Monday, March 03, 2008

Foxwoods Resort Casino

SHOES: February was cold in Connecticut -- a definite jolt to my Florida system. Definitely warm socks and boots, which made my packing difficult with flip-flops for Florida, boots for Connecticut...

Was it just barely over a week ago that I was on the road, or should I say air? Yes, it was. After my visit to Fort Lauderdale and the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center & Spa, I boarded yet another plan for Providence, Rhode Island airport. Weather delays weren't kind to me from here on out, but I did finally make it to Providence and then driven the one hour to Foxwoods Resort Casino.

My first impression -- HUGE! I mean super-sized big! About two years ago, I'd visited the nearby Mohegan Sun, an intimate tribal casino (that is also undergoing renovation and additions), but the Foxwoods is an impressive, huge complex, especially with its soon-to-debut addition: MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

I had no idea that Foxwoods is the largest casino in the world -- with 340,000 square feet of gaming space in a complex that covers 4.7 million square feet. More than 40,000 guests visit Foxwoods each day, and since I visited on a weekend, I can assure you it was packed! Lots of locals from the surrounding eastern states. It has a great location, near Mystic in the rolling hills of southeastern Connecticut town of Mashantucket (less than 2 hours from Boston).

Here's the overview of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation owned-property Foxwoods:
  • 1,416 guest rooms and suites, including the 824 room Grand Pequot Tower, 312 room Great Cedar Hotel and the 280 room Two Trees Inn. F
  • More than 55,000 square feet of meeting space and 25 conference rooms.
  • Impressive Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center with fascinating and engaging experiences with life-size walk-through dioramas, live performances and changing exhibits.
  • $55 million renovation to bring luxury retail therapy and dining experiences.
  • Easy access from Boston, New York, Hartford and Connecticut.
  • Two 18-hole, Rees Jones-designed championship golf courses and Golf Academy.
  • Six separate and distinctive casinos scattered throughout the resort, including several non-smoking gaming areas.

And then the new development MGM Grand at Foxwoods, debuting in May:

  • $700 million development project, scheduled to open mid-May.
    Adding nearly 2 million square feet of overall space, featuring significantly increased hotel, entertainment, restaurants and gaming venues as well as enhanced corporate retreat, meeting and convention resources.
  • The project will also positively impact the local employment landscape, with 2,300 new jobs expected to be generated. (In fact, I was told more than nearly 7,000 applications were filed!)

WOWZA! For those that are waiting a BIG experience, this is the place. Highlights of my visit to Foxwoods (besides the hard hat tour of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods):

Saturday Dinner at Paragon (AAA Four-Diamond) with French and Asian influences -- lobster bisque, oysters on half shell (FRESH!), excellent cut of filet and naughty dessert. Sunday evening dinner at the exclusive Southern Italian cuisine at Al Dente -- lobster ravioli to die for!

After dinner drinks at Hard Rock Cafe, where it was jamming on a Saturday night, wall-to-wall people. Great fun! (The Club, their destination nightclub, was closed for renovations.)

Exploring the Foxwoods took hours, lots of shops, boutiques, and restaurants from California Pizza Kitchen to Panera Bread. My favorite "bar" stop was the Atrium near the Hard Rock Cafe across from the buffet, and a perfect place to people watch.

And yes, I did try my luck at the casino. The blackjack video game rocked! I played six hands at once at 25 cents a hand, and came out $20 ahead. (Of course, the next day I gave it back.) Good news is that even though I left my new Harley Cross Bones at home, the casino by the Atrium bar had a Harley on display to tease me about my missing the beautiful riding weather in Denver.

Until the next trip Diana ;-)