San Diego’s unprecedented five-year casino building boom culminates today with the unveiling of Valley View Casino & Hotel’s $50 million expansion and renovation.
With the dust cleared on Valley View’s 18-month construction project, casino and tribal officials will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning and grand opening of an additional 43,000 square feet of casino, restaurant and public space, as well as a top-to-bottom remodel of the existing gaming floor, non-smoking casino, high-limit slot area, VIP lounge, buffet and breakfast, lunch and dinner cafe.
“I think it definitely positions us for the higher end — a little more upscale, a little younger,” said Ian Williams, director of hotel operations and player development for Valley View. “It just sets us up to compete with any casino in Las Vegas and any casino in San Diego.”
Valley View’s expansion is the last of eight major development projects among the San Diego region’s 10 casinos since 2014, an unparalleled period of growth that has made the area one of the most dynamic casino destinations in the country.
In that time, which kicked off with Harrah’s Resort Southern California’s crossing the 1,000-room hotel threshold with a $160 million expansion, an excess of $1.5 billion has been spent on everything from new hotels (Pechanga Resort & Casino, Sycuan Casino Resort, Viejas Casino & Resort) to a new casino itself (Jamul Casino). With nearly every change has come augmented gambling capacity.
The building surge has prompted a competitive climate so fierce, casinos have been locked in an amenities arms race of sorts, leading to an ever-escalating level of luxury features, including upscale eateries, lavish lounges, swanky day spas and grand pool complexes.
It has also produced an untold number of full and part-time jobs. Two large-scale projects — Pechanga’s $300 million expansion and Sycuan’s $260 million hotel resort — generated about 1,560 jobs combined, not including construction jobs. Valley View’s relatively modest $50 million expansion and renovation created 100 positions, with the casino now employing around 950 people.
Valley View, located in Valley Center, is in the core of the North County casino hotbed, with Harrah’s SoCal, Pala Casino Spa & Resort, Casino Pauma and Temecula’s Pechanga all nearby. Known almost as much for its endless Maine lobster buffet as gaming, Valley View has a boutique, 105-room, 100 percent non-smoking, 21-and-over hotel. It also boasts the county’s only casino infinity pool.
Among the features of its new expansion and renovation are:
- An additional 25,000 square feet of gambling space, with 250 new slot machines, for a total of 2,000, and 11 new table games, doubling the previous number. A new grand entrance leads to the added gaming area — made airy by a high ceiling and natural light coming through a sleek, indoor water wall.
- A new 160-seat restaurant and bar called Patties & Pints, featuring scratch-made, elevated pub fare. Its menu was created by Howard Silver, Valley View’s vice president of food and beverage and a former Culinary Institute of America-trained chef. Patties & Pints serves eight kinds of burgers — made from a custom, Brandt beef grind — nine varieties of deep-dish pizza, 16 beers on tap, 16 in bottles, 17 kinds of ice cream shakes, including seven boozy shakes. (The beer taps mark the first time draft brew has been served at Valley View; it’s now available at all four of the casino’s bars.) There’s also a stand-alone take-out area.
- A new players club, gift promotion and slot tournament area, off the main entrance, and six new restrooms.
- A renovation of 100,000 square feet of existing casino and restaurant areas, including 65,000 square feet on the gaming floor, the non-smoking casino, the high-limit area and VIP lounge, from the ceiling tiles to carpeting, lighting, pillars, signage, new 75-inch TVs, and wider aisles and spacing between slot machine banks throughout the casino.
- An entire renovation of the buffet restaurant, with updated furnishings, enlarged seating capacity (100 more seats, for a total of 600), and 25 new menu offerings.
- A complete renovation of the former BLD Restaurant, now called The Café, which serves everything from eggs Benedict to BLTs and chicken pad Thai. Hotel stays include a full breakfast there.