Everybody’s Impressed with New Hotel Tower

November 2011, CUJ

Wildhorse Hotel Ribbon Cutting

Wildhorse CEO Gary George and CTUIR Board of Trustees Chairman Les Minthorn cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Wildhorse Hotel and casino expansion. The Pendleton Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors were on hand. Below, George with Ernie Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association.

Pendleton Mayor Phil Houk

Pendleton Mayor Phil Houk

Representing Wildhorse Hotel


PENDLETON – Through the confetti, you could see smile after smile, and some proud faces, too, as Wildhorse Resort’s new Hotel Tower and casino expansion were formerly inaugurated with a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 12.

Wildhorse CEO Gary George and CTUIR Board of Trustees Chairman Les Minthorn cut the ribbon between the hotel lobby and the new gaming floor. They were accompanied by Pendleton Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and Ernie Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, who took a red-eye flight from Washington, D.C., to be here for the celebration.

Tribal member Janice Hill may have summed it up the best when she talked about what impressed her most about the new hotel.

“It looks fun when you come in the door,” Hill said. “You know you are going to have fun.”

Stevens said he was impressed by the size of the hotel.

“You come here and you see the beauty and the size of it. You have a Las Vegas look but you’re still in the heart of Indian Country,” Stevens said.

Stevens said he also was glad to see Indians working at the hotel.

“There are lots of strong beautiful people in Indian Country and I love to see employees working,” he said. “I got up this morning and zigzagged across the country because I was determined to stand by my word and be here.”

Also in attendance was Pendleton Mayor Phil Houk who said members of the CTUIR should be proud of the new hotel.

“It’s a really beautiful place,” Houk said. “The customers are going to be impressed.”

Houk said he thinks the hotel, and all the Wildhorse amenities, plus growth at Coyote Business Park nearby, should help Pendleton’s economy, too.

“I hope it will generate more foot traffic,” he said. “From a broader scope, I think this will spill over so that businesses will see additional revenues from those that come to town.”

Houk said he realizes that most of the people working at Tribal enterprises live in Pendleton and spend their money in Pendleton.

“I’ve always felt like the Tribes are a good partner with Pendleton,” he said.

One after another, people talked about what impressed them most on that opening afternoon event.

CTUIR member Kaeleen McGuire, who works with Stevens at NIGA – “I love the coffee machines in the rooms. That is such a nice touch. I’ve also noticed the customer service.”

Robert McKenzie of Pendleton – “It’s the best thing that’s happened in the area. I think it’s a good thing for those that want it. We don’t gamble but I like to see what’s going on. This hotel brings a lot of people to the area that wouldn’t be here ordinarily.”

Dee Pigsley, chair of the Siletz Tribe on the Oregon Coast – “It’s very beautiful. Done very very well. The machines are new and I know you will be very successful.”

Cyndy Caldwell, member of the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, who helped with the ribbon cutting – “I’m most impressed with the fact that it is drawing a lot of outside people to Pendleton and the fact it will provide jobs for the people in the community.”

By the numbers:

  • 202 rooms ranging from 452square feet to 637 square feet
  • Total of 145,000 square feet on 10 floors
  • Room rates ranging from $89 to $199 depending on the room size and day of the week
  • 400 additional slot machines on 24,000 square feet of expanded casino floor
  • Total cost $50 million

This story and photos originally appeared in the CUJ. The Confederated Umatilla Journal is the monthly newspaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon.