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The $365 million L'Auberge du Lac Resort Casino
 Opens in Lake Charles, Louisiana


By Jamie Reid, The Beaumont Enterprise, Texas
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

May 24, 2005 - LAKE CHARLES, La.--A new luxury casino here doles out a Texas-size serving of the Lone Star State. 

Owners hope the attention -- drawn by Hill Country-inspired architecture, a Lone Star flag, a bluebonnet sculpture and buses running to and from Southeast Texas -- will fill the $365 million L'Auberge du Lac complex with Texans. 

The casino, which has an 18-hole golf course, meeting center and spa, opens at 10 p.m. Thursday. 

Arlene Massey, 71, of Jasper said she's likely to check out the new casino at the beginning of June, when crowds clear out a bit. On Monday, she was leaving Delta Downs Racetrack, Casino and Hotel in Vinton, La., where she gambles a few times a month. 

Massey, a flower and gift shop owner, said she would keep coming to Delta Downs because it's closer to home. 

Helen Messer, 64, of Houston has no desire to visit L'Auberge du Lac. 

Messer, who is retired, also will continue to gamble at Delta Downs, and at the Lake Charles-based Harrah's and Isle of Capri. 

"It's just going to be too crowded," Messer said of L'Auberge du Lac. 

Owners and managers of the luxury casino don't expect to attract everyone. 

"We are not going after the same customer base," said Kerry Andersen, manager of community and public relations. 

L'Auberge is competing with Las Vegas casinos, not Delta Downs, Isle of Capri and Harrah's, Andersen said. 

However, some Southeast Texans already have signed up to stay at L'Auberge. 

The Young Men's Business League has booked spots for a conference in the fall, employees there said. 

Although L'Auberge might draw crowds away from a while, Andersen expects the Harrah's and Isle of Capri to soon get a boost. People who come to stay and play at L'Auberge might want to hop across town to try their luck at Harrah's or Isle of Capri, Andersen said. 

Those Vegas gamblers would not normally be in Lake Charles, Andersen said. 

Closer to home, Jefferson and Orange counties can expect increased traffic on Interstate 10, said Betty Harmon, executive vice president of Orange Area Chamber of Commerce. Yet she was unsure if the casino would have an economic impact on Southeast Texas. 

She hopes it doesn't draw business away from Delta Downs, located about 15 miles from Orange. The Vinton casino and racetrack employs many Southeast Texans, she said. 

About 140 of L'Auberge's 2,800 employees are Texans, Andersen said. 

Delta Downs marketing department employees did not return one phone call left Friday nor two on Monday and were too busy to meet with an Enterprise reporter who drove to the casino Monday. 

Delta Downs this year opened a 203-room hotel, an 850-seat event center, five restaurants and remodeled the casino, according to a press release on the casino's Web site. With these amenities, Delta Downs hopes to draw customers from outside Louisiana, according to the press release. 

Most cars in the parking lot Monday had Texas plates. 

L'Auberge officials hope to have the same this weekend. 

HIGHLIGHTS: 

-- The 26-story hotel has 743 rooms, including several suites and private villas for high rollers. Each room offers a view of Contraband Bayou, the pool area or the Contraband Bayou Golf Course. 

-- The casino features 30,000 square feet of 24-hour gaming action, including 60 table games and more than 1,600 of the newest slot machines featuring ticket-in, ticket-out technology. Other games include blackjack, baccarat and Pai Gow poker. 

-- There are 10 eating spots at L'Auberge, including an upscale steakhouse, buffet, American roadhouse and Asian restaurant u Business travelers can take advantage of approximately 26,000 square feet of meeting and conference space, including a business center and conference registration area. 

-- The Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L'Auberge is an 18-hole championship golf course designed by architect Tom Fazio. The unique 7,000-yard, par-71 championship course is the only public Fazio course in the state and features a combination of aquatic and natural vegetation on the edges of eight lakes to challenge golfers of all skill levels. The grand opening for the golf course is set for August 2005. 

-- Spa du Lac is an 8,700-square-foot spa featuring six treatment rooms for facials, massages and custom body treatments. It also has a fitness center featuring Cybex cardio equipment and a weight training area; both men's and women's private locker rooms, saunas, whirlpools and vanity areas; and The Salon at Spa du Lac, a full-service salon offering hairstyling, manicures, pedicures, professional makeup services, sunless tanning and teeth whitening. 

To learn more about L'Auberge, visit www.ldlcasino.com 

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To see more of The Beaumont Enterprise, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.southeasttexaslive.com.

Copyright (c) 2005, The Beaumont Enterprise, Texas

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail reprints@krtinfo.com. HET, ISLE, 


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