The $260 million Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino opened at the beginning of 2003 in the Barona Indian Reservation, San Diego. This marked the completion of a two-year expansion, featuring the new casino, 397 deluxe room and 33 luxury suite resort hotel, lakefront wedding chapel, events center and championship golf course. The development area encompassed more than 520,000ft². It was planned and built by the Barona Band of Mission Indians, combining the timeless natural beauty and history of the tribal land with an exciting gaming venue. The hotel/resort was borne from a bingo hall opened at the Barona Ranch in the early ’90s.
The casino covers 310,000ft², featuring an extensive selection of gaming facilities, including 2,000 slots, video poker, keno machines and 52 gaming tables. Additionally, an 11-table poker room and off track betting are offered. A 20,000ft² multi-purpose room, the Founder’s Hall, is home to bingo games and a wide range of functions. The casino floor is ‘dry’ and does not serve alcohol but there are other alcohol outlets across the resort.
The resort is home to the ‘Black Jack hall of Fame’ which was introduced in 2002 to honour notable players. As of 2007 there are 11 members including players and authors.
Casino ticket in – ticket out technology
Ticket in – ticket out technology (i.e. coinless gaming) is a cutting edge feature of the casino. It enables players to add winnings to a bar-coded ticket that can then be reinserted into other slot machines just like currency. The ticket can be cashed out by attendants using hand-held wireless scanners or by cash cage personnel. The Barona Ranch was the first casino in California to offer ticket in – ticket out technology. The casino introduced an IGT server based gaming system in early 2006. The new system runs several gaming systems at the casino including: 20 Game King sb machines and six video slot machines (system was fully approved by the Barona Gaming Commission and certified by Gaming Laboratories Inc.
Accommodation: deluxe guest rooms and luxury suites
The Barona Valley Branch Resort offers 364 deluxe guest rooms and 33 luxury suites (ranging in size from 800ft² to 3,500ft²). The interior design of the rooms of the hotel reflects the warm tones and relaxed ambience of the rustic resort.
The rooms offer sweeping views of the Barona Valley and the championship golf course. All necessary amenities are featured providing total comfort and convenience. The spacious bathrooms have tiled floors, granite counters and glass-enclosed showers. Other amenities include individual safe, large armoire with dual closets and spacious drawers, 27in remote control TV with cable and pay-per-view movies, individually controlled temperature, two two-line phones with data port for modem connection, sliding glass door with access to a small ledge or balcony, alarm clock radio, coffee maker with complimentary coffee, hairdryer, iron and ironing board.
Jacuzzi tubs are found in the luxury suites, as well as his and her’s robes. Several of the suites also include a workout room complete with a treadmill and other fitness equipment. The suites feature separate living room and entertainment areas, a second bedroom with two queen-sized beds, additional television set in each bedroom, individual washbasins separated by a vanity in each master bathroom, second full bathroom with separate tub and shower, dining set, wet bar and a large half bath.
Championship golf course
Designed by Gary Roger Baird, the Barona Creek Golf Club offers a challenging golfing experience. The 18-hole course is a par 72. It is 7,088yd long with nearly 100 multi-fingered bunkers and a series of lakes and ponds that are connected to naturally fed streams. Incorporating more than 170 mature native oak trees transplanted from other regions of the Barona Indian Reservation, the golf course has been the recipient of numerous awards including Audubon Signature Certification, as well as being rated 4th in California by Golfweek Magazine and 10th by Golf Magazine. The course is now recognised as the fourth best out of 40 casino courses across the US by Golf Digest magazine and also hosted the 2007 nationwide tour championship in October 2007.
Gold events centre
The golf events centre opened in March 2002 and offers scenic views of the Barona Creek Golf Club. It accommodates between 25 and 1,000 guests for a variety of functions including meetings, banquets, weddings and receptions, offering nearly 20,000ft² of flexible indoor and outdoor function space. The events center includes a 5,000ft² Oak Tree Ballroom, a 2,500ft² Creek Ballroom, the Fairway, a 3,100ft² pre-function area and Lake Terrace, an 8,300ft² room opening onto the golf course. In addition, the centre provides state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and an extensive array of meeting support services, delivered by trained and experienced meeting and event planning staff.
The resort offers eight stylish dining establishments. Restaurants include the upscale Barona Oaks Steakhouse, the Branding Iron Café, a 200-seat café overlooking the breathtaking landscaped lakes of the Barona Creek Golf Club, and the 850-seat, all-you-can-eat Ranch House Buffet. There is a selection of alternative options, including Feisty Kate’s, a 1950s inspired Malt Shop, the Barona CoffeeCompany, Reflections Poolside Delights, the Food Court, Jackpot Dining, the new casual venue Sage Cafe which is run by the famous chef Androssy Escamilla, and also 24-hour In Room Dining.
The scenic Lake Terrace is the ideal choice for an outdoor wedding. The terrace easily accommodates 500 guests and offers immediate access to Events Center facilities.
The Wedding Chapel is situated at the edge of a small, picturesque lake with the stunning backdrop of rugged chaparral covered foothills. The whitewashed chapel features Victorian architecture and seats 68.
A Business Center is offered to guests featuring Internet access, office supplies, printing, faxing and copying. Concierges are located in the second-floor lounge, providing services such as securing tickets to area events, arranging tours and coordinating on-site limousine transportation. As an additional convenience, valet parking and auto detailing are offered. Guests also have access to a reflections pool, multijet hydrowhirl spa and fully equipped fitness centre at the Ambience Spa. The resort was chosen in June 2008 as one of the ten evaluation centres in the US for David Austin roses and will have an unrivalled rose garden featuring 100 different rose varieties. Other horticultural offerings at the resort include the Chekwaa Garden, a full service nursery, an organic chef’s garden (supplying vegetables and herbs to the Barona Oaks Steakhouse), a water garden and Koi Carp pond.
Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Cumming McGillivray L.L.C. and Ram Air Engineering, Inc. were the construction firms involved in the construction of the resort. Trane installed the HVAC system at the resort, which includes three TRANE CenTraVac Model CVHF centrifugal chillers rated at 800 tons each (only two of which are used at any one time). There are also a mixture of rooftop TRANE T-Series Climate Changer air handlers and indoor central station TRANE Modular Climate Changer air handlers located in a mezzanine space above the casino floor (this can change the air on the casino floor with a high ventilation rate because the number of smokers playing can produce a thick atmosphere). The entire system is controlled using Trane Tracer Summit building controls, which can set up a series of different ventilation conditions or zones across the resort.
Venture Catalyst Incorporated consulted to Barona on the development and operation of the ticket in – ticket out slot machine technology.
The Innovative Group conducted market assessments and feasibility studies, such as operating proformas, for the casino, hotel and conference center, and golf course.
Bergman, Walls and Associates are the architecture firm that designed the resort, with the theme revolving around the California ranch style of the 1930s. Designed to blend with the surrounding landscape and existing structures on the Barona Indian Reservation, the resort’s buildings feature dark wood and stone facades.