Around the time of the opening of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, back in 1975, MGM executives were scouting around for a property in nearby Reno, Nevada, at a time when casino gambling was really starting to take off in Northern Nevada.
The MGM Grand in Vegas is the largest single hotel in the United States and second largest in the world, so this is not a company that messes around with small projects. The MGM Grand Reno, as it was known then, was set to dwarf other casino properties in the area, on a scale deserving of the name Grand.
In 1978, the MGM Grand Reno was opened, with over 1000 rooms, and this quickly became doubled to over 2000 3 years later in 1981, bringing it up to its present size. Unlike a lot of Nevada hotel casinos, this didn’t just gradually grow over the years, it has been a dominant feature on the Reno skyline and in the Reno hotel casino market since its inception.
The property has changed ownership and its name several times over the years, starting in 1986 when it was sold to Bally’s for $550 million and then became Bally’s Reno. Bally’s went bankrupt a few years later and the hotel casino was scooped up at a bargain basement price of $83 million by Hilton, who immediately spent a further $86 million on upgrades.
In 2006 the Reno Hilton was bought by a group of investors who re-branded it as the Grand Sierra and spent another $100 million renovating it. The company went bankrupt though and the Grand Sierra ended up being bought in 2011 by its present owners, the Meruelo Group, a Los Angeles based company which started out with a single pizza restaurant in 1985 and has since greatly expanded.
The Grand Sierra remains one of the biggest attractions in Reno. Their 27 story hotel is the largest in the area, they have one of the largest casinos in the city, and area also known for their wide variety of other things to do besides gambling, including 11 restaurants, a 2,700 seat theater, a cinema, retail shops, an RV park, an amusement park, a full service spa, a family entertainment center, and a wedding chapel.
Staying at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
Reno has always been the poor sister of Las Vegas when it comes to casino resorts in Nevada, for the most part anyway, although the goal of the Grand Sierra was to bring the full Vegas experience to this part of the state, and while this complex doesn’t quite rival the biggest and best of Vegas, it does come pretty close.
In spite of seeing its present structure completed almost 40 years ago, with no major space being added since, the Grand Sierra has kept up with the times well by way of several major renovations since.
The hotel accommodations here are as good as they get in the area, and the Grand Sierra has been named best hotel in Reno three years running. These aren’t the cheapest rooms in the city but they do provide spacious and luxurious accommodations for pretty reasonable rates, starting at $73 a night.
The standard rooms here average over 500 square feet and come with an excellent selection of amenities and niceties. Both smoking and non smoking rooms are available.
The suites here are particularly nice and known to be the finest in the city, with 4 types to choose from, offering up to 2,000 square feet of opulence. There is also a premium RV park on site with full hookups to ensure you enjoy all the comforts of home.
11 restaurants await you here, starting with the Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, named the best steakhouse in Reno. Other fine dining options include Italian at the Briscola, Pan Asian at the Rim, and fine wine and small plate dining at the Reserve Wine Bar.
The Grand Buffet offers a very wide selection of all you can eat options, with prices ranging from $16.99 to $31.99. This is on the pricey side as far as casino buffets go but you get a lot for your money.
Casual options include the Grand Café featuring American and International flavors, Mexican at the Cantina, Johnny Rockets, a 50’s style diner, 2nd St. Café Express, a sub shop, a pizza restaurant, and a Starbucks.
The newly renovated Grand Theater features some of the biggest names on the casino circuit, and there are several bars and lounges on hand as well, including the Lex Nightclub, a gorgeous $14 million venue that is right up there with the best nightclubs in the world.
There’s a fully featured spa on site as well, which will relax and pamper you, a nail and hair salon, and you can also stay in shape at the Reno Fitness center, open 24 hours a day.
There’s also lots of to for the whole family here, including a cinema, amusement park and fun center.
The Casino at the Grand Sierra
There’s over 80,000 square feet of gaming space here, the largest casino in Reno, and they pack it full of lots of things to play. There are 125 different slot games to choose from in their non smoking gaming area, including all of the most popular ones. You can choose to play from a penny to $25 a spin. The selection here includes traditional reels, video slots, video poker, video keno, and virtual table games.
Those wishing to play traditional table games at real tables will find 8 different table games to choose from here. Baccarat, Blackjack, Craps, Let it Ride Stud Poker, Pai Gow Poker, Pai Gow Tiles, Roulette, and Three Card Poker are all laid out for your enjoyment.
The Grand also offers head to head poker right on the casino floor, with both limit and no limit Hold’em, Stud, and Omaha Hi/Lo to enjoy. The poker room here isn’t as extensive as some of the big poker rooms you see in Vegas, but still offers plenty of action and a good amount of both cash games and tournaments, with nicely modest stakes.
While there is no dedicated Keno room here, it is offered throughout the gaming areas, and this way you can partake in Keno while enjoying other games or relaxing over drinks in the Wet Lounge.
The Grand Sierra also runs an array of promotions, including regular slot and blackjack tournaments, and all players are invited to join the Club Grand and be rewarded for all of their play here.
The 14,200 square foot William Hill Race and Sports Book may be the centerpiece of this casino and is easily the best sports book in Reno. The facility here is completely state of the art and players can also place bets on their mobile devices from anywhere in the state with their app.
The Grand Sierra is considered to be the best casino in Reno, and is certainly one of the best places to stay, if not the best period. If you are planning on being in Reno, this resort is very well worth considering trying out.