Hotels: If you haven't been to the Casino of the Earth or for that matter, the Casino of the Sky, then it's about time for a visit to Mohegan Sun.
Located in Uncasville, Connecticut, the Casino of the Earth portion of the property consists of the "original" portion with the Wolf Den, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Casinos as well as the Hall of the Lost Tribes. The newer section, Casino of the Sky, houses more gambling, a breathtaking Wombi Rock and stunning architectural elements that include an indoor waterfall, the world's largest and most spectacular planetarium dome along with a glowing crystal mountain made of imported stone.
Situated on 240 acres along the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut, Mohegan Sun is within easy access of New York, Hartford and Providence and was about a two-hour drive from Boston.
The property is currently in the midst of Project Horizon -- a multi-million dollar expansion that calls for a new 39-story hotel, featuring 261 House of Blues-themed rooms and an exclusive members-only House of Blues Foundation Room. The expansion also includes additional retail and restaurant space, and a new Casino of the Wind. Upon full completion in 2010, Project Horizon is expected to add more than 1.4 million square feet to Mohegan Sun's existing structure.
Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, is one of the largest entertainment, gaming, shopping and meeting destinations in the United States. Be sure to stay in a "luxury guest room" while at the hotel, which are located on the higher floors (24-36) and over beautiful river and countryside views.
The casino itself is designed with the Mohegan Tribe in mind. In the Casino of the Earth, the four directions, which are sacred to the First Nations of the Americas, are honored by offering four quadrants, each correlating to a season. The Hall of the Lost Tribes honors 13 of the lost tribes of Connecticut.
We stopped by the Wolf Den, which is located in the Center of the Earth, for some free live entertainment. Catch your favorite band here where you'll find country, jazz, rock and oldies music. The Cabaret Theater is where most comedians host shows, including Kathy Griffin, Kevin Pollak and many others. The 10,000 square foot Mohegan Sun Arena has hosted everyone from Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel and Bob Seger as well as championship boxing and professional basketball (which is very popular here).
The hotel is beautiful, rooms are spotless, and the staff is extraordinarily helpful. From the complimentary valet to the smooth check-in, the service here was impeccable. Each staff member goes above and beyond to make hotel guests feel welcome.
There are numerous restaurants to choose from on the property. Whether you are looking to grab a quick bite, have a formal dinner or would simply like to overindulge in a buffet, there is something for everyone here. We dined at Mohegan Sun's original steakhouse, the Longhouse where we sampled melt in your mouth filet mignon, a flavorful and enormous prime rib. If you are not a beef lover, there are plenty of other items to choose from, including the Longhouse chicken, veal loin chop, stuffed pork chop, pan-seared salmon, colossal stuffed shrimp or jumbo three pound steamed Maine lobster.
If you need a break from gambling, there are numerous shops to visit -- from shoe stores and golf shops to Coach boutiques and jewelry stores. There is also a brand new Elemis Spa where you can indulge in divine therapies influenced by 10 exotic cultures in the 22,300 square-foot spa.
There is so much to do at night here. Have a drink at Lucky's Lounge or a pint at The Dubliner before dancing the night away at Ultra 88 Night Club, which includes VIP bottle service. The coolest place by far to have a drink is within the planetarium where you can relax in an ultra comfortable chair and look up at the changing stars while enjoying one of their specialty martinis (the banana martini is delicious).
We finished our stay here with the champagne brunch at Pompeii and Caesar where we sampled a variety of salads and pastas, fresh fruits and pastries, a made to order omelet station, prime rib carving station and the best finale - a chocolate dipping station.
There are lots of things still going on here. The 425,000 square foot Casino of the Wind is opening at the end of the summer and will contain a 45-table poker room, 825 slot machines and Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville restaurant, the only indoor/outdoor dining option here. The House of Blues Music Hall will open in the fall of 2009 with live music and a casual dining restaurant. The Earth Tower new hotel will open in 2010 with a House of Blues Foundation Room for an exclusive members-only experience.
Weekend stays here are always busy and at nearly a continuous 96-percent occupancy so be sure to call in advance for reservations. Rates are typically $499 per night for a weekend stay. For more information, call (888) 226-7711.