The new Turtle Creek Hotel and Casino, owned and operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, offers visitors an impressive variety of slot machines, video poker, and table games on its 52,000-square-foot gaming floor.
Its going to be a stunning property, said marketing director Shawn Carlson, a gaming veteran who has been involved in six previous casino openings, including THE Hotel at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Weve put a lot of thought into every aspect of this building.
Walking toward the casinos front entrance, visitors stroll past some two dozen freshly-planted Champion Trees, from the Champion Tree Project based in Copemish. Impressive lighting, reflecting pools, lush greenery and running water set the exterior mood.
WALL OF WATER
Once inside, guests are greeted by an impressive three-story wall of running water flanked by escalators on each side. High above the gaming floor, colored lighting bathes the surroundings in blue, then green, then red or purple.
The gaming floors ultra-high white ceiling gives it an airy, open feel that is seldom found in any casino, let alone any in Michigan. With fresh lines and an inviting vibe, it exudes contemporary elegance.
The complexs impressive design is the work of Walsh Bishop, a noted architectural firm that has developed casino and hotel projects across the nation for clients such as Hilton, Marriott, Time-Warner/Comcast and several tribes.
Workers were still putting finishing touches on the casino floor, eateries and hotel rooms when Carlson and Barbi Ance, assistant to the hotel director, recently led a tour through the complex, which stands just south of the current Turtle Creek Casino on M-72 in Williamsburg. Donning hard hats, visitors strolled through the new gambling palace where workers are busy getting the place ready for a soft opening on June 17.
A grand opening is set for June 24, while hotel reservations are being accepted for June 25 and beyond. There are 137 rooms in the hotel, plus five suites that will allow guests to relax in elegant comfort.
From upscale toiletries, to the latest high-tech phone system, to a tasteful leather desk pad, the room amenities are impressive, yet practical. Standard room rates are in the $130-$150 a night range, with discounts available for gaming club members.
We worked hard to get Michigan workers involved in this project, said Carlson. About 85 percent of the materials are from Michigan. We really tried hard to buy locally whenever possible.
Many of the workers on the project are tribal members, according to Ance.
Color tiles and muted colors lend a contemporary, yet relaxing beauty to the gaming floor, restaurants and restrooms. For slot players, the machines are placed on ergonomic tables, complete with comfortable footrests. Blackjack tables are lined with an elegant wooden border rail with openings for ashtrays and cup holders.
The place is loaded with high-tech gadgetry, including two Towers of Power that each feature 16 plasma TVs.
Ance has the buildings intricate floor plan well memorized as a result of giving dozens of tours. She leads visitors from room to room, up and down floors, unveiling Turtle Creeks roomy restrooms, its spacious cloakroom and the state-of-the-art ventilation system that doesnt recycle air, but pumps in fresh air from the outside.
Unlike some other casinos that splash tribal art throughout their facilities, the Turtle Creek Hotel has dedicated a cultural corridor, which houses tribal artwork and tells the history of the Grand Traverse Band. Nearby is a boutique for hotel guests to browse and shop.
The casinos large gaming floor will feature some 1,300 slot and video poker machines, 42 table games and a poker room, featuring 10 tables and its own bar and waiting area. The table game pits also have their own bar areas.
If you work up an appetite during a gaming session, Turtle Creek offers some distinct dining choices:
Bourbon 72 is an upscale steakhouse type of eatery, featuring a huge custom wine rack and comforting fireplace. While promising elegance, entrees are still expected to be in the $20-22 price range.
The spacious terrazzo-tiled Seasons Buffet features several different food stations and will seat about 180 comfortably.
The Deli features fun red-and-white tile and will offer a wide selection of deli foods and beverages.
On the third floor, The Coffee Spoon is available for those who want a coffee and a quick nosh during the day. At night, itll transform into a hipper wine and martini bar. Near the coffee bar is a relaxing area where customers can sit near the fireplace, sip their java and enjoy a great overview of the expansive gaming floor.
Another great drawing card will be the Level III lounge which features a center bar, several plasma TVs, cozy seating, a DJ booth and a stage. Colored globes add a festive air to Level III, which also features an outdoor party deck.
Theres a specially-designated high limit area with gaming tables and slots, plus a high limit lounge. For some high rollers, theres also an underground parking area, complete with a car wash.
After the grand opening, demolition is expected to begin in July on the current Turtle Creek Casino, according to Carlson.