I was ready for a fun getaway to relax and chill out so you can bet I was excited when I was invited to attend a private event at Pala Casino Spa & Resort located below the Palomar Mountains just outside of Temecula in northern San Diego County.
It was an easy 2-hour-plus ride from Los Angeles. As I drove into the Pala Indian Reservation, I couldn’t help but spot the towering Pala Casino Spa Resort a few miles ahead. The traffic was light that morning and since I’m chronically early to everything, I got there an hour early. To kill time, I picked up a tasty latte at Café Amore and relaxed in the lobby.
My Room with a View
Our friendly hosts arrived to greet us and I checked into my Deluxe room on the top floor. This was the spectacular view I had from my window.
My room was elegant, spacious, and beautifully appointed. Right away, I knew I was in for some fun. (Click on images to view full size in a gallery)
Cocktails and Pineapples
Our group gathered downstairs at the Cave Lounge shortly after we checked into our rooms for a meet and greet so we could get to know each other and network. The wait staff tempted us with irresistible appetizers stuffed into adorable baby pineapples and I couldn’t resist trying the bar’s signature spiked fruit punch.
The theme throughout the resort, while we were there, was pineapples. They were everywhere.
Casino tour and slot tournament
We were led through the Casino to pick up our Pala Privileges cards. I was excited when the cashier told me that Pala Casino has a Sixty Plus Club! We all love our “senior” discounts, right? If you’re over 60 you can get a 30% discount at the award-winning CHOICES, the Buffet, Monday through Friday from 11 am – 3 pm, win your share of $300 every Tuesday following the free 1 pm show at Infinity, and enjoy “nostalgic” tribute band entertainment.
Our entire group played the slot tournament. We took turns sitting down at a panel of slot machines and it was hilarious to watch everyone frantically hitting buttons as they competed to be the winner.
Guess who won the Boobie Prize? That’s right! Me! I ended up dead last! Slot machines are more like video games these days. I’m used to the old-fashioned ones that have arms you pull down because they give me more of a sense of power. LOL! Apparently, there are some of those in the casino, but I didn’t get a chance to try them.
Wine-tasting and appetizers
All that slot action worked up an appetite so we moved on to sample appetizers and wine in the luxurious Oak Room. Pala Casino is a 4-star diamond resort experience and The Oak Room, which is an intimate dining room, is first-class. Our Sommelier, who is also a Temecula winemaker, educated us on the local wines we tasted. Nearby Temecula is the heart of Southern California’s wine country and has produced multiple award-winning wines. Chef Yee Thomas Feng, who is also a sushi master, whetted our appetites with his fabulous culinary creations that were paired with our wine-tasting.
If that wasn’t enough, we sampled more wine and appetizers in The Cave Room, an underground wine cellar and entertainment venue located next to the outdoor Starlight Theater.
Concert Under the Stars
To top off our evening, we attended a concert at the Starlight stage set in the courtyard of the resort. Pala Casino hosts top-name acts and UB40 was the featured group. They’re known for their 80’s Reggae hit “Red, Red, Wine.” Before they came on, we listened to the Jamaican Reggae band “Raging Fyah,” and the Reggae-inspired band “Matisyahu.” It was a spectacular evening under the stars and the entire audience, as well as several guests watching the show from their rooms above, danced and grooved throughout the entire show. UB40 teased the audience mercilessly before they finally came back on stage to sing their biggest hit.
The Pala Casino Spa Resort experience as a whole
I’d never stayed at a California “Indian” casino before and didn’t know what to expect before I arrived. However, I was impressed from the moment I walked through the door. For starters, the resort is environmentally conscious and they have a green program in place called Planet Pala. The resort is dedicated to using clean energy, eco-friendly products, recycling, and reaches out to help the native community. The grounds and amenities of the resort were every bit as class A as any top casino in Vegas.
What sets Pala Casino apart is that it’s located in a natural environment rather than the glitz and craziness of the Vegas Strip. On-site, you can hike the 1.5-mile Pala Nature Trail behind the spa or meditate at the Labyrinth. The Wilderness Gardens County Preserve is just 5 miles away and has 4 miles of hiking trails. It’s also great for birdwatching. Easy side trips can include the Temecula wineries, Fallbrook, (known for its amazing avocados) nearby golf courses, Palomar Mountain State Park, and Palomar Observatory.
If you’re not into gambling like me, Pala Casino offers a variety of options that include shopping, multiple restaurants, a pool and cabanas, a fitness center, meeting rooms, entertainment, and the award-winning Spa. The body and facial rituals alone will keep me coming back for more.
Pala Casino has been expanding and renovating the resort. According to their press release:
The renovation and expansion includes: the addition of a new 349 room hotel tower; the conversion of the existing resort pool into a multi-pool and entertainment resort complex; the construction of an inventory of unique hotel suites that will overlook the Starlight Theater event lawn and the new pool and entertainment complex; expanded gaming and casino bar space; a parking garage expansion; a completely remodeled restaurant promenade; a complete refresh of the entire casino interior; a complete refresh of the entire existing hotel tower.
The Pala Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe whose reservation is located along the Palomar Mountain range approximately 30 miles northeast of San Diego. The majority of the over 900 tribal members live on the 12,000-acre reservation, established for Cupeño and Luiseño Indians, who consider themselves to be one proud people – Pala.
I was given a complimentary stay at Pala Casino Spa Resort in exchange for this post. However, all my opinions are my own. #PalaCasino #PalaInfluencer