Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Pala casino's $100 million renovation adds amenities

A $100 million renovation completed amid the current economic downturn has turned out to be a smart bet for Pala Casino Spa & Resort, officials there said.

The renovation has brought sweeping upgrades throughout the casino’s many venues and hotel accommodations.

“We are really focusing on value,” said Bill Bembenek, the facility’s chief executive. “Everyone has less disposable income today and is more discerning about their spending. Our goal is to provide the very best quality for the price charged.”

While other casinos are struggling with stagnant revenues and some personnel cuts, Pala opted to reinvest in its amenities and staff, he said.

“The (Pala) tribe has always been focused on the long term, on long-term relationships,” Bembenek said. “We want our customers to feel pampered and be treated with respect.” To ensure that commitment, none of the 2,000 position have been cut during the recession.

“We have extraordinary team members and we just tried to address the budget in other ways and do what we could do without sacrificing personnel,” said Bembenek. “We’ve tried to insulate our team (from the recession) and reassure them about job security. The Pala tribe wants the team members to be well taken care of.”

The casino now boasts 10 restaurants within the property, with the newest three – Amigo’s, Sushi Sake and Coffee Amore – added during the recent renovation. Improvements to the Oak Room steakhouse and the transformation of Pala’s Buffet, now called Choices, have won customer kudos.

The new High Limit Area features a casino within a casino, boasting a private lounge and private entrances.

“We made those decisions based on guest feedback; that’s what they wanted,” he said, noting that he reviews letters daily from customers. “Our whole property is focused on the guest.”

Much of that focus is on keeping the casino, spa, hotel and grounds impeccably clean, Bembenek said.

“Cleanliness has always been made a priority at this property,” Bembenek said. “Sometimes I’m just amazed at how clean the casino is.”

He said one of the key goals of casino staff is to provide a dreamy getaway setting just minutes from Temecula, Fallbrook and Interstate 15.

“People come here to escape from all the responsibilities of life,” he said. “Customers tell me when they travel out Highway 76 and see the resort in the distance, framed by the mountains, they feel a sense of arrival.”


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