Currently under construction with an expected completion date of late summer, the rotunda area at the mountain resort’s entrance will feature eight towering columns lit from the inside to imbue a canopy of trees. A nearby 75-foot-tall waterfall will cascade down as a backdrop surrounding a small stage. Even a curving, 140-feet-long, six-feet-tall, high-definition television will mold to the space.
“Once an hour every hour, a new show will play, and with everything working together—the screen, the waterfall and the tree lighting—it will create a show that you will see people gathering together to come and watch,” Erik Sneed, the casino’s project manager for the new construction, told the Citizen-Times.com.
The elaborate entrance is the heart of the casino’s $650 million transformation into a sophisticated, world-class resort that’s been underway for five years. The expansion is expected to be completed this fall. Other additions have included a new 500-room hotel tower, a 3,000-seat event center and thousands of square feet of added gaming space. More high-end dining options will soon be available, such as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Brio, an authentic Tuscan restaurant. An 18,000-square-foot spa rounds out the resort’s luxury offerings. The casino will also add new hotel and casino parking garages and retail outlets.
The unveiling of the expansion project is slated to time with the casino’s 15th anniversary. While observing the milestone, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ gaming arm will make its next foray: an evolution into a gaming resort destination attracting new, upscale customers.
The gaming house currently draws about 3.5 million visitors a year. It expects that number to increase by 25 percent once the expansion is complete, spokeswoman Aniwake Littledeer told the Citizen-Times.com.
While the casino features 40 video table games, Sneed is hopeful they will receive final approval to add Las Vegas-style card dealers when the General Assembly returns to session in May. Gov. Bev Perdue signed an agreement on November 28 allowing live card dealers and table games at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, but lawmakers must still back the deal and its changes to North Carolina’s gambling law. House and Senate leaders have said they would support the deal.