Brett Kihlmire
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Finally, A Hotel for Gamblers

Potawatomi Casino’s new hotel is soon to be open for business -- and plenty of it.

By - Aug 5th, 2014 10:59 am
Count your winnings in style. Photo by Brett Kihlmire.

Count your winnings in style. Photo by Brett Kihlmire.

In 1991, the Potawatomi tribe opened one of Wisconsin’s first legalized bingo parlors in the Menomonee Valley. In the two and half decades since then, the facility has steadily grown and evolved. With its newly built, state-of-the-art hotel, Potawatomi has transformed itself from a casino to a Vegas-style resort with a Cheesehead accent.

Open for business August 18th, 2014, the new 381-room, 19-story Potawatomi Hotel is an ambitious project to say the least. Upon arrival one of the first sights for hotel guests will be a carefully crafted front lawn growing only native flora. Overlooking this is a porte cochere, a large awning-like structure covering the entrance to the hotel to ensure guests are safe from the elements no matter the season or conditions. Indeed, the driveway under the porte cochere is heated to ensure guests never have to trudge through water or snow.

Yes, you are safe from Mother Nature, even as the natural world — slightly modernized —  is integral to the hotel’s presentation and Potawatomi tribe’s culture. Load bearing pillars throughout the lobby have been crafted to resemble large trees, rock outcroppings line the walls giving the impression of wind-carved bluffs, and a complex light display capable of 16.1 million color combinations built into the ceiling represents a forest canopy in varying situations such as night, daybreak, a lightning storm, or, in the ultimate touch, a woods ablaze.

Which will also evoke a gambling parlor ablaze. “These lighting systems help bring the energy and excitement felt on the gaming floor into the adjacent hotel,” said Hotel and Casino Director Hassan Abdel-Moneim. “Intriguing and unique lighting design is a theme guests will experience in various locations of the hotel.”

Unusual lighting. Photo by Brett Kihlmire.

Unusual lighting. Photo by Brett Kihlmire.

He’s not kidding. Unusual lighting can be found throughout the hotel from a bright, ever-changing display between a bank of elevators leading to guest rooms, to a large, mushroom-like structure beaming with neon blue-red aura. But the Potawatomi Hotel is more than just fancy lighting and carefully crafted scenery. For a hotel to be successful the guests have to be pampered — and pampered they shall be.

“We want to meet and exceed the expectations for service our guest have during their stay,” says Abdel-Moneim. “We want to set the standard, not only in the Milwaukee market, but the tribal hospitality industry.”

The hotel offers guests three different options for their stay. The standard guest room is outfitted with a king size bed, full bathroom, energy efficient appliances and a flat screen television. The suites are more spacious with an optional second bedroom and bathroom, as well as a dining area and extra seating. And sporting a $4,000 price tag, the crown jewel of the entire hotel is the stunning Presidential suite on the 19th floor.

With 3,000 square feet including an 800 square foot balcony and additional rooms that can be added on, the Presidential Suite dominates much of the 19th floor. It has floor-to-ceiling windows featuring a panoramic view of the Milwaukee skyline, a spacious living room, dining room, and master bedroom, a full kitchen, and custom-built flooring and furnishings for rooms. With two fireplaces, a 60” flat screen, that breathtaking view of Milwaukee, and amenities such as a complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon, house-made chocolate truffles, and unlimited limousine for the course of the stay, those who can afford even a night at Potawatomi’s Presidential Suite will find themselves awash in luxury.

Locavore menu. Photo by Brett Kihlmire.

Locavore menu. Photo by Brett Kihlmire.

The new hotel also expands the already wide array of options for food and drink at the casino. In addition to a coffeehouse featuring Stone Creek Coffee, the hotel has a full lobby bar, and a new restaurant, Locavore, featuring locally sourced ingredients. Sample menu creations will include pork tenderloin marinated in sweet tea, biscuits with red eye gravy, and shrimp and avocado ceviche.

Lastly, the new hotel greatly expands the facility’s business options, adding over 12,000 square feet of meeting space including conference rooms and several dining halls fit for wedding receptions and business meetings. The largest of the dining halls fits over 80 round tables and features an outdoor patio offering a view of the Milwaukee skyline equal to that of the Presidential suite.

As a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, other hotel owners in Milwaukee fear the new hotel will take away some of their business.  Potawatomi projections have suggested “90 percent” of its customers will be new guests to Milwaukee, but one expert told JS reporter Tom Daykin it might be more like 50 percent new guests.

Either way, it is likely to bring more tourism to Milwaukee. The Potawatomi tribe has come a long way from the days when it ran a bingo hall in a then-dormant Menomonee Valley.

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