SEQUIM — Workers were putting finishing touches on the new five-story 7 Cedars Hotel on Tuesday.
“It’s 95 percent complete,” Jerry Allen, 7 Cedars Casino-Hotel CEO, said Tuesday.
Most reservations so far have been from North Olympic Peninsula residents, but Allen predicted the guest list will expand geographically beginning Thursday as the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe ramps up an advertising juggernaut for the $40 million project’s grand, but COVID-19 quiet, opening Aug. 4.
Allen added that Texans noticeable by their number already have been clamoring for information about the 100-room hotel.
The facility, Phase 1 of a 20-year development effort, is attached to the casino to allow that seamless transition from private room to gaming table common to major gaming establishments.
Reservations opened Tuesday to “dozens” of inquiries, mostly from Peninsula residents whose contact information was drawn from the casino’s player database in the initial push to sell rooms.
“They got the message,” Allen said.
“The phones have been alive.
“Think about it: For so many years, people have had to come down here, and they have to have a designated driver.”
Room prices will vary from $200 to $750, in line with what Allen labels a “four-star” hotel experience.
The advertising push beginning Thursday will be on major TV networks.
Several hotel packages eventually will be offered, including those featuring the tribe’s Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course.
“We’ll see that uptick really quick by the end of the weekend,” Allen predicted.
Thursday’s push is aimed at drawing gaming customers from the Puget Sound and I-5 corridor, so out-of-town visitors from Texas and other more-distant areas are a bonus, Allen said.
“For people coming to the Olympic Peninsula, Texas is one of the states that were showing up even before the coronavirus,” he said.
“It’s been crazy.”
Washington state and Texas — which surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 cases this week and received U.S. military medical personnel Tuesday — were among the 32 states that saw increases in rates of infection.
On Tuesday, Jefferson County held steady at 41 cases, while Clallam had 46, one fewer than reported by officials Monday because the person listed is not from Clallam County, they said.
Casino hotel guests will be screened for fever and COVID-19 symptoms by employees from the hotel’s 60- to 70-person staff, who will go through the same routine as casino patrons, Allen said.
Hotel workers will use the same kind of sanitizing fogging machines in the hotel rooms that are used in the casino.
“It’s another level of disinfectant,” Allen said.
While tribes do not have to abide by Gov. Jay Inslee’s numerous executive orders for allaying the spread of the coronavirus, the Jamestown S’Klallam will likely join other lodging establishments if Inslee orders a statewide shutdown.
“If they shut down the state hospitality [industry], we would probably follow,” Allen said.
Allen is hoping Inslee opts for a regional approach. The North Olympic Peninsula in the same as, for example, Yakima County, which had a far higher 26 percent positive test rate as of Tuesday.
“My gut feeling is that the government will kind of recognize it if Clallam County finds itself in pretty good numbers,” he said.
An Aug. 3 “soft opening” will be followed by an Aug. 4 official event, a small affair limited by COVID-19 restrictions that may be viewable via Zoom.
“We can’t get a crowd around there,” Allen said.
“Like the Makah, Quileute and Elwha, we want to protect our elders as well.”
This week, workers are lugging furniture, hanging pictures, and outfitting laundry rooms, bathrooms and suites with all manner of hotel necessities, from ironing boards to computer connections.
“Bed frames are sitting there as we speak,” Allen said Tuesday morning.
The resort is being built in phases, although the hotel fronting U.S. Highway 101 at Blyn is the only sure thing for now, Allen said.
Phase 1 includes the Jamestown Java coffee shop, a 220-seat conference area, and a 5-acre parking lot.
Bicycles will be offered for rent. The grounds include a short bike-pedestrian trail wending from the resort to the tribe’s nearby Longhouse Market & Deli.
Plans are in the works to connect the trail to nearby tribal administrative offices and, potentially, the Olympic Discovery Trail.
Phase 2 would include 150-200 more rooms and added conference space and parking. Longer-term plans could include a spa and pool.
There is no schedule for Phase 2, which will be based on how well Phase 1 does and will include a destination conference center, Allen said.
“That requires a feasibility study,” he said.
“I suspect we’ll do that in the next two years.”
Allen said a sewer pipeline connection with the city of Sequim, completed last week, would accommodate Phase 2.
It links the hotel, casino, the Jamestown Public Safety and Justice Center and the Blyn Fire Station with a city extension.
Heavy snow followed by COVID-19 closures slowed construction of the connection and hotel by three months.
The tribe paid $1.6 million toward the $8.5 million in project expenditures based on the tribe using 5 percent to 6 percent of its capacity for a full-fledged resort-casino.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].