LAS VEGAS — The busy New Year's holiday weekend is likely to come and go before a Rio casino hotel tower in Las Vegas fully recovers from a power outage that prompted a 900-room evacuation, officials said Friday.
Spokesman Richard Broome of the Rio's parent company, Caesars Entertainment, said the company is testing to see whether rooms on the lowest 20 floors can be occupied Friday. That could mean about 500 rooms would reopen in time for the holiday, when hotel rooms are scarce.
Broome said about 400 rooms on the upper floors of the Masquerade Tower will likely be unoccupied for several more days.
The chain of events that triggered the outage and evacuation started Wednesday, when a sink in a service area overflowed and shorted a fuse in the tower's power system. The hotel moved to a backup generator, but that had been compromised by water from a fire sprinkler and it gave out on Thursday morning.
Guests in the near-capacity tower were transferred to other rooms in casinos owned by Caesars, but also to competitors' rooms.
"Naturally, they're frustrated," Broome said at a news conference on Friday. "We're trying to bend over backward to try to make that frustration as small as possible by giving them free food, by giving them as much information as we can, making sure we transport them over to the other property they'll be staying at."
The 2,500-room Rio, which was built in 1990 and is a short drive from the Las Vegas Strip, is one of the more affordable resorts in Las Vegas, with rooms that run less than $100 on an off-peak night. It's home to magicians Penn and Teller, the Chippendales male revue and Food Network personality Guy Fieri's restaurant El Burro Borracho.
The timing of the outage is particularly problematic because it comes at one of the busiest and most lucrative weekends of the year for Las Vegas. More than 300,000 visitors are expected to ring in the new year in Sin City, which is welcoming big-name musical acts and putting on an eight-minute pyrotechnic show that features fireworks launched from casino rooftops.
Broome said Caesars hasn't estimated how much the outage is costing them.