The lobby and front desk area are ready for the hotel's first guests tonight at the Greektown Casino-Hotel in Detroit. (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)
DETROIT -- Greektown Casino-Hotel flings open the doors to its big blue glass tower tonight.
And with the hotel's opening, Greektown Casino hopes to open a new chapter in its history after a rough year in bankruptcy.
The city's third-largest gambling hall is the last to open a 400-room resort-style hotel, but its top managers see opportunity, even amidst a backdrop of severe recession.
"This is a very exciting time for Greektown," said Randy Fine, the Las Vegas casino consultant who's set to take over as Greektown's chief executive, in a recent interview. "We'll be on an equal playing field with our competitors. We've got a lot to offer."
The big gamble for Greektown will be whether consumers will be willing to bite on the casino's new offerings.
Already, the casino is trying to differentiate itself from MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity casinos by offering deals like introductory rates of $99 a night and romance packages, including a bottle of champagne, breakfast in bed and more for $189.
Greektown had to eschew some ultra-luxurious touches -- such as an in-house spa -- to make the lower rates possible. But the hotel boasts a signature restaurant, Bistro 555, and high-tech touches like iPod docks in every room.
MGM Grand Detroit charges a standard nightly rate of $299; MotorCity, $169 most nights.
But those aren't Greektown's only competitors. Within the past few months, non-gaming properties like the Westin Book Cadillac and the Fort Shelby Doubletree Guest Suites have also opened their doors. Both offer comparable luxury to the casino hotels, though often at lower prices than MGM Grand and MotorCity.
Fine, the consultant in charge of pumping up Greektown's stature and revenues, said Greektown's deals will be recognized by customers.
But the new rooms are coming online just as the nation's economic downturn and Michigan's lingering recession are causing demand for hotels to wane.
Atlanta-based PKF Consulting, a real estate and lodging consulting firm, is predicting a 1.1 percent nationwide decline in demand for hotel rooms this year, following a 0.2 percent decline in 2008.
Metro Detroit's lodging market, with more than 40,000 rooms total, already lags behind other big cities, with lower occupancy rates -- falling 2.5 percent to an average of 58.6 percent in 2008 -- and low revenue per available room, at just an average of $51.83, less than a quarter of the New York City average.