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Durango Resort Debuts

Station Casinos' newest property is a neighborhood hit. By Ryan Slattery

Emphasizing food, sports and gaming, Station Casinos has opened a new neighborhood resort in the southwest valley of Las Vegas. The 209-room, 15-story Durango Casino & Resort, which opened December 5, is the company’s first major casino-resort opening since Red Rock Resort debuted in 2006.
With fewer rooms and a smaller footprint than the company’s other properties, Durango is focused more on dining and nightlife, with the goal of giving locals in the area an alternative to making a trip to the Strip. With the exception of its food hall, Durango is not very kid-friendly. There is no bowling alley or movie theater.
However, Station executives have already floated plans of a possible expansion that could include both, along with a new hotel tower, a spa, a music venue and more gambling space.
What is unusual at Durango is the presence of natural light throughout the casino. Station CEO Frank Fertitta III and his brother, Lorenzo Fertitta, elected to construct the building with glass windows to allow the sun to shine through. It’s a nice addition and brightens up the entire property—something of which visitors have taken note.
When talking about this, General Manager Dave Horn predicts we’ll see more natural light and maybe even a clock or two in future designs. “People keep harping on that because it is an old-school-casino thing to not let anybody know what time it is,” Horn says. “Everyone has a phone on them. It’s pointless. Frank and Lorenzo are very astute on lighting textures, tones and colors, and felt natural light could be a fun take on the overall design. It does look beautiful. We’ll probably see more skylight activity in future casino designs.”
Prime beef and prime-time sports
As for sports wagering and game-day viewing, Durango is establishing itself as a prime place to watch sports. Following the launch of the company’s new STN Sports app, which debuted recently with a new look, new features, better sports-betting options and higher parlay payouts, Durango introduced a state-of-the-art sports book with a high-end, full-service restaurant, VIP seating and an outdoor patio.
The George, as it’s called, is open 24 hours so that fans can catch international sporting events live. While the patio provides an alternative to typical sports book seating, inside there are individual seats, booths and tables to dine at that surround the wraparound LED screens. And dining here, much like the entire property, is top notch. The menu is more than the usual sandwiches, burgers and pizzas. The George serves items like honey sriracha grilled shrimp and gorgonzola crusted lamb, tomahawk steak and umami-dusted halibut.
Horn admits it’s one of his favorite spots. “The George is pretty awesome. It’s an intimate setting and there’s no bad seat in the house.”
But the bread and butter of Durango Resort are its 18 bars and lounges and, Horn is equally fond of the Eat Your Heart Out food hall. It’s a curated collection of unique restaurants carefully selected not only for food quality but for the stories of the operators themselves. Station wanted eateries with owners who are not only passionate about their food but the community it serves.
Many new-to-market concepts that in the first weeks of opening had long lines. This included L.A.’s Irv’s Burgers, Sicilian-style pies from Prince Street Pizza, Chef Gene Villiatora’s Hawaii street-food offerings, pasta from James Beard-award-winning chef Marc Vetri at Fiorella and Uncle Paulie’s, a sandwich spot. Vesta Coffee, Nielsen’s Frozen Custard, Shang Artisan Noodle, Yu-Or-Mi Sushi and a Station favorite, The Oyster Bar, are also located among the food stalls.
Durango is more than just quick-service finds. Beyond the grab-and-go spots, the resort has a number of stellar sit-down options. The resort’s signature restaurant is Nicco’s Prime Cuts & Fresh Fish. Think T-Bones Chophouse (Red Rock Resort) or Hank’s Fine Steaks (Green Valley Ranch) but with an elevated twist focused on wagyu beef and fresh fish, including branzino, dry-aged for anywhere from 14 to 17 days.
On the steak side, Nicco’s serves only USDA prime beef—wet or dry aged—along with an impressive list of wagyu beef sourced from the United States and Australia, as well as true Kobe beef from Japan including Hokkaido Snow Beef, nicknamed that because its marbling patterns resemble snow crystals. Nicco’s even uses the beef shank braising to serve with tortellini and green peas. “It’s a throwback to the Las Vegas steakhouses of the Sixties and Seventies when everybody had some solid pasta dishes,” Horn explains.
Station Casinos also partnered with Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants to bring California-inspired dishes and pastries at Summer House, and with Clique Hospitality, which operates Mexican restaurant Mijo Modern Mexican, speakeasy Wax Rabbit (hidden behind a tequila locker), and the Bel-Aire Lounge, which is becoming a local party spot. Clique will also operate Bel-Aire Backyard, which is sure to become the neighborhood’s pool party hotspot this summer.
Casino Life would like to thank Durango Casino & Resort General Manager Dave Horn for taking time out of his busy schedule for this interview.
*** This exclusive feature interview was originally published in March 2024 edition of Casino Life Magazine Issue 164 ***