Hotels help tribal casinos attract more tourists

EVERETT — Members of the Tulalip Tribes aren’t the first and won’t be the last to couple a casino with a resort in the state.

Several tribal casino-resorts are scattered across Washington. They include the Emerald Queen Casino, run by the Puyallup Indian Tribe in Fife, and Davenport’s Two Rivers Casino and Resort operated by the Spokane Tribe of Indians. While plenty of casinos exist without resorts, those with hotels, like the Tulalips, tend to bring in even more tourists to the region.

Just north of the Tulalip Reservation in Bow is the Skagit Valley Casino Resort, owned by the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. Situated 70 miles north of Seattle and 70 miles south of Vancouver, the Skagit casino serves as a stopping point for travelers looking to explore both cities. The rooms at Skagit Valley Resort Casino aren’t as expensive as at Tulalip, with through-the-week rates as low as $69 during sale periods. A second, unattached hotel operates across the street.

Lisa Swanberg, office director for the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, said the casino’s remoteness hasn’t stopped tourists from flocking there. Many Skagit casino patrons make their way to Burlington’s outlet shopping center.

“We have a lot of people who come down from Canada,” Swanberg said.

The Skagit Valley Casino Resort is a stop on at least two Canada-based bus tours, including ETA Bus Tours and Winners Express Charter Coach.

With its proximity to North Cascades National Park, the Skagit casino aims to capture some of the park’s visitors. It also serves as the closest lodging to the Upper Skagit Bald Eagle Festival in late January to early February, Swanberg noted.

The resort also is one of the closest lodging options for people going to the Skagit Speedway.

Farther south lies the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino, located at Ocean Shores. It is owned by the Quinault Indian tribe. Like the Tulalip hotel, the Quinault’s Beach Resort also features a spa that provides an array of services including massage. The 150-room Quinault resort sits right along Washington’s Pacific coast. It provides entertainment, much like the Tulalip and Skagit resorts.

The resort draws from two large city bases. Portland, Ore., is about 170 miles from away while 135 miles separates the resort from Seattle. Beside Washington’s coastal area, the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino boasts a nearness to the southwest corner of Olympia National Park as well as the park’s protected beaches.

Leslie Reedy serves on the Grays Harbor County Tourism board as well as the Ocean Shores Chamber of Commerce. She says a lot of tourists to the area come mostly to spend time on the beach. The Quinault resort and casino offers a convenient place to stay and play near the ocean. And the influx of tourists to the resort has helped the surrounding communities.

“The shops in town benefit from the resort” as do restaurants and gas stations, Reedy said.

Tourism spikes even further when the resort hosts conventions or draws a popular entertainment act. The tribe and local officials have worked together at times on advertising or to bring in more tourists to the area.

“They put a lot of money into the community,” she said.

Reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or

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