ilani celebrates five-year anniversary with topping off ceremony for new hotel tower

The 14-story luxury hotel is on track to open in the spring of 2023

Courtesy of ilani

On Monday, April 25, ilani celebrated five years as the “Pacific Northwest’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination” by adding the final beam to its upcoming hotel tower and unveiling the first renderings of the interior design for the project, according to a news release from ilani.

Expected to open in April of 2023, the 14-story structure includes nearly 300 luxury guest rooms and suites. The hotel tower is the latest phase of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s master development plan. The hotel will offer four-diamond level guest service and amenities, including an indoor-outdoor pool experience and a signature top-floor restaurant with views of the Pacific Northwest mountains and rivers. 

“It is with great pride and excitement that we witness the final beams installed in this beautiful glass tower that serves as a beacon of our community on the Cowlitz Indian Reservation,” said Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of ilani, in the news release. “This ceremony commemorates more than just a construction milestone – it’s the first time we’ve shared the interior renderings and celebrated another step in honoring the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s vision to lift up our community with economic opportunities for the region.”

“The all-new ilani hotel will attract guests from near and far – increase visitation, stimulate the local economy and create numerous new employment opportunities for the region,” said Ray Pineault, CEO of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, in the news release. “Economic empowerment is a key tenet of the Cowlitz-Mohegan partnership, and we are proud to see our initial vision and strategic development plans come to life.”

Over the past five years, ilani has expanded its amenities and accommodated existing demand while investing in future growth opportunities. At its opening, ilani included nearly 100,000 square feet of gaming as well as space for more than a dozen restaurants, bars and retailers. In 2018, the Tribe added the Meeting & Entertainment Center, hosting local events and national acts such as Miranda Lambert, Amy Schumer and Rascal Flatts. Cowlitz Crossing Fuel & Convenience Store opened in 2019, and in late 2020, a six-story parking garage was unveiled. Currently, ilani employs more than 1,500 team members. The hotel tower will create additional jobs and reinforces the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s commitment to its people, self-sufficiency and to supporting the community.

Since construction began in 2021, ilani expanded once again late last year, adding even more gaming and dining options, and the upcoming hotel has made impressive progress.

“The Cowlitz people always strive to be the best at whatever we do, and our new hotel is a testament to our commitment to being the best entertainment destination in the region,” said Dave Barnett, general council chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, in the news release. “We look forward to blowing away our guests with a new experience when the hotel opens next April.”

Design Direction Unveiled

ilani also marked the occasion by sharing the first interior renderings of the hotel and giving a preview of the luxurious spaces and thoughtful touches awaiting guests when the tower opens. The design incorporates high-quality aesthetics and elements of the Pacific Northwest–including plentiful wood, stone, metal and glass. A color palette of creams, blues and grays creates a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby and guest rooms ensure stunning views, according to the news release.

In keeping with the design vision for ilani, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s culture and history take center stage, incorporating the heritage and values of the Tribe and elements indigenous to the region.

Celebrating Together with Familiar and New Partners

Friedmutter Group from Las Vegas, a vital collaborator on many of ilani’s construction projects, serves as the project architect. Howard S. Wright, based in nearby Portland, Ore/, and currently building the forthcoming Ritz-Carlton, Portland, is the general contractor.

“At Friedmutter Group, we could not be more pleased with the progress of the hotel tower,” said Chuck Jones, senior vice president of Friedmutter Group, in the news release. “We have been working hard with the ilani team to ensure we continue to capture the Cowlitz story through architectural and design elements and look forward to the final result.”

“Howard S. Wright is overseeing quality and design standards to ensure the same world-class luxury we bring to our other hospitality projects is imbued in ilani,” said Kevin James, project executive at Howard S. Wright, in the news release.

Additionally, ilani is partnering with Kids Quest, the nation’s largest hourly childcare provider, to offer families an exciting new amenity onsite. Kids Quest/Cyber Quest CEO Troy Dunkley said of the new partnership, “We are very excited to have Kids Quest and Cyber Quest be included in the next expansion phase at ilani and become a part of your community. We’ve had a long-standing partnership with Mohegan Sun and look forward to building a similar partnership with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. We believe that our presence on the property will open new markets and opportunities for family travelers and make it much easier to travel together and a lot more fun.”

To learn more about ilani and stay informed about these projects, visit

Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager at ilani, will be the guest speaker at the VBJ’s Boardroom Breakfast series event on Wednesday, May 11. Learn more about the Boardroom Breakfast series and purchase tickets to the May 11 event here.

Joanna Yorke-Payne
Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start

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