Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Oma’s 60th Birthday Casino Crawl

Oma Loves U! - Birthday Cake at Valley View Casino
Birthday Cake at Valley View Casino

Oma wanted to celebrate her 60th birthday in a celestial method. Since we live in the middle of Indian Casino real estate, the idea of a Casino Crawl strung forth.

Unlike a pub crawl, there would not be any consumption of alcoholic beverages. Since Oma was celebrating by herself, there would be no other designated driver. Oma was planning on an overabundance of gambling ending with a spa outing intermixed with banqueting.

If you're at all familiar with San Diego gambling, and Indian casinos, you know that the local gaming venues are extremely competitive. Oma planned her trip after consulting an article, “Top 10 Indian Casinos in the San Diego County Area by Inigo Figuracion.” 

Also in preparation of this epic adventure, Oma emailed the five closest casinos; Harrah's Rincon; Pala; Pauma; Pechanga and Valley View. The Casino Crawl was detailed and sponsorship was requested. Sadly, Pala Casino was the only establishment that even took the time to respond!

Therefore even though that response was a decline, it was decided that Pala would be the focal point of the crawl - where Oma would spend most of her time and cash. Further, Pala ranked highest on Mr. Figuracion’s list.

The weather on "Oma Loves U!" big day was filled with rain, roarous thunder and spectacular lightning.
The weather on Oma’s big day was filled with rain, roarous thunder and spectacular lightning. Nevertheless, by 7:30 a.m., Oma was off to the first gambling establishment, Casino Pauma. Rated eighth on the Top-Ten list, this casino is also the furthest away from Oma’s home.


“Oma Loves U!”  - Casino Pauma is one of the smaller of the cluster of North County casinos that include Pala, Rincon and Valley View.
Casino Pauma is one of the smaller of the cluster of North County casinos that include Pala, Rincon and Valley View. Casino Pauma's spacious gaming floor is filled with a huge selection of the hottest slots around... from penny slots to nickel slots to quarter slots to dollar slots. We've got the traditional favorites to the newest, interactive games available, including video poker and keno.

Federally recognized since 1891, and established in August of 1892, the Pauma Band is one of seven Bands of the Luiseño people located in San Diego and Riverside counties. The Band opened Casino Pauma in May 2001

Upon arrival, Oma visited the player’s club. There were no specials offered for visiting on one’s birthday. However, Oma did participate in the “Turn $20 into $30” promotion. Basically, you give them “$20 Cash and they add $30 in Pauma Play to your Players Club account. Unfortunately, the slots proved very tight and that money vanished quickly.

“Oma Loves U!”  settled for a two dollar Casino Pauma cherry turnover that proved cold and stale.
This casino has changed dramatically since Oma visited last. They no longer offer the 99 cent breakfast. Oma settled for a two dollar cherry turnover that proved cold and stale. Also the staff was not very responsive. Oma asked that an employee take her photo for this article and was informed that they are not allowed to do so.

Needless to say, Oma left Casino Pauma speedily. Oma would not rate this casino anywhere in the top-ten. It is a small casino that really offers no incentives, and little excitement.

Harrah’s Rincon Casino was Oma’s second stop. Harrah’s is rated sixth on the Top-Ten list.


Oma Loves U! – Since gaming giant Harrah's runs the Rincon Hotel and Casino, it's no surprise it goes for the Las Vegas experience.
Since gaming giant Harrah's runs the Rincon Hotel and Casino, it's no surprise it goes for the Las Vegas experience. A new 21-story hotel tower has made the formerly cozy resort into a full-blown entertainment complex. Harrah's also attracts a range of name acts for its concert series, but it gets a few minus points for its remote location and attention-taxing drive. But for getaways, you'll definitely feel like you're away at Harrah's Rincon.

Harrah’s is by far the most aesthetically pleasing of the four casino "Oma Loves U!" crawled.
Harrah’s is by far the most aesthetically pleasing of the four casino Oma crawled. It truly does transport you into the “Las Vegas” experience. The casino area is large with a variety of slot machines and a few tables. It was well-lit and was so clean it sparkled. Further, the staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful.

Oma Loves U! – Harrah’s did not live up to their slogan “Your First Resort for Winning!”
A downside that Oma experienced was the tightness of the slots. Oma expects to lose; however she also expects a nice payday when a bonus is won. Harrah’s did not live up to their slogan “Your First Resort for Winning!” 

Also be aware that there is currently construction at this site; the signs to parking was misleading and Oma ended up in the off-limits construction area.

"Oma Loves U!" pushed her call button on the slot machines to order a drink, unfortunately no-one ever replied. A water would have been welcome.
Harrah’s also did not offer any specials for celebrating your birthday with them. Lastly, Oma pushed her call button on the slot machines to order a drink, unfortunately no-one ever replied. A water would have been welcome.

If it reads like a lot of negatives, be aware that Harrah’s Rincon Casino has earned its spot in the Top-Ten list. Oma has heard their spa is wonderful; one day Oma will have to do a spa day at Harrah’s.

Lunch time was rapidly approaching. Oma drove the short distance to Valley View Casino, which is ranked seventh on the Top-Ten list.


Oma Loves U! – The all-new Valley View Casino currently offers over 1,750 exciting slot machines; 18 table games including single-deck blackjack, double-deck blackjack and Pai Gow poker; delicious dining options including an award-winning buffet, the Black&Blue steakhouse and lounge.
The all-new Valley View Casino currently offers over 1,750 exciting slot machines; 18 table games including single-deck blackjack, double-deck blackjack and Pai Gow poker; delicious dining options including an award-winning buffet, the Black&Blue steakhouse and lounge. Valley View is also becoming a player in the summer concert competition with a new outdoor venue featuring top-name entertainment.

The casino has been a vision of the San Pasqual Tribe for many years and the Grand Opening on April 18, 2001, marked a milestone event in their history. The San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians are members of the Kumeyaay people.

Oma and Opa visit this casino monthly. Therefore Oma had a free buffet coupon and a coupon for a birthday twenty dollars cash. Yet it was such an unexpected surprise when the friendly player’s club employee welcomed Oma with a huge smile and a Birthday T-Shirt.

Oma Loves U! – dressed in her birthday t-shirt, Oma enjoys her free buffet lunch.The casino is very clean and the ventilation is excellent. Oma also loves that there are self-serve soda fountains on the casino floor so you don't have to wait for a waitress to get a soda or water. Their non-smoking section is also very large and welcoming. They have a large selection of slot machines that are updated regularly. More importantly, you can actually play for a while before losing all your money and the Jackpots are exciting.

Oma’s free lunch at the buffet was also very enjoyable. Open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the lunch menu includes prime rib, authentic Italian, Asian, Mexican and American specialties, plus made-from-scratch soups, fresh rolled sushi, homemade cakes, pies and much more. The buffet staff also went out of their way to make Oma feel welcome.

If you could only pick one casino to visit, Oma would pick Valley View Casino.

Last on Oma’s Casino Crawl agenda, the fourth ranked Pala Casino.


Oma Loves U! - Pala, with its 4-diamond hotel and large casino, is the prototypical Indian casino that harkens to the Vegas experience.
As you can tell, I'm splitting hairs with these rankings. Because giving Pala Casino fourth place is a bit misleading. Pala, with its 4-diamond hotel and large casino, is the prototypical Indian casino that harkens to the Vegas experience. Great dining, top-name entertainment, and great amenities. Pala has spa facilities and a nifty pool area with cabanas, and it attracts big name entertainment concerts. Just pay attention to the road when driving along Highway 76

Oma Loves U! - "Five Flowers Ritual" 50 minutes: Illuminescence facial based on an ancestral Balinese ritual which blends the extracts of 5 tropical flowers and skin cleansing with a neck, shoulder muscle and face massage which awakens skin vitality.
Oma arrived at the Pala Casino just in time for her 2:00 p.m. spa treatment. The Pala Spa is open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily and features 10,000 square feet of organically inspired luxury, with outdoor relaxation and treatment areas. Separate men’s and women’s locker rooms are each equipped with showers, steam room, dry sauna and indoor whirlpools. All the amenities are include with a spa treatment costing $50 or more.

Oma Loves U! - 10,000 square feet of organically inspired luxury, with outdoor relaxation and treatment areas.Oma opted for the August Spa Special “5 flowers Illuminescence Facial Ritual” for $104.00. (Warning – they add the tip on for you so my bill came to $122.00)

"Five Flowers Ritual" 50 minutes: Illuminescence facial based on an ancestral Balinese ritual which blends the extracts of 5 tropical flowers and skin cleansing with a neck, shoulder muscle and face massage which awakens skin vitality.

The facial was wonderfully executed by a sociable Raquel. Then a soothed and pampered Oma relaxed in the Spa Café for a light snack of an apple and cup of ikaati Black Orchid  tea. Oma had never tasted ikaati tea in the past, but will definitely buy some in the future – it was very flavorful with a hint of vanilla and an accent of mandarin orange.

Oma Loves U! - utilized the indoor whirlpool and outdoor relaxation area.


Oma also utilized the indoor whirlpool and outdoor relaxation area. Oma’s Spa outing was faultless; go if yozu have the opportunity.

A trip to the player’s club was hassle-free. Oma received a red “60 +” dot on her card and a certificate for twenty dollars to spend at a casino eatery.

The “60 Plus” club is a free promotion. All members of 60+ Club will receive a 30% discount at the award-winning CHOICES the Buffet, every Tuesday from 11am-3pm. You can also win a share of $300 every Tuesday following the free 1:00 p.m. show at the Infinity. 

Oma cannot wait to check out the “60 Plus” club on a Tuesday in September!

Oma Loves U! - Nigiri Sushi: Sushi Platter. The freshest tuna, salmon, yellowtail, whitefish, albacore and shrimp was served with a spicy tuna roll.
Oma had a choice of ten restaurants in which to spend her twenty dollar food voucher. Opa does not like sushi, the Casino Crawl presented a good prospect to explore the Sushi Sake.

Enjoy the honored Japanese tradition of sushi with a Southern California flair at Sushi Sake. This sushi-bar style restaurant offers a wide variety of fresh and baked sushi selections as well as a collection of sake, available hot or cold. Diners are welcome to enjoy a seat at the bar where they can watch as these culinary delights are prepared by our skilled sushi chefs or they may “grab and go” and enjoy their meal on the casino floor or outside on the Pala Terrace.

Oma selected the Nigiri Sushi: Sushi Platter. The freshest tuna, salmon, yellowtail, whitefish, albacore and shrimp was served with a spicy tuna roll. This plate was both filling and fresh – very tasty. The sushi bar staff was very pleasant. Oma will be back in the near future.

Oma Loves U! - While playing the slot machines, patrons are entertained by live bands.
The casino itself was expansive and unsoiled. The machines allowed you to play and enjoy an occasional jackpot. Oma even participated in a slot tournament which cost a ten dollar entry fee. Finishing in nineteen place – Oma’s payback was $5.19.

While playing the slot machines, patrons are entertained by live bands. The bands set-up over the bar and are quite entertaining. Oma listened to two bands in the three hours she spent there.

Oma actually left Pala with a few bucks in her pocket – not a winner but Oma did not spend the entire budget! Nonetheless, it was 7:00 p.m. and after twelve hours, fifty-six miles added to the odometer, and three meals, the Oma’s 60th Birthday Casino Crawl was complete.

In summary:


  • Skip Casino Pauma altogether; it is not worth your time or money;
  • Stop by Harrah’s for its beauty and maybe a Starbucks;
  • Spend most of your time and money at Valley View and Pala Casinos for the friendly staff, enjoyment and amenities.
  • If you could only pick one casino to visit, Oma would pick Valley View Casino; however Pala came in at a very close second! 

Oma Loves U! - relax in the Spa Café for a light snack and cup of ikaati Black Orchid  tea.

Be sure to tell them that "Oma Loves U!" sent you.

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