RIDGEFIELD, Wash. (KOIN) — The skyline of Southwest Washington is about to change again. As the ilani casino celebrates its 4th anniversary, casino operators broke ground Friday on a 14-story glass-encased hotel tower.
When it’s finished sometime in 2023, there will be almost 300 new hotel rooms overlooking the rolling hills of southwest Washington, including an indoor/outdoor pool with luxury amenities and a restaurant on the top floor.
It is part of the master plan for the 159-acre site in Ridgefield and, according to the chairman of the Cowlitz tribe, it is a significant step toward realizing the vision for this site that began long before the casino was here.
“I think the bigger picture is, as we’ve said during our fight for federal recognition and to get this land into trust, that the Cowlitz have always been here,” said Cowlitz Tribe Chairman Philip Harju. “We’re here now and we’ll always be here in Southwest Washington and we’ll always be good partners.”
Money from the casino provides health care, housing and education to more than 4400 members of the Cowlitz Tribe around the country.
The casino pays for fire and sheriff’s patrol, has built a water reclamation facility and spent $40 million to help improve the freeway interchange to provide better access.
The president and general manager of the casino said the hotel phase of the development includes a spa, a fitness center and the indoor/outdoor pool will have wet lounges and cabanas and a poolside cafe.
“We will be aiming for a 4-diamond quality status hotel that really includes high quality finishes and first class hospitality,” said ilani casino President and General Manager Kara Fox-LaRose.
In the end it’ll be a lot more than 100,000-square feet of gaming space, 15 restaurants and a convention center. It is truly an engine of growth, a source of revenue for the tribe to support its own people and in the process spread some of the benefit to people in the surrounding communities.