Skagit expanding Semiahmoo facilities

Published on Thu, Sep 11, 2003
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Skagit expanding Semiahmoo facilities

The Upper Skagit Tribe has big plans for Semiahmoo Resort, none of which include gambling. Instead, imagine a leading destination resort that offers a top-notch spa, gym, restaurants and even a bakery.

Skagit Valley Casino Resort general manager Don Guglielmino was the guest speaker at the Blaine Chamber of Commerce last week, bringing with him Marcus Ruyle, the Skagit�s marketing director.

The Upper Skagit Tribe bought into Semiahmoo Resort and its golf courses last spring, and now owns 50 percent of the entities and is the managing partner � Trillium is a silent partner.

There were fears within the community that gambling would eventually make its way to Semiahmoo spit following the deal; however, Skagit officials have reiterated numerous times they have no intentions to do so. Instead, they want to make Semiahmoo Resort a top destination.

Guglielmino said the Skagit looked at Semiahmoo Resort as an opportunity to diversify. �Our intention is to provide a diversified, competitive product, something that is unique and different from any other gaming establishment,� he said, noting the Skagit sees competition from the Tulalip Casino.

When Semiahmoo Resort is combined with the Skagit�s amenities in Bow, just south of Bellingham, they are able to offer package deals that include gambling and entertainment (which includes an outdoor concert series) in Bow and golfing and hotel in Blaine, he said. Both Loomis Trail and Semiahmoo golf courses have been listed several times by national magazines as top courses to play.

�Semiahmoo has allowed us to continue to look at how we can differentiate,� Guglielmino said, adding they intend to spend $3 million in renovations and upgrades at the resort over the next two years.

A large portion of this renovation is focused on the spa, which will see a full redesign, and is expected to open early next summer. �This will be a major destination itself,� Guglielmino said.

He again pointed out that the Skagit have no plans to build a casino or gambling entertainment facilities, but that the point of being involved with Semiahmoo is to provide guests with numerous amenities. Guests can enjoy both the Skagit amenities and Semiahmoo�s, he said.

As for golf course work, Guglielmino said the work they're doing on Semiahmoo and Loomis will have an affect in 2004, as it is too late in the game to have an affect this year.

The Skagit, Guglielmino said, are also interested in solidifying a relationship with the city of Blaine and its business people. The proposed boardwalk and an improved connection between the spit and city of Blaine are things the Skagit are excited about.

�It takes a huge commitment from everyone � in this room and at Semiahmoo, and we�re committed,� he said.

Guglielmino also pointed out the potential of the 2010 Olympics and Blaine�s location to it, calling the area a �huge getaway.�

�Unlike the games in Salt Lake, when the city was under snow, visitors here will be able to play 18 holes of golf after watching the winter games,� he said, adding the city and region will have a residual effect long after the games are over.

Excited to be part of this community and up to playing a major role in the future, Guglielmino also said the officials are looking at transforming the tennis pavilion at Semiahmoo into a concert venue. The outdoor concert series is working well for the Skagit hotel, which is currently at 90 percent occupancy.

As for the restaurants, Stars will be renovated in the next couple of weeks, to give it a more private setting, but still with a view. Pierside will be made more authentic, similar to the style of Anthony�s, and will be mid-priced, open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and Sunday brunch. Packers will also be redecorated for a fresh new look. And a bakery will be in the works, complete with a coffee shop, but that project has been set back a bit.

�We knew when we came here we needed to make immediate changes, and have an immediate impact,� Guglielmino said. �We need to make an impression with employees and the city.

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