I don’t usually mix business and pleasure, but sometimes I can’t help it. Such was the case on a recent mini-vacation to the AAA Four-Diamond Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa near Palm Springs. While checking into a luxurious 23rd floor suite, I realized the resort was in the midst of a massive renovation. Out my window I saw excavators moving dirt, columns going up, and concrete slabs going in. Down in the casino area I saw giant curtains covering interior renovations.

Last January the resort broke ground on a massive 65,000-sq-ft expansion that will increase the existing gaming floor by more than 30 percent, allowing for the addition of 800 new slots, new table games and new bar, lounge, and other guest amenities. The project also replaces first-floor restaurants to elevate the dining offerings, and creates a valet parking structure with 750 spaces, including charging stations for more than 70 electric vehicles. Energy efficient LED lighting and water conservation measures are also included in the overall project.

“We are completely renovating almost every millimeter of the existing casino floor in some way, from new carpet to elegant lighting and new ceiling and wall treatments,” says Simon Farmer, the resort’s executive director of marketing. “We have put together an all-star team of incredible designers, contractors and craftsmen, and the results are going to spectacular.”

Slated to complete in mid-2020, the project was designed by Henderson, Nevada-based Bergman Walls & Associates and Santa Ana, Calif-based Kenneth Ussenko Design, who have created palaces for royalty in Qatar and luxury resorts in Belize, Las Vegas.

Two of the construction contractors on the job are Native American-owned companies. Banning, Calif-based Sage Mountain Construction is a 100% Native American-owned corporation and has a long history of successful tribal projects including Morongo’s lavish 26th floor Drum Room and its luxurious High Limit Salon. Riverside, CA-based Hal Hays Construction, a general contractor, design builder, and civil construction firm is also a Native American-owned.

Yates Moorefield LLC is also on the construction team.

The project team is working around the busy, operational resort/casino by systematically breaking the expansion into phases and dividing it like pieces of a pie. “When one small slice is closed for renovation, another opens, as we work our way around the bottom story,” says Farmer. “It’s a very synchronized operation and it’s gone seamlessly so far.”

The project, which is currently more than 50 percent complete, has created more than 1,000 construction jobs. When finished in mid-2020 it will add 425 new full-time jobs to the more than 2,500 jobs Morongo currently boasts.