California Hotel & Casino : The VT Review 2009

In Search Of The Spirit of Aloha

Posted by Chuckmonster

California Hotel Casino Review

I've had an interest in staying at Sam Boyd's California Hotel and Casino since they unveiled brand new room redesigns in the middle of 2008. My posted opinion was "I'm impressed enough to put The Cal on the short list for a future visit." For $72.38, the future was booked to reality.

A second component of my interest in the Cal was to take a short dip in 'The Spirit of Aloha' by proxy. Huh? Spirit of Aloha? At a casino in Las Vegas called The California? Yes. I'll explain.

California Sam Boyd

In case you haven't noticed, approximately 32.4% of the people in and around Downtown Las Vegas at any given moment are Hawaiians. One of the main reasons why is the man whose name is written in neon all over the joint - Sam Boyd. For five years, before World War II, Sam Boyd lived in Hawaii and spent a lot of time hanging out with second generation Japanese living in Hawaii. In 1941, Boyd moved to Las Vegas and worked his way from dealer to owning a piece of the Sahara, The Mint and countless other casinos for the next 50 years.

Boyd Gaming opened The California in 1975 with 300 rooms. Its lousy location away from The Strip was compounded by an even lousier location - one block away from Fremont Street. Boyd decided to market the property to gamble hungry Hawaiians as a comfortable, cozy, easy going place where The Spirit of Aloha was alive and well. It worked.

Part of the success of The Cal is acompany called Vacations Hawaii - a Hawaii to Vegas travel junketeer. The Cal - along with other Boyd Gaming properties Main Street Station, Fremont, Sams Town, The Orleans and future Stardust replacement, Echelon - are the primary entry points for Hawaiians visiting Las Vegas.

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Comments & Discussion

Not bad for a downtown joint. They look a lot better than those Golden Gate rooms!

Your pictures brought back a funny time from Vegas, My wife was taking a shower and she was complaining about how the shower caps didn't do the job. I went to investigate and had to sit on the toilet and laugh, she had used a spare ice bucket liner. I still tease her now and then.

By the by those rooms look really good for downtown. I am going to Tahoe this year but maybe some could look at the El Cortez Cabana Suites? If not I may see them in Dec.

Actually, the rooms at the Golden Gate these days are not that bad. I was too lazy to ever get around to taking some photos of my room there back in March, but there is a huge difference between the rooms of the 2008 review of the joint and the way they are now. IIRC, there is a link in one of the articles from back in either January, February, or early March to someone's Flikr account that includes photos of the new rooms there. At least their rooms had LCD tvs in them.... :P

The Cal rooms look nice, but as long as I can still get my $19.06/night rates most nights at the Golden Gate, I'm sticking to the GG.

After that toilet comment I was expecting AC/DC for the soundtrack.

I'm guessing that that was a weekend rate? It looks like their base rates for the Deluxe king (pre-tax) run $45-81 on weekend, averaging around $60, and $36 during the week.

That's a pretty decent price for a nice room, even downtown. My guess is that being a block off Fremont is an actual advantage downtown? I've never stayed there.

And are you sure that sticky translucent stain was nail polish?

I think it was a Sunday night. The price was actually on the higher end of things available that night, less than the Fremont and Golden Nugget, but more than everything else. I thought at the time that the rack rate was a little on the high side, but went with it.

Chuckmonster - Excellent review of one of my favorite Vegas haunts. You hit every nail on the head with no bias. Having stayed at the Bellagio, Wynn, and Nugget, we always spend a few choice days at TheCal. It may not be for eveyone, but I'd bet everyone would enjoy a spark of Aloha once in awhile.....Thanks!


What a$$ did they pull this money out of to re-do these rooms? Last I heard they got sold, again, and again, and again with every new owner promising to invest money in the place.
I guess these buyers might actually do it. I'll believe it when I see it but these digs, while not high class or luxe, are definitely an improvement from the mirrored ceiling rooms they have now.

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