20 Questions with Bruno Marvelli, Director of Facilities at Caesars Palace

Originally published: 12.01.07 by Terry Tanker

Publisher Terry Tanker sat down with Bruno Marvelli, director of facilities at Caesars Palace. Construction on the hotel started in 1962 and was funded by a $10 million loan from the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. It opened its doors August 1966 and has been a Las Vegas landmark ever since. Terry and Bruno discussed treasure hunting, high-roller suites, beach parties and mechanical equipment.

1. How does a facility director of a large casino relax?

An RV, a Miller Lite and a metal detector.

2. Have you dug up anything exceptional?
No not really. Half of the fun is listening to the metal detector go off, digging around a bit and searching for an unknown treasure.

3. What would you like to find?
Well my dream would be to find old cowboys — $20 gold pieces, but so far my best find has been a silver dime.

4. What do your responsibilities include?
Engineering, mechanical, guest rooms, casino, conventions, interior fixtures, furniture, kitchens, landscape — basically everything on site.

5. Rooms? Can you get me into one of the Big 8 high-roller suites?
Yes, but only if you have a $1 million line of credit.

Maybe I could get in dressed as a service tech….

6. How do you service those spaces?
Typically, we’ll have someone from guest services help us understand the guest’s schedule and do any work when they are away from the room.

7. Last month I spoke with Thomas Gugino who is a mechanical inspector with the city of Las Vegas. I asked him if there was any truth to the rumor casinos pump oxygen into the gaming area. He said it was just that – a rumor. Do you concur?
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas….The reality is a much greater portion of OSA is being used to obtain the best indoor air quality possible.

8. Caesars has plans for a large expansion; how will that affect you and your team?
We’re adding an 800-room tower, pool and separate convention center. We’ll integrate that project into what we do now.

9. Are “green” products important with regard to the new project?
Very important. Our current plans call for the two new buildings to be gold LEED certified. We understand the project will be more expensive but the building will operate more efficiently, save money in the long run and enable us to market the property more effectively.

10. How large is your current staff?
208 employees, but we do have some openings in case you really want to get into the Big 8 high-roller suites.

11. What is the most unusual request you’ve had?
There are no unusual requests, this is Las Vegas.

12. Can you humor us?
The company owns six properties in Las Vegas: Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Rio, Bally’s, Paris and the Flamingo. I came to Caesars from the Flamingo. When we built Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville the plans called for a big grand opening. There are several acres behind the hotel that house the pool area— which is very large. It holds 289,000 gallons of water. They wanted to have a beach party so they asked us to drain the pool and fill it with sand — including the pool deck. We accomplished that over night, they had the party and the next day we removed the sand and re-filled the pool.

13. What type of project software helps you to keep all of the projects organized?
I use a Palm Pilot in addition to e-mail and a cell phone. I find I use the camera feature a lot while walking the property.

14. How do you share information with managers and other team members?
We have a daily coordination meeting with the managers. We discuss known issues, timeliness and new items on the horizon. Thursdays we have a meeting with all of the foreman and senior department managers from the trades, labor, engineering, fire command, and life safety. We discuss all of the closed and open work orders.

15. What is the largest challenge you face?
Keeping everyone happy. With an 85-acre complex there is plenty of work. A restaurant manager having a problem with a kitchen exhaust fan doesn’t necessarily care about a front desk computer crisis, plumbing problem, or malfunctioning air handler. He wants his kitchen fixed.

16. What does management expect from you and your team?
The executives want to make sure all the different departments interact well together. They want me to manage the budget, reduce costs where I can, and have a five-star property.

17. Do you and the other facility managers share information or buy collectively?
We do not buy collectively, but we have discussed it. We don’t have formal meetings, but we do share information especially with larger projects. I think each one of us has favorite equipment that solves problems for us because of the uniqueness of each facility. A one-solution-fits-all mentality would hurt us in many respects.

18. Would you share some numbers with us?
These numbers are approximate – electrical 14.600 million KWH, natural gas 363,000 therms and 44 million gallons of water. Currently, we have 3,300 rooms, 5.5-million square feet of conditioned space, 15 restaurants, a nightclub, 10 lift stations (one of those is 50 feet deep), 40,000-gallon grease interceptors, over 600 air-handlers, and at any given time 7,000 people on property.

19. With regard to your new expansion, do you have most of the large mechanicals selected?
Yes. We have selected York chillers, RBI Fusion boilers, Alfa Laval heat exchangers, Climate Master water cooled heat pumps, and Greenheck fans to name a few.

20. What is your largest plumbing and mechanical challenge?
The underground on any property is always challenging because the system is so expansive — even with preventative maintenance and jetting. You don’t want the call on Saturday evening at 7:30 from the five-star dining room going full tilt saying all the drains are backing up, but you know it’s going to happen and our team needs to react.

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