Cowlitz Tribe and ilani Announce Major Expansion

New restaurants, additional gaming space to begin this fall; Plans for future hotel unveiled

RIDGEFIELD, WA. (October 3, 2020) – The Cowlitz Tribe has announced plans for an expansion of ilani, Southwest Washington’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination. Additionally, the exterior design of the much-anticipated hotel for the property has been revealed, and Howard S. Wright has been named as the general contractor for the project. Planning continues for the interior design of the 14-story, 300-room hotel tower, which includes a mix of room types, including large suites, and amenities such as a spa, fitness center, top-floor restaurant and more.

Friedmutter Group from Las Vegas has been a vital partner on many of ilani’s construction projects; it continues the partnership as the architect for the glass hotel tower, which will be located directly off Interstate 5 and surrounded by views of the Pacific Northwest landscape.

The Cowlitz and Mohegan Tribes will work together to master plan the reservation while continuing to invest in economic development that complements their existing businesses and the surrounding community. The Tribes expect construction to begin in early 2021.

“Building upon a successful foundation of ‘contemporary organic’ design created exclusively for the original ilani development, Friedmutter Group looks forward to collaborating with the Cowlitz Tribe and the ownership teams for the new resort expansion. The project’s design intent will continue to weave the Cowlitz story through unique architectural and design elements, motifs, materials, colors and experiences,” said Chuck Jones, senior vice president of Friedmutter Group.

Expansion of the existing facility is set to begin on Oct. 15 and will include two new restaurant venues and additional gaming space. The newly added space will bring ilani’s total property size to over 400,000 square feet when completed.

“We at Howard S. Wright are thrilled to partner with the Cowlitz Tribe, Salishan-Mohegan Development Company, the ilani operations team, and Friedmutter Group on the next phase of this incredible development. In recent years, we have built a number of luxury hotels for significant hotel operators in the Portland market, and we can’t wait to bring our expertise and experience to this extremely exciting project,” said Kevin James, project executive of Howard S. Wright.

The property expansion announcement and planning update for the hotel comes just one month before the expected opening of ilani’s parking garage. This garage, much like the addition of ilani’s Meeting & Entertainment Center and Cowlitz Crossing Fuel & Convenience Store, is a part of the tribe’s long-term vision for the reservation.

“We have been steadfast in our efforts to bring forward a business model that complements our region and provides an unmatched experience for our guests,” said Kara Fox-LaRose, general manager and president of ilani. “Our business has grown incrementally since opening just over three years ago, and our new parking garage, expanded gaming space and additional restaurants provide increased opportunities to ensure the sustainability of our business and will continue to contribute to the economic vitality of our tribe and the area.  The addition of a hotel will allow us to bring more visitation to our region, and we are looking forward to the stabilization of our economy so we can begin construction.  In the meantime, we will advance the design with the Cowlitz Tribe to ensure its elements properly represent the tribe’s heritage and meet the needs of our guests.”

Additionally, the Cowlitz Tribe continues to demonstrate its confidence in Southwest Washington. “If we have learned anything this past year, it is that our community is resilient. The Cowlitz Tribe is committed to thriving and contributing to the prosperity of the Southwest Washington community in years to come,” said Philip Harju, chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. “The facility expansion is necessary to support the growth of our business, and the hotel is in many ways symbolic of opening the doors of our homeland to guests from around the world.”

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

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Am Ende, Megan

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