Downtown Grand Refreshes Its Pool Deck as Citrus

In what’s become an annual tradition, Downtown Grand has again rebranded its pool area. The new name: Citrus at the Grand Pool Deck.

The thing is, it’s such an appealing space, this go-around the concept just might stick.

Citrus at Downtown Grand

“Citrus” refers to a tree or shrub of the tropical and subtropical rutaceous genus Citrus. Which we could’ve just made up, because nobody actually fact-checks photo captions.

The Downtown Grand originally opened its 35,000-square-foot rooftop pool complex as Picnic, and in 2015 rebranded it as Pool Deck at Downtown Grand.

Casino owner Derek Stevens has described downtown as “under-pooled,” so Downtown Grand’s attempts to make its pool experience a differentiating amenity makes a lot of sense.

So far, nothing’s really caught on, but a recent overhaul and upcoming plans for Citrus could very well do the trick for the beleaguered Downtown Grand.

Citrus pool at Downtown Grand

Citrus has debuted at the perfect time. The weather in Las Vegas is perfect for about 72 hours in March of each year.

As we were checking Citrus out, we bumped into one of Downtown Grand’s collaborators on the pool rebrand effort, Ralph Cautela, COO of 34th Floor Hospitality.

Cautela’s company had hand in businesses at Pawn Plaza, including Inna Gadda de Pizza and Pawn Donut & Coffee. The company is also involved with Topgolf, a high-profile new project near The Strip, set to open soon and already getting some good buzz.

The Citrus name came out of the brain of 34th Floor Hospitality’s CEO Olivier Zardoni, after what Cautela calls some “creative abrasion,” a lighthearted way of describing heated debates.

Citrus at Downtown Grand

The citrus theme includes several hand-painted murals. Orange you glad we pointed those out? They’re appealing, and we hope Citrus succeeds. Phew, got those out of our system.

“Our company 34th Floor Hospitality does an array of services,” says Cautela. “We do food and beverage and entertainment and retail consulting. We also have a marketing and design firm partner called Drex Agency, based out of Las Vegas. We wanted something to create some excitement for the Downtown Grand.”

Citrus pool Las Vegas

Even the towels have been updated to fit the Citrus theme.

Of the new pool concept, Cautela says, “Citrus certainly has connotations of being refreshing and something you can enjoy in the summer and we’ve converted the bar to one of the largest lemonade stands we’re aware of. Everything is fresh-squeezed to order. You can see the citrus presses on the top of the bar and certainly the color scheme. It’s light, it’s refreshing, we had a beautiful blank palette to work with and we’re pretty happy with the results.”

The vibrant new decor of Citrus has touches of yellow, green and orange.

Citrus pool Las Vegas

It’s hard to know what to do first. Do you hang out, kick it or chillax?

There’s a new batch of ornamental trees and foliage, and even the staff uniforms have gotten a once-over.

Citrus features a revamped new look and has outdoor games (not the gambling kind, the Gold Spike kind, like foosball, corn hole and table tennis).

An all-new menu has been created for Citrus. The new menu will have a number of citrus-themed elements, including “Minted Frozen Citrus Treats” and “Citrus Signature Slaw.”

Citrus pool food menu

Please don’t eat and foosball. It’s unsanitary.

There’s also a specialty cocktail menu, of course.

Our first cocktail at the new venue was distinctive and quite memorable. Citrus can officially consider itself a member of our elite Panty-Dropper Cocktail Club, which wasn’t actually a thing until we just made it up.

Citrus Downtown Grand

Say “hello” to the Shake My Cherry. We’re not going to be the one to point out cherries are not citrus fruits. Two of these babies and your genus concerns will subside in a big way.

Citrus has a great happy hour, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Our happy hour price was a $4 savings on our $12 drink.

As for the food and cocktail menus, Cautela says, “The team here is great. They were excited to work on the concept with us. Quite honestly, they did most of the heavy lifting. Chef Daniel Galan is fantastic. He designed the menu. We did several tastings, which is typical of the refining process of menu development and what he’s come up with is a great, light, shareable, summertime pool menu. The desserts are refreshing. The signature dessert, this one’s going to get lot of attention, is a grapefruit bowl if frozen citrus segments and grapes and a mint simple syrup which you can add a nice shot of tequila to.”

Suddenly, you have this blog’s attention.

Citrus pool cocktail menu

Please do not attempt to read this version of the Citrus pool cocktail menu. It is for illustrative purposes only, and squinting is not your best look.

Take a look at the full beverage menu at Citrus.

Citrus is open to the public, free to hotel guests and Las Vegas residents (age 21 and older). We couldn’t find any mention of a cost of entry for everybody else, but it shouldn’t be too oppressive.

An intriguing element of Citrus is that there are a number of organic herbs being grown on-site, for use in the cocktails and as garnish.

Says Cautela, “We’ve got the classics and the basics. We made a point of growing a lot of mint and basil because we’re going to use a lot of mint. And we have an assortment of organic peppers, Chili peppers, habanero, jalapenos. I think we have serranos, too.”

Citrus pool deck

The herbs at Citrus aren’t self-serve. Please leave the herb harvesting to a trained professional garnisher.

While attempts to do entertainment at the venue have fallen well short of expectations in the past (most notably Lit in July 2015), a line-up of live entertainment is promised, including DJs, concerts and special events.

We hear Downtown Grand has budgeted generously for both band bookings and marketing this time around, so Citrus is poised to become a thing.

Citrus will be open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with longer hours during special events.

Citrus pool deck Las Vegas

Bonus: We’re a big fan of sass.

“Stay tuned for programming,” assures Ralph Cautela. “We’re going to have DJs, we’re going to have some cool concerts, and we’re working on the entertainment schedule right now. Hopefully, we’ll get something in March, but definitely it’ll start up in earnest in April and then we’ll rock and roll all summer. We’re excited to be able to present this concept on behalf of Downtown Grand.”

And we’re excited to work our way through the rest of the signature cocktail menu at Citrus.

Downtown Las Vegas may be “under-pooled,” but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks it’s under-cocktailed.

Citrus Pool at Downtown Grand






















 

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  • Wally Marshall

    It amazes me how good this ownership group is at spending money with little to no return. To me it seems like they continue to spit into the wind, thinking the wind will change after they spit. All the money they have blown to try and figure out how to market the property, they could have built a parking garage which would turn into revenue generation. The next owners will probably hire a management company that knows how to operate a casino, knows how to market to gamblers and knows what the customers want, not what they think the customers want. That is my opinion.

    • Jefe

      Couldn’t have said it much better, Wally.

      It makes me sad how mismanaged this potentially great property has been, especially in the last year and a half.

    • Tony Crawford

      It sure won’t be you!

    • Scott Roeben

      Thanks for your thoughts. Here’s hoping things turn around, but the creation of a dedicated eSports room in the casino doesn’t bode well.

  • Rooster

    I would totally stay downtown if they had a better pool scene. Freemont Street is a blast, and the gambling is better.

    Maybe downtown should do like the strip and pay some hot chicks to hang out by the pools.

  • Bouldersteve

    Like the new look. The problem most people will never see the pool since its on the roof. They should spend their money fixing the casino and other things like food and beverage offerings..things that people notice once they enter the property.

    • I guess if they can do entertainment it might make non-guests visit, but the fact they don’t give information about how non-guests can enjoy the pool gives one pause. We’ll see!

      • Bouldersteve

        With all the free entertainment on FSE it might be a tough sell if they charge but if they can get some name performers it might work. Nice to see they are trying different things.

  • Funkhouser_1

    Having been at the pool area last year, its a nice space. I would say it beats out some of the crappy pool offerings downtown and at some strip hotels. Only the Nugget downtown can claim a nicer pool offering. Now here’s the rub, the F&B offerings last year stunk. Cocktails were small and overpriced and the Caesar chicken salad I had tasted like it came out of a 7-Eleven cooler. I don’t think the casino need fixing, its a nice space. If you want rowdy go to The D. They need to market the place better. Matching strip offers would be a way to get more people downtown.

    • Yep, marketing is a key challenge with this resort overall. The pool at least is something positive and tangible they can hopefully make the most of.