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Scott Sibella

Premier Magazine

Degree: '88 BS Hotel Administration
Occupation: Hotelier (President, Mirage Hotel & Casino)

Scott Sibella '88 now heads up The Mirage

Scott Sibella was selected as the 2007 Alumnus of the Year, an award given to an outstanding alumnus as a symbol of recognition for his accomplishments. In this issue of Premier, we celebrate Sibella's contributions to UNLV and to the hospitality industry, where he has made a lasting impact on the lives of students today and also for those in the future.

Growing up in Las Vegas, Scott Sibella '88 was, like many children who grow up in such a unique setting, intrigued by the casino business. His father worked for a local construction company which built many of the hotel/casinos and that's what first got Sibella interested. "I thought it was fascinating to go out with my dad on his job sites," recalled Sibella. "It was a world I wanted to know more about."

After going away for his first year of college, Sibella returned home to UNLV and more specifically, to the Harrah Hotel College. "I had become friends with Jerry Vallen's daughter, Becky, while I was away so I felt like I kind of already knew her dad," he remembered. "Jerry was a great dean and very approachable, just like Dean Mann is to students today.

"Dr. Don Bell was a huge influence on me. Because of all the things I learned through such a wide variety of classes, I really felt I was ready for my career and future."

In addition to his studies, Sibella truly enjoyed his time at UNLV. "I met so many people and made so many new friends. I played intramural sports and remember going to the basketball games back in the Rebels' heyday. There was always so much going on–I sure can't say I was ever bored…it was a great time to be a college student here!"

Working His Way Up

Although he was mesmerized by the Las Vegas casino industry, Sibella first thought his career would lead him elsewhere, to another exotic locale where maybe he would work in a resort. "I completed an internship with the Golden Nugget and toward the end of my time there, the hotel added 1,500 rooms with its Spa Tower and I was offered a job as a front desk clerk. I really liked it there and decided to stay and try it out. From that position, I just kept working my way up until I was eventually the hotel manager."

Sibella's enthusiasm and curiosity about the world of hospitality kept him intrigued and eager to learn. "The industry has been generous to me and although I wasn't the smartest guy in college, just having that background and experience helped me reach my goals."

Today, as the president and chief operating officer of The Mirage, Sibella is a leader in the Las Vegas hospitality industry. He recently oversaw the hotel's largest renovation since it opened 16 years ago as well as the debut of a new Cirque du Soleil show, LOVE.

Prior to holding his current position, he was the president and chief operating officer of Treasure Island, now known as TI, where he directed the resort's pirate-themed aspect into one of sophistication and glamour.

What is Sibella's advice to those looking for a similar career path? "Get as much experience as you can. It's okay to move around to other departments within a company as long as you learn from each move," says Sibella. "Don't let anything hold you back–be aggressive! There are so many opportunities in this industry that you can't be afraid to just put yourself out there and find them."

Sibella is more than aware of the importance of education. "UNLV was good to me and it's my obligation to give back. My degree and experience, which my internship was a huge part of, really helped me lay a foundation and eventually, helped my career take off," adds Sibella.

"The Harrah Hotel College has come a long way and we need to let more people know that it's the best education out there for the hospitality industry. We have more practical experience right around the corner from the university than anywhere else in the world."

Q & A

What's your favorite place to unwind in Las Vegas?
Riding my bike through Red Rock Canyon.
What's your favorite activity to do with your kids?
Spending time outside, playing with them.
What's on your iPod right now?
The Beatles, of course! (Note: The Mirage just opened a new Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show "LOVE" and the Revolution Lounge.)
What book is currently on your nightstand?
John Daly's new book, My Life in and out of the Rough: The Truth Behind All That Bull**** You Think You Know About Me.
What's your favorite restaurant at the Mirage?
Japonais—the atmosphere is great and the food is superb.
What does it mean to you to be named the Alumnus of the Year?
It's a great honor! As a leader in our industry, I'm committed to giving back to UNLV in any way I can.