Morongo Casino at Night is a
Jewel in the California Desert

        For over 25 years, my family has operated a four-star resort in Palm Springs. During the 80’s and 90’s, it was the beacon of light for Hollywood celebrity.  The secluded Villas with their private pools and Jacuzzis attracted VIPs and celebrities from all over the world.  They still come, but today nothing can compare to the new beacon inviting visitors to the California Desert with its four-star luxury resort and casino.
     The Morongo Band of Indians turned on the lights last December that shone the way for over 2,000 celebrities, VIPs, and special guests to experience their new $250 million Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa for its world debut with two star-studded events.

A Weekend of Top Entertainment found Beyonce and Destiny's Child performing along with Jay Leno and Carlos Santana.

      The official grand opening festivities began on a Wednesday night with an evening event celebrating tribal sovereignty. Tribal members of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, tribal leaders from tribes across the United States, members of Congress, state and local elected officials attended a private dinner featuring performances by NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno and the Emmy-award winning group Santana, and remarks from Morongo tribal chairman Maurice Lyons.

      The night entitled “A Celebration of Tribal Sovereignty” was staged in a transparent tent structure that was dubbed appropriately “Celebration Hall” for that night.  The size of a football field, it was the largest structure of its kind in the North American hemisphere.  It was a true celebration of lights, sounds and larger than life Native American images that flew and swept through the Hall.  It was awe inspiring and staged by Grammy, Emmy and Tony award winner Steve Bass. 

Morongo Tribal Chairman Maurice Lyons, Council Member Robert Martin and Council Member Frances Miguel present Carlos Santana with a Morongo Band of Mission Indians blanket during Weekend.

     The stage and performances brought together the best of Hollywood and Vegas – an exciting, spectacular show fit for any Vegas-style casino with the technology and knowledge needed to create a fast paced Hollywood production. It was a night to remember and a time to reflect upon Native American heritage.

      My mother was in Palm Springs, so I took her to the celebration.  She thoroughly enjoyed it.  “I never knew Jay Leno was so funny,” she repeated throughout the following week.   Carlos Santana is a legend and always great.

     Before  the entertainment  began, we were treated to dinner and a large screen presentation on the history of the Morongo Tribe of Indians. We saw the land, where a small bingo hall set, transformed into a luxury 27-story hotel tower with 272 rooms and a 148,000 square-foot casino right before our eyes.

Morongo Casino Rooms and
High End Suites are Picture Perfect

We were taught a history lesson where we learned that the Morongo Indian Reservation before the early 80’s was a depressed community lacking jobs and incomes sufficient for its Indian population.  Then we saw how it all began to change in 1983 when the Morongo Indian Tribe opened a bingo hall on its reservation property with several hundred seats. Then we discovered that this modest venture has grown into over a $300 million dollar industry and these funds are generously being distributed to their people, philanthropic causes, and the state of California.  It was a moving presentation.

       As I sat there in the Grand Hall with my mom, I was moved by a bit of irony.  I reflected back on a time over twenty-five years ago when I use to drive by this spot of barren desert on my way to Hadley’s Fruit and Nut Outlet where I would get the best Date Shake in the world.  It was amusing when I learned that night that Hadley’s is owned by the Morongo Band of Indians.  Their banana shakes are also very good.

"A River Runs Through It" at
Morongo Casino Poolside 

     A few years later when the bingo hall was built, I use to play taxi to an assortment of out of town relatives from Texas who wanted to go play bingo. As soon as they would put their luggage down, my Aunt Dorothy, Aunt Margie and Granny made a B-line to the Morongo bingo hall.   The rest would follow in short order.

      I remember my granddad won a $1,000 one night, but that wasn’t close to offsetting the money my family shelled out for the privilege of shouting out “B-19” or “O-70.”  Those were great  times and good family entertainment.

     The irony is that I was with my mother at the place she sat many times before with her family buying $1 bingo cards, trying to get four-corners or blackout and shouting out, “BINGO!”  How appropriate.

Chef Christophe Douheret and Chef Henry Hom create  four-star caliber dining

      It was then I realized that my family was part of this celebration too.   We were one of many families and individual who helped lay the foundation.  In our own small way, we helped build this magnificent entertainment complex and contribute to the good work this group of Indians is doing.  The Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa will directly and indirectly create more than 4,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in new goods and services purchased over the next five years.

      I told this to my mom, and she said, “Hmmm, looks like we made a good investment!”
     The second night featured a concert for VIPs, casino patrons and other special guests by music superstars Destiny's Child.  Guests were be greeted by master of ceremonies Nancy O'Dell, co-host of Access Hollywood before enjoying a video presentation revealing the exciting amenities at the new resort.

Morongo Casino's Special
Casitas Villas with Private Pools

    A high energy hour-long concert performance by Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child, whose new album Destiny Fulfilled had just hit the stores, thrilled the audience.  My buddy, rap-star Won-G, took me back stage to meet the pop-divas.  

     Following the concert, guests viewed a fireworks display illuminating the sky above the resort's 27-story hotel tower. Both events celebrated the completion of the four-star caliber resort, which officially opened to the public the following day.
Text Box: By:  Roy Hahn

     "The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is extremely proud of the new Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa," said Lyons. "The world-class performances of Jay Leno and Santana and Destiny's Child mirror the world-class experiences guests can expect at our resort."

Rain In The Desert is SoCal's
Hottest New Nightclub

     Exquisitely arrayed over 44-acres of high desert landscape, the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa offers one of the largest casino floors in California, four-star caliber suites and hotel  rooms, multiple restaurant facilities, a nightclub, spa, convention facilities, and a pool oasis. 

     "With high-stakes gaming, gourmet dining, deluxe accommodations, a luxury health spa, and electrifying nightlife, the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa has something for everyone," said casino general manager Bill Davis. "We hope guests enjoy the grand opening celebration and return to Morongo for more of the A-list entertainment and service they'll experience tonight."

Morongo Casino Is A Beacon of Light, for Gaming and Entertainment just 90 Minutes from Los Angeles.

    Located 90 minutes east of Los Angeles and 20 minutes west of Palm Springs between the scenic San Gorgonio and San Jacinto mountain ranges, the destination resort will offer visitors a full range of entertainment and recreational options. Lush gardens, sandy beaches and extensive landscaping are just a few of the design features in this world-class facility.

    The Morongo Casino Resort & Spa's beautiful and unique design, created by the world-renowned architectural firm of The Jerde Partnership, is inspired by the forces of nature.
   "Our proximity to Los Angeles and Palm Springs makes the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa the perfect destination for those looking for the ultimate Southern California experience," said director of hotel operations Thomas Mueller. "The new property brings a piece of paradise to the desert -- the comfort of a luxury hotel and an oasis-inspired pool with soft sandy beaches combines perfectly with Morongo's enticing gaming and nightlife."     

    The resort will also feature Sage, The Spa at Morongo, the resort's luxury health spa; an oasis-inspired pool area with Jacuzzis and a power-surged lazy river; and venues from night life innovators, The N9NE Group, including N9NE Steakhouse, Belly Italiano - an Italian ­Mediterranean restaurant, Spacebar - a lounge located on the top  floors  of  the  hotel  tower,   and Desert Rain - a three-story nightclub featuring cutting-edge fire and water special effects; 310 four-star caliber hotel rooms and suites with mountain views; and our competition the Casitas.