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Fallen Oak expected to open for play in early 2006

Lush, natural setting backdrop for Beau Rivage course

An oak tree that leans but is still standing will be visible from the back veranda of the clubhouse of the $30-million Fallen Oak Golf Course that will become part of Biloxi’s Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino when it opens in February 2006.

The 18-hole, par-72 course, being built on 510 acres next to the DeSoto National Forest and about 20 minutes from the hotel, was designed by noted golf architect Tom Fazio, who created Shadow Creek for Beau Rivage’s sister properties in Las Vegas.

The course will be characterized by lush, rolling landscapes covered in live oaks, yaupons, magnolias, pecan groves, large lakes, winding streams and marshes.
Fallen Oak, which stretches some 7,516 yards from the back tees, will have concealed golf cart paths, 10 bridges and numerous water features.

It will be a public course to which guests of Beau Rivage will have priority access. A shuttle service will transport hotel guests to and from Fallen Oak.

“When we were originally asked about the possibility of a golf course for Beau Rivage, we spent a tremendous amount of time researching sites in the area,” Fazio said. “We looked at more than a dozen sites before eventually settling on the present location.”

Fazio added that the site for Fallen Oak offers some dramatic elevation changes rarely encountered so close to the Coast and “tremendous vegetation that we knew could be incorporated into the routing of the golf course.”

“The trees and shrubs could also be transplanted throughout to give it a very mature feeling from day one. Now, years have passed since we initially chose this site and the vegetation is even more spectacular. It has just gotten better with time and will continue to do so.”

Jeff Dahl, president of Beau Rivage, said that “golfers are going to find Fallen Oak aesthetically beautiful and equally challenging.”

The course was in the casino’s original plans, according to Dahl, but construction was delayed while the casino’s restaurants and rooms were renovated.

The 32-story Beau Rivage, which features 1,740 rooms, including 95 luxury suites, opened in 1999. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of MGM Mirage, which has its headquarters in Las Vegas. Beau Rivage is located on the Gulf of Mexico, approximately an hour drive from New Orleans to the west and Mobile to the east.

The hotel’s entrance lobby is a 60-foot-high, formal garden atrium, featuring a variety of trees, plants and flowers and ornate sculptures. There are boutiques with men’s and women’s designer fashions, jewelry, shoes, swimming and sportswear, souvenirs and gifts.

Beau Rivage’s pool, with café and bar, is set oceanside amid lush growth.

Fallen Oak Golf Course continues the hotel’s pattern of incorporating a lush natural theme and the “inherent beauty of the existing terrain provides an outstanding natural canvas from which to develop golf’s latest masterpiece,” according to a Beau Rivage spokesperson.

“The trees on this site are spectacular, and Beau Rivage has given us a landscaping budget for the golf course that will allow us to transplant large, mature trees to key locations on golf holes,” Fazio said. “In areas where the routing of the golf course requires the clearing of existing specimen trees, we’ll be able to simply move them to a location that works and move them back after the hole is built.”

Fazio added, “This is the ultimate in design flexibility and, when completed, Fallen Oak will feel very naturally integrated into the site.”

To insure the survival of the natural growth, two nurseries are being built, according to Bruce Nourse, Beau Rivage’s public relations director.

“Five-hundred-year-old live oaks, pines and other trees and vegetation will be put in the nursery,” Nourse said. “And when work is finished, they’ll be put back in place.”

The contractor, W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company Inc., is now clearing the site and doing contour work.
Nourse said that sodding will start in May but that no date has been set for the construction of the clubhouse.

When built — which will be before the February 2006 opening of the golf course — the clubhouse, resembling an Acadian-style Southern mansion, will house a pro shop, locker facilities, lounge and restaurant. The back veranda will provide panoramic views of the 9th and 18th greens and of the signature Fallen Oak.

Beau Rivage’s 75,000-square-foot casino has table games and slot machines 24 hours a day and features a “casino within a casino” that provides guests with a non-smoking area.

Among Beau Rivage’s 12 restaurants are Port House, which offers steak and seafood in aquatic surroundings with thousands of tropical fish, sharks, coral reefs and undersea plants; La Cucina, which features an open kitchen with dishes from Tuscany, and Mikado, home of live theater cooking at Teppan Yaki tables that offer pan-Asian cuisine, specializing in sushi.

Beau Rivage also offers a 31-slip marina, flats fishing off nearby Chandeleur Island, a 1,550-seat theater that presented such entertainment as Cirque du Soleil, Lord of the Dance and “Fosse” and a spa and salon with views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Category 5 Arcade is a 3,000-square-foot amusement center with more than 50 games that offer some 250 prizes to winners.

Contact MBJ contributing writer at George McNeill at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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