The Graton Resort and Casino received some good news just in time for California’s full reopening. The 200-room hotel at the northern California resort owned by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria recently earned the coveted Four Diamond rating from AAA.
Greg Sarris, chairman of the sovereign tribe, told Casino.org that the casino received the official word about a month ago. He called it a tremendous accomplishment. That’s because the 200-room hotel competes for tourists and patrons with boutique lodging venues in the nearby wine country as well as San Francisco, which is only 40 miles south of the Rohnert Park resort.
“The Four Diamond honor is an outstanding achievement for Graton Resort and Casino and reflects our consistent mission to provide the highest quality guest experience,” Sarris said.
AAA reviews thousands of hotels annually for its diamond ratings. Only 6.3 percent of those inspected earn the Four Diamond designation. The nonprofit association represents 60 million travelers in the US and Canada. The AAA website says that hotels offering “upscale style and amenities with the right touch of service” earn the designation.
AAA’s inspector graded the Graton Resort at a 4.4 on a 5-point scale. The casino earned its highest marks for the public areas.
The Graton Rancheria venue joins dozens of other casino resorts across the country that have earned AAA’s second-highest rating. Others in California that have earned the designation include the Pala Casino Spa and Resort and Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula.
Graton Not a Typical Casino Hotel
The resort missed out on a Five Diamond rating because of a few factors Sarris said. Those included a need to update door locks for the hotel rooms and to make some other cosmetic adjustments.
“We will be ready,” Sarris told Casino.org. “That is my mandate to the hotel manager and the general manager to have those things addressed so that we indeed are Five Diamond next time around. And to my knowledge, already 75 percent of those things have been addressed.”
The tribe opened the casino in November 2013, working originally with Stations Casino on the project. Sarris said that he had some pretty specific details that he wanted for the resort as it was under construction.
One of which was a glass wall separating the gaming floor from the hotel. It may not be the standard for most casino resorts, but the chairman said he told the tribe’s partners that it was a necessity there.
In wine country, why in the world would you have a hotel – where you’re competing get other nice hotels – where you have smoke and noise in the lobby of your hotel?” Sarris told Casino.org.
The federation took over management of the casino from Stations in February. Since then, officials made the decision to increase minimum wages for all staff at the resort. Tipped workers now earn a minimum of $17.50 per hour, while non-tipped workers earn at least $18.50 an hour.
The casino features 3,000 slot machines and more than 130 table games.
California Ready to Fully Reopen
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarris told Casino.org in the interview last Friday that the Graton casino has been operating at 50 percent capacity. Once California Gov. Gavin Newsom lifts the emergency orders and allows businesses to fully reopen, the chairman said the casino will be ready to operate at 100 percent capacity.
Newsom has announced the state would end social distancing and capacity restrictions on Tuesday.
The Graton Rancheria casino does plan to keep the plexiglass dividers up for now. In addition, Sarris noted that the mask guidelines will be eased. Casino management plans – provided what the state allows – to let patrons take off their masks if they’re playing a game or sitting at a bar or restaurant.
“We’re not going to allow people to walk around with their masks off,” he added.
Sarris added that the casino is already close to being fully staffed. The biggest change in staffing once the casino is fully open is that some people currently working as safety ambassadors will move into security positions.
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