As Sunset Station turns 15 this month, there isn’t a special celebration planned for the Gaudi Bar. But that lounge was a look into the future of locals gambling.
The casino was conceived at a time when Las Vegas’ potential seemed boundless. Visitation rates were skyrocketing, and so was the population. The action for locals was mostly split between the Boulder Strip and downtown. Three casinos had opened on Rancho Drive, but the idea of placing individual casinos in neighborhoods hadn’t caught on.
Station Casinos, too, was growing. The company had gone public in 1993 and was building properties at a breakneck pace: Boulder Station and Station Casino in St. Charles, Mo., opened the next year, followed by Texas Station in 1995. Sunset Station was to be the crown jewel of the Station empire.
That called for a different approach. Sure, there would be a buffet and a movie theater, but to cater to the more affluent Henderson/Green Valley area, Sunset got the company’s first spa and a new attention to architecture. Station President Frank Fertitta III envisioned an interior reminiscent of the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. Armed with hands-on observations of Gaudi’s work gleaned from a trip to Spain, architects Morris & Brown answered with the Gaudi Bar, a stained glass and mosaic reimagining of the timeworn casino-center bar.
There was no looking back. Station brought an increasing focus on luxury to Green Valley Ranch (2001), Red Rock Resort (2006) and Aliante Station (2008). That growth ended in the 2009 bankruptcy from which the company emerged two years later, but the Gaudi Bar’s revelation—that locals would flock to luxurious amenities, just like visitors—heightened expectations of neighborhood casino design forever.