Chief operating officer, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
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In 2014, the Forest County Potawatomi tribe opened a 381-room hotel at its casino in the Menomonee Valley. It is one of the largest hotels in Milwaukee. Now, three years later, the tribe says it plans to expand the hotel with a 119-room and suite addition, which will bring its total room number up to 500.
The project will also include the addition of 15,000 square feet of meeting space, bringing the total meeting space at the hotel and casino to about 65,000 square feet.
Construction for the $80 million project is expected to begin this fall and be complete in the spring of 2019.
In a recent interview with BizTimes Milwaukee editor Andrew Weiland, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino chief operating officer Rodney Ferguson explained the hotel expansion plans.
Hotel boosts casino attendance
“The reason we built the initial hotel was because there was a demand from our standpoint to satisfy our market. Typically if you have a casino without a hotel, you can extend the stay of your guests by adding some accommodations for them. We have been increasing our guest counts on a regular basis as a result of the hotel. Over the past three years, our attendance levels have skyrocketed. We went from 4 million in attendance (the year prior to the hotel opening) to over 6 million last year…. We also knew when we built the first hotel, we didn’t have enough suites. That’s something our guests really like. So we decided to add on another 59, which will quadruple the number of suites that we have.”
More amenities, meeting space
“Another thing we learned from talking to our guests – they wanted some additional amenities, other than the restaurants and shows. So, we decided to have a spa and salon where you can get a manicure, pedicure, facials, haircuts. Another reason (for the hotel expansion) is, of course when we built the hotel we had some meeting space. We didn’t have enough space in the casino and as we added the hotel we added more meeting rooms, as well, and that still hasn’t been enough. We will be adding on some additional space for additional meetings.”
Expansion anticipated all along
“It will take about 18 months (to build the hotel addition) from start to finish. Fortunately, we designed the property with the possibility of expanding, so we don’t have to do the level of pilings that we did for the first project. So, it will be much easier to start and complete this project.”