A milestone in the multimillion-dollar expansion that includes a 200-room hotel and convention center was celebrated Tuesday by tribal leaders for the Graton Resort and Casino.

Amidst a gathering of 500 construction workers and supporters, tribal chairman Greg Sarris told the crowd that they were “halfway through” with the construction of the additions situated near the Rohnert Park gaming complex in Sonoma County, California, according to The Press Democrat.

The last steel beam was hoisted to the top of the soon to be six-story hotel by a tall red crane on Tuesday. Two harnessed construction workers set the 3,500-pound beam, complete with the signatures of well-wishers and workers, in place. Attendees were told by Sarris that they could expect another celebration when the hotel opens this fall. Sarris scoffed at the naysayers who prior to construction predicted that the casino “was going to be a dump in the field, and all of that.” Instead, he said, “It’s the Taj Mahal.”

Casino officials and tribal leaders said that the $175 million expansion will feature a high-end hotel, to be run by the casino, as well as 20,000 square feet of event space. They anticipate the multi-use space will be sized to accommodate 1,000 conventioneers or upwards of 2,000 concert goers. Sarris told the crowd that there is no place in North Bay for big conventions and Graton will provide that.

In late 2013, the casino opened along the northwest edge of Rohnert Park and until now its overnight guests were sent to neighboring hotels. Owned by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and operated by Station Casinos of Las Vegas, it ranks as one of the state’s five largest casinos and employs 1,500 workers. In September, the hotel project broke ground and upon completion it’s expected to employ approximately 200 people.

At 500 square feet, the hotel’s standard rooms will be larger than the norm, and will feature suites as large as 2,600 square feet. A resort-style swimming pool and a 10,000 square foot spa will also be included at the facility. Joe Hasson, the general manager, and casino vice president said his goal for the hotel is to receive four-star status. The hotel will be operated by Station Casinos, which has yet to release room rates or set a specific opening date.

As part of the festivities on Tuesday, a shuttle bus took visitors to a nearby parking garage so that exact replicas of two hotel rooms could be viewed. A mix of earth and citrus tones are featured in the king and queen rooms and large windows looking out on faux vineyards are even included. The purpose of the replica rooms is to ensure that something that would create a problem during construction hasn’t been overlooked by the architects and designers, according to R.T. Browning, the project director for Station Casinos. Browning said guests of the hotel who stay on the second floor or higher will be treated to views that look out to the hills surrounding the city.

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