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The $130 million Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center
in Tucson, Arizona on Track For November Opening

By Carmen Duarte, The Arizona Daily Star, TucsonMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

March 18, 2011--At 4 a.m. six days a week, nearly 400 construction workers begin arriving on the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation to build the Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center.

The $130 million project is on schedule and set to open in November as an addition to the casino at 5655 W. Valencia Road, 6 miles west of Interstate 19.

The top two floors of the 10-story resort will feature suites, each with a master bedroom and a living room area that feature earth tones and sea-green decor.

Each suite will include a 55-inch flat-screen television, a balcony with French doors and wireless Internet service, which will be available throughout the resort, a smiling Mark A. Birtha, president and chief development officer for Sol Casinos, said during a hard-hat tour Thursday.

A whirlpool tub and a television built into the wall mirror will grace the bathroom in each suite.

The resort, which will feature an illuminated copper dome, will have a Tuscan theme with Italian marble tile, but also will feature subtle Yaqui cultural and historical themes, Birtha said. The spa and fitness center will be named "hiapsi" a Yoeme word that translates as "heart and soul," he added. Yoeme is the Yaqui language.

In addition to cardiovascular workouts in the fitness center, the spa will offer medicinal wraps, mud wraps and treatments that will balance one's "physical health, emotional well-being and spiritual renewal," according to the resort's literature. Treatments also will be available in guest rooms and at the pool area.

"We are building a four-star-quality property, and we believe that designation will be easily attained," said Birtha. Price ranges for rooms and suites have not been set, but the prices will be comparable to those at other area resorts, he said.

Jody Madigan, chief financial officer for Sol Casinos, said Bank of America is the lead bank on a $130 million loan financing the project. He said $30 million from profits is expected to be paid back by November, and the remaining amount by 2017.

Reservations will be taken starting in May for conference bookings in January. The grand ballroom will have a built-in screen-and-projector system, and the ballroom and meeting rooms will lead to a garden patio.

The resort's pool area will fit 3,000 people and showcase fountain shows, palm trees with cascading water, cabanas and fire pits with lawn areas for family gatherings and events, including weddings at a gazebo.

The Prime Steakhouse with a 100-seat dining room, a 30-seat private dining room, and lounge will also feature a 1,000-bottle wine cellar. Wines from around the world will be on hand. "There will be specialties on the menu, but about 80 percent will be approachable at $75 or less a bottle," Birtha said.

Among the selection will be wines from Arizona, Napa Valley, South Africa, South America and Italy. Beer from local breweries will also be available.

In addition to the steakhouse, another new dining experience will be the Festa International Buffet, serving cuisine from around the world and featuring cooks in action.

Ideas for future phases include an 18-hole championship golf course that can attract a PGA event, and a nightclub for further entertainment, Birtha said.

At a glance

--Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center is scheduled to open in November. The resort will feature 215 rooms and suites, a spa and fitness center and a convention center for up to 2,000 guests.

--Other amenities include a steakhouse with a 1,000-bottle wine cellar.

--Two Starbucks coffee shops will be featured -- one will open in the casino in August and the other at the resort in November.

--The project is being built by McCarthy Building Companies Inc. The architect is Leo A. Daly.

NEW jobs

--Casino del Sol employs 850 and once the resort opens another 350 workers will be hired. Job fairs are set to start in May. Details will be announced later.


--For more information, go to, a site that includes a virtual tour of the new resort.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or


To see more of The Arizona Daily Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2011, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit

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