Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG

Global Gaming Business Magazine has 5 Questions for HBG Design's Nathan Peak:
Read the profile article here at Global Gaming Business.

 

HBG Design is a recognized leader in the design and construction of new casinos and renovations across the spectrum. Nathan Peak was recently named the practice leader for the firm, and he explains why the company has been successful in the gaming industry, particularly tribal gaming. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros from his office in Memphis in July.

GGB: HBG has established a great reputation in the gaming industry over the years. What’s it going take to maintain that leadership in your new role?

Nathan Peak: I think we have a different way of thinking. In the new role, I want to have a greater focus on integrated design. And what I mean by that is we really like to work with our clients and our operators to understand what they do best and really make design an extension of the gaming experience. For example, I love to get to know our operators. I love to get to know how the slots work and how they put their games together. I like to work with the food and beverage director, understand what their menus are and how our experience can really enhance the experience of the entire property. So I think of that as an extension to architecture and not just building pretty buildings, but really designing experience around what we do that enhances our clients’ properties.

You’ve developed some really great properties, one of them being the Oaklawn Racetrack Casino in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s got such a colorful history, and you made the hotel and casino blend into the track. You treated the history with respect and the final design recognizes that.

The Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is a great project. We’re very proud of it. Having the hotel right there at that first turn and having rooms look right down the horse track is a pretty amazing experience. There are lots of great themes throughout that space. We used a lot of the different stripes, and decorations that they put on the horses and used that pattern throughout the casino and the guest rooms—I think it’s really well done.

Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG

A recent job you’ve gotten is the Gun Lake project in Michigan, run by Sal Semola. Tell us about that project.

Sal is a great person to work with and we do it very collaboratively. And they did something very bold. They approached us with a program that I think is very unique. It’s something more of a hybrid where we have a typical hotel that’s going to be a four-diamond hotel that attaches to their existing gaming floor. But the unique thing about that project is what they’re calling the Aquadome, an enclosed atrium space that houses several pools that can also turn into a nightclub or a concert venue in the evening. So it has dual purposes, but having that right in the middle of a cold Michigan winter. It’s going to be something great for their customers every year, year-round.

Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG  Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG

Let’s talk about the design and construction industry post-pandemic. My contacts in the architectural and construction field told me things were going great getting back to normal—actually even better than normal. But with the supply chain issues and rising interest rates, what’s the reality right now?

The reality is that it’s always been challenging post-pandemic. But a really great thing for the industry of design and construction is that it’s really brought design and construction closer together. Design and construction used to be two different silos where we would design something and then have a contractor help us out. But now it’s really about working from the end forward. I’m on daily calls with contractors and subcontractors to find how to make things work. We have to commit to promises for our clients, and working with contractors and design-assist contractors helps us find ways to make things happen.

Following the pandemic, most took slot machines out for social distancing. Today, there are many more carousels rather than long lines of slot machines. How do you work with your clients when you consider a renovation of the casino floor?

To my point I made earlier, I really like to work with all departments, and I get a lot of information back when I talk with the slot directors. To me, they want to energize the gaming floor. We’ve worked with a lot of operators, and a lot of them have reduced their quantities of machines. For example, we work with the Four Winds group in Michigan, the Pokagon Band, and they’ve actually done a pretty significant reduction, but they’ve also seen higher play, a higher win or a higher coin-in for most of the machines just by reducing it. So I think it’s a balance that each property needs to find on its own.

Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG  Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG

Global Gaming Business: 5 Questions for HBG


GGB Casino Style: Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is in the Winner's Circle

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/casino_style_magazine_2021/6

Read the full article above and at GGB Casino Style magazine.

 

The racetrack name may be as revered as the resort city it occupies: Oaklawn Racing in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1904, Oaklawn opened as a 1,500-seat grandstand, hosting high-stakes thoroughbred races. In the past 100-plus years, it has become the No. 1 tourist attraction in the state, and is now known as Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

In 2009, HBG Design was instrumental in the addition of a casino to the jockey club, and then oversaw a casino expansion and renovation in 2015. Most recently, Oaklawn turned to HBG to lead the architecture and interior design for the newest large-scale racing and gaming resort expansion.

It includes an eight-story, 198-room hotel with thrilling views of the horse track, a 15,000-square-foot event center, an expanded gaming floor and new high-limit area, a world-class spa and pool, and multiple upscale food and beverage venues including a food court, the First Turn Bar and the Bugler restaurant.

The Cella family, owners and operators of Oaklawn for generations, looked for a design that emphasized the resort’s roots in racing. HBG’s “tailored equestrian” concept more than fulfills that vision. The expansion took many design cues from Hot Springs’ heyday as America’s First Spa Resort, renowned for its thermal springs and iconic Victorian bathhouses.

Designers followed the strong horizontal silhouettes of the original grandstand to inform much of the aesthetic, introducing linear, interlocking volumes and building shapes to tie the elements together aesthetically. A new video wall builds anticipation as guests arrive.

Visual notes in the building’s architecture bring to mind thoroughbreds galloping to the finish line, adding a sense of movement to the iconic hotel mass.

Color and texture add visual interest, with metal panels in shades of red, orange, tan and blue-gray contrasting with a lighter-hued stone base and columns to continue the contemporary aesthetic. Corrugated materials on the exterior recall the grooves left on the racetrack turf after it is smoothed by chain harrows.

Bold architectural gestures highlight the two-story lobby and soaring prefunction space. The grand staircase and escalators are striking features of the tall entry lobby, and lead patrons to the new food court, main gaming floor and hotel guest rooms.

The lobby combines a refined modern aesthetic with historical undercurrents, using a restrained gray-blue, navy and tan color palette, natural woodplank ceiling, traditional patterned tile, marble finishes, and a breathtaking circular gold metallic chandelier.

The theme continues underfoot, in the carpet pattern, with overlapping planes that bring to mind galloping horses. They work together with lighting and pattern to create a sense of movement around the floor. The subtle equestrian theme continues in the sophisticated guest rooms and suites, for an aligned guest experience from end to end.

The use of glass fosters indoor/outdoor connection. To reinforce racing as the main attraction, the new hotel and amenity structures wrap around the track.

All design references in the expansion subtly hint at the rich horse racing heritage at Oaklawn, using abstract design themes as the catalyst for discovery. As Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith noted at the opening of the newly expanded space, “You’ll find throughout the whole facility that racing is in some way, shape or form involved in the design. What we want people to recognize is we are a racetrack first, and then we are a hotel and casino next.”

Smith said Oaklawn offers guests a “new level of luxury“ in the historic resort city.

OWNERS: The Cella Family
ARCHITECTURAL & INTERIOR DESIGN: HBG Design
TOTAL INVESTMENT: $100 million-plus
OPENED: April 2021


HBG Design Again Named a Top Workplace by The Commercial Appeal!

See full list of winners posted by The Commercial Appeal

The Commercial Appeal has named HBG Design a Top Workplace for another consecutive year! This honor is very dear to us as it is based on direct feedback from our staff.
Thank you once again to our team for this outstanding recognition!

"This architectural and interior design company pays 100% of professional dues, association membership fees and licensing fees for professionals including architects, interior designers and legal personnel. It also offers a bonus plan based on profit and extraordinary performance."

This is not a complete list of the benefits that the company offers: in most cases, The Commercial Appeal selected only the most unusual benefit from the company's offering.

See past HBG Design 'Top Workplace' honors for HBG Design.

 


Astral Spa at Oaklawn Honored by Fay Jones Alumni Design Awards

See full list of winners posted by University of Arkansas

The Fay Jones Alumni Design Competition awarded an Honorable Mention to the Astral Spa at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

The first new spa built in Hot Springs in more than a century, Astral Spa provides Oaklawn guests with a modern-day 'bathhouse' spa experience.

Designers united modern health and wellness concepts with elements inspired by the city's Bathhouse Row.

Jurors noted, "Gleaming tile, the complex stone textures and subtle lighting strategies contributed to the unique experience in each of the service areas. All the choreographed movements provide both privacy and inform the tempo of the overall guest experience. Well done."

Astral Spa entrance

Astral Spa Women's Parlor

Astral Spa Aqua Thermal Room

ASTRAL SPA INSPIRATION

Hot Springs, Arkansas, was a favorite getaway for the rich and infamous in the early 1900s. Known as ‘The Spa City', the city was the birthplace of spa resorts in the U.S.  Thermal spring waters and Victorian-era Bathhouse Row attracted early visitors. Horse racing at Oaklawn and hidden downtown speakeasies also drew crowds. Visitors still flock to Hot Springs to experience the city's history. Oaklawn Resort is offering modern amenities to complement the area’s entertainment. The Astral Spa is the first full-service spa to be built in 'Spa City' in 100 years. The 8,000 square foot spa provides a relaxed nostalgic ambiance that frames each guest’s spa journey through a complete sensory experience.

Click here to learn more about the Astral Spa at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. 


It’s off to the races for the new Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas!

What began over 100 years ago as a 1,500-seat grandstand hosting high-stakes thoroughbred races has been transformed by HBG Design into an upscale resort and entertainment destination experience.

Oaklawn’s resort expansion design celebrates the sport and history of Thoroughbred racing and takes many design cues from Hot Springs’ turn-of-the-20th-century heyday as America’s First Spa Resort. Well-tailored design details recall an era when ladies and gentlemen donned their best bespoke styles to see and be seen.

Watch the ‘A VIRTUAL JOURNEY
to Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort
in Hot Springs, Arkansas’ video below.

Continuing a 10+year relationship with Oaklawn, HBG Design was tapped to lead the architecture and interior design for the large-scale racing and gaming resort expansion. The project includes a new eight-story, 198-room hotel situated around the horse track for optimal views; a 15,000 SF event center; an expanded gaming floor and new High Limits area; a world-class spa and pool; and multiple new food and beverage venues—a new food court, the First Turn Bar and The Bugler restaurant.

 

Flip through and read more about the project design below.