By LYNN LOFTONTwenty-Three years after casino gaming game became legal in Mississippi, the Coast city of D’Iberville has finally joined the party —and it made its arrival in style and elegance.
Scarlet Pearl, the 12th casino on the Gulf Coast, opened this week across the Back Bay from Biloxi after the city created new entrances with $31 million in improvements to the intersection of Interstate 10 and I-110 to provide easier access.
The feast for the eyes begins at the front entrance with columns, lights and a sense of grandeur.
There’s a spaciousness and elegance that continues throughout the lobby and 60,445-square-foot gaming floor.
The high ceilings and impressive lighting add to the elegant look.
There’s no crowding between the 1,300 state-of-technology gaming machines, 45 table games and 10 poker tables.
Each room has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer oustanding views. The color scheme of gray, black and white with touches of red is presented in a sleek, cosmopolitan décor. Even the regular rooms have plenty of space and great views.
“Our hotel is unlike any hotels here,” said CEO Denise Barton. “We have the newest, most modern rooms on the Coast with the highest emphasis on guest service.”
Architect Nory Hazaveh, a founding principal of Sosh Architects of New York City, explained the style of the casino and hotel that he’s worked on for three years.
“We wanted to celebrate light and air and reflect all the beautiful surroundings. That’s why every hotel room has a wall of glass,” he said.
“In addition to the surrounding water, the mansions of Mississippi were an inspiration. We wanted to set the bar for projects to come after us; it’s a monument of design. We also wanted to celebrate guests and give them a feast for the eyes.”
Scarlet Pearl is also home to Lava Links, a 36-hole miniature golf course that will have two separate 18-hole courses that can be played separately or as one, and a handicap accessible course. Lava Links has an erupting volcano and green luscious grounds.
“You’ll definitely want to spend a few afternoons here,” Barton said.
Noting that the new casino is targeting all people who enjoy gambling, dining and fun, Barton said the miniature golf course will provide entertainment for everyone in the community.
Four restaurants on the property include Scarlet Grille, a fine dining steakhouse; Under the Oak, a cafe set in the midst of the casino floor beneath a giant Live Oak tree; Chopstx, a bright and spacious noodle bar; and the Waterfront Buffet which overlooks Back Bay.
“We have something for everyone,” Barton said.
“The Scarlet Grille will provide high levels of service and a spectacular quality of food in an elite and sophisticated setting. Under the Oak cafe provides a dining experience that will engage everyone who enters. It’s set in the midst of the exciting casino floor but beneath the limbs and leaves of an amazing giant oak.”
The $290-million project, which is owned by a private investor, expects to give the local economy a boost and has hired 1,200 employees.
“Mississippi is a business friendly state,” said CEO Denise Barton. “The Mississippi Gulf Coast has remained relatively steady while other (gaming) markets have declined. We believe we can add to the positive momentum and grow the Mississippi Gulf Coast gaming community.”
Barton added that many of the employees are local residents. “The workforce in the area is outstanding and many people came to us with a tremendous amount of casino experience,” she said. “The casino and its employees will also be supporting local businesses.”
Asked if the Scarlet Pearl will add to or change the Coast gaming scene, Barton said, “We believe the Scarlet Pearl will positively impact the Gulf Coast’s gaming market because we will provide a new energy and excitement to the market. Also, we believe that giving gamblers more options will make everyone’s experience better.”