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Casinos Find More Room for Fun With New Hotels, Other Amenities

Casinos in San Diego County are increasingly expanding their business beyond traditional gaming in an attempt to boost attendance and provide their guests with a better experience.

At Viejas Casino in Alpine, ranked No. 3 on the San Diego Business Journal’s Casinos list with 1,600 local full-time employees, a $36 million, 150-room hotel — with a swimming pool, fitness center and business center — is planned to break ground in the first quarter of 2012. The grand opening is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013.

Viejas Casino spokesman Robert Scheid said the Viejas Casino Hotel is being built to satisfy requests of current casino guests as well as draw new customers from areas as close as San Diego to travelers along the Interstate 8 coming from Arizona and points east.

A Synergy

Scheid said the casino executives and Viejas tribal leaders hope to capture business more effectively through a synergy between the gaming, dining, Viejas Outlet Center shopping and the concerts.

“Gaming and the amenities go hand-in-hand,” he said. “It’s part of the synergy of becoming a single destination.”

The hotel will be attached to the east side of the casino building, where the Bingo Pavilion is now located. Bingo will be moved to another area of the casino. The project will double the seating capacity of the Harvest Buffet.

With Swinerton selected as the general contractor for the project, Scheid said 450 construction jobs are expected to be created.

Valley View Casino & Hotel in Valley Center, ranked No. 6 on the Casinos list with 1,000 local full-time employees, added a 108-room hotel in November last year and opened an expanded parking garage and bus depot in June.

Ric Militi, Valley View’s vice president of marketing, said the boutique hotel has been a tremendous asset in attracting out-of-town guests.

“It’s expanded our geographic market all the way north to Santa Barbara,” said Militi, comparing it to one of Las Vegas’ upscale hotels such as Bellagio or The Venetian. “It allows us to attract a more high-end gamer who wants to stay in a better suite.”

The $72 million hotel includes 12 luxury suites consisting of more than 1,000 square feet each with appointments of marble, rich grain wood along with views of Palomar Mountain and the surrounding area. The hotel, which was under construction beginning in 2008, was built by Swinerton and designed by JMA Architecture.

In keeping with its expansion, Valley View Casino & Hotel recently opened an expanded parking garage with 280 new parking spaces and unveiled a new bus depot, called the Luxury Line Depot. The new depot will help service the average of 30 buses that arrive at the casino daily through the casino’s Luxury Line bus transportation system.

Class Transit

The Luxury Line Depot features five bus portals and is complemented by a waiting area with new benches and an outdoor controlled sound system to inform guests of bus information including arrival and departure times.

Militi said the upgrades contributed to recognition from Casino Player Magazine, which gave Valley View Casino & Hotel 28 awards and a rating of best overall gaming resort in the “Native West.”

“That says a lot about our property,” Militi said. “We’re all about having a very upscale, high-end, exciting and fun guest experience that provides them with the best overall gaming, dining, hotel and service experience in the West.”

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