Groundbreaking for 14-story hotel at ilani


Tribal leaders and local government officials among the invited guests to ceremony

RIDGEFIELD — Dignitaries used their commemorative shovels to dig into a decorative dirt pile.

And if that was not symbolic enough, a huge excavator dug a big hole.

The 14-story, luxury hotel that ilani announced in October is a day closer now after a groundbreaking ceremony held Friday, a day before the casino’s fourth anniversary.

Here is the vision of the 14-story hotel at ilani. The casino held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. The hotel is set to open in 2023. Photo courtesy ilani.
Here is the vision of the 14-story hotel at ilani. The casino held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. The hotel is set to open in 2023. Photo courtesy ilani.

The build will take roughly 23 months, so expect the hotel to open around the time of ilani’s sixth birthday.

Friday’s ceremony lasted about an hour. And 15 minutes after, Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of ilani, was still all smiles, just thinking of the future.

“It’s a momentous occasion that we’re so excited about,” Fox LaRose said. “We’re looking forward to many amazing things in the future. We’re excited about being able to extend our reach in the market, inviting new people to the property, and allowing people to stay over while they’re here so they can enjoy themselves a little bit longer.”

An excavator outside of ilani was later used to help the groundbreaking ceremony for the casino’s new hotel, expected to open in 2023. Photo by Paul Valencia
An excavator outside of ilani was later used to help the groundbreaking ceremony for the casino’s new hotel, expected to open in 2023. Photo by Paul Valencia

The 300-room hotel, a glass tower, will feature suites and traditional rooms, a bar, a cafe, a full-service spa, and a restaurant on the 14th floor. Also, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool experience.

Officials at ilani said there will be views of the Columbia River from the upper floors of one side of the hotel, and views of the mountains on the other side of the hotel.

The hotel will “serve as a beacon, drawing visitors from far and wide and generating economic activity for our entire region,” Fox-LaRose said.

A few hundred people were invited to ilani’s groundbreaking ceremony for its 14-story hotel. Photo by Paul Valencia
A few hundred people were invited to ilani’s groundbreaking ceremony for its 14-story hotel. Photo by Paul Valencia

This is the latest expansion on the property since the casino opened in April 2017. The parking garage recently had its opening. And an expansion of the casino floor and restaurant space is going on now. Later this summer, a sportsbook is scheduled to open, as well as new restaurants.

Friday, though, was a salute to the new hotel in the works.

“A hotel for ilani has been part of our vision, and the past four years have been dedicated to putting all the necessary elements in place,” said Philip Harju, chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. “We are thrilled to celebrate four successful years at ilani by embarking on this latest venture.”

Media setting up prior to the groundbreaking ceremony at ilani as the casino starts construction on a new 14-story hotel. A display of the hotel is shown to the left of the podium. Photo by Paul Valencia
Media setting up prior to the groundbreaking ceremony at ilani as the casino starts construction on a new 14-story hotel. A display of the hotel is shown to the left of the podium. Photo by Paul Valencia

Tribal leaders noted that revenue from ilani goes toward tribe members. Many members have been struggling during the pandemic. 

Friedmutter Group from Las Vegas, which has been a partner of ilani on many projects, is the project architect. Howard S. Wright, based in Portland, is the general contractor. 

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