Column: San Manuel Band celebrates milestone
"The long-awaited opening of the San Manuel tribe's four-story Hampton Inn and Suites in Highland was a major cause for celebration this week.

Plans for the retail, office and hotel complex had been in the works since 2001, and both city and tribal officials were elated to see them realized at last.

City leaders booked two adjoining, third-floor suites on Wednesday's opening night.

When I dropped by after 6 p.m., a couple dozen people were crammed into the rooms, chowing down on hors d'oeuvres and drinking wine out of plastic cups.

The views of the East Valley beyond Highway 330 and of the nearby San Bernardino Mountains were magnificent.

Driving into the mostly empty parking lot, though, was a little disconcerting. A large office building is still under construction and several retail buildings stand vacant.

But the architecture of the complex is impressive, modeled after the San Manuel's casino with stacked-stone façades and tall, arched entryways. Inside, the decor is a refined mix of Pueblo and craftsman motifs.

The design is a "branding" of San Manuel enterprises, tribal spokesman Jacob Coin told me."

Get the Story:
Cassie MacDuff: Celebration in Highland (The Riverside Press-Enterprise 9/12)

Related Stories:
San Manuel Band project feels pinch of economy (9/10)