The Costa Rica Star - At the north end of Jacó in Costa Rica, towering cranes dominate the skyline as construction of the $48 millionCroc’s Casino Resort advances at lightning speed. On Wednesday morning, I stopped by Croc’s sales office on Avenida Pastor Diaz to meet with Rory Hascall, President and Chief Operating Officer.
I have barely set my foot in the door when Stefanie Gould, VP of marketing, rushes over to warmly greet me and quickly introduce me to the staff. A moment later, I’m whisked away to meet with Rory who has taken time out of his busy schedule to speak with me. The man sitting at the desk in front of me, like the entire operation behind him, can be summed up with one word: focused. With the official groundbreaking ceremony of Croc’s Casino Resort on June 20th of this year and a scheduled opening date just shy of eighteen months later, Hascall cannot be anything but focused.
Casually noting the gargantuan reptilian eye on the wall (a painting from his fiancé Yahaaira), Rory remarks that it is the “Eye of the Croc,” smiling as he walks over to the conference table where I sit, pointing out the connection to Rocky III, an appropriate theme I note. It was three years ago that Rory came to Costa Rica to visit his cousin Dag Hascall and meet with a local developer to discuss a joint venture building a hotel casino resort. After three days of intense meetings and unable to reach a satisfactory agreement, the two decided to go it alone. Dag, who was already a titan in the steel industry (taking over the family business in the 1980s), had the money, the land, and the connections to make it happen. And Rory, having spent the past thirty years working the Las Vegas strip, the Mecca for casinos and resorts, had built a reputation as the “gaming insider”: the trusted executive who knew well the ins and outs of the gaming industry. Together, the two would build a family-friendly casino resort unlike anything ever seen in Costa Rica.
With the plan in place (and Dag as the owner, Rory as President and COO), the Hascall cousins moved forward, hiring and bringing on board only the best companies and crews in Costa Rica: Edica Construction, Manifesto, Grupo Gama, Acquariam, Clima, Bella, etc. “It is the Rolls Royce of resorts,” Rory says, describing the work of the architect. Leaving nothing to chance, Rory and Dag systematically crafted a winning hand, paying close attention to every last detail, down to the Pella windows manufactured exclusively in the United States.
But it isn’t simply a great play for the Hascalls; the development of Croc’s Casino Resort is a boom to the local economy as well. With three hundred jobs being created and four- to five-hundred indirect additional jobs expected by the opening date of December 15th 2014, Croc’s is bringing money into the region. And it isn’t without thought or by happenstance. As much as possible, they work with local businesses such as buying supplies through El Lagar.
Even though free time is essentially non-existent these days for Rory – gone are the days of trout-fishing outside his log home in the mountains of Utah – he is involved within the community beyond working closely with the municipality on the project. A member of the Chamber of Commerce, Rory is also supporting the Municipality in the building of the boardwalk expected to run the length of Jacó beach; a concept which will add even more appeal to already one of the hottest tourist spots in Costa Rica.
As for the name itself? Rory laughs, almost embarrassed to tell me. It was after a couple of cocktails during his second trip to Costa Rica that Rory and Dag headed out to the Tarcoles River. It was in that moment, standing on the bridge looking down at the crocodile-infested river, that Dag asked what they should name the resort. The answer was right in front of them. Crocs now run throughout Rory’s life, from the solitary painting on his office wall to the name of his English Bulldog “Crockie” who is serving as the official mascot for the resort.
“There is really no comparison currently in Costa Rica. Our Las Vegas style casino will without a doubt set new standards, and be second to none,” Rory tells me when I inquire about the existing casinos in Costa Rica as compared to Croc’s. But Rory isn’t one to focus on the negative. And for certain, his timetable doesn’t allow it. Rory is focused on one thing only: setting the gold standard for casino resorts in all of Costa Rica. The casino will employ, of course, the newest technologies. Slots, table games… all the standard fare one would expect at a Las Vegas style casino will be present in Croc’s casino. But this is where Croc’s will shine brightly: Rory’s visionary thinking in casino operations is what put him at the top of the game in Vegas and it will put Croc’s at the top here. It will be unlike anything that has come before to this Central American country.
Looking at it objectively, it seems an appealing proposition for investors. 17 stories of deluxe accommodations with 152 hotel rooms, 44 condos (from studio apartments to penthouse suites), 3 restaurants, 3 bars, a discotheque/nightclub and 1 massive pool built around a world-class casino sitting right on the beach in arguably the biggest tourist destination in Costa Rica. Or, put another way, a Las Vegas style resort on the beaches of Costa Rica being developed by two men with not only a history of success in their respective industries, but with the focus and determination to build the very best.
Phase I of sales for the forty-four condos in the resort is now ongoing. At the end of the year, if there is any inventory left, prices will be raised so now would certainly seem the time to buy.
For more information on the sale of condos, you can visit the Croc’s Casino Resort website at www.crocscasinoresort.com or call them toll free 1-800-590-0001.