Mohegan - In the casino world, a night spot with an identity crisis is a terrible thing.
Take Leffingwells at Mohegan Sun.
Was that its name? Or was it the "Star Bar"? How about the "Martini Bar"?
It doesn't matter now. After months of renovations, the former Leffingwells space on the upper level of Mohegan Sun's retail concourse re-opened "softly" this week with a new name, a new look and a new purpose - "an identity," according to Greg Romeyn, the casino's 28-year-old nightlife manager.
The new Vista Lounge at Wombi Rock, which won't officially debut until later this month, promises to be defined by its new furniture, specifically the two tables in back - blackjack tables.
Placing gaming tables inside a casino nightclub is an East Coast first, Jeffrey Hartmann, Mohegan Sun's president and chief executive officer, said. Some Las Vegas casinos introduced similar setups years ago.
"We'll always have one of the tables open for whoever is in the lounge, and the other can be reserved for parties," Hartmann said. "It will be great for bachelor or bachelorette parties. We believe there will be great demand for it."
Licensed dealers, like those who staff the blackjack tables on the casino's gaming floor, will deal at the lounge's tables.
The reservable table is located in a private area that Romeyn said can comfortably accommodate 10 to 15 people. It overlooks the Casino of the Sky.
Other Vista Lounge standouts are its sound system and its drink menu. Overhead, the largest planetarium dome in the world will change colors based on the hour.
With some 40 strategically positioned speakers, the sound system can deliver digitally processed sound to virtually every nook and cranny in the two-story club's 4,600 square feet.
Todd Main, director of operations for the Lyons Group, the Boston-based outfit that manages Vista Lounge, demonstrated how the pounding beat heard in an area set aside for dancing hardly interfered with conversation in a nearby corner.
"It can be specific to wherever you are," Main said of the volume.
The Lyons Group, which also manages the three clubs that comprise Mohegan After Dark - Ultra 88 Night Club, Lucky's Lounge and The Dubliner - helped develop a drink menu that's heavy on Cosmopolitans, champagne and a "dessert list."
"It's not your typical lounge," Romeyn said. "It's more like a New York City 'ultra lounge.'"
With Vista, the casino is targeting a young, sophisticated crowd that's 21 to 35 years old or a little older, he said.
"We want to catch them when they're in that range, so that when they're 40 to 50, which is our core audience, they've already identified with the Mohegan Sun brand," Romeyn said.
It's those in the older bracket who are most interested in gaming, especially the slot machines, he said.
Mohegan Sun has also taken aim at a young audience with another recent innovation, its GLO at the Pool parties at the hotel pool on Thursday and Saturday nights.
"We constantly renovate and evolve," Hartmann said. "We did our restaurants earlier and now we're targeting our nightlife. It's all in keeping with our goal of being a complete entertainment destination."