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Sycuan Bets San Diego Will Support Its Bigger, Ritzier Casino

Sycuan Casino Resort in El Cajon, which has nearly completed its $260M expansion, has partnered with Las Vegas-based restaurant and nightclub specialist Clique Hospitality to add a restaurant, cocktail lounge and pool bar to the property.

Sycuan Casino Resort, El Cajon

These features are only the most recently announced for Sycuan, and are part of a wave of upgrades for San Diego's Indian casinos, which are looking to take advantage of a strong economy and a population increasingly interested in spending its money on experiences.

The San Diego region’s 10 Indian gaming properties are currently spending more than $1B all together on added casino space, top-to-bottom remodels and more amenities, according to the Casino City Times

Besides the Clique Hospitality amenities — the Bull and Bourbon restaurant, the Elicit craft cocktail lounge and the pool bar Retreat — the revamped Sycuan will offer a new 302-room luxury hotel tower, expanded gaming floor, a 1,200-seat entertainment venue, a full-service spa, two pools and a lazy river. Swinerton is the general contractor on the overall project.

Sycuan, which is owned by Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation, anticipates that demand for upper-end casino entertainment is going to grow. The casino began as a humble bingo hall in the 1980s and has grown since then.

“San Diego can continue to support an expanding casino industry by increasing visitation, which can be encouraged by broadening the appeal of properties through the introduction of new amenities and by providing an improved guest experience," Sycuan Casino Resort Vice President of Hotel Operations Andrew Kerzmann said.

Sycuan Casino Resort Vice President of Hotel Operations Andrew Kerzmann

There are a number of options when it comes to improving guest experience, and if done right, word gets out fairly quickly these days via social media.

These include developing new food and beverage venues, hotel rooms and suites, resort-style pool complexes, luxury spas and salons, as well as meeting and convention facilities, Kerzmann said.

"They provide opportunity for guests to experience more during their visit," Kerzmann said. 

"The process begins with actively listening to, and engaging with, current and new guests to hear their feedback," he said.

"That allows casino operators to refine their offerings and differentiate their guest service, to retain the loyalty of current guests while incorporating new aspects that appeal to potential new customers."

One detail of the new hotel shows that the Sycuan has an interest in attracting a more tech-savvy generation of customers, while keeping existing ones: a wall-mounted screen that will allow hotel room access with the swipe of a Sycuan app on a smartphone. Standard key access will also be available for more traditionally minded customers.

CORRECTION: MARCH 5, 9:40 A.M. PT: A previous version of this story misattributed the source of the number of Indian casinos being renovated. The story has been updated to reflect the correct source.