The pool sparkles, the fireplaces flicker and the entertainment for the grand opening is booked.
The new $21 million Seven Clans Casino, Hotel and Event Center along state Highway 89 near the south boundary of the Red Lake Nation will hold a preliminary "soft" opening Dec. 23 and a grand opening Jan. 21. Jan. 22 and 23 will feature free performances by Powwow Comedy Jam and Crystal Shawanda.
"This facility is the nicest casino in the Midwest," said Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain.
He said the complex offers a "big Las Vegas feel" partnered with design drawn from Red Lake culture.
Wood paneling, rock veneer and images of the wavy blue lake reflect themes of the area. Woodland floral carpet patterns, hotel rooms named for the seven major Red Lake clans - Bear, Turtle, Bullhead, Eagle, Mink, Pine Marten and Kingfisher - and a swimming pool shaped like Red Lake itself reflect the culture.
Jourdain said the architect, DSGW of Duluth, solicited input from tribal members in developing the designs. The general contractor is Woodstone Builders, Inc. of the Twin Cities.
Red Lake officials broke ground for the complex in fall 2008. Treasurer Darrell Seki said the complex will provide more than 50 new jobs for Red Lake people.
He said the project also came in under budget.
"Good time to build in a recession," Seki said.
The hotel offers 40 rooms, 20 of which have fire places, with 9-foot ceilings. There are hot-tub rooms and large master suites. The complex also features an event center with a capacity of 800 in straight-row seating or 350-400 in banquet-table seating, gift shop, 75-seat restaurant, snack bar, 30-seat patio for outdoor dining and gaming hall.
"Because we were under budget, we could add some extras like the eagle," Jourdain said in reference to giant sculpture on the front lawn of the complex.
Raymond Brenny, Seven Clans Casinos chief operating officer, said the room rates will range from $69-$109 per night. The gaming hall will provide players with 300 machines, four blackjack tables and two poker tables. He said the restaurant menu will include choices such as Red Lake walleye, pasta, salads, and "It'll be the only place in the reservation where you can get a steak."
With the opening of the new facility, the current gaming hall built on the north side of the Red Lake Humanities Center will close.
"We've never had a casino on this reservation - we've had a bunch of machines sitting in a gymnasium," Jourdain said.
Jourdain said the gaming hall will accommodate smokers, but the rest of the complex will be smoke-free. Also, because alcohol is illegal in the Red Lake Nation, only non-alcoholic drinks will be served. However, Jourdain said Seven Clans Casinos in Red Lake, Thief River Falls and Warroad have logged five record revenue years in a row, "and that's without alcohol."
He said the next phase of the Red Lake Seven Clans complex will be a full-service store and gas station to be built in the spring next door to the casino.