I’ve lived in Las Vegas for sixteen years. This might not seem like a very long time, but in the city that reinvents itself at least once a decade, it’s plenty long enough to develop a case of nostalgia. I can’t drive by the “Fabulous Las Vegas” sign without recalling the old Klondike Casino that used to be across the street to the east. I still think about the old Boardwalk every time I go to City Center.
I thought about both of those places last night, when I drove down to Primm for the great reveal of a $3.5 million renovation at Whiskey Pete’s. The name of this place alone is enough to arouse nostalgia. Resorts on the Strip all have names honoring or evoking world class luxury, but Whiskey Pete’s is named after an old bootlegger who was buried standing up with a bottle of moonshine in his hand.
Opened in 1973, Whiskey Pete’s has been the west-side half of the neon portal that welcomes drivers on I-15 heading north to Nevada. It’s also been a destination for Las Vegans who want a peek at Bonnie & Clyde’s death car or to catch a performance in the resort’s showroom. Now, with the renovations — the first in the hotel’s history — it just might be a great place for an overnight or weekend getaway. 248 of the original 777 rooms on the lower floors have been completely gutted and remodeled, and four themed suites have been created. (The 500 rooms in the resort’s tower are next in line for refurbishing, but that project hasn’t begun yet.)
The remodeled rooms have new carpet, new wallpaper, new furnishings including recliners and refrigerators, new light fixtures, and new bathrooms. What’s especially nice is that design details honor the resort’s history and personality. There are artsy photographs of whiskey barrels on the walls, rustic wood detailing on the furniture, and headboards upholstered in faux rattlesnake.
I think Whiskey Pete would have approved of the moonshine toast we raised to his resort last night at the kickoff party, and he’d be proud of the luxurious new rooms now available to guests. I for one am anxious to try them out. It’s a delightful way to step back to the Nevada of yesteryear without having to sleep in a forty-year-old bed.