Silver Reef aims to broaden appeal with new addition to hotel

K1The last year has been full of change for the Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa at 4876 Haxton Road in Ferndale. The hotel and casino brought in a new management team starting in April 2015, and opened a second hotel tower that allows it to market to a broader range of customers.

The hotel’s new six-story tower opened on November 20, doubling the number of rooms for a total of 205. The expansion was quick for the hotel, as its original tower is just 8 years old.

To fill those new rooms amid the challenges of a lower Canadian dollar and a glut of new hotels nearby in Bellingham, the Silver Reef is working harder to attract business travelers.

The tower has conference rooms, breakout spaces and other meeting spaces geared toward work groups sprinkled throughout the first floor.

The sales team is partnering with other businesses to offer deals on activities such as golf and whale watching for business groups, said hotel sales manager Crystal King.

According to King, the hotel is in a good location to take advantage of Seattle’s tech boom and a growing number of firms looking for destinations for business retreats.

“I believe people want to get out of Seattle. They want to go someplace else and that has to be our focus,” King said. “We’re trying to capture the corporate dollar.”

More corporate clients would round out the hotel’s business and help fill rooms during the week, she said.

“The whole focus is to get corporate groups and conventions here midweek and gamers on the weekend,” King said. “So many people think we’re out here just looking for gamers.”

In addition to its standard king and queen rooms, the new tower features two large suites that are popular with both business groups and wedding parties.

“Brides are freaking out when they come in here,” King said about the 1,600-square-foot Presidential Suite, a luxurious space with marble countertops, leather upholstery and ornate light fixtures. The other large suite is the 2,000-square-foot Hospitality Suite.P1

The rest of the rooms are similar to those in the original hotel tower, but with lighter décor, updated color schemes and some other tweaks.

Though the new tower opened last year, the Silver Reef hasn’t advertised it much, King said, “But we are starting to get some things going again.”
The company’s marketing program underwent a review following the appointment of seasoned casino executive Frank Cornett as the new CEO in 2015.

In another management change, the hotel recently hired Lynne Dibley as director of hotel operations. Dibley previously held management positions at The Parker Palm Springs hotel in California.

The hotel’s new tower and other recent changes were on the way before Cornett took over, but King calls him an “idea guy,” and expects him to instigate more fine-tuning at the hotel in the future.

Some other recent changes include the Cigar Lounge being replaced with a live music venue that has concerts on Friday and Saturday nights.

Throughout the next year, sections of the original hotel tower will close to make updates to the décor.

“We’re working on a refresher of not just the towers but the whole property,” King said.IMG_9805

The Silver Reef’s expansion is one of many recent projects that has added hotel rooms to Whatcom County. When the sawdust settles, Bellingham will have about 650 more three-star hotel rooms than it did in early 2013. But King said the Silver Reef is different from those hotels for a few reasons: It’s a destination, it’s a casino and it’s not in Bellingham.

The recent drop in the Canadian dollar coinciding with that recent hotel boom is creating a challenge for some local hotels.

“The Canadian dollar has hurt us a little bit but we’ve seen an increase in people coming up from the south,” King said.

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