What a Hotel can do for a Community
by Sergio Olivas
What does the transition from a racetrack to a casino from a managerial standpoint look like? It starts with a hotel. That is exactly the path management at the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino is following as the kick-off date for the hotel construction was on March 18th, 2016. Staff from the Casino were accompanied by City of Sunland Park personnel to be the first to excavate the grounds where the hotel would be built. Mayor Javier Perea was present and the ceremony and delivered a speech optimistically asserting that the hotel marks a positive turning point to the City of Sunland Park. “Not only will you have the opportunity to come and visit Sunland Park,” stated Perea, “now you’ll have the opportunity to stay in Sunland Park.” The project has its history before arriving at this point.
The facility opened in 1959 as a racetrack and introduced its casino in the 90’s after the New Mexico legislature adjusted the legal code on gaming. Recently however, the racetrack by itself has seen a reduction in profits. Ethan Linder, the Director of Marketing at the Racetrack and Casino, is at the forefront to change that negative trend by integrating the hotel with the casino. Prior to joining the staff at Racetrack and Casino, Linder served at the Hotel and Marketing Executive at Pinnacle Entertainment in Las Vegan, Nevada. He joins a new marketing team whose objective is to revitalize Sunland Park into an entertainment destination.
“The concept of a hotel is not foreign to the industry,” stated Linder. “We evaluated [the casino’s current] assets [to] better understand [their] utilization and [to] understand the needed assets.” A hotel was among the needed assets given its convenience for guests. Independent feasibility studies were conducted and supported the installation of a hotel. In June of 2015, the City Council of Sunland Park approved the construction of the hotel after the Council was presented with the basic framework of the hotel. However, given that it will be the first hotel in Sunland Park, the project goes further than a seven-million dollar building. The bigger project includes the creation of a tax code on behalf of the City, such as a lodger’s tax, along with other regulations.
A few of the characteristics of the modern-western boutique style hotel include sculptures and a view of live horse races. The hotel’s construction follows a 300-day schedule as is anticipated to be finished by Thanksgiving 2016, with its doors opening before Christmas. That is phase one of the a78 room hotel. Phase two includes expansion based on the results from phase one. As phase two looks at the expansion of the hotel, the hotel’s municipal and regional impact will be felt in the years to come.