New Las Vegas visions of Derek Stevens

A few years ago, we interviewed a well-known hotel developer, and when asked about the most important skills in hiring people for his projects, he immediately replied, “I should hire a visionary and an operator.” He went on to say that he had never met a single person who had both sets of skills, but he was sure that there was someone like that.

It’s been years since this interview, and finally, that year, we met one: Derek Stevens, the person whose vision of transformation in downtown Las Vegas is brought to life while writing.

Christopher Devargas, Las Vegas Magazine

Stevens, 54, of Michigan, has an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Wayne State. He could stay in his family’s company, but his entrepreneurial spirit took him west to Las Vegas, where he was drawn to the prospects of revival, renewal, and rebirth in a dwindling and somewhat unexciting downtown.

Now, in addition to opening the Circa, the only adults-only hotel and resort in Las Vegas, he also owns other hotels, most notably D Las Vegas, and Las Vegas’ oldest hotel, The Golden Gate. When asked how all of this happened, he said, “Well, the stars lined up. We eventually took over the entire city block on Fremont Street. And then the work started!”

As with many entrepreneurs, it combines a logical and analytical aspect with a creative and expressive aspect. His ideas, in visionary terms, are innovative yet colorful with practical Midwest depth. It works as it goes.

Susan Kim |

His father is an architect, and his mother was a teacher of mathematics and physics. He is loved by his employees and colleagues, and he has often said that the most important people you have to please are your employees.

Moreover, when asked about the lessons he learned from buying, rebuilding, and changing the purpose of hotels and casinos is one major thing, he combines both the idea of ​​vision and operation: not to over-build, because, he says, “the hotel speaks to tells you what works.” And what doesn’t work. With every hotel purchase, we learn something new. The hotel tells us which direction it wants to go, and which direction it doesn’t.” He listened very well.

In October 2020, Mr. Stevens opened more than one billion dollars Circa Resort and Casino, the first major resort built in downtown Las Vegas, from the ground up, over a decade ago. It has a six-level gambling/swimming complex and is the largest esports enclave in the world. The 19-screen indoor sports book TV shows various sports – soccer, wrestling, soccer and many more, driven by 66 million pixels, 118 x 38 ft 2 mm LED screen. The Stadium Swim LED display, outdoor, is 40 feet high, spans 143 feet diagonally and contains 14 million megapixels.

JustLuxe was fortunate to have more conversations with Mr Stevens at Circa last week.

Tom Donoghue Photography

JustLuxe: Circa is an adults-only resort. What brought you to this decision?

Mr. Stevens: “Why did we want to be an adults-only hotel? It’s not that you don’t like families! My wife Nicole and I like families – we have three kids ourselves. We’ve just seen too many kids in casinos, parents playing, kids confused and confused, and we think they shouldn’t They have the presence in casinos.So, my vision was to create a casino, for 21 years and over, where sports gambling can be practiced on many levels, enjoyed with groups, and not to worry about the kids.

On top of that, we know, as a family from the Midwest, that we know what it takes to travel here. To get to Las Vegas, you have to find nannies for two or three days. Someone to take care of the pets, people to watch the house, feed the kids, – get plane tickets, rent a car, there’s a lot to plan for getting 72 hours here. We know! Therefore, all of us, everyone who works in our resort, have to make sure that the stay the guest has planned and worked for, is smooth and memorable, so the person, couple or group wants to come back because everything was so enjoyable and worth their time. We owe it Deserve For our guests 7/24.

JustLuxe: How did you have the courage to open Circa in the midst of a global pandemic?

Ryan Goboti

Mr. Stevens: It was practical – we closed our other casinos in March and were able to reopen them in June. When we reopened, there was no mask requirement. Then weeks later, there was a need to wear masks for board games. At first, it was rather difficult for some clients. But by the end of July, there was a requirement for a mask to be in place for everyone entering the casino. It took a lot of adjusting, but by September the masking element was no longer an issue. Everyone is wearing masks now. It was an adjustment process, and now it’s normal.”

JustLuxe: We’ve noticed a Mahal garage. There seems to be no other parking garage we’ve seen before. Please explain its importance.

Mr. Stevens: The parking garage, Garage Mahal, in Circa gives a true first impression of our resort. The space is clean, colorful and safe. Safety is a big component in parking garages. If you don’t feel safe in the garage, it affects your opinion of the hotel. On top of that, we think it’s a great transportation hub in Las Vegas, and it’s definitely the lifeblood of this property. Also, you have to remember that this is a file first A hotel garage with horseback riding in mind. We use the latest technology available. It’s the initial Domino of how Circa works.

Susan Kim |

JustLuxe: You have five very diverse restaurants in Circa. How did you choose which one will be in the resort?

Mr. Stevens : “I think the restaurant guys are passionate, they have to be there all the time, they have great stories to tell, they have to love the customers, and yes, they have great food. On top of that, I already knew them. A lot of the Midwest. Although they are in Circa However, they have their own restaurants.

They are:
Delicious Saginaw Food
Paul Saginaw runs this delicacy, often talking to diners, and filling them in about his grandfather, Charles ‘Chickie’ Sherman, who, Mr. Saginaw said, “was one of the biggest bookmakers in Detroit history, so I grew up around the culture of gambling.”

Downtown Bari Prime

Downtown Bari Prime
Veteran Chef Barry Dakaki, a chef serving dry beef, American and Japanese Wagyu beef, fresh fish from around the world, and local farmers produce.

Victory Burger & Wings
Grace Keros and Chris Sotiropoulos run this restaurant on the top level of Circa’s three-tiered sportsbook. It is an upscale sports bar. There are TVs and a glass wall, so guests at the Victory Burger and Wings can catch up on all the games and catch a glimpse of the action in the sports book.

8 east
Dan Coughlin, Chef’s Asian fare will include Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai dishes.

BBQ Project

BBQ Project
Carolina-style grill has whole hogs on the smoker every day. The restaurant is in front of the Circa and includes picnic tables where guests can watch the Fremont Street Experience and enjoy live music and overhead light shows.

Black Raven movies

What Mr. Stevens has done downtown is surprising and unique: Where once there was dust and calm, there is music, LED changing light screens, lively people, and an overall sense of fun. His ideas allowed the area to grow and live again, creating a new and lasting dimension in Las Vegas that combines remembrance of the past with celebration of the future.


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