel was sold to DI Development Group for $48 Million and the new owners then set about trying to raise the necessary finance to completely renovate the site. Their plans included a 780 room hotel along with a 77,000 square foot casino with additional retail and restaurant outlets and its own convention centre.
Sadly once again things did not go to plan for the new owners and in 2009 the hotel was forced into bankruptcy. The venue was then bought by and reopened as the Clarion Hotel a well known US based hotel chain and this was their only venue offering its own casino.
In 2014 the Clarion Hotel and Casino as it was now known closed doors on the 2nd of September and the building, the land and the contents of the building were once again put up for sale. A sale was agreed with Lorenzo Doumani purchasing it for $22.5 Million in October of 2014.
Implosion of the Clarion Hotel and Casino
It was finally decided by the new owners of the Clarion that the entire building was to be demolished by an implosion, and on February the 10th 2015 in the early hours of the morning the implosion was planned.
However, much like the buildings colourful history, the implosion did not go as planned and whilst the majority of the building did fall to the ground the elevator shaft remained upright, as if in some final way to remain defiant even in its destruction!
The elevator shaft was however successfully pulled to the ground several hours later, and the land was cleared and is now waiting redevelopment. Below you will find the actual footage from the implosion so please view it, and as you will see for yourself she was a very stubborn building to demolish!
It is hoped that a 60 storey hotel will be built on the now cleared land, and the new owners have chosen to make it a building on which there will be no casino on offer. Whilst many new hotels built in Vegas do boast their own casinos, Lorenzo Doumani is looking not to compete with the huge number of casinos in the local vicinity, but instead offer a luxurious hotel for a much more discerning clientele.