Aloha Spirit Strong as Ever After Renovations to the Cal

Hawaiian visitors have been traveling to the California Hotel and Casino for more than 40 years. With an elaborate multi-million-dollar renovation to the property now complete, they may never want to leave.

The historic downtown Las Vegas destination has been enhanced from head to toe with upgrades, including room renovations, new restaurants, refreshed public spaces and added amenities transforming nearly every corner, inside and out.

Despite these changes, the Cal has a message for loyal guests; We may look a bit different, but our Aloha spirit remains. 

“We have the same team members our customers know and love, so they still feel like they’re at home,” said Jennifer Nichols, Director of Marketing for Boyd Gaming’s Downtown Region. “We are still focused on catering to our core customers, but we can also attract younger generations to the destination.”

The first phase of the redesign was unveiled in 2016 and covered guestrooms in the West hotel tower, modernizations to the casino floor and enhancements to the hotel lobby and valet area.

Now all 779 hotel rooms, including 83 suites, have undergone renovations. Echoing the contemporary color palette and subtle island influence of the property’s overall design, the rooms feature new furniture, carpet, lighting and art. Bathtubs in the refurbished bathrooms were converted into roomy walk-in showers.

As for amenities, guests at the Cal now enjoy access to an all-new fitness center and a newly remodeled pool deck with fresh furniture, covered patio seating and open-air views of downtown.

Those seeking banquet space for birthdays, wedding receptions, reunions and meetings, will find that the property’s event spaces were not only stunningly modernized, but nearly doubled in size to 7,675 square feet.

“We worked hard to not take anything away,” said the Cal’s Vice President and General Manager Andre Filosi. He noted the banquet room expansion as a perfect example.

“They are just beautiful,” he added of the event spaces, “but with the same value as before.”

The second floor of the casino is now freshened up to match previous first-floor casino renovations, including new wallpaper, ceiling tiles and carpet. Guests who ascend to the second floor for a bite of saimin and oxtail stew at the refreshed Aloha Specialties restaurant or a delicious double-scoop at an updated Lappert’s Ice Cream, will also notice brand new escalators.

These second-floor touches continue through the retail shops and skybridge to Main Street Station.

The overall project to enhance the Cal began in early 2014 with the vision and leadership of retired Executive Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer Bob Boughner, who started at The Cal in 1976.

“With a very well-established customer base, the Cal’s renovations needed to preserve the timeless essence of the property, yet also appeal to a broader demographic,” explained Boyd Gaming’s Vice President of Design and Construction Ron Frye in 2016. “We didn't want our long-time Hawaiian customers to come in and say, 'Where's my California?' after the renovations concluded.”

The Design and Construction team worked hand-in-hand with local, award-winning design firm Tandem to evoke a classic Hawaiian feel with a modern twist. They started the new customer experience with a redesign to the port-cochere, including a black and white polished terrazzo floor and a dramatically lit “Mahalo” sign.

An overhaul to the guest registration area preserved a sense of familiarity by utilizing the original pressed-tin ceiling coffers, but adding glamorous modern chandeliers and seating elements to create a grander sense of arrival.

The centerpiece of the 36,000 square foot casino floor is an original custom-fitted heirloom chandelier, modernized and restored with new treatments and embellishments.

Redwood Steakhouse and California Noodle House, which opened in 2016, face into the casino, fronted by luxurious glass walls.

An elevated version of the original Redwood Grill with subtle design nods to the property’s island clientele, Redwood Steakhouse is Nichols’ favorite aspect of the property enhancements.

“Besides offering some of the best food you’ll find anywhere downtown, the restaurant and bar are stunning,” she said. “We’ve also continued to offer the same value we’re known for even though we’ve upgraded everything.”

Across the way is the exciting and lively race and sports book, The Cal Sports Lounge. Nearby, the luau-inspired Holo Holo – The Happy Bar brightens the casino and adds nostalgia with vintage photographs of Boyd Gaming leaders, including early shots of co-founders Sam and Bill Boyd.

Filosi encourages customers, new and old, to come check out the completed changes.

“With this spectacular redesign, we have created an elevated and contemporary experience that takes the Spirit of Aloha to a new level, all just steps away from all the best Downtown Las Vegas has to offer,” he said.

Nichols added: “While we’ve modernized everything and allowed ourselves to remain competitive with new and renovated properties downtown, we still pride ourselves on being the ‘Ninth island.’”