Grand Opening For A Grand Place To Play And Stay

COVER STORY

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The new Ford and bass boat attached to its tow bar parked at the entrance to the Mazatzal Casino is double-parked for a reason.

Together, the 2008 Ford Ranger Escape and Bass Tracker form the premium prize as Mazatzal celebrates the grand opening of its new hotel and casino.

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Guests spin the Wheel of Fortune in the new Mazatzal Casino.

The grand opening is this week, Aug. 23, 24 and 25.

For now, patrons have to walk through the "old" casino to get to the new one.

A kaleidoscope of color greets guests once they enter the new gambling floor.

The floor games beckon players' senses with ka-chings and whirls and flashing lights.

The Wheel of Fortune is the centerpiece of the floor games. It can pay out as much as $15,000.

Several patrons remarked in passing that the casino looks more like Vegas.

Unlike some of those big city casinos, Mazatzal's lighting and décor are bright, yet pleasing to the eye.

"It's classier than Vegas with its muted lighting and granite counter tops," marketing manager Terri Shelow said.

Table Games

Poker Shootouts and Blackjack Tournaments are held in the aptly titled "Table Games" room.

"During the grand opening we plan to have a caricaturist on site to do pictures of players, then, hang them on the wall as our own celebrities," marketing director Carol McCauley said.

Silver Streak and Splish Splash Poker's Taking A Bath are two of the specially featured games in Table Games during the grand opening.

There are collectible, newly minted silver coins to be won in Silver Streak.

Across the floor, Players Club high rollers and VIPs have their own lounge, complete with bar service and two big screen TVs.

FOOD, FUN AND BEER

The Grille

The Grille is a 24-hour snack bar, serving breakfast from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., a day menu with gourmet pizzas from 11 a.m. to midnight and a smaller twilight menu from midnight to 6 a.m. The physical grill is right behind the counter, so customers can see their tasty treat cooking.

Apache Spirit Lounge

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Guests of the hotel at the Mazatzal Casino can enjoy an indoor pool and Jacuzzi.

On weekend evenings, musicians set up to play in Apache Spirit Lounge near The Grille.

There will be music in the lounge from noon to midnight, August 25 featuring Brooks and Yoder, Linda St. John, Deak, John and Lu Carpino, Sounds Unlimited and Rick Jones.

There are 10 TVs in the lounge. Keno players and those who need to know when Steve Nash sinks one for the Suns or Orlando Hudson hits a run for the Diamondbacks or when to cheer for the Cardinals can look up from anywhere and know the score.

On the bar itself are 15 multi-game centers with keno and seven kinds of video poker.

Pyramid Amber, Flat Tire, Drop Top Amber and Kilt Lifter are the four new varieties of beers available on tap.

Happy hours remain the same: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Cedar Ridge Restaurant

Cedar Ridge has expanded its menu for hungry players and diners.

After a few years' absence, the Rim Country has a buffet.

Cedar Ridge's weekday buffet includes a hot entrée, soup, salad and side dishes. An assortment of beef, seafood, omelets and desserts are the buffet fare for Sunday brunch at a slightly higher price.

The restaurant also has a private dining area for groups of two dozen.

Suite hotel

The three-story hotel only has suite rooms, with views of the Mazatzal Mountains.

Each regular suite includes two flat screen TVs, one in the bedroom and one in the living area, a wet bar with coffee and tea and bright cheerful bathrooms.

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The Presidential Suite boasts a 60-inch flat screen TV, indoor or balcony dining and two bedrooms. Each bedroom has its own TV and a settee. One bathroom has a Jacuzzi tub and shower, the other a shower.

"One guest told us he had never seen so many doors in a hotel room, but he was glad to have them so his wife could sleep in, while he watched TV in the morning," Shelow said.

An indoor pool and Jacuzzi await the splash of guests.

The arcade is now within the hotel, but it is open to hotel and casino guests. Soon there will be an exterior entrance.

Presidential suite

Double wooden doors lead into the Presidential Suite on the third floor. It has the amenities of a spacious apartment, sans kitchen. Instead, there is a large wet bar.

The ceiling over the dining table and living areas are vaulted. Guests may enjoy stretching out and relaxing on the full-size couch to watch a show on the 60-inch TV screen.

The bedrooms include settees.

The bathrooms have glass and granite showers and one has a Jacuzzi-style bathtub.

Guests with work, as well as play on the agenda, have access to a completely multimedia-ready conference room that seats 14.

Family makes casino unique

"Other tribes have built casinos, gotten their gaming contract and machines then hired an outside corporation to run the casino, but this tribe is family, and it treats its employees that way," McCauley said.

With 350 employees, the casino is one of the largest employers in Rim Country.

"The casino does a lot for the community and we are working on doing even more," McCauley said.

DANCE AND LASER SHOW

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Mazatzal Hotel and Casino's regular suites were designed with comfort and luxury in mind -- with granite countertops, wet bars and comfortable king-sized beds.

Under the Tent:

9 p.m. to midnight, Aug. 23: The Mogollon Band

9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Aug. 24 and 25: The SRP "Second Shift" Band

Outside the Tent:

8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Aug. 23 and 24: Free laser light show by Beamin' Laser

Contact the Players Club toll-free for rules and details on promotions at (800) 777-PLAY or online at www.777play.com.

"The casino and employees have all worked together to make this (grand opening) happen," McCauley said.

LONGTIME EMPLOYEES

Mazatzal Casino opened Sept. 3, 1993.

"I was answering the phones as a PBX operator," Kathy Hinton said.

She is now the human resources director.

When the casino first opened, the staff numbered 80 and worked in the 1950s-looking building with a wooden sign out in front. Hinton said she knew all of her co-workers by name.

Now more than 300 people are employed by the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, making it one of the largest employers in the Rim Country.

The following employees have been there since the beginning:

Ernest B. Engle

Kathy Hinton

Allen R. Holder

Farrell Hoosava Jr.

Michele R. Sikes

Arlene Smith

Susie Smith

Michael L. Weaver

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