Daily Archives: March 14, 2010

Mystery Surrounds Issues Behind Key Hard Rock Executive’s Suicide in Las Vegas

Randy Kwasniewski, the President and COO of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas was found dead in his home last Tuesday.  He died of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the Clark County coroner’s office said Wednesday. 

Kwasniewski’s body was found at his residence in Summerlin, Nevada. Metropolitan Police were called to the home Tuesday morning. 

Kwasniewski was married with two children, family friend and attorney David Chesnoff said. 

Kwasniewski, 56, had been in his current position as president and chief operating officer at the Hard Rock Hotel since New York-based boutique hotel operator Morgans Hotel Group bought the resort in February 2007. 

Kwasniewski had been overseeing a $750 million expansion at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas that recently added two hotel towers, casino space and a larger concert hall to the property. 

Kwasniewski’s death comes amid mounting issues and speculation of an imminent management shakeup is in the works for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.  

A source who talked with Kwasniewski last said he appeared stressed out, fatigued and lost a lot of weight.  

Prior to his death there was much talk that Hard Rock management has been on thin ice since the property has been dealing with a very challenging transition since Morgans Hotel Group bought it from Peter Morton for $770 million fours years ago. 

Morgans owns 14 percent of the hotel-casino and operates the off-Strip property. DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, an affiliate of Credit Suisse, owns the remaining shares.

Morgans Chief Executive Officer Fred Kleisner will oversee operations at the Hard Rock Hotel for the time being, the company said.  

Kleisner became interim CEO in September 2007 upon the resignation of Ed Scheetz. 

Scheetz resigned his position after a 23-year-old woman was mysteriously found dead of a drug overdose inside a Turnberry Towers condominium in Las Vegas leased by Scheetz and Morgans. 

Though Scheetz was never charged with a crime in connection to the death, a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the woman’s family in 2009 was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.

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Passage of Travel Promotion Act aims to spur growth into Las Vegas from international visitors

Las Vegas tourism officials believe the federal Travel Promotion Act legislation that was signed into law last week will lead to a marked growth in international visitors, one of the gaming industry’s few positive market segments in the challenging economic climate. 

Under the legislation, signed into law by President Barack Obama, a program will be created that will allow the United States to advertise the country as a destination for international travelers. It creates a public-private partnership for travel promotion that is partly funded by a $10 fee paid by international travelers. 

The idea for the Travel Promotion Act originated from the 1995 White House Conference on Tourism. It was revived after the economic downturn saw the United States lose some 68 million international visitors, which accounted for losses of $509 million in consumer spending, $32 million in tax revenue and 441,000 jobs, according to a study done by Oxford Economics. 

The same study found the act could potentially draw 1.6 million new international visitors to the United States, which would generate $4 billion in new spending.

Las Vegas tourism officials hope to capture some of those visitors and market separately to potential international visitors as well. 

The convention authority estimated the act would increase international visitation to 20 percent of Las Vegas’ total market share. In addition, while Oxford believes the act will be responsible for creating 40,000 tourism jobs nationally, the convention authority estimated an increase in international visitation could create another 12,000 jobs in Southern Nevada.

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