Plenty of Southern California casinos have revamped their pools in recent years aiming for an adult audience, but Pala Casino Spa & Resort wanted something a little different than a Las Vegas-style party scene.
“We really studied the whole pool concept and wanted to do something unique,” Bill Bembenek, Pala’s chief executive officer said in a telephone interview. “Our core demographic is a little older than other casinos so the new pool complex is not designed to be a party pool.”
The result is the new area — coined Tourmaline Pools — which features five pools and two hot tubs as well as 14 cabanas on the perimeter of the pool complex.
Unlike the ew pool at Pechanga Resort & Casino which is open to all ages, the pool area at Pala is restricted to guests ages 21 and up and is adjacent to the Starlight Theater where concerts are held.
Bembenek said the goal was to create a relaxing environment with good energy allowing guests to totally decompress and enjoy the beauty of the Mount Palomar foothills as a backdrop.
The pools, which officially opened Saturday, May 19, before a concert by Sammy Hagar & The Circle, are open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. except on nights where there are concerts. On show days the pool will close at 5 p.m. Day passes are available for non-hotel guests based on room occupancy for $25 on weekends and $20 during the week.
“The feedback has been outstanding with guests saying they were blown away by the new pools,” Bembenek said. “The sun broke out on Saturday and we had a nice crowd out there.”
Some of the pools feature water fountains in the center while others have in-pool seating around the edge of the pool and sloping beach-style entries. Lounge chairs that can be placed in shallow areas are also available.
The cabanas can be rented out starting at $99 for half-day use and feature sofas, color televisions, free wi-fi and food and drink service from the Poolside Café & Bar. Day beds — a type of cushy lounge bed — are available for rent starting at $35 per day.
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Seating areas with fireplaces are situated throughout the pool complex.
The new Poolside Café & Bar offers cocktails, wine and beer along with food. Beer lovers can choose from 15 domestic, import and craft bottled brews, or if wine is your preferred beverage there will be nine wines by the glass on the menu.
Some dishes offered include a smoked salmon and bagel platter ($14.95), New York steak and eggs ($15.95) and a variety of appetizers, salads and burgers and sandwiches. Prices are similar to menu items at Bar Meets Grill.
The new pool attraction is part of a $170 million expansion for Pala that includes a new hotel wing with 348 additional rooms, a parking garage that adds 420 parking spaces and expanded casino space. The expanded casino will feature a new bar, a roomier smoke-free gaming area and a re-vamp of Mexican eatery Luis Rey’s.
The next phase of Pala’s expansion/renovation includes the new 10,000-square foot Marquis bar and gaming space in an area that was formerly the Infinity Lounge. This will include 300 more casino games and an oval-shaped bar.
There’s also a new and improved 15,000 square-foot smoke-free gaming area that will feature glass walls, 300 games and cashier service.
These new spaces, along with the re-launching of Luis Rey’s will open on Friday, June 29.
Construction hasn’t yet started on the new hotel tower and officials haven’t announced a start date.