Casinos offer guests much more than gambling. They’re full-on resorts with spas, golf courses, pool complexes, nightclubs and live entertainment — the whole package for meeting planners and attendees.
Casino resorts also provide full packages for meetings. In addition to dedicated event space, these properties offer a slate of “off-site” meeting venues all on-site: private dining rooms, chic cabarets, comedy clubs, luxurious lounges and game-packed arcades.
Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel Casino Resort
Lake Charles, Louisiana
The Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel Casino Resort in southwest Louisiana is a melding of two worlds, where Las Vegas glitz meets Southern heritage.
“It’s in a part of the country that is very rich in culture,” said executive director of sales Brett Forshag. “There’s a real soul here.”
The resort fronts Bayou Contraband, which connects to Lake Charles. On the private beach, guests can gather around fire pits, relax on beach chairs and play beach volleyball. The resort’s private marina allows groups to charter boats for catered cruises and on-the-water receptions.
The Golden Nugget has 1,100 guest rooms, an 18-hole golf course, a spa and a two-acre pool complex with an adult-only area, a swim-up bar, a lazy river and poolside gaming. The casino boasts over 1,600 slot machines and 72 table games, including poker, blackjack and craps.
Because it’s part of Landry’s Inc., “we’re a very foodcentric resort,” with over 10 dining options, Forshag said. The Chart House on the resort’s golf course overlooks the Interstate 210 bridge, delivering what locals say is the best view in the city.
The resort has over 30,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 18,000-square-foot Grand Event Center, where acts like Keith Sweat and the Doobie Brothers perform nearly every weekend. The center will also host the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing Finals on December 15.
Groups can change the atmosphere of their meetings by using various areas of the resort: private dinners at restaurants, events at the outdoor concert venue, crawfish boils or gumbo cook-offs.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
The new guitar at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, is meant to look like the one Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page played, but this one is 450 feet tall and houses over 600 guest rooms.
The guitar-shaped hotel tower opened October 24, and “it’s mobbed; the reception has been unbelievable,” said director of sales Mark Tascione. At night, lights outline the tower, and two light shows play on the guitar face every night.
The new addition is part of the Seminole Tribe’s $1.5 billion resort remodel and expansion. The project included the new Hard Rock Live, a 7,000-capacity entertainment venue that marked its grand opening with a concert by Maroon 5 on October 25.
The new pool complex includes a pool right in front of the guitar tower that’s about three football fields long and 10 feet deep. Groups can participate in watersports like relays and kayak races.
The Seminole Hard Rock now has 120,000 square feet of meeting space that includes a 38,000-square-foot exhibit hall that doubles as a ballroom with chandeliers that can be lowered. The 7,600-square-foot Terrace Ballroom connects to an outdoor patio that leads to an event lawn.
Planners bring meetings to the resort because “people like the music, they like the fun — there’s so many things to do here [and] it’s all under one roof,” Tascione said. “You never have to leave.”
The massive expansion project also included retail, restaurants and the 42,000-square-foot Rock Spa. The resort’s expanded casino now has over 3,000 slot machines and 190 table games.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
Cherokee, North Carolina
Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino has come a long way in the 20 years since the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened its facility in Cherokee, North Carolina, an hour’s drive west of Asheville, North Carolina.
When the casino opened in 1997, video poker was the only gaming option. Today, the resort has more than 1,100 guest rooms in three towers, nearly 33,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, several dining options and a casino with 4,000 slot machines, table games and a renowned World Series of Poker room.
And Harrah’s Cherokee is growing again. The resort is in the midst of a $250 million expansion that will add a new hotel tower, a new conference center and a new parking garage.
The hotel tower is slated to house 725 guest rooms, including 70 suites, as well as a pool terrace and several dining options, one of which will be a full-service restaurant.
The new two-story conference center will have 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space and will attach to the main casino by skybridge. The center will more than triple Harrah’s existing meeting space, which includes the flexible 13,000-square-foot Council Fires Ballroom and the 3,000-person event center.
Harrah’s is also adding about 160,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and building a 2,000-space parking garage. The entire project is slated to be complete in early 2021.
In addition to gambling at the casino, groups can play in the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, where they’ll find 24 bowling lanes, a large arcade and a sports bar.
Mohegan Sun casino resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, is “independently owned by a family — and that family is the Mohegan Tribe,” said John Washko, vice president of expo and convention sales.
The resort uses the tribe’s history and culture “as our North Star,” and that starts with the core values of the Spirit of Aquai: welcoming, mutual respect, providing service and building long-term relationships.
Mohegan Sun has 1,600 hotel rooms and 275,000 total square feet of meeting space. The resort opened the new 175,000-square-foot Earth Expo and Convention Center in June 2018. The center has 125,000 square feet of contiguous, column-free exhibit space and a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, as well as 15 additional meeting rooms and prefunction areas.
The center joins the existing Sky Convention Center, anchored by the 37,000-square-foot Uncas Ballroom that can be divided into 10 separate rooms. The resort also has the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena.
“We found that we usually ran out of meeting space before we ran out of guest rooms,” Washko said. “Now we have the ability to activate two groups at the same time in the two convention centers.”
In addition to the dedicated meeting space, groups have about 15 other venues options throughout the property, including three new ones that opened in the past year. Game On is an arcade with bowling, shuffleboard and karaoke, and Novelle is a chic nightspot. Comix Roadhouse is a Western-style bar with a mechanical bull that makes for an easy theme night.
Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin Dells is known as the Waterpark Capital of the World, but the area also offers plenty of ways to play for adults.
The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin owns Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells, a casino resort in the town of Baraboo, 13 miles south of the Dells.
The 302-guest-room resort has nearly 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The Lower Dells Ballroom and the Upper Dells Ballroom each measure 13,300 square feet, and both offer flexible layouts. The lower ballroom breaks into nine smaller rooms, and the upper ballroom can become five separate spaces.
The resort has five dining options, including Standrock Buffet and the Copper Oak Steak House and Lounge. The casino features over 1,300 slots and 20 table games, including blackjack, craps and roulette; live poker, off-track betting and bingo are also offered.
Meanwhile, the Ho-Chunk Nation is moving forward with a major expansion at its casino-only property in Madison, Wisconsin, that would add a hotel, a conference center and a heritage center.
Current plans for the 40-acre property include renovating the existing casino and adding nearly 90,000 square feet of gaming, building a five-story hotel with a spa and restaurant space, and constructing a 40,000-square-foot conference center.
The project must move through several regulatory approvals and would break ground in 2021 at the earliest.