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Clearwater Casino to expand in 2006

SUQUAMISH — In an effort to make the Clearwater Casino a major destination spot in Kitsap, the Suquamish Tribe is moving forward in its goal to bring plans for its much-rumored hotel to fruition.

This week, the tribe’s economic branch, Port Madison Enterprises, revealed plans to construct and operate the lodging facility behind the casino, on the bluff overlooking Agate Pass. Groundbreaking is expected to take place July 1 and the building is expected to be completed by Memorial Day 2006. The facility will create 35 new jobs.

Clearwater Casino’s Director of Marketing Ron Aller said visitors who are attending events at the casino or Kiana Lodge often come from Seattle via the ferry terminal at Winslow.

“We’re not just a day-use facility and people go back to Seattle or go home,” Aller said. “People from Montana, South Carolina (and) California can make a trip to the Northwest and stay here.”

The proposed four-story hotel will have approximately 75 rooms, including several suites and one large presidential suite, and they will be larger than normal hotel rooms, Aller explained. All rooms facing the water will have small balconies.

The first floor will have a meeting space for about 80 people, a Jacuzzi-type facility and a longhouse-style great room that faces the water, said PME CEO Russell Steele. Food services will be minimal — there will be a complimentary breakfast — but visitors will be able to visit the steakhouse, deli and buffet in the casino.

The hotel will not be connected to the casino and there will be a separate driveway to create a “sense of arrival,” Steele said.

Parking will be available at the hotel, rather than in the casino garage. There will be a transportation service between the hotel and casino as well as a covered walkway.

What makes the hotel unique is that the rooms will be larger than usual and it will be wood-framed building with Native American decor. Aller calls it a “boutique hotel,” meaning it offers something different than chain hotels, and hopes it will earn a four-star rating.

“It’s not like plaster and brick,” he said. “It has that Northwest-feel because of that wood structure.”

Long-term plans include increasing the number of rooms to 150 and building an outdoor amphitheater with a 15,000-square-foot open terrace with a 2,500-square-feet area for seating in front of the hotel. When PME converted the casino’s convention center from an event space to a gaming facility in 2004, it lost its concert venue space.

“We want to bring back large-scale entertainment,” Steele said.

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