Pechanga's massive growth spurt has spread beyond the casino.
Earlier in the week, a March 1 date was set for the official unveiling of the $300 million expansion that has catapulted Pechanga Resort & Casino to the status as the largest casino resort on the West Coast.
The 305-acre Temecula Creek Inn, which has 130 hotel rooms, a 27-hole golf course and 240-seat restaurant, is a popular wedding site and Temecula wine country getaway. And since it also borders the Pechanga Reservation, the tribe considers the sale a reclamation.
"The boundary overlays a piece of our original land, where we actually began. That's a critical piece of land and an important part of our history," said Pechanga tribal chairman Mark Macarro.
"For Pechanga, this acquisition also represents diversification of our tribal economy in an industry in which we have significant expertise — lodging and golf."
Macarro called economic diversification key to Pechanga's long-term viability and said the tribe has made has other real estate investments, including a new marketplace comprised of small retail and food businesses that's just south of casino resort property. It's scheduled to open in March or April.
JC Resorts, which had operated the Temecula Creek Inn since 1986, also owns The Rancho Bernardo Inn, Scripps Inn in La Jolla and the Surf & Sand resort in Laguna Beach. A company representative could not be reached for comment.
According to reports in the Riverside Press-Enterprise, JC Resorts had long sought to redevelop the Temecula property. Plans included a hotel expansion, a reconfiguration of the golf course and a large-scale development of single family homes and town homes.
Macarro said the tribe is abandoning those plans. "I'll say that the property needs some TLC here and there, but the business does quite well and there are no plans to make any major changes," he said. "People can expect the status quo."
The sale is expected to be finalized in March.
The purchase of a non-casino hotel by a San Diego-area tribe already entrenched in the gaming industry is not unprecedented.
Pechanga has no plans to expand into San Diego County, Macarro said, nor is there talk of any future development of the casino resort.
"We opened in 2002 and it took 16 years to get to this point," he said.
"I'm hoping that this will carry over to the next 16 to 20 years."