Behind the Design: Eagle Mountain Casino

Article by Eagle Mountain Casino

Counting down the days to Fall: HBG provides exclusive details about the design of new Eagle Mountain Casino

(Eagle Mountain Casino, Porterville, CA 93257) –  In the Fall of 2019, HBG Design was selected as designer and architect for Eagle Mountain Casino’s highly anticipated casino relocation project. The nationally-recognized Top 10 hospitality and entertainment design firm, which has offices in Memphis, San Diego, and Dallas, started design of the project in 2020 and continued design right through the pandemic. Virtual meetings continued with the Tule River Tribe and the design advanced through all the obstacles faced from Covid-19.

“One thing that we learned during our process is that, for us, this project started fairly recently. For the Tule River Tribe, however, this project’s vision began in the 1990’s. It’s like a 25-plus-year process of acquiring the land and envisioning a property in the Valley, closer to Porterville in the population base, so it’s remarkable the perseverance that the Tribe has shown to get the project realized,” said Joe Baruffaldi, AIA, Principal, HBG Design.

The Tribe met with HBG Design and shared elements of the rich tribal history, including archival images of beautiful baskets, the process of basket making along the Tule River, legends of tribal origin, and focused on the details of the higher elevations of the tribal homeland.

As we started to get more and more involved and inspired by those Tribal themes, we began to wonder how we could integrate some of that history and some of that cultural richness of the giant sequoia tree, the mountainous region, the tales of the ‘hairy man’ as they call it, and the basket patterns themselves, which each hold very particular meaning. So as we started to learn about these things, it layered on to us a desire to create a property that spoke very closely to those themes,” said Rob Jurbergs, AIA, Principal, HBG Design.

HBG designed the new casino property with the vision of a lodge and a more mountainous style of architecture with a home in the Valley. A DESIGN THAT SERVES COMMUNITY AND CULTURE

“For the Tule River Tribe, it was really important to tell their story. We researched their culture; they provided books to us, and photos of artifacts. They were really open about sharing their culture, which allowed us to find patterns within baskets to incorporate into our design that would give this property a uniqueness in the market when you look at some of the other competitive casinos, because it tells their story. It would also be very meaningful to the tribal members for us to incorporate basket patterns that, on the one hand, are cool casino elements and, on the other hand, recognizable to anyone with knowledge of the Tribal culture,” said Baruffaldi.

HBG Design was also trying to meet the market from a business perspective. One example of this is the inclusion of a Sports bar called ‘The Redwood Taphouse’ in the new casino property. The city of Porterville does not have a variety of options to view televised sporting events, and it is anticipated that this will be a hot spot for all sports lovers. “Talking with Matthew Mingrone, the General Manager of Eagle Mountain Casino, he wanted to have a place in Porterville to go watch the game, so you start to have these business drivers that merge with these creative storytelling drivers to create an overall unique business driven property,” continued Baruffaldi.  DEVELOPMENT OF CONCEPTUAL THEMES

The Tule River Tribal Council as a whole were essential in helping HBG Design learn about tribal culture and embraced the idea of using the new relocation property as a platform for sharing their culture, while meeting the needs of the community. HBG Design created specific conceptual themes after speaking to tribal community groups and Tribal leadership to showcase and present some of the more significant meanings related to the Tribe.

“The design storytelling within the property as a whole involved the development of an overall concept that ties all of the different spaces together, as a platform to create an individual identity for each restaurant or venue within the property,” said Baruffaldi.

HBG Design took multiple aspects of the design inspiration depicting the story of the Tule River through the Tribe’s native traditions, art, patterns and imagery. “During our early visioning workshops, we focused in on the words ‘Grounded’ and ‘Soaring’. "Grounded” and “soaring” are more conceptual terms as it relates to the concept of the Giant Sequoia tree which is so large it can only be experienced truly by either the rooted connection to the earth, the trunk, and the soaring nature of the canopy because it is so tall and dwarfs everything else in the forest.  With a better understanding of the tribe’s ancestral homeland and hearing the stories from tribal members related to both the Tribe’s past and the desire to create a project to represent a strong future to the Tule River tribe, we started to connect the theme from “Grounded” and “Soaring.” “Grounded” is about honoring the past, the heritage, the traditions, the elders, and all of the history of the tribal foundation. “Soaring” represents looking forward and creating opportunities for the Tribe with the new casino,” said Jurbergs.

The giant sequoia concept was visualized in three parts: the roots, the trunk, and the canopy. Designers identified words and images that depict the nature and character of each part of the tree. An element that the Tule River Tribal Council started to understand and embrace was the storytelling behind the design and how HBG tied each of the giant sequoia aspects into different parts of the building.  Additionally, the Tule River became a key design inspiration. The river is very dynamic, and as it travels from higher elevations, it creates majestic pools of water and waterfalls. STRONG LODGE-STYLE ARCHITECTURAL EXPRESSIONDesigners were influenced by a lodge aesthetic with wood and other stone structural expressions and wanted the design to be grounded in the land. Creating strong architectural elements of wood and stone became the forefront.

The porte-cochère will incorporate an eagle pattern design for the pendant lights, and the lodge-like lines and truss work with wood textures both in the main structural elements and in the ceiling itself, creating a lot of warmth and richness, making it very inviting for guests. ENTRANCE AND CASINO FLOORAs you drive up to the new relocation property and the porte-cochère, you will first notice water and a series of small pools reminiscent of the Tule River itself. It will be a part of the entry experience and will engage guests from the moment they arrive on the property. Water elements will wind in a serpentine fashion up to the front door and feature Native grasses and plant species native to the mountain that the Tribe felt necessary to incorporate into the property.

“Flowing forms recall the winding Tule River and organic curves of nature. When we were laying out the casino floor, we were thinking about how guests move through the project; we wanted to convey that flowing nature,” said Jurbergs.

There are so many incredible elements to be discovered as guests explore the new property. As you enter the property into the entry concourse, which ultimately will lead to a future hotel, it features a sculpture carving by a Tule River tribal member of a culturally significant figure, “the hairy man” or more commonly “big foot”. Guests looking up at the ceiling will notice the unique geometry of a basket pattern with individual triangles that are super scaled to cover the whole casino ceiling. In addition, the use of four tribal basket patterns is featured on the concourse floor, and the light fixtures also feature basketry patterns. The column work is inspired by the giant sequoia trees’ bark and creates a contemporary element. The corridor will also showcase museum-like statements of actual works of art, bringing a rich historical feel to the entire property.  The countdown to Fall continues, and the excitement is building as the construction of the relocation nears completion. Soon the guests of The People’s Casino will be able to experience all of the fantastic designs and countless years of hard work put into this one-of-a-kind property.  Currently, Eagle Mountain Casino is located 17 miles east of Porterville and is a full-service casino owned and operated by the Tule River Tribe. Guests must be 18 years of age to enter. The casino is open 24/7. In addition, the Grizzly Food court is open 24/7, and the River Steakhouse is open Friday – Sunday from 5pm – 10pm. Eagle Mountain Casino is a short drive from Bakersfield or Visalia.  The new casino property is scheduled to open in late Fall of 2022, off Highway 65 in Porterville, CA, next to the Porterville Fair Grounds. The new property will double in size, growing to over 100,000 square feet, featuring new dining options, 1750 slot machines, 20 table games, and a 2000 seat state-of-the-art event center.


Creating Depth, Meaning and Authenticity in the Gaming Experience

"Casino design is its own special artform that has long since evolved from being simply a structural box with slot machines inside. At the best casinos and resorts, the casino designs are exciting and lively, but are also inspired by meaning and authenticity, with a beautiful flow from one amenity to the next.” - Christopher Wood, NCIDQ, IIDA, HBG Design

Chris Wood IIDA

Christopher Wood, NCIDQ, IIDA, Lead Interior Designer and a casino design specialist contributes to this month's 'HBG Design Thinking'. Chris discusses how inspired, authentic and meaningful design can help differentiate and enhance the guest's gaming experience.

First, Chris, why are you passionate about casino and entertainment design?

Chris: As a casino design specialist here at HBG Design, I love creating spaces of refined elegance with a bit of glitz and glam. I love finding subtle ways to elevate a space. And it helps that I have a penchant for all things that sparkle. That tends to work well in casino design. The casino is the nucleus of the guest experience for a casino resort. Bringing in intricate detailing and refinement through materials that truly shine is something that always gets my creative juices going.

As a casino designer, where do you and your team find your design inspiration?

Chris: At HBG, we are fortunate to work with many distinctive tribal and commercial gaming clients with strong cultures, brands and regional ties, in some cases, to native ancestral lands. I love learning about our clients’ cultures. Being able to highlight stories of heritage respectfully, creatively, and typically within a more contemporary casino design framework, is challenging yet exciting.

Ho-Chunk Gaming BRF Casino  Ho-Chunk Gaming BRF

Shown above: the design of Ho-Chunk Gaming, Black River Falls, Wisconsin was directly influenced by the light and shadow filtering through the northern Wisconsin woods.

Nature is also a tremendous aspect of regional design inspiration. There is so much beauty in the world. Finding new ways to bring the outside world into our designed spaces is an unexpected surprise, especially in a casino. I like to reference underlying elements that we don't often think would be associated with a casino. For example, a sunrise, light and shadow, the night sky.

Each story can form the basis of a string of conceptual ideas that are personal and unique to each Owner. One-of-a-kind design really complements and elevates a gaming experience. We use ambience and emotional response to separate a property from the [casino] pack.  

Can you give an example of a design inspired by culture or nature for regional customers?

Chris: Yes, the Tule River Tribe in California is currently developing their new 105,000 square foot Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville, CA, which will enhance the tribe’s gaming and F&B amenities with a fresh interpretation of Tule River Tribal culture and heritage. Our design team merged cultural storytelling concepts with amenities and distinctive venues designed specifically for the Porterville gaming customer.

Eagle Mountain CasinoKey design concepts are rooted in the land and agrarian context of Tulare County and Central California with the design influenced heavily by a lodge aesthetic with wood and stone structural expressions. Inside, guests will experience an abstract depiction of the Tule River Tribe’s native traditions through art, patterns, and imagery. Soaring vertical features recall the majesty of the Giant Sequoia and the Golden Eagle, each important representations of tribal culture. Flowing forms will recall the winding Tule River and organic curves of nature.

Custom terrazzo medallions of tribal basketry patterns will enhance the entrance concourse. Display cases will feature tribal artwork. The casino ceiling design features the Tule River Tribe's Flight of the Butterfly and Quail Tufts cultural pattern. Chandelier designs are inspired by native basketry. The carpeting is evocative of a shadowed forest floor. Wood accented columns help bring alive the idea of the towering sequoia.

Is there a particular aspect of the Eagle Mountain Casino project that you think will stand out to guests?

Eagle Mountain CasinoChris: The Eagle Mountain Casino’s ceiling design and center bar is a design that I am particularly proud of for its eye-catching aesthetic. Guests will witness a culturally significant center bar design that harkens to the concept of fire as a community gathering place. We designed in elements reminiscent of glowing embers of a dwindling fire, and sourced custom floating ember-look light fixtures. A focal back bar element recalls stacked firewood. Warm crimsons and deep navy blues help express the color range that fire can have, leaving those gathered feeling warm and social.

Are most Owners receptive to integrating cultural elements into the casino design?

Chris: Our team’s experiences working with Tribal design, especially, have been very diverse. We have created literal interpretations and incorporations of cultural identity into the entertainment experience. And have also designed more contemporary, abstracted nods to culture and heritage.

We design to each Owner’s specific vision; so no designs look alike. And, because many of the tribal casinos are often legacy investments supporting tribal communities, the casino design treatments can be incredible opportunities to create personality, emotion and memory within the context of a meaningful destination experience.


No Surprises: Guest Room Design is All in the Details

This month 'HBG Design Thinking' is taking a look at our approach to guest room design and utilizing design to help improve operational functionality and the guest experience.

Expectations run high in the hospitality industry. When customers spend their hard-earned money at a particular resort or a hotel, they are looking for one assurance: that they will receive a great experience in return.  

Creating environments and spaces that promote guest enjoyment is the result of a well-thought-out strategic and creative process where resort owners and designers collaborate to deliver on guest expectations. There’s both art and science involved in creating the desired results. Hotel design relies on a framework measuring both aesthetics and functionality; with a distinct emphasis on ensuring the details are vetted, tested, and thoughtfully expressed to evoke memorable, positive guest experiences in return.

“HBG’s hotel design process, specifically our mockup/model guestroom approach, has become an integral framework for both exploration of options and fine-tuning tangible design details. Long before a single guest ever walks through the guestroom door, we’ve tested and measured every detail against a high benchmark for guest satisfaction,” says Deidre Brady, AIA, NCIDQ, LEED BD&C, Senior Associate and Project Manager at HBG Design.

Deidre recently led the interior renovation of the 10+ year old, 395-room Hotel Tower One, known as the Casino Tower, at WinStar World Casino Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma--the recognized ‘World’s Biggest Casino’. WinStar and HBG Design have been strategically working to enhance amenities and elevate quality and branding of the three hotel towers on property, detail by detail.

 

WinStar Tower 1 guest room design
New hotel interiors of WinStar Tower 1 were derived from the regional landscape where subtle hues of the Oklahoma plains and the exaggerated curves of the Red River that hug the resort property.

“With approximately 1400 hotel guestrooms in three towers at the WinStar property, the operators need highly functional designs that are proven to work – aesthetically, and in terms of comfort, durability and maintenance,” says Deidre.

Winstar World guest room design

The guestroom mock-up process, whereby a model guestroom and/or suite is built-out in entirety and “tested” well before any other construction has completed, has become an essential component to achieving operationally efficient and accurate designs. Early FF&E specification and stringent analysis of every design element in the mock-up also helps regulate the procurement budget and schedule throughout the project duration.

 

“The Casino Tower renovation involved a holistic refresh of almost 400 guestrooms and suites, with thousands of furnishings, décor items, surface coverings, lighting and plumbing fixtures and equipment being integrated into the design scheme,” adds Deidre.

“Such a large up-front investment makes it imperative that there are no surprises after design elements have been procured and once the project is under construction.”

For the WinStar Casino Tower guest room design, the project team created full-scale model rooms of a standard king, standard queen, and a player’s suite (junior suite) on site. These mockups reflected the intended design as a baseline to be able to test concepts.

Winstar World guest room design

“We created brand cohesive guestroom designs to meet WinStar’s project needs and vision, and then tested those designs thoroughly for a variety of aesthetic, operational, maintainability and durability aspects,” Deidre adds. “For example, the ease of cleanability and maintenance; overall ambience; colors, patterns, and textures; and the luxury level of the in-room amenity package, such as the lit mirrors, in room refrigerators, and expansive showers.”

Early collaboration between the design team and hotel operators, contractors, hotel housekeeping and maintenance helped ensure that each hotel design performs for both guests AND for hotel staff.

“The mockup/model room process was a great opportunity to collaborate with the Chickasaw Nation ownership group, the WinStar General Manager, the hotel operations team, and other decision-maker / stakeholder team members,” says Deidre. “The General Manager also brought in the head of housekeeping, the head of maintenance and head of engineering to participate. Those who were invested in day-to-day hotel operations were an essential part of the testing and decision-making process.”

Everyone participating in the guest room design mock-up process is integral to the result because they each look at aspects of the guestroom experience through a different lens. “This becomes a chance to experience every individual detail before the guest does, and potentially correct any design misalignments early,” adds Deidre. For example, how does the furniture and bed feel? Are the clearances between the wall and bed wide enough? Should we source higher quality fabrics to avoid wrinkled sheers and drapery?

Design considerations being tested typically include:

  • Selection of fabric types and patterns that are easily cleaned and maintain a clean appearance
  • Curtains tailored to fit to avoid light bleed
  • Maneuverability around furniture / clearances between furniture
  • Easy access to power and USB outlets without visible cords
  • Removable headboard panels for maintenance and cleaning
  • Durable lamp shade types selected to minimize wear and cleaning hassles
  • Fingerprint tests on material surfaces
  • Selection of bathroom tiles that withstand daily steam cleaning
  • Correct bed heights to ensure ease of access
  • Correct bedding sizing to ensure proper fit

The team takes guest comfort and convenience very seriously. “A lot of chair testing also takes place,” jokes Deidre. “We lounged around on all the furniture, put our feet up, spilled things, observed light temperatures, made sure nothing could roll under bed, and checked for light bleed around the curtains.”

Immersive feedback and varying perspectives are used to make decisions and any design alterations to materiality and furniture, as needed.

“Walking around in the actual spaces-- with the Owner and Operators-- really gives the project team a tangible understanding of the interplay between design and operations,” adds Deidre, “and a “real-world” look into how future guestrooms and suites will function together and with the adjacent hotel towers.”

“And we become partners in helping our clients deliver on their brand promises,” says Deidre.

“After all, the only surprise we want customers to experience is the jaw-dropping ‘Wow!’ excitement of stepping into a spectacular, well-designed resort escape, or even better…hitting a jackpot on the largest gaming floor in the world!”

Read more about the WinStar Casino Resort's Casino Tower renovations here.


American Spa Magazine Takes Us Inside Astral Spa

Offering a contemporary, luxurious take on the iconic Hot Springs bathhouse spa experience, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort (Hot Springs, AR) has opened Astral Spa, the first major full-service spa to be built in the Spa City in more than a century. Completed in November 2021, the full-service 8,000 square foot spa is designed with a relaxed nostalgic ambiance that frames each guest’s spa journey through a complete sensory experience.

We had the chance to speak to Jessica Renee Rose, spa director at Astral Spa, about the new spa. Here's the scoop on Astral Spa.

Tell us a little bit about the spa’s design? 

Our vision for Astral Spa was to create a unique experience that regional guests have never seen before. With multiple amenities, taking advantage of Hot Springs’ great history of entertainment, gambling, and relaxation, Astral Spa offers a throwback vibe with modern luxury which includes a cold room, steam room and infrared sauna, dipping pools, and needle showers.

Marrying crisp modern lines with historical overtures, Astral Spa’s design led by HBG Design and WTS International celebrates the history of Hot Springs and Oaklawn’s thoroughbred horseracing in an era when ladies and gentlemen donned their best bespoke styles to see and be seen. Relaxing in the lounges, we want our guests to imagine what Hot Springs was like in the roaring ‘20’s yet be in contemporary comfort. The interior design is complemented by the 21st century bathhouse-inspired program and spa services menu developed by leading spa consultants and operators, WTS.

Can you please describe each of the treatment rooms? 

Designed for complete relaxation, the 2,035-square-foot treatment area rooms contain beautifully dressed beds with soft organic linens and warm cocooning cashmere blankets. The Duet Spa Suite allows two guests to share in a meaningful spa experience. This beautifully appointed suite offers coordinated treatments complete with a specialty duet soaking tub, reminiscent of a vintage bathhouse experience. This exclusive suite allows guests to take pleasure in an intimate spa journey within their own spa suite.

What makes the spa unique and sets it apart from other spas in the area?

The resort’s new full-service spa and wellness experience is the first major spa to be built in the Spa City in more than a century. Guests can uniquely experience modern spa services in a nostalgic setting, including:

  • An array of spa services, including couples' massages, hydro-facials, hot stone treatments, and a full-day Journey of the Springs experience with several additional offerings.
  • Dedicated 1,925-square-foot women’s spa and 1,500-square-foot men’s spa, each with distinctly tailored parlors, dressing room areas and aqua thermal lounges featuring vintage-inspired needle showers that harken to historical bathhouses.
  • A 750-square-foot full-service salon, multiple private treatment areas, and a co-ed lounge with upholstered chaise lounges and the area’s only Himalayan salt wall.
  • Unique hot/cold wellness circuits in the large women’s and men’s aqua thermal areas, allowing guests to ‘Heat, Cool, Rest, Repeat’ in vapor rooms, infrared saunas, ice lounges, vitality pools, and thermal loungers.
  • An illuminated wall of quartz crystal, an important healing element, in the reception area references crystal mining popular in this area of Arkansas, in celebration of the region’s natural resources.

I think what sets us apart is the level of service we provide to the guest, the beautiful aqua thermal areas that are located in each the men’s and women’s areas, and the services that we provide.

How would you describe your typical clientele? 

The typical clientele usually travels to Hot Springs for a weekend getaway from a city within a 200-mile radius of Hot Springs, AR.  They usually come in for the weekend to see a horse race, gamble at the casino, or are celebrating a birthday or anniversary.  Hopefully soon, we will be seeing guests that are specifically traveling here because of the spa. We see quite a few guests from Little Rock (the closest major city and the capital of Arkansas), as well as Memphis, TN, and Shreveport, LA.

How are you marketing the spa to your hotel guests? 

When a guest checks into the hotel, there is a key card offer from the spa for a $25 spa credit for a service 50-minutes or longer Monday through Thursday. Even if the guest isn’t here on a weekday, they could bring the card back during a week day to redeem their offer. The spa is also mentioned in their hotel reservation confirmation email, and present in the iPad compendium in their room.  The in-room toiletries are from our bodycare line, Zents, that state they are available for purchase in the spa.

How are you marketing the spa to local guests or those not staying at the hotel? 

We run monthly specials that we send out in an email to our spa database, as well as post on the spa’s website under the Seasonal Treatments Tab. We have a pretty large following on Facebook from local residents. We have weekday treatment prices to encourage local guests to come to the spa during those days. In December, we launched a Sip & Spa menu that is a spa happy hour to encourage local guests to come in after work. This promotion is only available from Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.  Guests can choose a package, or one of our express services during those times as well as use of our full-service locker rooms and includes one glass of bubbly.

Can you tell me a little bit about the creation of the menu?

I worked with Susie Hammer, vice president of spas at WTS International, while creating the spa menu. I researched spa offerings in the area, as well as other casino resort spas, and Forbes Five-Star-rated spas. I wanted to keep the menu simpler, so the guest didn’t feel overwhelmed trying to decide between too many selections. I really wanted the guest to feel like we were creating something incredibly special just for them. After quite a few drafts, it went to the management team and the owners for edits and approvals.

We do offer signature Journeys that range 2 to 4 hours. The Journey of the Springs was inspired by our location. After you have changed into your robe and slippers, you are greeted in the parlor with a warm neck wrap, and a heated mineral foot soak and a cup of hot tea made from one of the local hot springs. Then in the treatment room, you receive a scrub, a soak with a eucalyptus and mint blend to draw in the vapors, an 80-minute massage with chakra balancing with locally sourced crystals, and a Rose Quartz Lift and Contour Facial. Throughout the journey, the guest is given a flight of water from the local hot springs in town. When the guest checks out, they are given an exclusive Journey of the Springs bath bomb made local in the state of Arkansas from Cotton Halo.

What are most spa-goers looking for when they visit your spa? 

The majority of spa-goers are looking to relax and are typically celebrating a special event in their life. The top-selling service is our 50-minute Heavenly Massage, followed closely by our 50-minute Couples Massage. Massage is 68 percent of our business.

What treatments are a harder sell? How do you promote them? 

Our nail treatments are the hardest sell. We include them in our monthly promotions, and encourage other providers to cross promote.

What product lines do you carry at the spa?

Babor, Knesko, Foreo, NuFace, Zents, SachaJuan, Clove + Hallow, Jala Clothing, VitaJuwel Water Bottles

What do you find your biggest challenge to be, and how do you meet that challenge? 

The biggest challenge is what everyone is currently facing, COVID--challenges with staffing, business levels, product arrival time, etc. I am meeting the challenge by being as organized as possible. We have a very heightened sanitation practice, we maximize our revenue on the busy days, so the slower days don’t hurt as much, and try to make sure I’m allowing ample time for the ordering process.

What plans do you have for the future? 

For the spa, to become not only to be a great amenity of this amazing property, but to also become the reason people travel to Hot Springs.

Click to learn more about Astral Spa


InspireDesign Reveals the Inspired Mind of Practice Leader Nathan Peak

What energizes HBG Design’s new Practice Leader, Nathan Peak, as he takes on each new day? From good conversation that leads to fresh perspectives, to the freedom to let his body and mind run--InspireDesign magazine has the inside track on the personal and professional inspirations and collaborative mindset of HBG’s leader, Nathan Peak, AIA, LEED GA.

Nathan Peak has been with hospitality architecture and design firm HBG Design for more than 20 years. In January, he was named practice leader, overseeing the work at they company's offices in Memphis, San Diego and Dallas. Needless to say, he knows something about inspiration.

"Inspiration, for me, is a joining of ideas that originates from the dialogue of many, rather than the thoughts from my own mind," he said. Listening is a powerful mechanism that breeds and cultivates creativity through conversation and exploration. My best ideas will never be enough to create the design solutions that our clients envision and deserve. But our collective ideas and connections through investigative listening empower out design staff to create the breadth of inspiration needed to develop innovative and viable design solutions.

"Inspiration can also be the reawakening of past experiences through new ones," he continued. "I often ask our clients to imagine their most memorable experience while dining or enjoying time with friends or family. What was the mood like? Was the lighting warm and dramatic like a stage set? Did the ceiling volume feel too high or did the space feel cozy and comfortable? All of these memories evoke a response to how we look at design and create memorable experiences.

 

 


New Four Winds Casino New Buffalo Sportsbook Lounge is Designed for Comfort

Four Winds New Buffalo Casino Resort's newest amenity, the Sportsbook Lounge made the cover of the latest Tribal Government Gaming issue and was prominently featured in the "Sports of All Sorts" article. A small excerpt is below.

Sports of All Sorts

By: Roger Gros

See full article in Global Gaming Business' Tribal Government Gaming issue

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/tribal_government_gaming_2022

Retail or Mobile

A retail book will soon become a staple for tribal casinos as sports betting continues to grow across North America. There’s really nothing like the excitement of an NFL Sunday or March Madness inside your casino when players can bet money on the games.

Most tribal sportsbooks won’t look anything like the Superbook at the Westgate in Las Vegas or the world’s largest sportsbook at the Circa in Downtown Las Vegas. But that doesn’t mean the excitement level will be anything less.

When HBG created the sportsbook at the Four Winds casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, it was designed for comfort. The Sportsbook Lounge is adjacent to the casino floor to take advantage of the surrounding gaming excitement. It’s designed to be a comfortable yet active retreat where guests can watch football, basketball, baseball and hockey action, while never having to leave the gaming floor environment.

The lounge’s custom layout and design provide sports fans with a comfortable ambiance to enjoy a beer while cheering on their favorite teams on any of the venue’s 22 televisions. Above the bar and on a large-scale central column are eight 85-inch, six 65-inch and eight 43-inch screens for ideal viewing from sectional sofas and lounge chairs, casual dining tables with chairs, and bar stool seating at the large sports bar.

Frank Freedman, chief operating officer of Four Winds Casinos, says the response of the customers has been very positive.

“We feel the layout, design and finishes will provide guests with the right ambiance, comfortable seating options and splendid views of multiple screens to enjoy a refreshing beverage or cocktail while cheering for their favorite teams,” he says. “Every addition we’ve made to our Four Winds Casinos locations has been for the sole purpose of enhancing the guest experience, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer this new amenity at Four Winds New Buffalo.”


Eagle Mountain Casino Named Top Tribal Project for 2022

See full list of Top Tribal Projects for 2022 in Tribal Government Gaming 

HBG Design is excited to share that Tribal Government Gaming Magazine has selected Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville, California as a Top Tribal Project for 2022.

Creativity & Innovation

The maturation of tribal gaming means constant change. Sometimes it’s a move of location, other times it’s enhancing what you already have. The tribal casinos that qualified this year are indicative of the changes in gaming overall. The legalization of sports betting and its introduction to existing tribal casinos have meant some creative use of existing spaces. The addition of amenities like hotel rooms and suites, high-class restaurants, spas and pools and more have given tribal casinos more of a resort feel, allowing them to compete for new customers whose entertainment wallets are ever-evolving. Congratulations to all the designers, thought leaders and tribal gaming operators who envisioned these amazing changes.


Right Place, Right Time
Eagle Mountain Casino, Porterville, California

Location, location, location,” says Joe Baruffaldi, AIA, principal/project manager at HBG Design, and leader of HBG Design’s San Diego Office.

“HBG Design’s client, the Tule River Tribe in California, is relying on their relocation to a high-visibility property in order to up their game and cement their reputation as a significant competitor in their regional gaming market just southeast of Fresno.”

The relocation of the casino from the reservation to a higher-traffic, higher-visibility area in Porterville, California creates a more conveniently accessible entertainment experience for their local customers, he says. It also opens new opportunities to capture destination traffic and overnight guests traveling between Fresno and Bakersfield.

The new 105,000-square-foot casino property will offer 1,750 slots, 20 table games and a choice of four dining options, including a steakhouse, diner, café and sports bar and grill. A 2,000-seat event center and a 125-room hotel also will be added.

According to Baruffaldi, designers merged storytelling concepts based on significant Tule River tribal cultural elements with amenities and distinctive venues designed specifically for the Porterville gaming customer.

Key design concepts are rooted in the land and agrarian context of Tulare County and central California. The design is heavily influenced by a lodge aesthetic with wood and stone structural expressions. Inside, guests will experience an abstract depiction of the Tule River Tribe’s native traditions through art, patterns and imagery.

Soaring vertical features will recall the majesty of the giant sequoia and the golden eagle, each important representations of tribal culture. Flowing forms will recall the winding Tule River and organic curves of nature.

HBG’s design of the Eagle Mountain Casino feels connected to the woodland. Natural materials and colors help bring a sense of comfort for guests arriving at the property, for an overall relaxed and welcoming experience.

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/tribal_government_gaming_2022


Tribal Gov't Gaming: Indian Gaming is Bouncing Back

See full article in Tribal Government Gaming 

by Dave Bontempo

Tribal projects and gaming revenues rebound in the post-pandemic world

Bring back the aggressive gaming approach.

Tribal leaders and design firms say the “be-safe” phrase is morphing into “go-big” for the new post-pandemic world. Pent-up demand meets the resumption of competition, requiring tribal leaders to perform a balancing act. Operators seek the sweet spot incorporating must-see attractions, comfortable environments and realistic budgets.

As the American market emerges from Covid-19, projects become more forward-looking, far-reaching and sophisticated. Some of the nation’s most prominent companies help tribal leaders step forward.

Project Optimism

HBG Design unveils several operations with tribal leaders positioning themselves both for near-term and long-term success. Dike Bacon, principal, notes that U.S. commercial gaming revenues set an all-time record in gross revenue of $53 billion in 2021.

If this is any indication of the health and vitality of the Indian gaming industry (NIGC has not released 2021 figures), business is booming, he says. “Visit any casino in almost any domestic market and customer traffic is extraordinarily strong—inflation notwithstanding—and you see that demand is there,” he says.

Drivable trips are answering the call of most travelers’ curiosity, which has fueled the need to create fresh and exciting offerings in regional markets where many tribal casinos are located, he adds.

Competition and location are often the driving forces behind whether a property needs a ‘must-see attraction’ as a differentiator and a draw, but any such ‘wow factor’ has to align with the property’s brand and target audience,” Bacon says.

“I’ll give you an example—we’re designing a distinctive feature attraction for events, music, daytime leisure and active nightlife, as part of a tribal casino resort expansion. The property has a formidable reputation as a leading entertainment and gaming destination, located within 30 miles of a metro feeder market of over 1 million people.

Four Winds South Bend Casino Resort

“Properties like this are able to support large-scale, high-impact, must-see attractions when their location combines a vibrant, diverse local population base and access to an equally strong destination customer who is willing to drive farther and stay longer to experience a distinctive amenity that is unmatched in the regional market.”

Bacon says HBG seeks innovative ways to help clients do more with less.

Four Winds South Bend Casino Resort

“This challenge covers a lot of ground, from designing public spaces and guest rooms that are easier and faster to clean and service to moving towards automation in concierge and casino hotel check-in,” he says. “Clearly, one of the biggest challenges for operators is to capitalize on current demand while still offering a great entertainment and hospitality experience with impressive customer service. Staffing in the entire hospitality industry (not just gaming) has been incredibly challenging.”

HBG designers work alongside owners to address these pressing issues. This includes creating more efficiently designed spaces that are exciting and entertaining but can also be operated with less staff.

Four Winds South Bend Casino Resort

“We’re creating more efficient kitchens and more diverse means of providing F&B to customers, including self-service and take-out venues. Valet parking is another key service area affected by staffing shortages,” says Bacon.

“More customers may be encouraged to self-park instead of valet, which means designing and locating parking garages that are more convenient, secure and customer-friendly. It also gives rise to designing more elevated and exclusive VIP entrance experiences reserved for a property’s best players, creating a smaller staffing pool to focus service on the largest contributors to the casino’s bottom line.”

Nathan Peak, AIA, LEED GA, practice leader/principal of HBG Design, says pent-up demand for entertainment and hospitality experiences motivate tribes to upgrade underperforming areas of their facilities.

“Given the performance of the industry and how it is bouncing back from the pandemic, we are confident that owners will remain in expansion and renovation mode for a while,” Peak says. “A client recently told us that their gaming resort property will likely be in a continuous state of evolution, renovation and building over the next several years to stay fresh for guests and maintain relevancy in the market.”

Four Winds South Bend Casino Resort

Another major influencer of the “continuous state of evolution” mindset is the continued passing of new legislation that drives change in tribal—and commercial—gaming properties, says Peak. As more states pass sportsbook legalization, that sets up new priorities for gaming properties who need “must-have” amenities to compete.

Tribes Take Assertive Stance

Tribal gaming is definitely staying aggressive in terms of maintaining market share, especially in areas of the country where commercial gaming is growing and evolving,” adds Joe Baruffaldi, AIA, principal/project manager at HBG Design, and leader of HBG Design’s San Diego office.

“Tribes realize that knowledge is power; it’s what fuels a competitive edge,” he says. “There’s a greater need today for tribal casino owners to understand the nature of their customer base and harness the power of that knowledge—appreciating and leveraging not only where guests are coming from, but who they are as consumers.

“We partner with tribal gaming clients by helping them envision what the ‘tomorrow of their market’ looks like. When we’re able to anticipate changes in the marketplace, we can proactively respond by leading our clients to more competitively positioned design solutions.”

One of the highlights for HBG over the last few years has been its involvement in in the Four Winds South Bend casino in Indiana. The property is owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which operates three other casinos in Michigan.

Four Winds Casino embarks on a large-scale expansion of its South Bend property, designed by HBG, offering approachable luxury within a new 23-story, 317-key, 83-suite hotel tower.

The project includes a mix of vibrant amenities, to include a spa, convention area, meeting space, a ballroom, lounge, bar and grill, an outdoor rooftop swimming pool, and terraces with spectacular views.

The design incorporates regional elements and warm, rustic details with special attention and references to tribal influences and symbolism.

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/tribal_government_gaming_2022


HBG Design's 'Women Who Lead' Honored by Memphis Business Journal

See full article in Memphis Business Journal

HBG Design is excited to share that our Chief Operating Officer, Terri Struminger and Director of Marketing and communications, Tamara Goff have been honored by Memphis Business Journal's editorial team as "Women Who Lead". This prestigious recognition highlights accomplishments of women who have broken through the glass ceiling and helped define their businesses, as well as the local marketplace.

Women Who Lead | Architecture: Terri Struminger of HBG

Terri Struminger not only acknowledges the rarity involving her role, but she champions it too. And rightfully so. She’s not an architect, though she’s successfully running the operations of HBG Design. “That’s been a very intentional hallmark of HBG’s organization for the past three decades,” she explained. Struminger leads the fully capable corporate operations team, so their “architects and interior designers are able to do what they love and do best: practice their craft, service our clients, and create exceptional projects.”

Next up on her agenda is leading new strategies and processes that integrate HBG’s core vision into every aspect of their team’s professional and personal development. Another big goal is to deepen employee engagement by rebooting some of the interactive aspects of our culture that have been altered because of the pandemic. “I am passionate about creating a ‘Best Place to Work’ culture at HBG Design,” she added, “and that sense of purpose drives absolutely everything I do.”

“I believe if you can share your organization’s values and priorities effectively, you can drive engagement in your workforce. With that in mind, my team and I set out on a journey to build greater awareness of our strategic vision and goals across the firm. I’m proud of the role I’ve played spearheading the evolution of HBG’s core vision. This has been a multiyear initiative that, so far, has clearly ignited a deeper connection between employees, firm aspirations, and culture.” - Terri Struminger, COO, HBG Design

Women Who Lead | Marketing: Tamara Goff of HBG Design

With more than two decades leading marketing efforts at HBG Design, Tamara Goff has a combination of skill sets that can often defy description. “What I do isn’t conventional. I’m a combination brand alchemist, creative influencer, communication ninja, aspiring novelist, culture curator, head cheerleader, and occasional cat wrangler,” Goff said. “Our CEO also tends to refer to me as ‘part of the conscience of the firm.’” More specifically, Goff is a principal and shareholder at HBG with a focus on influencing creative and strategic outcomes for the architecture firm. She points to the credibility established for her team in the industry, having garnered more than 30 national and international marketing and communication awards. And rebranding the firm to HBG Design in 2016 was a significant centering of the firm on its ‘true north’ and identity.


HBG's Five Trends for Transforming Hospitality Design in 2022

The pandemic has redefined hospitality design, but the reason why guests come together to share experiences hasn’t changed. It's more critical than ever to apply thoughtful, flexible and wellness-focused design sensibilities to hotel spaces, guestrooms and amenities. HBG Design Leaders Nathan Peak, AIA, LEED GA, Practice Leader, and Emily Marshall, IIDA, NCIDQ, Interior Design Director, present five trend ideas for transforming hospitality design into 2022.

    

Multi-Functionality and Spatial Flexibility

Greater work flexibility has resulted in an increase of blended leisure and work travelers. We see a fresh reframing of hotel “zones” into residential-like multifunctional “work / dine / gather” spaces that easily align with evolving travel needs.

“The lines between work, travel, living and leisure are now blurred, which is a clear outcome of the pandemic.”  - Emily Marshall

Many of HBG Design’s hotel and resort clients have re-prioritized their amenity offerings to provide an optimum alternative work environment for the “blended traveler”. To accommodate the blurring lines between work, travel, living and leisure, hotel lobby and public spaces are being designed in zones that easily shift from quiet virtual workspaces with auditory privacy to collaboration hubs for business interaction, to social areas depending on the needs of operators and their guests. The wide-open space idea is the foundational element, giving hotel operators the ability to blur the purpose of the space itself, based on the needs and wants of their guests. In fact, the in-room, remote work experience has – in many cases – become as important as delivering exceptional, traditional resort amenities, and that trend shows no immediate slow-down.

At Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis and Canopy by Hilton Memphis, both designed by HBG Design, we created residential inspired co-working zones with the idea of adaptable, flexible and technologically connected public spaces.

Experiential Design for Aspirational Travelers

Travelers are “breaking free” after months of pandemic isolation in some cases. Aspirational travelers are in search of memorable experiences and shareable moments inspired by art, architecture, design, history, and unique locales.

Hotels must offer new and creative experiences for guests in order to compete with the myriad of accommodation options in the marketplace, such as VRBO and SONDER. Local and regional materials, local artisans and custom design will all play a vital role in expressing authenticity in unique and artful ways, as designers seek to achieve an aesthetic that is “of the area” and create experiential moments.

At the Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis, HBG designers created a strong sense of place and a distinct ‘localvore’ Centric brand experience by drawing conceptual inspiration from Memphis’ rich music and riverfront industrial history. The contemporary hotel's staggered patterning of the window placement  recalls sheet music and guitar fret patterns accentuated at night with bars of light to provide a musically inspired programmable light show. The Beck and Call rooftop whiskey bar features several selfie-worthy design opportunities like a colorful rooftop mural, the best river view in the city, and portraits of famed musicians with Memphis ties, including Tina Turner, Justin Timberlake, Isaac Hayes, Valerie June, and Yo Gotti.

Restoration Through Nature

To enhance mental well-being, guests will seek out serene environments that offer respite and natural context that blurs the lines between indoors and outdoors. We anticipate an elevated demand for wellness-related amenities.

“The pandemic highlighted our need, as humans, to interact with nature.” - Nathan Peak

Humanity is hard-wired to seek physical and emotional connection with nature to feel healthier and more energized. It’s about creating a relationship between the interior and exterior that enhances guest responses to environmental stimuli and creates sensory experiences. Biophilic design methods underscore how a guest feels in a given space, which contributes significantly to experiential design. Bringing the outdoors inside through light, open design and integration of natural elements creates a feeling of restoration, wellbeing and happiness where guests respond positively --- a result every property seeks to achieve.

The architecture and shaping of the Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis lobby space creates beautifully framed views of the Mississippi River while dappling the public spaces with ample sunlight and reflections from the constant movement of the mighty river beyond. Outdoor Riverview dining and a landscaped pool and event courtyard “oasis”, complete with green lawn and a green wall, create a distinctive respite in the downtown core.

 

Guestroom Technology

Automatic technology will continue to advance the curated and customized guestroom experience offering options for convenience and comfort.

There are times when the greatest luxury in travel is knowing you’ll have no surprises upon arrival. Everything you want, exactly how you want it can be ordered and confirmed for your stay, before you ever walk through the hotel entrance. Not only can you check-in to your hotel room virtually, but you can select your room size, floor, view, accessibility to amenities, upgrades, etc.  Access to no-contact services and experiences aren’t reserved for check-in; literally everything a guest wants or needs can be delivered directly to the guest room, and often by simply using voice commands from the comfort of your room.  From voice-activated concierge services to voice or motion control of lighting, audio-visual systems, and room temperature, automation is proving to elevate convenience for the guest and permeating all aspects of the hotel experience.

"Within the room, I am especially fond of the motion detecting floor lighting technology designed into the beds in our Hyatt Centric Beale Street project. Gone are the trappings of navigating an unfamiliar room in the middle of the night; the integrated technology in our bed design creates a soft glow of light in the room as soon as your foot hits the ground." - Emily Marshall

Regional and Early Material Sourcing

Material shortages, higher costs and longer-lead times are straining hotel project schedules. Regionally sourced materials will help overcome supply chain demand challenges. Procurement in the early design phases will help ensure construction availability.

“Carefully sourced regional options can not only circumvent such transportation and tariff issues, but they can also promote greater connection to place in meaningful ways.” - Emily Marshall

Many of these issues the industry is experiencing can be navigated during the early design phases with the right guidance from a knowledgeable team who understands the inner workings of available products and materials.  Interestingly, we are seeing a stronger focus on the specification of domestic made products, which is good for the economy at large. The engagement of an experienced designer, construction company, FF&E procurement agents, and vendors early in the design process is critical, as products and materials quantities require early confirmation and additional lead time in ordering.

One way HBG Design is working around the supply chain situation is by using more regional manufacturers who employ skilled tradesmen who build case goods and millwork in a shop, versus working onsite. This not only keeps the level of quality high, but also increases efficiency of labor.

"HBG Design is looking at everything from design to delivery through a different lens heading into 2022, while reimagining the way spaces are used, designed, and furnished. And that, in the long run, will be better for everyone." - Nathan Peak