By Kirk Boxleitner, Arlington Times Reporter
ARLINGTON — Friday, Oct. 25, saw the Angel of the Winds Casino officially break ground on construction of a new $20-million, 125-room, five-story hotel.
“This is the next step in our growth of the Angel of the Winds Casino,” said Koran Andrews, CEO of the Stillaguamish Tribal Enterprise Corporation. “We continue to look at what our guests want, and develop those amenities.”
“We are truly blessed to have an opportunity to add a hotel to our facility, and provide more services to our guests,” Stillaguamish Tribal Chair Shawn Yanity said of the expansion, which will add more than 100,000 square feet to the casino, in the form of not only a new hotel, but also a new gift shop and smoke shop, as well as a porte-cochere to centralize guests’ entrances to the property. “Not only are we growing our tribal economy, but we’re growing the local economy, too, by increasing job opportunities and tourism.”
According to Travis O’Neil, general manager of the Angel of the Winds Casino, planning for the new hotel expansion began roughly 18 months ago, but the possibility of such an expansion was factored into the casino’s plans shortly before its previous expansion six years ago.
“We’ve got a master plan, but we also listen to our guests,” O’Neil said. “We blocked out the space for this sort of expansion, because we always had in mind that the Angel of the Winds Casino would become a destination resort. We might as well reach for the stars. We’ve got a good group of people, who do their best for our guests, and the Stillaguamish Tribe has been willing to support us, so long as they see our accomplishments.”
As far as O’Neil is aware, the Angel of the Winds Casino is one of the last, if not the last, casino on the I-5 corridor to add its own hotel, and he touted the new hotel — which is anticipated to open in the winter or spring of 2015, creating an estimated additional 50 jobs for the local community in the process — as “moderately priced, but not lower-end.”
“The hotel will be just as comfortable and nice as they’ve come to expect from the casino,” O’Neil said. “It promises to be a very good complement to the World’s Friendliest Casino.”
Beyond the jobs that will be created once the new hotel opens, O’Neil also touted the local construction jobs that will be created in the meantime, since he expects that the Bellingham-based Excel Pacific will retain a number of subcontractors, whose employees he believes will likely include more than a few folks from Marysville and Arlington.
“We’ve got other steps in our master plan, but it would be premature to discuss those at this point,” O’Neil said. “For right now, we just want to focus on making this hotel a success, and I just want to thank the Stillaguamish Tribe for the opportunities they’ve given me in this job. Their elders paved the way for this, and they’re supporting it because they’re mindful of leaving something to their future generations. It’s been a blessing to work with them.”
The Angel of the Winds Casino is located three minutes east of I-5 Exit 210 in Arlington.