A casino without a hotel is like a brat without a bun, said Ryan Amundson, external communications manager for Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.
After nearly 25 years of existence as a bingo hall and casino, Potawatomi finally built a hotel, and it is now gearing up to celebrate the hotel's one-year anniversary on Aug. 18.
The hotel has been well received, said hotel director Hassan Abdel-Moneim.
“This was the largest casino in probably the country that didn't have a hotel,” he said. “Our customers just flooded us…It gives customers with an hour, hour-and-a-half drive away the option to stay so they don't feel rushed.”
Besides providing guests a place to spend the night, the 19-story, 381-room hotel also offers more options for corporate meetings and events.
The hotel has seven new meeting rooms with a total of 12,000 square feet of space. The meeting rooms, all of which are on the hotel’s third floor, range in size from a 750-foot boardroom to the 3,000-square-foot Serenity Room.
In addition, a 1,900-square-foot patio outside of the Serenity Room offers views of downtown Milwaukee and can also be used as an event space.
The meeting rooms in the hotel joined the casino’s existing meeting facilities, a 35,000-square-foot Expo Center and the 10,000-square-foot Woodland Dreams Ballroom, both located on the third floor. With the addition of the hotel, the complex has about 60,000 square feet of meeting space.
“We’ve made inroads (in hosting events for) many of the largest companies in the state,” Abdel-Moneim said. “From the top five companies headquartered here in Milwaukee, we’ve probably touched four out of the five, with the fifth shortly to follow.”
He said Potawatomi has hosted events for companies as large as Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc., and companies with as few as 10 employees.
Potawatomi also draws companies from northern Illinois, as it can be quicker to get to Milwaukee than downtown Chicago and because Milwaukee is less expensive in terms of taxes and service fees.
While companies from a 90-mile radius typically come to Potawatomi for their events, Abdel-Moneim said guests attending association meetings at the hotel travel from as far as Hawaii.
“We’re really attracting business to the state, and the goal is to expand that market in the upcoming year,” he said.
With 60,000 square feet of meeting space, Potawatomi is an ideal place to hold events, according to Abdel-Moneim.
For example, a general session could be held in one room, while a meal is served in another and a trade show is taking place in a third room. Meanwhile, another eight or nine meeting rooms are available for breakout sessions.
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The Serenity Room[/caption]
Among other advantages are that it is the third-largest hotel in Milwaukee and the newest, he said. It boasts modern architecture, it is close to the heart of the city, and it offers free parking and complimentary transportation every hour.
Plus, Potawatomi is home to seven different restaurants, one coffee shop and the 500-seat Northern Lights Theater.
“There’s very few places that still have a comprehensive, truly full-service property from the valet to the bellman to the concierge to the security presence,” Abdel-Moneim said. “It just harkens back to an earlier day of elegance when people used to stay in hotels.”
In its first year, the hotel has exceeded its occupancy expectations, and it has held two to three times more events than in previous years. Potawatomi has doubled its meetings and events revenue year-over-year, and on a good month, triples it.
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Potawatomi’s hotel opened on Aug. 18, 2014.[/caption]
Looking back at the past year, Abdel-Moneim said the hotel’s accomplishments include opening ahead of schedule and within budget; exceeding projections and expectations; receiving Gold LEED certification; and experiencing growth in corporate meeting events.
Furthermore, Potawatomi’s corporate event staff recently placed fifth out of 50 in a national competition held in Las Vegas that recognized the most creative events.
“We can customize events for any client,” he said.
One example is matching the lights to an organization’s colors. This can be done on the lantern on top of the building and on the lighting in the lobby and meeting rooms.
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The Harmony Room[/caption]