Wednesday, October 11, 2006



Cover StoriesAVI RESORT UNVEILS NEWLY COMPLETED EXPANSION PROJECTTuesday, October 10, 2006 6:08 PM PDTLate last spring, the Avi Resort Casino held a press conference to unveil their all new lagoon pool. Yea, sure, we thought. A new pool. O.K. Let's go take a peek.Whoa! One peek and we could see that the Avi had built a pool definitely worthy of a press conference. With its landscaped rocks and cascading waterfalls; its tiki bar, hot tub and separate kids pool, the lagoon-style pool and area were a statement about the direction the Avi was going. They were emphasizing the “resort” part of their name.That statement was initially made a short time before the opening of the pool when the Avi opened their sleek parking garage with modern center-ramp design, outfitted with murals and Mojave Indian Tribal patterns on its walls.From pool to parking, it could be seen that his was a property with a purpose.And now, another statement has been made. And this one has been made on the inside of the casino.On Friday, October 6, the Avi unveiled their all new $32 million casino expansion project complete with new Banquet and Convention Center.And it proved to be a classic case of build it and they will come. The crowds that thronged to be the first to view the new expansion were treated to a doubling of the casino space; a new lounge; a new Race and Sports Book; and a new poker room. Some of the crowd-310 of them, more precisely-were awarded $10 vouchers on a first come, first served basis, to be used for play on the 310 new machines in the expansion area.Les Clavir, Avi Resort general manager, talked about the ambitious expansion project during a press conference held October 5, while finishing touches were still being completed in the new space.“It seems like, in the last couple of years, we've gotten together several times for this reason,” he said, referring to the resort's many expansions. “It's great when you see a project come together and become part of a dream and vision.“I'm pleased for our staff and the people who have worked hard to make this happen. We're a small property-when you consider the entire scope of things. We don't have a huge head office or a corporation to back us up. So to undertake projects like this and complete them is satisfying and makes us proud.”A quick walk through the new area reveals what Clavir is proud of:* Whispers-this is the new lounge designed to offer a quiet retreat and rendezvous spot the Avi was lacking. It is situated at the west end of the new room and-when the new Feathers Restaurant opens adjacent to the lounge in a month- will be an ideal spot to meet and hook up with friends and family before dining.* The Race and Sports Book-the Avi has offered sports betting in its make-shift sports book for the past few years but now, with the new book, it offers horse racing as well. And there is nothing makeshift about it. The new book is outfitted with multiple plasma screens for viewing sporting events and features eight individual interactive wagering kiosks utilizing the latest technology-kiosks much like those found in most of the finer turf clubs. And, thanks to these kiosks, bets can be made 24 hours a day.* The Poker Room-poker players now have a home of their own at the Avi in the form of the seven table, non-smoking room located adjacent to the Race and Sports Book. The room offers games of Seven-Card Stud, Omaha and Texas Hold ‘Em and, like the book, is outfitted with plasma screens on which sporting events and poker room information can be viewed. The room is managed by Ray Coats who has implemented a full menu of poker tournaments, promotions and special features.* The games-the new expansion area has its own Casino Cage and features 310 of the latest in slot and video poker machines. Among the new machines you'll find are “Deal or No Deal”, “Hee Haw”, “Green Acres”, “Golden Times”, “American Original”, “Quick Hit”, and the latest in slant-top design machines-”Golden Times.” Many of these machines are the popular penny variety.* The “look”-Native American influences are incorporated into the contemporary design elements of the new expansion - from the lighting fixtures to the carpet. Many of the touches found in the original area of the casino have been added to the new addition as well, so a walk from the older to the new is seamless.And if you have a crowd...While the new casino expansion is impressive, the strongest “statement” on where the Avi is heading is made by the 11,000 square foot Banquet and Convention Center located adjacent to the new casino space.“Years ago the Avi had a master plan and every couple of years, we get closer and closer to realizing it, as a result of projects like this,” stated Clavir at the press conference.That master plan was created, not in a bubble, but with the reality of the surrounding communities. It anticipated-and correctly so-the growth the area is now seeing.“This is one of the fastest growing communities in the country and we recognized that we had to look at where we fit in with that growth,” said Clavir.”And thus, the emphasis on becoming a true resort. And the creation of the new Banquet and Convention Center.“In our concept for this project we had to include what we felt the community needed and what we can use to grow ourselves,” Clavir explained. “The banquet and convention center does that. It's the largest facility of its type in this area. It accommodates 900 for a sit-down dinner or between 1,200 and 1,500 for concerts.”But dinners and entertainment aren't the main goal of the new facility. An emphasis will be put on the “convention” part of its name.“As you know, our neighbor to the north (Las Vegas) has gotten expensive,” Clavir stated. “Not just in rooms but food as well. We felt that there was an opportunity for our community to attract companies that would feel comfortable holding their conventions in Laughlin. And with our facility, and all the amenities that the area has to offer, we can accommodate them.“And, as we currently only have 450 rooms, other properties will benefit from this new facility...we're willing and anxious to share this opportunity with everyone. We're looking forward for this to have a big impact on the community.”The new Banquet and Convention Center includes a lobby and a business center that are connected to the huge main room. Actually, this state-of-the-art room is six rooms-or can be when giant sound-proof walls are pulled out to separate it into smaller rooms that can accommodate any size crowd, convention or party. And the parties can go their own way at the same time as each “room” has its own multi-media capabilities and audio-visual equipment.“The builder has assured me that if there is more than one group holding functions at the same time, noise won't be a problem,” Clavir said. “Each room is separate from the others with their own entrances.”And each room-or the entire big room-is connected to a brand new kitchen that has been built expressly for the center.With its own new banquet kitchen and catering staff, the convention center can accommodate a range of groups as small as 30 or as large as 900 people for a seated dinner. It will get its first test this Thursday, October 12, when the 18th Annual United Way Chefs' Food Fest will be held in the facility at 5:30 p.m.“I told the contractor I wanted two things,” explained Clavir. “First, the pool had to be ready by the first week in May for the “Phins to the West” event we host every year; and second, the convention center had to be completed by October 12 for the Chefs' Food Fest. The pool was completed the day before the Phins event, and I'm guessing the convention center will be ready the day before the Food Fest. So we'll be right on cue.”And those attending the Food Fest will be impressed with this room. The detailed, alcoves in the high ceilings and large wrought iron lighting fixtures help set this room apart from other similar rooms in Laughlin. It has a Vegas-quality to it that is topped off by the presence of a huge curtained stage at one end.So it can be seen with a simple glance that the possibilities of booking big name acts and big bands is a reality with this room. It can accommodate a large crowd and all the speakers and instruments any band could want.“It's equipped to handle all types of entertainment, like the kind we've had in the past and what we plan to offer for the future,” stated Clavir. “Only now, we can do it indoors.”That statement was met with loud applause-which made its own statement that the Avi is on to something. Something big.