The venerable Tropicana has gone through a lot of changes in its nearly 60 years in Las Vegas, the latest of which is a new owner as of 2015 in the form of Penn National Gaming. Although not terribly well-known in Vegas - their only other property is the M Resort on the south side of town - they have more than two dozen casinos in the US and Canada, mostly operating under the Hollywood Casino and Argosy brands.
What they plan to do to the hotel is unknown at this time but any changes should be relatively small to start. And that's not a bad thing for now since the hotel recently underwent a $200 million makeover.
The marketing phrase found on the construction walls at The Tropicana when they were renovating the property was "We're Changing Everything." This may be the first time in Vegas history where a slogan is more reality than hyperbole.
I know what you're thinking. You've been hearing the stories for years about possible changes at The Tropicana. I've written dozens of them it seems. Every time a new owner comes on board (and there have been plenty over the last decade or so) they have promised big changes; everything from a major remodel to tearing the joint down and starting over.
But this time it has really happened and the Tropicana you remember is a distant, dusty, dingy memory. Seriously, if you haven't been there in a couple of years you won't recognize the place - it is a night and day difference.
The look now is tropical South Beach, all white marble and bright orange, yellow, and red floral patterns. The casino, once a depressing '70s era den of smoky boredom is now light and bright everywhere you look, from the floors to the ceiling and the gaming tables in between. The machines have been upgraded, the table games have been replaced, there's a new high-limit lounge, and much more and it all feels modern and comfortable.
The rooms got the full extreme makeover as well, turning the worn traditional look into a beachside bungalow affair. Bamboo and rattan furnishings, sandy toned carpeting and wall coverings, giant white framed flat-panel televisions, all new bathrooms, premium bedding, and gorgeous plantation shutters on the windows are just the start of things. Add in wireless Internet, laptop sized safes, iron and boards, robes, iPod docking stations, and plenty of other amenities have made these nice places to stay.
Okay, so that's the casino and the rooms, but they can't really mean "everything" can they? Oh yes. The convention center was remodeled and all of the restaurants got redone and/or replaced; ditto the bars and lounges. One of the last remaining traditional showrooms in Vegas (with the round booths and skinny tables) got a complete remodel into an 1,100 seat, state-of-the-art theater, and there is an outpost of The Laugh Factory, a Los Angeles comedy club staple.
The famous pool area got all new landscaping to give it more of a South Beach theme. They even tore down and entire wing of motel style rooms to provide easier access to the beach area and a new entrance to the hotel along Tropicana Avenue. The exterior of the property, once a faded Caribbean bore, has been upgraded into a white and gold edifice complete with waterfalls and plenty of lush foliage.
The latter was reported to be due for a massive expansion that would have added a three-story shopping mall to the front of the property on the corner of Tropicana and The Strip, although that is probably off the table now that Penn National is coming in. They may move forward but will probably have their own vision in mind that will change the details.
The goal of the Tropicana's new look is to move it up a notch or three on the hierarchical ladder of Vegas hotels, which means that prices are a bit higher than they used to be but you can still get some good deals here. And compared to the hotels in the neighborhood, staying here is a bargain. Figure around $100 per night on the weekdays and around $150-$200 on the weekends. Unfortunately you do have to add in a $29 per night resort fee on top of the prevailing rates.
A marketing partnership with Hilton hotels has affixed the DoubleTree brand to the property but that is more in name than in anything else.
To say the new Tropicana is an improvement on the old is the understatement of the century and does a disservice to the undertaking. What has come out of this is a hotel worth being proud of and one you should consider for your next trip to Vegas.