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Santa Ana hotel to roll out the welcome mat

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Bernalillo area can expect an economic boost when a new hotel opens its doors to the public on Wednesday, creating over 200 jobs.

Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel officials and staff provided a sneak peek this week before rolling out the welcome mat to guests at the 204-room property.

“The purpose of the hotel is to serve the (adjacent) casino as an amenity,” said hotel Chief Executive Officer John Cirrincione, who greeted several hundred guests before tours of the seven-story property, an $85 million project that includes construction of the new hotel and steakhouse with meeting, event and retail spaces.

The revenue generated at the new hotel, at 54 Jemez Canyon Dam Road, will contribute to the economic sustainability of Santa Ana Pueblo, supporting essential tribal programs, services and employment for many of its people, said Cirrincione.

In terms of the economic boost, a good portion of that already has occurred. Cirrincione said “a lot of the $85 million went into labor” costs during the construction phase. An estimated 320 people worked on site while the hotel was built.

Santa Ana was the only one of the four tribal casinos in the metro area without a hotel. Of the $85 million spent, Cirrincione said $45 million went into construction. The rest was spent to expand utilities, warehouse and maintenance spaces, and to modernize the current infrastructure of roads, parking, wastewater treatment and security systems. “Every light is (connected) to a computer,” he said.

“We don’t want casino patrons to drink and drive,” said Cirrincione. “We’d rather that they overnight” at the hotel. He forecasts 100 percent occupancy on the weekends, and occupancy in the 65 to 70 percent range mid-week. About 70 percent of the guests will be locals, he said.

Asked about the economic impact going forward, Cirrincione couldn’t provide an exact dollar amount, but bets that payroll from 230 new jobs will have a ripple effect in Sandoval County, especially from employees who live and shop in the trade area.

While acknowledging that many of the positions are lower-level wage jobs, he said Santa Ana is hoping to retain staff members, such as housekeeping employees, by paying $2 to $3 more per hour than competing hotels. In addition to health care benefits, employees get one free meal each shift.