Only the most hardcore Reno natives would know that the Siena, back when it was the Holiday Hotel, actually opened up in 1958 WITHOUT a casino. It was a non-gaming hotel on the river, and the casino was only added later. Hotels like Harrah's downtown are casinos with a hotel added on, but the Holiday was a hotel first, with a casino added on. The first two photos show the Holiday without a casino, and in the second photo, the casino was added along with new signage.
Alicia Barber from the Nevada Historical Society writes, "In 1953, developer Norman Biltz laid out design plans for the Holiday Hotel. Perhaps most surprising was his insistence that unlike the neighboring Mapes and Riverside Hotels, the Holiday would offer no gambling. Instead, its investors planned to promote the area as a sportsman’s paradise, an aspect Blitz thought had been all but obliterated by the city’s reputation for gambling and divorce. “For every tencrapshooters,” he said, “There are a hundred who wouldrather shoot birds.” The hotel had its own game reserve, located 4-1/2 mileseast of Dayton, where guests could hunt on 1,000 acres with no license required. A sportsman's paradise...imagine that, long before the 'America's Adventure Place' campaign came along.
New additions to the tower during Siena's initial build-out.
It survived casino-less only until 1957, when it was bought by Newton Crumbly and Associates, and a casino was immediately added.
Since 1999, the casino has not made a dime of money. I don't need a 'source' to tell me this, it's painfully obvious when you visit the Siena on a Friday or Saturday night. By 2010, the hotel/casino was carrying a massive $100 million in debt. It was an orphan casino, with no other casinos or hotels nearby, the facility was small in comparison to the standard at the time for casinos, the design inconsistencies were more than noticed and spelled out in negative reviews, and the owner had zero experience running a hotel/casino. All of this eventually led to its closure, when it underwent a $5 million renovation to align design elements and freshen the casino, and it reopened soon after, but never fully recovered from its dismal history as the Siena.
The hotel portion of the venue seems to be doing well. During the weekends, especially in the summer, the hotel portion often comes close to selling out.
Based on the cricket sounds you could hear coming from the casino on any weekend night, it wasn't necessarily shocking when I learned from an unnamed source that Fernando Leal, developer of the Montage and CommRow (now Whitney Peak Hotel) has bought the Siena. In fact this wasn't Fernando's first interest in the Siena. Right before the Siena closed and remodeled, Fernando had a brief interest in purchasing the turnkey-hotel back then.
Nationally speaking in the hotel industry right now, the trend of building large 1000-room hotels in Chicago, New York etc, is waning, and a new trend of buying smaller, easier-to-manage-but-still-luxurious existing properties and remodeling them has emerged.
Just as there is interest in Reno on the tech-front, there is also suddenly interest in Reno from national hotel management companies. Hotel management companies are often the unseen link between running the hotel and the person that owns the hotel.
So when the Siena came up for sale again recently, after word got out, sources tell me the amount of interest in the hotel from national hotel management companies was almost overwhelming.
Think about it...you have a hotel that would cost at least $75 million to build from scratch today with all the matched amenities, and it's right on the river, and the building is in beautiful, almost turn-key condition. To hotel management companies, a turnkey hotel on a river, with a pool, world-class spa, recently renovated rooms, and easy parking, is 'gold.'
So it's no surprise that three of the top national hotel management companies in the world competed to land the Siena once it was sold.
An unnamed source has told me that Urgo Hotels, out of Bethasda, MD, has been chosen to manage the 'new' Siena, and whatever brand it may become. Their portfolio is impressive, and they are one of the largest and most respected hotel management companies in the country.
Employees in the casino have reported to me that Marriott representatives have been lurking around the property, and another source told me the Siena is indeed in advanced discussions to become a Marriott Renaissance, the most luxurious, high-end brand that Marriott offers. However this is not a done deal, and other brands are in the mix still as well.
What is known however, with almost certainty, is that casino operations, the one portion of the Siena that hasn't made a profit since it opened, will close on June 30th.
So there you have it. Leal owns the Siena, it will become a new full-service hotel luxury brand, most likely without a casino, and it will happen soon.