Tribe redefines the California hotel-casino and turns to Palms


HIGHLAND, Calif .– As the San Manuel Mission Indian Band prepares to open what will be their second hotel-casino, the Palms in Las Vegas, the tribe continues to transform their first.

The Tribe’s Entertainment Authority is expected to launch the former San Manuel Casino as a full-fledged resort, the Yaamava ‘Resort and Casino, when the property’s first on-site hotel opens at the end of the year. Casino executives say the Palms and Yaamava will operate as different properties serving different audiences. But there will be some similarities, mainly a focus on the guest and worker experience.

“(Civil servants) know that if employees are happy and excited and feel like they are being taken care of, they will give it to their customers,” said Laurens Vosloo, CEO of San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

The Entertainment Authority completed the first phase of a $ 760 million expansion at Yaamava ‘at the end of July, adding two new gaming floors, 1,500 slot machines, three bars, a new high-speed hall, new restaurants and three luxury boutiques. The property was renamed last month from San Manuel Casino in Yaamava ‘to mark its evolution.

Phase two is the new hotel in Yaamava ‘, and the final phase will end next year with a 2,800-seat entertainment venue. The tribe is also involved in operating four non-gaming hotels, including the 105-room Bear Springs Hotel, three kilometers east of Yaamava.

San Manuel announced a $ 650 million deal with Red Rock Resorts in May to purchase the Palms. The deal is expected to be concluded later this year.

Guests filled most of the slots with slots at the play area closest to the main parking lot on a busy Thursday afternoon in Yaamava ‘. A woman hung out and tap dance on a casino aisle to the beat of a pop song playing over the facility’s audio system. A group of young people in their twenties wearing USC clothing took turns trying their luck at a handful of the property’s 6,600 slot machines.

Local players in the lead

Yaamava ‘has 290,000 square feet of casino space and a total footprint of 1.4 million square feet, said general manager Peter Arceo.

The property’s huge game room, game rooms, bars, shops, and restaurants resemble a mega-resort on the Strip, though Arceo is quick to note that the tribe designed the property. for its players and their wishes.

San Manuel only brought down the walls during the recent expansion of the resort located about 230 miles southwest of Las Vegas. What is now Yaamava ‘was first a bingo hall which opened in 1986. San Manuel opened a casino in 1994 and expanded again in 2005, leaving ample room on the footprint of the property to expand into space, Arceo said. Las Vegas was “a small part” of the vision, he said.

“If they built it for what a Vegas casino did at the time, it would be obsolete,” Arceo said, adding that “as we have grown there are items that are similar to Las Vegas, but it’s not like we sit down and say, “What is Vegas doing and check us out?”

The rear of the house features a full-service dining room with multiple televisions, music, and windows overlooking the entrance to the Artists’ Theater. The kitchen serves fresh food, although Arceo adds that “unlike Las Vegas, it’s not free” and the food costs a nominal price.

A Las Vegas transplant

Savvy visitors may recognize an aesthetic element of Las Vegas – Yaamava ‘recently hired former Bellagio horticultural director Jerry Bowlen for the same role. Floral arrangements and true and false flags accent the casino floor, some aisles, entrances, and a main atrium. Life-size bears carved from a piece of wood guard the base of a set of escalators.

The hotel tower will have 432 rooms and suites when it opens. The luxury hotel will seek five-star certification from the Forbes Travel Guide and has met 900 standards for consideration, said Afsi Bird, vice president of hotel operations, during a tour of the hotel under construction with the Review- Newspaper.

Some suites have a Juliet balcony overlooking the pool terrace, while the corner suites have a full balcony. All rooms have coffeemakers and 300-thread count linens, with the exception of the 16th and 17th floors, which have 600-thread count sheets, Bird said.

Yaamava ‘this year launched a new app that over the course of several months will feature a digital concierge, digital key, and e-commerce store where customers can purchase products they may have loved during their stay at the hotel, Arceo said.

Future hotel or theater customers were in mind when tribe and casino officials decided to add a casino lounge, “Aces”, to give those customers a place to have a drink and listen to a DJ, said Arceo.

The property now boasts up to five premium rooms, including a slot machine room, a table game room, an Asian themed room, and a popular steampunk themed room where players can order a cocktail of $ 10,000.

The music is louder and the ceilings are lower on the second floor. The mix of slots is consistent throughout the gaming space, although lighting, music, and ambiance vary by area. It’s by design, Arceo said, as the casino tries to cater to all players.

“You go to a big casino in Vegas sometimes… and you’re like, ‘Oh, you can tell that’s where they threw all the old games,’” Arceo said. Not in San Manuel, he said.

“Don’t neglect them,” he said. “Why should you make someone feel less because they like a different environment? A section that was once where the bingo hall was located now sports a rock and roll motif with music, murals and a “Walk of Fame” featuring notable rock records.

“I like to say that we have about six casinos on one roof,” Arceo said. “But you wouldn’t know if you’re not here.”

Contact Mike Shoro at [email protected] To follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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