While it may have made its name as a family-friendly resort destination, a wave of new investment by the tech industry has sparked a burgeoning luxury scene in Reno, Nevada, we learned in a conversation with Christopher Baum, president and CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.
Recently Reno secured the contract to host Tesla’s new “gigafactory,” a massive facility aimed at producing batteries for electric cars. Additionally, the city is host to one of Apple’s server farms, and it is one of only six areas in the country that hosts unmanned vehicle research, Baum said.
Those new initiatives have brought a host of new tech jobs, and with them a new crowd of young, hip professionals that are in turn driving the city’s hotel and bar scene.
The recently opened Whitney Peak Hotel is a Millennial-focused brand that channels an active vibe, designed to highlight the many outdoor activities in the area around Reno. (Only a three-hour drive from San Francisco, Reno has a relatively cool, high-desert climate.) The hotel’s “Base Camp” has the tallest outdoor climbing wall in the world, as well as climbing boulders and a workout facility. An entire floor of the hotel is reserved for its Concierge Level guests, and offers additional amenities like a continuous stream of complimentary snacks, a private lounge and personalized service from dedicated staff.
The Cal Neva Resort on North Lake Tahoe (so named for its position on the California-Nevada border) is now under new ownership and is currently closed for renovation, Baum said. The resort will reopen as a luxury getaway that draws on the property’s Rat Pack history – Frank Sinatra and the Kennedy brothers are among the old resort’s notable guests.
Finally, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe is a perennial favorite. The property’s Lone Eagle Grill is a popular local spot, Baum said, as it provides views out over the lake and Sierra Nevada mountains.
Recently rated the “#1 Undiscovered Food Town in America” by Epicurious, Reno is also home to an up-and-coming local food scene that draws on the 200 small ranches and farms in the surrounding countryside.
Mark Estee, who was a semi-finalist for the 2013 James Beard Award, has four restaurants in the city, and is currently working on a new project that will occupy a former J.C. Penny in the downtown area. His current portfolio includes CAMPO on the Reno Riverwalk in downtown; Heritage, the Whitney Peak Hotel’s signature restaurant; Chez Louie at the Nevada Museum of Art; and Burger Me, a hamburger diner with two locations.
Estee’s new project, Provisions, is imagined as a culinary destination, with a “luxury cafeteria,” private dining area on-site butcher shop and a demo kitchen.
The city is also home to a number of notable spots to grab a drink. Some standouts: the Brasserie St. James (“Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year” at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival) and, opening within the next two months, The Depot on 4th Street, the first distillery in Reno.