The STRAT celebrates 25 memorable years in Las Vegas
When charismatic gambler and businessman Bob Stupak opened his Stratosphere hotel and tower in 1996, Las Vegas celebrated with him.
Stupak had started his Las Vegas hotel- and casino-owning days downtown in 1971, converting the Vault casino into Glitter Gulch, and installing the iconic Vegas Vickie neon sign (now on display at the new Circa Resort & Casino). He bought acreage north of Sahara Avenue on Las Vegas Boulevard and built a small casino, which became the site of the space-themed Vegas World hotel and casino in 1979. That hotel became immensely popular, in large part due to Stupak’s marketing acumen, and inspired plans for the tallest observation tower in the U.S., with rides and a restaurant showcasing the valley’s views. The Stratosphere tower opened in 1996 as hotel rooms were still being converted from Vegas World to Stratosphere.
In 1998, tycoon Carl Icahn purchased the property and completed renovations by 2001. His American Casino & Entertainment Properties became the official owner in 2004. American Casino & Entertainment Properties retained ownership until 2017, although Icahn sold the company in 2007.
Current owner Golden Entertainment purchased the company and the Stratosphere in 2017 and instituted an extensive renovation of the resort, which continued through 2020—it officially rebranded as The STRAT in 2019.
Throughout the years, the property acted both as a locals casino and a tourist destination, and was known for its entertainment, attractions and dining, including Top of the World, a fine-dining restaurant that is still one of the most popular in Las Vegas. In fact, it’s the seventh top-grossing independently owned restaurant in the U.S. as of 2019. The restaurant itself is unusual, as diners enjoy a view of the Vegas skyline that constantly changes, as the circular restaurant rotates 360 degrees every 80 minutes. Today, The STRAT also features PT’s Wings & Sports and 107 SkyLounge, which offers cocktails and a view just above Top of the World, although the lounge does not rotate.
Entertainment options opened and evolved through the years, with the long-running American Superstars show paying tribute to celebrities like Elvis and Britney Spears, vampire-themed adult revue Bite giving way to Claire Sinclair’s Pin Up, and comedy clubs like the L.A. Comedy Club and variety acts populating the showroom. Recently, long-running Michael Jackson tribute act MJ Live was playing there (shows are subject to current COVID restrictions). As part of the new renovations, a circus-style tent was erected near Las Vegas Boulevard for Celestia, a show replete with acrobats and variety acts that opened in 2019.
From the beginning, the attractions atop the tower have been a huge draw. Today, there are three rides that take advantage of the height for maximum thrills—Big Shot, Insanity and X-Scream. A relatively new attraction, SkyJump, opened in 2010, and allows one to jump from the tower (the descent slows at the end).
And when The STRAT celebrates its birthday month in April, it will do so with special events and offers through the month, so it’s the perfect time to plan a return trip to Vegas.
The STRAT, 800.998.6937
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