CAMP VERDE - The Nation has announced that it will build a new luxury hotel as part of its Cliff Castle Casino.
The project is in the design phase now and construction is expected to start in January 2016.
The new hotel will include 122 rooms with a mix of suites, king and queen guestrooms, a multi-level 300-space parking garage, additional retail space, a 5,000 square-foot adjoining multi-purpose meeting center on the west side of the casino and a covered pool.
The six-story hotel will be an addition to the southwest side of the existing casino.
The projected cost of the new facilities is $27 million, with financing for the project being arranged with the Bank of Arizona.
Most Indian casinos have adjoining hotels and the new hotel is a matter of improving customer appeal and the casino's operations, or risk having the casino become outdated and out of step with current gaming industry standards.
The Tribal Council selected DreamCatcher Hotels (DCH) of Memphis, Tennessee to work with the Nation in developing the Hotel and the luxury quality standards that will be part of the Hotel's operations.
Under a licensing agreement with the Nation, DCH will provide all of the furnishings and fixtures for the hotel; including DCH luxury mattresses and bedding, spa-like showers in all rooms, and the latest media technology with 43-inch flat-screen high-definition televisions. The new Cliff Castle Hotel will also feature a coffee shop, a retail shop and a business center for guests.
Included with this is a swimming pool, an eight-person whirlpool, a 1,430 square-foot courtyard, and a 1,600 square-foot outdoor seating area.
DCH developed the Seven Clans Hotel of the Coushatta Casino Resort with 401 rooms in Coushatta, Louisiana that opened its doors in July, 2012.
DCH has also worked closely with the Graceland Mansion at the Elvis Presley estate and the Holiday Inn corporate office in Memphis to develop an Elvis themed hotel adjacent to Graceland.
The Tribal Council also selected Cunningham Group Architecture, Inc., based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to provide architectural design services in connection with the design and construction of the Nation's new hotel.
Presently, Cunningham is preparing the design, plans and drawings for the project and this work will be completed sometime in late fall of 2015.
DCH will work closely with the Cunningham Architects in seeing the Cliff Castle Casino Hotel through construction to its opening.
The Cunningham Group were instrumental in designing and building the $150 million Potawatomi Casino and Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
This 19-story hotel completed in August of 2014, reaches into the Milwaukee skyline and is the main drawing card for nearby Chicago, Illinois 90 miles south, which has no casinos except on river boats on the Illinois River downstate toward St. Louis.
The Potawatomi Casino and Hotel is 19 stories high with 381 rooms.
At the top of the hotel is a modern glass flame that references the Potawatomi Tribe as "Keepers of the Flame".
According to associate principal of the Cunningham Group, Brett Ewing, "two of the most memorable projects we have designed was the award winning $650 million expansion and renovation of Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Resort in Cherokee, N.C. and the $97 million Isleta Casino and Resort and Hotel/Convention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico".
Take a walk in the Isleta complex which was completed in 2008, and the hotel is configured with an open lobby and a transparent glassed-in elevator that shuttles guests up to several floors above.
In the lobby area and into the convention center are small portals and cubicles that houses the Indian tribe's art made by local artisans. Ewing stated that " ... now that Indian gaming has matured, we come to a property that may have been in existence for ten or fifteen years and they have new competition, so we look at the whole property. We help redefine it and create some new, competitive edges against their market to attract more customers over time and make their circle of influence a little bigger."
Chairman Thomas Beauty of the Nation said, "In our 20 years of operation, the Cliff Castle Casino and its benefits to the Nation and the local community has grown tremendously and is continuing to do so, improving infrastructure, employment, housing, education, medical access and public safety for all our tribal members in the area...our community will benefit greatly from this expansion. The Nation's council is to be commended for their support of the new hotel."
Construction on the project will begin in January 2016 and will be completed for a grand opening in December 2016.
"We are thrilled to announce the new hotel because we know it will be a one-of-a-kind destination for our guests," said Cliff Castle Casino General Manager Mary Ketterling.
"Adding affordable luxury hotel to Cliff Castle Casino gives a new level of entertainment experience to our guests and it will help our casino continue to be a place that creates local jobs and attracts visitors to our beautiful Verde Valley community."
(Don Decker is the editor of the Yavapai-Apache newspaper, Gah' Nahavah/Ya Ti')