by Andrea Doyle | April 01, 2011
Jim Justice is a man who knows how to get things done. In May 2009, the multi-millionaire West Virginian, who was best known to the locals in White Sulphur Springs, WV, as the high-school girls’ basketball coach, swooped in and bought The Greenbrier. The iconic, 232-year-old resort was bankrupt, and Marriott International was just about to seal the deal to purchase it. Some believed Marriott’s plan was to turn it into a “cookie-cutter” property. A tragedy, says Justice, as The Greenbrier is a true national treasure. 

“Not to slight Marriott, but  this is a brand unto itself. For it to become part of a chain would have been like sandblasting Mount Rushmore,” he says. One of his first promises was to add an elegant, “Monte Carlo-style” underground casino to the 721-room resort. This new 103,000-square-foot underground facility also includes restaurants, lounges, and upscale boutiques. Justice is a man who gets things done—and fast. The highly anticipated Casino Club at The Greenbrier opened in July with an exclusive, star-studded event. 

“This is a truly spectacular facility, very elegant and unlike anything anyone has seen before,” says Justice. 

Roulette, blackjack, baccarat, craps, three-card poker, and Texas hold ‘em are available for resort guests and members. In addition, 320 slot machines, including refitted vintage silver-dollar machines, form the perimeter of the lower level. Greenbrier Royale, a private high-limit room, is available for those who wish to raise the stakes.

The Greenbrier’s newest tradition is the Casino Club’s nightly champagne toast, where the Springhouse Dancers take center stage. At precisely 10 p.m., attention is directed to the grand marble staircase where the performance begins. The performers, trained by New York-based choreographers, dance to “The Greenbrier Waltz,” an original musical composition by Greenbrier County native Tony Nalker.

Going for the Gold
Nestled in the mountains of Colorado in former historic “gold rush” towns are three casino enclaves. Black Hawk and Central City are about 40 miles from downtown Denver, and Cripple Creek is on the opposite side of Pike’s Peak from Colorado Springs. 

Black Hawk is known for its gambling saloons and newer Vegas-styled casinos. A new 33-story Ameristar Casino Hotel is here, the glitziest in the area. Central City and Cripple Creek maintain historic storefronts, and many feature swinging doors to walk through to get to the clanging slot machines.

Talking Stick Resort opened last year in Scottsdale, AZ, with 497 rooms, an open-air spa, eight restaurants, 10 entertainment lounges including a 750-seat showroom, a lively 240,000-square-foot gaming floor, a full-service pool, and more than 100,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor conference space.

Near the majestic splendor of Yosemite National Park, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino brings the beauty of the Sierra foothills into a world-class destination for gaming, dining, and 
entertainment. 

Northwest Winners
When you spot an Orca jumping out of the water, you’ve arrived at Tulalip Resort Casino, located 40 minutes north of Seattle. The property’s design pays tribute to the Tulalip’s tribal culture, featuring more than $1 million in authentic Coast Salish art and with some aquatic elements that reflect the cultural importance of the Pacific Northwest region. There are 370 luxurious and spacious guestrooms and suites, 30,000 square feet of meeting space, a 192,000-square-foot gaming facility, the T Spa, six dining venues headlined by the Tulalip Bay restaurant, the intimate Canoes Cabaret; the 3,000-seat Tulalip Amphitheatre, and Seattle Premium Outlets, featuring more than 110 name-brand retail discount outlets. Surrounded by the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound, Tulalip Resort Casino is situated on 83 acres within the municipality of Quil Ceda Village on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. 

Belinda Newman, an executive assistant at Redmond, WA-based Microsoft Corporation, says Tulalip provides an environment conducive to successful meetings. She planned a Global Summit at the resort last year and is returning with another group from Microsoft later this year. Her group of 430 took over the entire resort last year, which helped foster team camaraderie. 

“I plan a lot of conferences and meetings and the staff at Tulalip was the best I’ve run into. Their motto is, ‘We make yes happen,’ and they really do. My job is to make sure everything goes smoothly and they made my job so easy,” she says. The casino wasn’t the draw for the group but was a popular nighttime activity, she adds.

Another one of Washington State’s 28 Indian casinos is Northern Quest Resort and Casino, just outside Spokane, in a small town called Airway Heights. It is owned by the Kalispel Indian Tribe and features a 46,000-square-foot casino with more than 2,000 slots and progressives, 37 table games, live poker, keno, and off-track betting. The complex features a 250-room hotel and the Kalispel Conference Center and Pend Oreille Pavilion with 16,000 square feet of event and meeting space.