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Learn More About Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula

Exterior of Pechanga
Exterior of Pechanga
Courtesy of Pechanga Resort and Casino

Imagine a staff that practices imperious courtesy. They hold doors, offer a pleasant hello, and wish good cheer to anyone they engage. Stroll through a broad pleasantly lit casino floor, designed to be navigable rather than confounding. High-arching creamy toned walls present serenity rather than ear-splitting intensity.

Resort personnel are everywhere, available for questions or requests. The Pechanga Resort and Casino seems to have achieved a balance of security without an overbearing presence.

Yet with all the glamor the casino has to offer, the entire resort has a laid-back vibe. “If you see someone in a suit, you just assume they’re working for the resort”, said Robert Bledsoe, Pechanga’s public relations manager. Only at the Great Oak Steak House and Club Silk are flip-flops and a Hawaiian shirts frowned upon. As day wears into night, the crowd and pace visibly changes. The more experienced people slowly give way to an energetic, though sometimes overdressed, sampling of San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles and Inland Empire see-and-be-seen group. Buses drive up to two hours to reach the resort from the far reaches of northern Los Angeles, a testament to Pechanga’s popularity.

“We aim to attract the broadest group of over twenty-one people to our resort”, said Bledsoe. “We wish to be respectful to the people and the land we are on.”

Situated in southern Temecula, Pechanga offers options for an evening or whole weekend away from the rush of southern California life. It's owned and operated by the Pechanga Band of LuiseñoIndians, living in the Temecula valley for 10,000 years. Public gaming began at Pechanga in 1994 under a metal frame tent, covering several thousand square feet. Continually expanding its operations, it is now the most expansive gaming floor on the west coast, larger than the biggest casino in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand, sporting more than 3,000 slot machines of every imaginable theme and style.The full resort, opened in 2002, commands a proud list of superlatives across its gaming, resort, golf and employment venues. AAA four diamond rating. Largest fiber optic chandelier. Second biggest employer in Riverside County. Biggest gaming floor in the west. Oldest living oak tree in the United States (estimated) on the Journey golf course.

Blackjack, Pai Gow, roulette, poker and more await the game player looking for a social experience, away from those bent on beating the $3.5 million record payout at Pechanga. For the casino high rollers, both the hotel and gaming floor offer special services for premium guests. Upon arriving at the hotel, red and platinum guests are guided to the private hotel desk, where all of their needs are attended to. In the high limit gaming area, the high limit salon is available to top-tier guests as well. Visitors who frequent the casino are rewarded well beyond room upgrades and little courtesies.

For a weekend of practicing lounge cat activities, the medium-sized pool and hot tub, situated at the back of the hotel, is just right. The sandstone toned deck invites visitors to take time to bask in the valley sun without the crowded beach frustrations. Plus, the full bar adjacent to the swimming area makes it easy to enjoy a weekend chill-fest, offering every adult beverage imaginable. After putting in some swim and sun time, a full spa is available for polishing the personal image.

The clean, contemporary entrance to the spa gives white glove attention to detail, yet the eucalyptus steam room, individual rooms and even the couple’s salon and massage therapy rooms avoid feeling sterile. The lighting is cheery, the air is filled with a fresh linen scent, and the hallways are far away from the buzz of the casino floor, providing an auditory reprieve. The couple’s room has a spacious two-person shower, side by side massage tables and a jet tub for resting up for an evening in Silk or recovering from a round of golf.

The resort’s spa was revamped in 2008, during the depths of the Great Recession. With the major remodel of all 517 rooms completed at the end of 2010, after only eight years of operation, Pechanga spares few expenses to keep itself contemporary, even during an economic meltdown.

Upon entering and being welcomed into the Journey club house, you are greeted with gentle wafts of leather and wood, akin to subtle, gentlemanly cologne. This isn't from the last foursome through the pro shop but rather the ruddy hardwood floor and a selection of embroidered leather bags. Glass and stainless sparkle in the buttery afternoon sunlight.

The solid door of a king suite opens into a pleasant sitting room, bounded by a granite wet bar, architectural stone wall corners and well apportioned seating that comfortably fills the room. The wash room is sizable and modern, with polished glass, stone and steel.The mid-height ceilings and warm hued walls invite a respite from casino floor excitement. Expansive windows flood the living room and bedroom with energizing sunlight, while heavy blackout curtains can block the Temecula sun, allowing deep slumber in the pillowy king bed after an all-night run at one of 53 poker tables.

While some guests are trying their hand at monetary fame and glory, others are enjoying established entertainment skill at the showroom theater. Top billers like Kelly ClarksonandJulio Iglesias have entertained at Pechanga. The theater really doesn't have a bad seat in the house, even in the back section. The walls are all blacked out and, though the seating is snug in the large hall, the venue has a private session feel.

Pechanga has announced its spring and summer schedule with greats such as Paul Simon (sold out), B-52’s, Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox Twenty. More specialized acts like The Avett Brothers, Choo Mimi and Johnson Lee as well as the classic Natalie Cole are featured, too. Wednesday through Sunday night, the cabaret lounge presents Las Vegas quality entertainment in a no-cover lounge on the edge of the main casino floor.

The main casino is bounded by five differently themed restaurants with the intention of providing fare well beyond the simple corpulent buffet. Steak, Italian, Pan-Asian, seafood and ale-house fusion cuisines satisfy every palate and taste. The Great Oak Steakhouse is the resort’s premier restaurant, featuring prime, wet aged beef served to guests in plush seating. The live fireplace and subdued lighting are a nice touch, giving the restaurant a hunting room feeling, a refuge away from the din of the gaming floor.

However, for those who must have casino buffet eats, the Pechanga buffet food is hot, plentiful, and tasty. The vegetables and meats options were fresh and tasted like they had just come from the kitchen. The gravy had the right amount of salt for flavoring. As the resort’s main buffet is under renovation, a smaller buffet will tide guests over. This does result in longer lines, though. For night owls, there are food selections 24 hours a day at the Temptations Food Walk when the 3 a.m. food craving hits. Journeys End, at the golf course, is reputed to have an excellent breakfast and lunch, and is worth investigating.

Pechanga Resort and Casino is fairly well built out at this point, being surrounded by a top-rated championship desert golf course. However, that does not mean the resort is resting on its laurels. Robert Bledsoe hinted at the resort’s future. “With ten different departments all competing and working together, there are many ideas,” he said. “They are constantly improving the resort experience.”


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  • City: Temecula
  • Organization: Pechanga Resort and Casino