Q&A: George Maloof Jr.

George Maloof Jr., who played football at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, runs the hotel division of his family's Maloof Companies.

George Maloof Jr., who played football at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, runs the hotel division of his family’s Maloof Companies, which owns the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs, as well as hotels, casinos and banking and other businesses.

This story first appeared in the August 6, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

WWD: As the owner of the Palms, a casino resort with more than 700 rooms that opened in 2001 off the Las Vegas Strip, and the neighboring Palms Place Hotel-Spa, a condominium-suite complex with 599 units, you are considered a formidable Las Vegas player. What’s your sense of the state of the city?

George Maloof Jr.: Everybody is focused on Las Vegas and what is happening with the economy here. I think some of it is exaggerated. We have so much to offer in Las Vegas that it is still the number-one destination in the world and will always be. There is a lot of volume that is coming into Las Vegas. Maybe people aren’t spending as much and maybe that’s the difference.

WWD: Is there a particular area in which people — Las Vegas locals and visitors — are spending less?

G.M.: I wouldn’t specifically say that we can identify an area, and I wouldn’t say that it is a dramatic number at all. I just think, in general, things are a little flat. The growth that the city has been used to over the last few years, we haven’t seen that.

WWD: How are you performing in terms of key indicators such as occupancy and room price?

G.M.: Our occupancy has been very strong.…Knock on wood, we have been very fortunate.

WWD: Have you changed your promotion strategy at all to drive business to the Palms?

G.M.: We have a marketing plan that focuses on local people that live in Las Vegas and out-of-town visitors. We have always had the same plan, that hasn’t changed at all….Because we are not on the Strip, we can go after a local market.

WWD: How has Palms Place been received?

G.M.: We have sold every unit….We have done very well in a very tough market.

WWD: You have said that you wanted to create the “ultimate party hotel” with the Palms. What does that mean?

G.M.: When people think of a destination where they can come and have fun, they always think of the Palms. [People are] coming here and getting away, maybe taking their minds off the economy.

WWD: What upcoming event are you looking forward to?

G.M.: We have the Midsummer Night’s Dream Party in two weeks.

WWD: What are you going to wear?

G.M.: I haven’t figured that one out yet. Maybe a mask.

WWD: What is the mood of people who live and work in Las Vegas?

G.M.: I hope it gets better. I think that there has been so much attention on what is happening with the economy in general. It is on everybody’s mind, there is no question about it. I don’t think anybody is immune to it. You just have to believe in the city and the people and the leaders of this town. I happen to believe in them. Hopefully, I am one of the leaders of this town.

WWD: What do you think could be done to help stimulate the Las Vegas economy?

G.M.: If people stop talking about it, that might be a good start. I really believe that. There is so much attention on that that maybe [it would be better to] focus on something else. That would be a big change….Everybody just needs to take a chill pill.

WWD: Are you doing anything to change the prevailing mood in Las Vegas?

G.M.: People have to be excited about things. What we try to do is create events. Whether it is through a slot promotion or something we do in one of our nightclubs, we are creating things that give interest to people and have them come out and enjoy it.