Joe Magliarditi Rebrands the Palms
BY LISA ARCELLA
Joe Magliarditi’s favorite word must be transformation. The notion of taking one space and recreating it seems to permeate every aspect of his life. Even his modest office in the original Palms hotel tower was once a conference room—now it’s a utilitarian space where he can both work and call impromptu meetings with the team he has installed to help create a $50 million (and counting) makeover of the casino resort once synonymous with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. The hotel’s 3,000-square-foot Real World Suite was even named for the young cast of the MTV show that filmed there in 2002.
Magliarditi says that while he certainly isn’t abandoning that demographic, he is looking to expand the hotel’s appeal, which for the past year has been going under renovations from the ground up, with the first phase set to be mostly completed by the end of January. “The Palms is a brand that captured pop culture back when it really wasn’t going on much in this town,” says the resort’s 43-year-old president. “The celebrities, the musicians…. it all started here. We were all 21 at one time, but our tastes change, our discretions change. As you grow up and mature in life, things change. I think what happened with the property is that we stayed focused on that 21- to 25-year-old customer. That customer, as you know, fills the nightclubs and pool clubs. But we also want the customer who is 25 to 55, who we have never catered to. In our rebranding effort, that is the biggest paradigm shift. We want people who are 35 years old to say that the Palms is a great place to go.”
To make that happen, Magliarditi has remodeled all 428 rooms and suites in the Ivory Tower, which has already garnered a Hospy award for its sophisticated, modern design. The entire casino layout has been reconfigured and redesigned: In January an upscale American lounge, restaurant, and sports bar hybrid called Heraea will open in the space formerly occupied by Garduños. And Xishi, a sophisticated Pan-Asian restaurant, replaces Little Buddha.
The newest buzzword around town, “female-friendly,” hasn’t escaped Magliarditi either. He reveals a personal reason for striving for it, laughing as he admits that his two teenage daughters, Lexi and Taylor, make the majority of the decisions in his personal life, and he wanted to acknowledge women at work as well. The design team chose pink and purple color schemes for the guest rooms, designed to lend a feminine touch. “I am humble enough to admit that women make the decisions,” he says. The upstate New York native has also added an intimate cocktail bar, Scarlett, and Chocolat Bistro, which will feature everything from gelato to chocolate to crêpes.
Magliarditi has become known as something of a “Mr. Fix It” in town. Before his tenure as CEO of Hard Rock, the executive, whose résumé includes degrees from Hofstra University, Niagara University, Harvard Business School, and Cornell University, was instrumental in the design and opening of M Resort while serving as EVP and COO of M Gaming, and was VP of operations for Rio. At Hard Rock, he completely revised the property’s operations before moving on to Palms last year. “I’m not really sure how I came to be known as that guy,” he says. “But I have grown to appreciate the role. This time, it’s become so much more rewarding because we went into a property that was broken. I like to think of it like knocking down a house and completely making it over. The great thing is that the employees here are seeing that transformation happen, and it has elevated morale every time we take down another construction wall.”
The admittedly driven president has promised friends and family he will take a short break once the current renovations are finished and then get right back to work planning for a new nightclub in the space formerly occupied by Rain. “I love what I do and what we have created here,” he says. “What you get with all of these things if you start adding them up is a very chic boutique resort off the Strip. It’s fantastic.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRYAN HAINER
Celebrating 11 fabulous years with cover star Gabrielle Union at Drai's Beach Club Night Club, Las Vegas.