Palms VP Jon Gray Teases Surprises Around Every Corner With $620 Million Property-Wide Updates

If Palms Casino Resort Vice President and General Manager Jon Gray were to describe the iconic off-Strip property in one word, it would have to be “home.” A University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) graduate, he started his career at the Palms front desk. He met his wife, Ruth, at the Palms and he even married her there.

Now, as the Station Casinos-owned resort continues its transformation “From Dust to Gold” with $620 million worth of property-wide renovations, including new restaurants, nightlife venues and art installations, Gray—who opened The Linq for Caesar’s Entertainment in 2014 and spent two years at Nike in Portland, Oregon—is excited and honored to usher in the next era of the Palms. You might even find him bouncing around between venues next time you visit the property.

Haute Living had the opportunity to catch up with Gray following the recent unveiling of the Palms’ Phase One upgrades.

Jon Gray Headshot
Palms Casino Resort VP and General Manager Jon Gray

Photo Credit: Clint Jenkins

How do you feel now that the first phase of the Palms redesign has been publicly unveiled?

Everyone has worked incredibly hard over the past year creating the new Palms and we’re so excited to unveil a great portion of our amenities from our new steakhouse, Scotch 80 Prime, to our beautiful casino floor and of course our new bars and nightlife venues Unknown, Camden Cocktail Lounge and Apex Social Club.

What kind of feedback are you getting?

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive! We are truly an organization that welcomes feedback and we’re always looking to provide the best experience possible. The best feedback we can get in my opinion is a repeat visit. We have seen several guests come back two, three, even four times now!

What are the most luxurious changes?

Lovers of art will truly be amazed at the collection of blue-chip, fine, street and contemporary art that rarely exists publicly displayed in a setting like this. Food and beverage will continue to be a large focus with the arrival of Michael Symon, Marc Vetri and Bobby Flay. Las Vegas is the nightlife capital of the world and we’re excited to roll out our new nightlife and daylife concepts developed and operated in conjunction with the Tao Group. Lastly, our robust entertainment roster will include some of the biggest names in the industry!

Palms Scotch 80 Prime
Scotch 80 Prime

Photo Credit: Clint Jenkins

How did art become such an influential aspect of the redesign?

Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, our owners, are avid collectors of fine art and have been for many years. When they bought the Palms in 2016 and were putting the plans together for the center bar concept they decided that a giant Damien Hirst installation would be the center point. From there the curation of the collection began. It includes pieces from their personal collections, purchased pieces and commissioned pieces. We really wanted to interweave art into every aspect of the guest experience. In addition … Tal Cooperman, our Creative Director, brought in some incredible ideas and relationships to collaborate on some amazing installations.

What type of exclusive, bragworthy experiences can guests expect?

Scotch 80 Prime, our steakhouse, boasts one of the largest collections of the Macallan Fine & Rare Collection in the world while also is one of the few restaurants in the country that serves certified Kobe Japanese Beef. Apex has the best view of the city. Our VIP boxes in The Pearl have been completely overhauled. Our Villas (coming soon) are among the best suites I’ve ever seen in the world.

What is your personal favorite renovation?

The complete project honestly. Putting $620 million into a boutique property like the Palms is literally creating a brand new holistic experience. I’m so proud to be part of a team that has a vision for the entire property and the confidence to deploy the resources required to bring that vision to life.

Palms Unknown Bar
Unknown Bar

Photo Credit: Clint Jenkins

Where and what do you like to eat and drink when you’re at Palms?

I enjoy getting the night started taking in the energy of the property at Unknown. I then head to Scotch 80 Prime. Chef Barry S. Dakake, who has been in the kitchen since day one, when it was N9NE Steakhouse, has knocked it out of the park with an incredible steakhouse menu that is classic, yet inventive. I love the cart presentations – whether it be the handmade banana split or the classic cocktail cart. I end my night bouncing between Apex and Camden. Both offer unique experiences – Apex, a much higher energy, incredible views, great music, and a beautiful space while Camden offers a moodier vibe, amazing cocktails, and is the best place to catch a Vegas Golden Knights game when I can’t make the trip out of town to watch our boys play!

Will your mentor and friend George Maloof be involved with the Palms in any way going forward?

George Maloof created the Palms and, of course, he would be invited to experience the next phase of the brand’s chapter. When we took down our old marquee to make way for the new one … we took down the letter “M” first as a nod to George. I called him before meeting with Frank and Lorenzo and he couldn’t have been more supportive of the potential that we were going to overhaul the Palms. He is genuinely excited about all the changes that are happening here. (Note: Maloof sold his minority ownership with the Palms when Station Casinos bought the resort).

Palms Apex
Apex Social Club with sculptures by Damien Hirst

Photo Credit: Clint Jenkins

Has the property taken on a locals feel now that it’s owned by Stations Casinos?

The Palms has always loved locals and caters to them in every way possible. Our casino floor was just redone, we have an incredible new buffet and just redid our movie theater. We are also building additional parking levels as we want to maintain the convenient access we’ve always been known for. Now that Station Casinos are our owners, we offer so much more for these customers as they can benefit from the rewards of their Boarding Pass card at Palms as well as our incredible sister properties.

What will become of the Fantasy Suites?

The Palms’ partnership with Playboy ended in 2012, but the Fantasy Suites will be getting a full makeover with new designs and themes that we can’t wait to share with you down the road. Also, all six of our luxurious villas are getting a complete overhaul and will be some of the most lavish accommodations in the world.

Palms Casino Resort
Palms Casino Resort

Photo Credit: Clint Jenkins

What can we expect from the Phase Two upgrades?

We have so much more to come in the next phase. Celebrity Chefs Marc Vetri, Michael Symon and Bobby Flay will all be opening restaurants. Tao Group will be bringing Vandal to Palms as well as what we are considering to be the best nightlife and daylife experience in the country. Our new rooms, suites and villas will exude luxury and playfulness and we’ll continue to roll out exceptional art installations and pieces from the world’s most notable artists. Our recently renovated Pearl concert theater will continue to serve as home to some of the best residencies such as Blink-182 (who have shows through November) and entertainment acts that don’t typically play small intimate rooms like our venue.

Why should visitors come check out the new Palms?

We’re excited to show off the first phase of this renovation. Whether you were a customer from before or have never been to Vegas or the Palms, we believe you’ll find a classic Vegas experience where you’ll never have to leave the property. There are surprises around every corner!