FLORENCE, Ind. (May 6, 2004) In a ribbon-cutting ceremony
befitting of the hospitality afforded its guests, Belterra Casino
Resort & Spa on May 6 officially opened its new 300-room, 10-story
hotel tower and conference space, complete with Las Vegas-style showgirls,
an appearance by the now-famous TV personality "Norm" and
a brunch that was more like a feast for the nearly 100 people who
by Don Ward
left, Pinnacle CEO Daniel Lee and Belterra GM Larry Buck cut
the ribbon as a showgirl and Belterra TV spokesman "Norm"
Belterra's Vice President and General Manager Larry Buck and Pinnacle
Entertainment's CEO and board chairman Daniel R. Lee welcomed the
guests in a short ceremony just prior to cutting the ribbon across
the hallway leading to the new $35 million wing. The expansion boosts
Belterra's hotel capacity from 308 to 608 rooms, including 40 new
suites, while adding an outdoor, heated swimming pool and more than
33,000 square feet of meeting and conference space. The largest ballroom
can seat up to 1,100 people. The wing also features a new state-of-the-art
Among the 40 suites is a 10th floor party suite that features a round
bed, half-moon shaped couch, barber's chair and, of course, a bar.
The view from the top floor offers a spectacular view of the golf
course looking west and a view of the Ohio River looking east.
Casino Resort's new grand
ballroom can seat up to 1,100 guests.
All told, the venture has added 80 new jobs to its previous total
of 1,200 employees.
"It seems calm above the surface, but beneath all this is a staff
that has worked hard to get us to this point," said Buck, who
took over in February for outgoing Alain Uboldi, who has moved on
to head the company's new casino in Lake Charles, La.
Lee flew in from California to take part in the ceremony and spent
the previous night in one of the new rooms. "Everything went
off without a hitch," he said of his stay. He told the crowd
that with the new hotel tower, Belterra is now just 20 rooms shy of
becoming the largest hotel facility in the state. "And we may
surpass that very soon," he added.
Lee said the success of the new hotel tower will determine whether
Pinnacle builds a third 300-room hotel tower in the near future. Buck
said Belterra turned away 300 would-be hotel guests in February because
of room shortage, a sign that the demand is there.
guest room in the new hotel tower.
With the added conference space, the casino is now looking as far
north as Cleveland, Ohio, and as far south as Nashville, Tenn., for
convention bookings, Buck said.
"We want large companies in the area to know they don't have
to go to Las Vegas to hold a Vegas-style convention. They can come
here and have the same type of resort atmosphere. We just can't provide
the sunshine in winter," Buck said following the ceremony.
Lee said companies will be able to save on air fare for their employees,
while taking advantage of the comparatively inexpensive room rates
at Belterra. "We subsidize the hotel with the casino, so the
average cost per room for a company is only about $100," Lee
said. "That's hard to beat in any big city."
Daniel R. Lee
Lee said Pinnacle has now invested more than $300 million in the
Switzerland County casino. "The initial building was positioned
primarily for day trippers and some overnight business. But very quickly
we learned that our location made us more of a destination resort
with demand for a much larger overnight business, so now we have upgraded
our facility to meet that demand."
by Don Ward
Casino's TV spokesman "Norm" enjoys the company of
Mario Maesano, senior director of marketing, said, "We have
a great sales team that is already booking the conference space. The
demand is growing every day."
In addition to more rooms, the swimming pool was needed to allow the
facility to be considered in national hotel ratings, such as Mobil's
diamond ratings and AAA's star ratings, Lee said. The heated pool
comes complete with a rollaway cover that can help keep the water
warm even on cold days. "Guests will be able to swim here almost
year-round," he said.
Buck said a swimming pool has been the top request by guests since
the casino opened in October 2000. Now they can sit poolside and enjoy
a bar and poolside cabanas that feature TVs and Internet access.
Mike Jones, president of the Switzerland County Council who spearheaded
the drive to bring in the casino, called the expansion "a great
day for Belterra, but also a great day for Switzerland County and
all of southeastern Indiana." He cited the 80 new jobs and more
than $5 million in taxes the casino addition will generate.
Belterra's Tom-Fazio-designed 18-hole golf course opened in summer
2001. The 1,800-seat CenterStage showroom features national acts.
The spa offers massage and other personalized treatments and workout
facilities. And the floating "Miss Belterra" casino boat
features 38,000 square feet of gaming space on two levels and offers
free admission and is open 24 hours a day.
Casino GM Larry Buck
Other new attractions coming to Belterra include a new Starbucks
Coffee shop, set to open by July 4, a new bar in the existing hotel
lobby and a new Jeff Ruby's restaurant. The latter opened in late
May in what was formerly the Fireside Steakhouse.
For more information, visit: www.belterracasino.com.