Topping Off ceremony for hotel under construction highlights the fifth anniversary of ilani



Guests signed the steel beam that was lifted by crane to top of 14-story structure

RIDGEFIELD — The final steel beam was signed by VIPs and fans of ilani on Monday morning, before a crane lifted it high above the 14-story structure that is under construction.

Workers atop the structure secured the beam once it was lowered to them and they could be seen preparing to place it near the top of the glass hotel that is a year from opening.

Guests celebrated the fifth anniversary of ilani as the resort and Cowlitz Indian Tribe marked one year from the opening of the 14-story hotel. Photo by Paul Valencia
Guests celebrated the fifth anniversary of ilani as the resort and Cowlitz Indian Tribe marked one year from the opening of the 14-story hotel. Photo by Paul Valencia

This was quite the celebratory scene at ilani, marking the fifth anniversary of the gaming and entertainment resort in Ridgefield. 

At the sixth anniversary, ilani and the Cowlitz Indian Tribe expect to be celebrating the grand opening of the hotel.

“It’s so exciting to just be one year away from opening this four-diamond resort. We’re here in honor of the Cowlitz tribe. All of the progress we’ve made since opening in 2017 is just astounding,” said Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of ilani.

Kara Fox-LaRose, president and GM of ilani, talks to the media from the 10th floor of the 14-story hotel that is about a year away from opening. Photo by Paul Valencia
Kara Fox-LaRose, president and GM of ilani, talks to the media from the 10th floor of the 14-story hotel that is about a year away from opening. Photo by Paul Valencia

She was on hand before and after the “topping off” ceremony, giving tours to media members and invited guests on the 10th floor of the hotel.

“My team that works so hard, they have navigated many situations that are so challenging, including the pandemic. My team can pivot like no other, and I couldn’t be more proud. I’m really excited about this opportunity for the tribe,” she said.

A view from the 10th floor of the hotel that is under construction at ilani. Photo by Paul Valencia
A view from the 10th floor of the hotel that is under construction at ilani. Photo by Paul Valencia

High above the casino, hotel guests can expect, on clear days, to see Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood. And on really clear days, maybe even Mount Rainier. There are also views of the Columbia River.

“What you’re seeing behind me will probably be the highest visible vantage point of Cowlitz territory. We rise in elevation with our mighty mountains,” said Tanna Engdahl, Spiritual Leader of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

Another view from the 10th floor of the hotel that is being built at ilani. It is expected to open next spring. Photo by Paul Valencia
Another view from the 10th floor of the hotel that is being built at ilani. It is expected to open next spring. Photo by Paul Valencia

“This is one of the great events for us because now our land goes toward the sky,” she said. “Our high house is going to be there to meet the eagles.”

A year ago, ilani and partners were breaking ground on the project. Now, glass covers the exterior of the lower floors.

“Humbling to think of the progress we have made. A lot has gone into the last 12 months. It looks like a lot of work has been done,” said Kevin James, project executive at Howard S. Wright, the general contractor based in Portland. “But it’s also very humbling to think about all the work we still have to do in order to be back here a year from now to be cutting the ribbon.”

Guests were invited to sign the final beam that will be lifted up to the top of the hotel tower. Photo by Paul Valencia
Guests were invited to sign the final beam that will be lifted up to the top of the hotel tower. Photo by Paul Valencia

Eventually, there will be standard rooms, suites, and presidential suites. A restaurant is planned for the 14th floor that will be available to all, not just guests of the hotel. A swimming pool and spa will be part of the hotel scene, as well.

Also part of Monday’s celebration was ilani unveiling the first renderings of the interior design of the project, including “plentiful wood, stone, metal, and glass.

The final beam of ilan’s hotel project was lifted Monday morning in a “Topping Off” ceremony. Photo by Paul Valencia
The final beam of ilan’s hotel project was lifted Monday morning in a “Topping Off” ceremony. Photo by Paul Valencia

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