California Roundup – March 2014
Our guest post and monthly column comes from Howard Hian who was recently awarded a Gold Medal/First Place Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association’s annual international writing contest.
Viejas: A Good Bet
Viejas Casino and Resort is located in rural Alpine, CA, approximately 20 minutes east of downtown San Diego. It was my getaway destination and, as I discovered, there’s lots to do. Here’s a quick guide.
Sleep Easy – It’s understandable how the new hotel earned its AAA Four Diamond rating. They provide attentive service, sleek styling in non-smoking rooms, luxury bathrooms with oversized showers, comfy beds, flat screen TVs, turn-down service plus in-room amenities including mini-refrigerator, gourmet coffee maker, safe, robes, bottled water, iPod clock and free wi-fi.
Shop ‘til You Drop – Knock yourself out at the beautifully landscaped Viejas Outlets, featuring 40 stores (mostly brand names) that offer big discounts. There are also eateries offering everything from sushi to pretzels. Make certain to stop by the center’s office to pick up a coupon book for further savings.
Lady Luck – The casino features 2,000 slot machines, table games, off track betting and bingo. My favorite spot is the well run, non-smoking poker room. There are daily tournaments, promotions and tableside food and drink service. It’s the only casino in the area that holds a weekly Omaha High-Low tournament.
Good Eats – Don’t miss the “big three.” The award winning, gourmet Grove Steakhouse is a throwback to classic dining. The menu features top quality steaks and seafood. The reasonably priced wine list provides perfect pairings to your meal. The recently renovated and expanded Buffet at Viejas (now one of San Diego’s largest casino buffets) offers an incredible selection of quality food at a reasonable price: beef, seafood, chicken, salads, vegetables, fruit, cheese, breads, ethnic selections and desserts. It’s impossible not to find a favorite. The Café at Viejas is a traditional coffee shop with a contemporary take on breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other food choices include the Far East Express, North of the Border and the Willows Coffee Bar.
Party Time – Live music, concerts and DJs rule at DreamCatcher, Viejas’ major entertainment venue. Doors open at 9 PM on Friday and Saturday; performances are free. The V Lounge offers Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4 PM to 7 PM with live music and dancing on weekends.
Kid Friendly – The Fun Zone is stocked with arcade and skill games. The ShowCourt at The Outlets has free music, plus water and light shows daily. Viejas Bowl has 12 lanes and the Viejas ice rink is the largest in San Diego (bigger than New York’s Rockefeller Square).
Feel Good – It’s easy to stay in shape with their state-of-the-art fitness room. There’s a huge pool for lap swimming (in season) and for a treat, the Native Dreams Day Spa, a full-service Aveda salon. They provide hair, nail and skin services and massages. They have four tranquil treatment rooms and a relaxation area. Their “Ancient Healing Ritual” is 90 minutes of pure pleasure. Logon to www.nativedreamsalonspa.com for further information. Note – hotel guests get a 10% discount.
If You Must – There is a business center for guests.
Travel Notes – The full-service Viejas Casino and Resort, owned by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, is an ideal blend of shopping, dining, unwinding and entertainment. In 2013, the resort earned a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. An alternative is their Ma-Tar-Awa RV Park which has 99 hookups and campsites. Sign up for their free V Club card which offers guest/player benefits. For information and specials call 1-800-847-6537 or go online to www.viejas.com.
Safe travels and enjoy the journey…