The Real Strip Visionaries (Part Two)


Hopefully, you read yesterday’s post, part one, of “The Real Strip Visionaries.” If not, you can read it here. The visionary that everyone does know about is Steve Wynn. We will cover his accomplishments at a later time.

Today, we will talk about the second Strip visionary in our series, a little known one, Jay Sarno.  Sarno is a name rarely heard in Las Vegas, even within the casinos that he built.

Jay Sarno was a hotel builder and started his career in Florida, Georgia, and California. He was one who was always trying to outdo the other guy. He was a person that most people might not like if they knew him. He could be crass, in-your-face, and charming at the same time.

In the mid-60s, Sarno visited Las Vegas for the first time. He was not impressed. He thought the hotels/casinos were almost nondescript, boring inside and out. He knew he could do better. And, he did.

In 1966, he opened one of the best known hotel & casinos in the world, Caesars Palace. Probably, he would not have been able to pull it off today because Caesars palace was built on a very chauvinistic principle. The place was made for men. Women, were the pleasure givers with temple rubs, massages, and all kinds of treats that men enjoy.

If you want to get the full story, pick up a copy of Grandissimo, by David G. Schwartz. It is a spellbinding read. Here is a brief quote regarding the purpose Caesars Palace:

It’s not a palace for one Caesar,” he (Sarno) insisted, “It’s a palace for all the Caesars, for all the people. Everyone who steps through these doors is going to be a Caesar.” Didn’t everyone want to be the center of attention? Why not let the guest believe that this entire palace had been built to serve him and only him?

He wasn’t too clear about what women could expect at this hotel; later apologists claimed that guestws could be “Caesar or Cleopatra,” but Sarno wanted Caesars to be a place where men had most of the fun: they shot the dice, had their shoulders rubbed and temples massaged while waiting for dinner, and took cleansing steam baths, Woman–whether their job title was goddess or change girl–were to serve men. Caesars Palace might have been the last gasp of unabashed male chauvinism.

After the success of Caesars Palace, Sarno went on to build Circus Circus.



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