Beau Rivage Just A Month From Reopening - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Beau Rivage Just A Month From Reopening

Window cleaners were dangling in front of Beau Rivage's top floor. They were wiping away the debris that stuck to the resort during and after Hurricane Katrina.

The bosses at Beau Rivage didn't need window cleaners to see what that storm did to their downtown Biloxi resort.

"The water here actually in some parts of the casino actually hit the ceiling," said George Corchis, the new president of Beau Rivage. "We had table games and we had slot machines piled up on each other, almost like a dam. All heading toward the north end of our property."

When Katrina made her unwanted visit, Corchis was applying for Beau Rivage's top job. Despite an estimated $500 million in rebuilding costs, and a one year reopening deadline, he accepted the task of putting Beau Rivage back together.

"We're trying to create a fresher experience for our guests," he said. "And we're trying to make sure that we fix the interior design problems that we originally had with the Beau Rivage."

One of those design problems is Corchis' most important change. He moved the center table games, and created a larger walkway through the heart of the casino. That will give guests have more room to move around the resort.

"Like I mentioned earlier, we took the opportunity the last 12 months to actually redesign and refresh the entire property," he said.

Beau now has new slot machines, a new high limit gaming area, and three new high end restaurants. It still has its pub, but it's no longer brewing its own beer. That equipment got washed out to sea during the storm.

The initial renovations must be done by August 29th. Corchis understands the significance of that date.

"August 29 is going to be a day of reflection, a sense of tremendous gravity," he said.

So Beau's reopening will be rather subdued. Unlike other MGM Mirage openings, there won't be fireworks at Beau's re-emergence into the Biloxi casino market. However, as guests wander through the rebuilt resort, they'll clearly see the company's post Katrina message.

"We're going to open our doors that day and provide jobs for 3,800 of our employees," Corchis said. "In essence, we're going to put 3,800 families back on their feet again. That's going to all us to help ignite the economy of Biloxi and the gulf coast region of Mississippi."

When Beau Rivage opens, about 1,200 of its 1,800 hotel rooms will be rented to guests. And three of its high end restaurants will still be under construction. The entire resort should be remodeled by December.

Beau Rivage already has a list of entertainers coming to Biloxi. Jay Leno headlines the first show. It's September 9, 2006 in the Magnolia Ballroom. Beau Rivage won't have its theater up and running again until December. And it won't go after convention business until 2007.

by Brad Kessie

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