Casino resorts are pretty much the full package for conferences. In addition to dedicated meeting and conference space, planners can choose from a host of “off-site” venues without ever leaving the property: pool decks and golf patios, concert venues and lobby lounges.
And, of course, casino resorts offer both planners and attendees built-in entertainment, with live concerts, chic clubs, golf courses, full-service spas, high-end shopping, and slots and table games on the casino floor. These casino properties offer planners and their groups the experience of a resort without the expense of a big city.
Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
Prior Lake, Minnesota
Mystic Lake Casino Hotel sits on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s 4,000 acres, about 25 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis. With 766 guest rooms and Minnesota’s largest gaming floor, the property is one of the Twin Cities’ largest hotels and the area’s only full-service resort.
The Mystic Lake Center boasts 116,000 square feet of dedicated meeting and conference space and 30 flexible meeting rooms. The 17,300-square-foot Minnetonka ballroom can be split into nine rooms, and the 12,700-square-foot Waconia ballroom can be divided into six spaces. The Shakopee Boardroom’s balcony overlooks the golf course, and floor-to-ceiling windows in the prefunction area deliver views of the greens.
But meeting groups aren’t confined to the center. “Our team does a good job using all our spaces on-property,” said Amanda Rook, marketing account manager.
The Mystic Showroom is a performance venue with 2,100 fixed seats, designated VIP seating and four suites. In addition to general sessions, keynote speakers and award ceremonies, some planners have “booked their own national entertainment acts as part of their event,” Rook said.
At the Meadows at Mystic Lake golf course, groups of 150 can hold private events indoors at the Meadows Bar and Grille or host events for up to 80 persons on the patio.
Groups can also visit Hoċokata Ti (ho-cho-kah-tah-tee), the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s new cultural center that opened in 2019 less than a mile from the resort. Guided tours lead groups through the 3,800-square-foot public exhibit that educates visitors about the Mdewakanton Dakota people and their history.
L’Auberge Casino Resort
Lake Charles, Louisiana
The L’Auberge Casino Resort sits on Bayou Contraband, which connects to a series of waterways that eventually wind their way to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Lake Charles, Louisiana, resort has its own marina, and the resort has meeting groups that arrive by boat, including one that comes in from Houston by Jet Ski, said Karen Kober, hotel sales manager.
Most groups, however, prefer to drive to the resort, which is midway between New Orleans and Houston.
L’Auberge hosts meetings for 10 to 900 people, “so we’re able to accommodate and customize anything from small to large,” she said. But with the spa, the 18-hole golf course and a full-service barber shop, “we can provide a little more customization for the smaller groups.”
The resort offers more than 26,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 14,000-square-foot ballroom that can be broken into six separate rooms. The 3,770-square-foot Sycamore Room can be divided into four rooms, and both ballrooms open onto the 10,000-square-foot Event Center Terrace, Kober said.
Groups can dine on the patio at Jack Daniel’s Bar and Grill, rent private poolside cabanas and gather at Touloulou’s, a waterfront beach club with a 5,500-square-foot deck.
Some companies will arrange group blackjack lessons or give away chips as door prizes, and the resort can refer planners to boat companies to schedule fishing charters or dinner cruises.
Belterra Casino Resort
The Belterra Casino Resort is in Florence, Indiana, nearly midway between Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, and roughly the same distance from both Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.
The resort’s central Midwest location makes it an easy drive from many of the tri-state’s major cities, and once planners arrive, they “prefer our destination because we offer a resort experience without all the distractions of a larger city,” said Heather Holt, director of hotel and sales operations.
The resort sits on the Ohio River and has 608 guest rooms and over 55,000 square feet of meeting space, the most popular of which is the flexible 10,600-square-foot ballroom. But a close second is the CenterStage Showroom, a 12,800-square-foot space that serves as the live entertainment venue. The lower level can seat 570 people at rounds, and the mezzanine has fixed, tiered seating for 1,300, making it popular for general sessions, awards banquets and concerts.
Groups can also arrange a Boat Top party atop Belterra’s riverboat casino with food, bar service and live music, all with scenic river views. The Lobby Bar’s floor-to-ceiling windows, outdoor terrace and fireplace make it popular for VIP check-ins and cocktail receptions for up to 90 guests.
Over the past couple of years, the sales team has “put a lot of work into building a fun and unique team-building menu,” Holt said. Groups can organize tournaments on the golf course and schedule services at the spa. Cooking experiences take groups into the resort’s kitchen to learn new recipes with the chefs. Planners can incorporate a bourbon tasting, a group yoga class or a selfie scavenger hunt, as well as group lessons for blackjack, roulette and poker.
Ameristar Black Hawk Casino
Black Hawk, Colorado
The Colorado mountain town of Black Hawk was founded in 1859 when settlers swarmed the area during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. Today, people still visit Black Hawk looking to strike it rich at the city’s casinos, the largest of which is the Ameristar Black Hawk Casino Hotel.
Black Hawk is less than an hour’s drive from downtown Denver, thanks in large part to the Central City Parkway, a four-lane highway that opened in 2004 to provide direct access to Black Hawk and its gaming sister city, Central City.
Ameristar has 536 guest rooms, including 64 suites, and boasts 15,000 square feet of meeting space. Ameristar’s largest event space is the 5,000-square-foot Summit Ballroom, which can be split into two rooms and offers 800 square feet of prefunction space. Two additional 1,400-square-foot rooms can each be halved, and planners can also use the hotel’s seven hospitality suites. Some hospitality suites can be combined for more space, including two suites that also connect to the spa patio.
The hotel’s rooftop pool features a movable glass wall that can enclose the pool in the wintertime while preserving panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
About three miles away, groups can tour the operational Hidee Gold Mine, where they can mine directly from the vein with a hammer and chisel and learn how to pan for gold.
Cache Creek Casino Resort
The Cache Creek Casino Resort has come a long way since it began as a bingo hall in 1985, and it’s going even further with a major expansion set to be completed in the coming months.
The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation owns and operates the resort in Brooks, California, about 50 miles northwest of Sacramento.
Crews broke ground in May 2017 on the expansion, which includes two new hotel towers that will add 459 guest rooms, bringing the resort’s total to 659. As part of the hotel expansion, a new event center will feature a flexible 13,000-square-foot ballroom and an adjacent junior ballroom with 4,000 square feet. The project also includes a multipurpose entertainment venue that doubles as event space.
New venues will include an elevated bar and lounge with casino access, a resort pool complex and new restaurants that will join several existing dining options.
At the Yocha Dehe Golf Club, groups can play 18 holes and gather at the Bahtenta Grill, which can accommodate up to 240 guests and features a large patio with views of the course.
Planners can take their attendees to the Séka Hills Olive Mill and Tasting Room, less than a mile away. Guided tours show how the tribe’s olives are grown, milled and finished into olive oil, and visitors get tastings of the nation’s olive oils, wines, honey, beef jerky and seasoned nuts.