Casinos adding needed hotel rooms in South Mississippi

August 14, 2013
By Mary Perez at Sun Herald

South Mississippi is still almost 4,000 hotel rooms below pre-Hurricane levels, but 700 new rooms and suites coming to Coast casinos will put a dent in that shortage.

Wednesday's announcement that Island View Casino will add nearly 400 rooms in the tower south of U.S. 90 was the latest in a string of new hotel projects.

Island View already has 565 hotel rooms north of U.S. 90 in Gulfport.

"Our occupancy is running so high it proved to us we need more rooms," said Rick Carter, who owns Island View with Terry Green.

He said the $50 million renovation of the hotel tower that's been vacant since Katrina "will meaningfully contribute toward enhancing overall tourism, creating local jobs and cementing the position of the Gulf Coast as the premier gaming destination in the South."

Last week Full House Resorts announced it will build a 140-room hotel at Silver Slipper Casino in Hancock County.

And construction of a hotel tower at Hard Rock Casino Biloxi should be complete around the end of the year.

At the Golden Nugget Biloxi, the renovation of all of the more than 700 rooms is about one-third complete, said Brad Rhines, vice president of marketing. He said crews are on pace to have all the guest rooms remodeled by the end of the year.

The reaction of guests when they see the new rooms is "ecstatic," he said. The decor, which combines rich colors and modern finishes, is very different from the tropical theme of the former Isle Casino.

Linda Hornsby, director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, said the casinos aren't just building more rooms but also will fill them.

These are new and modern accommodations, she said. "That's what people want."

Along with these casino rooms, a 94-room Sleep Inn is being built near Rooms To Go north of Interstate 10 in Gulfport, she said.

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