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HOME > > Palms Casino Resort shining brighter than ever under new ownership

Palms Casino Resort shining brighter than ever under new ownership

18 September 2023

By Gary Trask

Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas

Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas

Frequent visits to the vibrant city of Las Vegas have always been a perk of my role here at Casino City Press.

Over the past decade-plus, many of my journeys to the desert have revolved around covering the World Series of Poker. From 2005 to 2021, this most prestigious tournament in poker took place at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino before relocating to the Strip in 2022. Those scorching summers spent documenting the WSOP left me grateful for the proximity of Palms Casino Resort, conveniently located just across the street from the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on West Flamingo Road.

This opulent 31.5-acre property has consistently exuded a trendy and vibrant atmosphere, offering a stark contrast to the older and less contemporary Rio. Over the years, Palms has changed hands multiple times, and it was disheartening for me and many other fans of the resort when Red Rock Resorts, which acquired the property for $321.5 million in 2016, chose not to reopen it following the pandemic.

However, hope arrived in the form of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority, which are renowned for its Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel (formerly San Manuel Casino) in California. In May 2021, they sealed the deal to acquire the resort for a reported $650 million. After an extensive rejuvenation effort, the tribe unveiled a new and improved Palms as the first Native American-owned casino in Las Vegas, reopening its doors in April of the following year.

Having made a long-awaited return to Palms last fall, I knew I had to schedule another stay to fully explore the new amenities introduced. That opportunity presented itself when I ventured to Las Vegas for the WSOP Main Event Final Table over the summer.

As is usually the case when I hit up a casino, there was more to experience than simply table games, sports betting and slots. Palms is the kind of resort where the non-gaming offerings are so exceptional that you can relish your time without risking a single penny of your bankroll.

Here are some highlights from my stay:

The Spa at Palms Casino Resort: Palms reintroduced its spa in March 2023, and it genuinely serves as a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of Sin City. Spanning 17,000 square feet, this soothing escape boasts three levels of relaxation, featuring 15 treatment sanctuaries, a full-service salon, a fitness center equipped with Peloton bikes, men's and women's locker rooms complete with sauna, steam rooms, whirlpools, and heated lounges. There's also a co-ed social lounge and a Zen Studio for yoga, meditation, and retreats.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians have placed a premium on world-class customer service, extending their generosity to the spa. Las Vegas locals can conveniently access the spa from the free self-parking garage and enjoy a 20% discount on all services.

New restaurants: While I still have Palms’ signature steakhouse, Scotch 80 Prime, on my dining wish list, I did have the pleasure of dining at two of the newer culinary establishments at Palms.

In a recent article ranking the top 10 sportsbooks in Las Vegas, I recommended Laguna Pool House & Kitchen. This venue, situated on the sixth floor of the Palms Place tower, overlooks the pool deck. Not only is the setting visually stunning, filled with natural light and great views, but the menu is equally unique and eclectic, reflecting Chef Luke Palladino's style.

During my visit, I was fortunate to experience Soul Sunday, complete with a DJ spinning vinyl and a fantastic menu of brunch items and cocktails. I look forward to returning to try out Rock N' Roll Karaoke and Live Band on a Friday night or Teremana Tuesdays, featuring tequila founded by Dwyane Johnson, where you get to keep the sleek glass your drink arrives in. The agave used in The Rock's tequila is "slowly roasted in a brick oven before being distilled in handmade copper pot stills." While I don’t fully grasp these technicalities, it sounds impressive enough to make the trek back for exploration.

Speaking of tequila, the margaritas, service, and cuisine at La Popular CDMX were exceptional. Operated by Grupo Carolo, Mexico City's premier restaurant group, in collaboration with the California-based Eureka! Restaurant Group, this marks the third U.S. location for La Popular CDMX, conveniently situated off the casino floor at Palms.

Trevor Tyler, the VP of Beverage Operations, oversees an "agave-centric program" with a selection of one-of-a-kind choices. I sampled the Desert Rose (hibiscus lime-infused Monte Alban Silver tequila, Del Maguey Vida mezcal, cinnamon-infused Licor 43, prickly pear, pomegranate, and lemon) and was thoroughly impressed. An added bonus, unusual for most upscale eateries, was the complimentary chips and four types of homemade salsa delivered to my spot at the bar while awaiting my Quesabirria Tacos (braised brisket and beef shank, Manchego cheese, consommé, cilantro, and onions). The salsas ranged from mild, such as the Avocado Salsa Verde, to the spiciest, known as Salsa Llorona, or “Weeping Salsa,” with its pickled habanero and serrano peppers with lime. I cannot emphasize enough how fresh and delectable the menu options are at La Popular CDMX. It's certainly a must-visit on my next trip to Las Vegas.

One more culinary tip from my stay: An unbeatable deal at Palms is the $7.77 breakfast available at Serrano Vista Cafe from Mondays through Thursdays, between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Exclusive to Club Serrano members, this offer delivers tremendous value and you will be hard-pressed to find a better breakfast in Las Vegas for under eight bucks.

Entertainment: At the risk of unveiling my age and the fact that I’m a child of the ’80s, the lineup of musical acts that routinely hit the Pearl Concert Theater is right in my wheelhouse.

During my stay at Palms, the timing couldn't have been better as I had the chance to see an unforgettable performance by Sammy Hagar and The Circle. This was an absolute no-brainer for me since Van Halen ranks among my all-time favorite bands. At 75 years young, Sammy has as much energy as when I saw him with Van Halen in the late 1980s, and he and his crew electrified the audience, playing a medley of Van Halen, Hagar, and Led Zeppelin classics, with the entire crowd singing along throughout the evening.

The Pearl is perfect for a concert because it’s a big-time venue with all of the modern technology and sound equipment, but still intimate with a capacity of 2,500 and the stage just four feet from the floor.

Over the next two months, The Pearl is set to host acts that will undoubtedly resonate with a similar demographic, including Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Kenny Loggins, Cheap Trick, The Cult, The Psychedelic Furs & Squeeze, and Loverboy. It's truly a blast from the 1980s.

Yet, Palms' entertainment offerings extend beyond the '80s nostalgia, catering to a younger crowd as well. While Kehlani might not have been on my personal Spotify playlist, the 28-year-old pop-R&B sensation delivered a captivating free concert at SOAK Pool during my stay. She was en route to performing at halftime of the WNBA All-Star Game at T-Mobile Arena, and the pool area was abuzz with excitement during her 30-minute matinee show.

Set against the backdrop of the Greek-inspired, 73,000 square-foot pool space, the event also featured samples of Hagar’s new line of Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktails. Not a bad way to spend a steamy Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Buffalo Zone: Oh, yes, we did partake in some gambling while at Palms, and not just at the sportsbook, which, as mentioned, deservedly made it onto our recent list of best sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

In July, Palms opened a new Buffalo Zone, right next to the William Hill Sportsbook, offering a 50 of Aristocrat Gaming’s uber-popular Buffalo-themed slot games.

In addition to free slot play specials while I was there, Buffalo Zone players were also served specially priced drinks -- Buffalo Zone Sour and Stampede Old Fashioned -- featuring the limited-edition Palms Buffalo Trace Single Barrel Whiskey. Bottles of the whiskey were also available for sale for a limited time.

Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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