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News / Business / Clark County Business

ilani to add 14-story hotel, enlarge gaming space

Expansion will add about 200 jobs, scheduled to open summer 2021

By Will Campbell, Columbian Associate Editor
Published: October 3, 2020, 12:01pm
4 Photos
ilani&#039;s primary customer base come from within 80 miles of the casino, but operators believe the hotel will attract a secondary market that lives beyond Southwest Washington.
ilani's primary customer base come from within 80 miles of the casino, but operators believe the hotel will attract a secondary market that lives beyond Southwest Washington. (Courtesy of ilani) Photo Gallery

A major expansion at ilani will add a 14-story hotel, two new restaurants and more gaming space, according to the casino’s operators. In addition, ilani’s new 2,700-space, six-story parking garage is set to open next month.

On Oct. 15, workers will begin the expansion projects by first adding about 17,000 square feet to the casino’s floor space, said ilani President Kara Fox-LaRose. Workers will remove an existing wall in the casino near the food court to reveal the expansion, which is already under the same roof as the casino, but it’s currently a dirt floor with exposed beams. The project will cost $30 million, she said.

The expansion will add roughly 200 jobs, 200 slot machines and additional table games. It is scheduled to open next summer. ilani originally planned to open the expansion at the end of this summer along with the parking garage, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused casino leaders to delay the groundbreaking until now, she said.

One of the new restaurants will serve authentic Asian cuisine with an open-kitchen format. ilani is also designing an Asian-themed table game area to complement the restaurant, Fox-LaRose said.

A second restaurant is still in the planning stage, but it will incorporate sports betting, which ilani plans to offer in the future, Fox-LaRose said.

“We’re looking at lots of different new products,” Fox-LaRose said about new slot machines coming to the expansion. “What’s exciting is that the gaming industry is evolving. There are lots of fun products out there, and we are going through the selection process.”

Fox-LaRose said that ilani is also working with the state to see how it can include electronic table games in the future.

The general contractor for the expansion is Swinerton Builders, Fox-LaRose said, and The Friedmutter Group from Las Vegas partnered with ilani for the projects, including the hotel.

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Hotel plans

The ilani hotel, a tower wrapped in a curtain of royal-blue glass, is due to break ground in the spring, Fox-LaRose said. Commuters traveling on Interstate 5 will be able to see the 14-story hotel, which will feature a top-floor restaurant and a patio on the south side.

“If you look to the west, you will see the (Lewis and Columbia) rivers. If you look to the east, you will see the mountains,” she said.

The hotel will contain 300 guest rooms and will also feature a swimming pool, spa and fitness center, she said. It will employ a few hundred new workers.

“Our goal is to build a (AAA) Four Diamond hotel,” she said. There are no hotels ranked that high in Clark County; Four Diamond properties in Portland include the venerable Heathman and Benson hotels.

ilani’s primary customer base currently comes from within 80 miles of the Cowlitz Indian Reservation, but the hotel will attract a secondary market that lives beyond Southwest Washington and bring more travelers, she said.

ilani also holds a design to add a second hotel tower in the future, if that becomes a possibility, Fox-LaRose said.

Fox-LaRose said she did not have a cost estimate for the hotel, but said she would share it as the developers get closer to starting the project.

The architect for the hotel is Las Vegas-based Friedmutter Group, which designed all of ilani, she said, and the general contractor will be Portland-based Howard S. Wright Construction.