By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
ARLINGTON — The Angel of the Winds Casino, which drew more than 1 million visitors last year, has announced plans to add a $20 million, 125-room hotel.
Construction is scheduled to last 14 months. “I would like to see a grand opening maybe on New Year’s Eve of 2014,” said Travis O’Neil, the casino’s general manager, on Wednesday.
The casino, which opened in 2004, is one of the last along the I-5 corridor to add a hotel, he said.
The five-story hotel will make the casino a destination rather than just a day-trip site, he said. “It’s something the guests have been asking for for quite a while.”
The project also will add more than 100,000 square feet onto the casino and include a new gift shop, smoke shop and drive-up entryway.
Bellingham-based Exxel Pacific has been selected as the project’s general contractor.
Plans for the hotel have been under consideration for the past 18 months, O’Neil said. Casino staff went to members of the Stillaguamish Tribe to see “what we could do and what we could afford,” he said.
The hotel doesn’t aim to be a copy of the five-star, 370-room Tulalip Resort Casino, O’Neil said. Instead, he said, it will fit the character of the casino, known by its advertising tagline, “The World’s Friendliest Casino.”
Room prices will be in the $100- to $120-a-night range with plans to offer promotional packages with discounts on those rates, O’Neil said.
Groundbreaking for the project is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday. Workers erected a fence around the construction site on Monday.
That has greatly reduced the parking on the south side of the casino, but parking on its north side hasn’t been affected. Shuttles are available to help people navigate the area, O’Neil said.
The casino is expected to hire an additional 50 employees to work at the hotel.
“We are truly blessed to have an opportunity to add a hotel to our facility and provide more services to our guests,” Shawn Yanity, chairman of the Stillaguamish Tribe, said in a statement. “Not only are we growing our tribal economy, but growing the local economy too by increasing job opportunities and tourism.”
The last major expansion at the casino, at 3438 Stoluckquamish Lane, was in 2008, a $44 million project that tripled the size of its gaming area.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; email@example.com.