In the last few years, casinos in and around San Diego County have collectively invested north of $1 billion to revamp and/or expand their properties. According to tribal representatives and experts in the gaming industry, this is all in an effort to evolve from mono-dimensional gaming facilities to multi-dimensional, full-service resort models in order to better serve already-established guests and potentially gain new ones.
This year alone, the Jamul Indian Village’s Jamul Casino, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation’s Sycuan Casino Resort and the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians’ Valley View Casino & Hotel, all in San Diego County, are projected to wrap up multimillion-dollar expansions. The Pala Band of Mission Indians’ Pala Casino Spa & Resort, located in Pala in the mountains near the Fallbrook, is scheduled to complete its $170 million project in 2020.
In October of last year, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians completed its seven-year renovation and expansion of San Diego County’s Viejas Casino & Resort. As part of the project, the property now has three hotel towers, the third being home to the establishment’s adult-only destination, Willows Hotel & Spa; a 1,900 square-foot center bar and redesign of the entire facility, including the 15,415 square-foot high limit gaming area, which now features 80 new slot and poker machines and eight high limit table games.
In March 2018, The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians completed its $300 million, three-year expansion project of the Pechanga Resort & Casino, located in the Temecula Valley in Riverside County. The major expansion added 568 hotel rooms and suites for a total of 1,090 rooms; a 4.5 acre pool complex that now includes 15 pools and spas throughout the property; two additional restaurants for a total of 20; a dual-level spa with fitness and yoga studio; and 68,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Andy Masi, CEO of Las Vegas-based Clique Hospitality, which focuses on dining and nightlife and is working with Sycuan Casino Resort on its overhaul, said today’s gaming customer is looking for more than just gambling.
“They want experiences,” he said. “They want a great room, they want great food, they want the option of going to a high-end spa and they want to see a great show. As a result, casinos are now looking to become more so resort destinations.”
Andrew Kerzmann, vice president of hotel operations for Sycuan, said the casino was up for an expansion in 2008, shortly before the recession, which halted the plans. In 2017, the tribe began talks about expanding once again, mostly due to the patterns in guest behavior as well as the competitive casino market. The $260 million renovation is expected to be completed March 27.