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Harveys has big plans

“Projects never end,” said Jim Rafferty, senior vice president of corporate marketing for Harveys Resort & Casino. By the looks of the renovations inside the 88,000 square foot casino space, he is right on the money.

Harveys’ goal is to capture the look of what has been called “alpine elegance,” by recreating mountain and lake landscape scenery inside casino walls.

“We are Tahoe in many ways,” said Rafferty.

The South Shore Harveys is the company’s flagship location and Rafferty wants it to stay at its modern best. This means constantly “marrying the aesthetic of the exterior with the excitement of casino entertainment.”

Harveys invested $30 million on a 1998-99 project which upgraded portions of the building in three phases. Another multimillion-dollar project is under way for the 2000-01 calendar year.

Phase 1 of the project allotted $20 million to the gaming area which revamped the gaming facilities. Following the new “yellow brick road” around the casino, there is no way to get lost.

It circumnavigates the game floor and leads one around the main floor. In the main gaming area one can see the “night glow” mountain scene lit in fluorescent pink and purple hues that replaced the old namesake wagon wheels that used to line the ceiling.

“High Rollers” can enjoy high stakes areas like the Platinum Players Club where players can ride a glass elevator from the main casino up to the 12th floor to widespread views of Lake Tahoe. The Sierra Highlands is a high-limit slot area where the casino’s best players can spend a minimum of $5 all the way up to $100 per pull.

“As casinos become more competitive many VIP’s enjoy their own private game space,” Rafferty said.

Phase 2 of the project, called “Tahoe Live” extended the popularity of the Hard Rock Cafe ambience and stretched it out for a “segue experience.” Part of Tahoe Live was updating the Cabaret theater entrance. Spotlights scan the entryway and reflect light off of the mirror-tiled glass walls. The 300 seat “jewel of a theater” remains the same on the inside.

Phase 3 removed the main lobby chandelier and installed a “falling waters” fountain in its place. It was dedicated to Beverlee Ledbetter, daughter of former owner, Harvey Gross.

The old VIP room has moved from its original location in the lobby to the retail corridor. Harveys Emerald Bay Coffee now occupies the space. The retail section also has a new gift shop and displays the work of Tahoe photographer J.T. Ravize.

The next round of remodeling will concentrate on completing the Tahoe’s Reflection Project which is “the whole remake of the Highway 50 facade,” Rafferty said. It will be finished when the gondola grand summit opens, he said. Also in the works is the completion of the casino’s 24-hour Carriage House Restaurant.