The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation announced plans to build a 12-story, 300-room hotel adjacent to its current casino on its reservation east of El Cajon.
The band held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its $226 million project on March 28.
Completion is expected by 2019.
The 500,000-square-foot expansion will include 60,000 square feet of new gaming space, able to accommodate 2,500 conventional slot machines, 300 bingo machines and 80 table games.
There will be multiple swimming pools including a “lazy river”-type pool that has proved popular at a neighboring resort.
Fifty of the new hotel’s rooms will be suites ranging from 376 to 1,150 square feet.
Sycuan owns hotel properties — including downtown’s U.S. Grant — but until now has not been able to provide a Las Vegas experience since the hotels are not adjacent to the casino. The band has long owned the Singing Hills resort property, but that is several miles away from the casino along twisting country roads.
Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez recounted the growth of the American Indian gaming business since the start of the Sycuan Bingo Palace in 1983. He spoke of political battles and of business as a way of self-reliance for his community.
Martinez said the Sycuan Band had wanted to move forward on the hotel in 2008, but had to shelve the plans until the economy improved.
“We are taking Sycuan to the next level,” he said as he displayed an artist’s rendering of the built-out site.
The ceremony opened with traditional Kumeyaay songs. Former San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick was master of ceremonies and San Diego Padres relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman was on hand for the ceremony. East County native and basketball player Bill Walton sent video greetings.