The Sands Regency in Downtown Reno has a storied history, opening in the 70’s founded by Reno icon Pete Cladianos. It grew from a small operation into an 800 room, three tower complex that has changed hands a few times over the years, under corporation ownership and private ownership. As Downtown Reno grew, the Sands fell into the shadow of larger properties such as the opening of Silver Legacy in 1995. But it persevered.
During it’s heyday, it hosted a food court with well known name brand venues, Reno’s only Tony Roma’s BBQ restaurant and a comedy club. It’s reputation began to diminish in the absence of major investments as time pressed into the 2010’s, for a short period, Affinity Gaming and the ‘Terrible Herbst’ name was affiliated with the property, rebranding for a short period to “Terrible’s Sands Regency” Tony Roma’s left, and the the property’s image only slipped further. The Terrible name, no pun intended, was gone by 2015 and it reverted back to Sands Regency with former longtime executive Ferenc Szony looking to bring things back to a time when the Sands was known for its hip, retro and cool vibe.
This worked for a short period of time, until finally selling to Jeff Jacobs’ self titled Jacobs Entertainment. The deal closed in December 2016, much to the chagrin of local officials who knew Jacobs was amassing real estate for his then titled Reno Fountain District, now named Reno Neon Line project. He said at the time of the sale closing the Sands was like a battleship that was going to take a long time to turn around.
Little by little, Jacobs made changes and tweaks, cleaned the property up further, until announcing in 2018 that the entire hotel/casino would go through a top to bottom transformation. He announced a more than $100 Million room renovation alone by the end of 2019. Jacobs has said he wants to position the Sands as a top tier product offering in the Reno market, competitive with the best of even Las Vegas. He intends to add a spa, new food and beverage program, totally redone casino, and a refreshed exterior. This all points to a name change at some point, but even Jacobs says, you don’t rebrand a property until your renovations are largely finished. Otherwise you still have that negative brand equity lingering with a new product.
Our first taste of a new Sands is with the completion of the “Aspen Tower” named for its prestige in the mountains, it evokes a sense of modern, tranquility, bright and airy. The Aspen Tower is what was the old Empress Tower at the Sands Regency, ironically, it was actually the last tower to be constructed at the complex in the late 80’s, but it is Jacob’s favorite of the three, his private office and short term residence sits atop it’s 17th floor, and it’s where the nicest suites at the Sands reside, these suites are part of the renovations. Jacobs retained a world renowned design firm to head up the renovation efforts, and every floor was gutted down to concrete and steel.
The new rooms start with completely redone corridors with plush, colorful carpeting, tiled footers to entrances of the rooms, all new doors and thresholds, embedded linear LED lighting in the ceilings to give a 3 dimensional feel.
Jacobs envisioned extended stays with the design and installed full kitchenettes in each of the standard rooms with a full size fridge and microwave, wet bar and cabinets. The bathrooms are bright and modern with a colorful pop behind the LED lit vanities, spacious showers fitted with Kohler fixtures. The rooms are packed with technology, you won’t have a problem finding an outlet or charge port. New LED TV’s have dish cable, and the floor to ceiling windows were retained.
For those that haven't been into the Sands recently for obvious reasons, the Aspen Tower is now definitely worth a look. If you can look past the current registration desk and existing casino floor, stepping into the elevator lobby is like a glimpse into the Sands’ bright future.
Rooms start at $89 plus tax weeknights with weekend rates into the $150’s, especially during the summer travel season. Special thanks to Vice President Jonathan Boulware for providing a complimentary night for the review.
In addition, the Sands recently filed a new permit to begin the remodel of 269 rooms in their other hotel tower.