Mohegan Sun completes 1st phase of expansion

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Who ever heard of a construction project being finished early?

That's exactly what happened at the Mohegan Sun casino complex here, which debuted the first phase of its $1 billion Project Sunburst expansion seven days ahead of schedule.

The 115,000-square-foot Casino of the Sky opened its doors for business Sept. 25 after a ceremony featuring a traditional Mohegan tribal blessing and a speech by tribal chairman Mark Brown.

The casino said it has the world's largest planetarium dome, which projects changing displays of constellations, sun cycles and clouds.

Mohegan Sun's expansion included the addition of Wombi Rock, a trilevel nightclub and bar. An additional feature is Wombi Rock, a three-story crystal mountain made from more than 12,000 plates of onyx and alabaster fused to glass, that functions as a trilevel nightclub and bar. Adjacent to Wombi Rock is an 85-foot-high indoor waterfall.

Besides these attractions, the casino also offers table games, thousands of slot machines, a 3,000-square-foot, high-limit lounge, gaming areas for non-smokers and keno, which will be available next spring.

Also part of the expansion project's first phase is the Shops at Mohegan Sun, a 130,000-square-foot, two-story retail and restaurant promenade designed to represent the Trail of Life, the curved path traveled according to Mohegan tradition.

The retail complex also opened along with the casino and offers merchandise ranging from clothing, antiques and jewelry to custom furniture and crafts from the Orient.

New stores include Brookstone, Cache, Discovery Channel, Godiva Chocolatier, Jewelry Nirvana, Old Farmer's Almanac General Store, Silver Nation, Sunglasses USA and Yankee Candle.

The Shops at Mohegan Sun also features 16 new restaurants, which join the gaming complex's 20 existing dining outlets.

Jasper White's Summer Shack and Todd English's Tuscany head the roster of dining choices that includes Michael Jordan's Steak House, 23 Sportcafe, Rising Moon Gallery of Eateries, Ben & Jerry's, Big Bubba's BBQ and Johnny Rockets.

Rain, owned by the Mohegan Sun, offers fine dining amid decor that utilizes cascading water, polished metals, glass ceramic "puddles" and shimmering fabrics.

The next part of Project Sunburst to open will be the 300-seat Cabaret and the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena. Both are scheduled to officially open the weekend of Nov. 9.

At Cabaret, Tony Bennett is slated to perform Nov. 9 to 11.

The arena, meanwhile, will welcome Tim McGraw on Nov. 9 and Gloria Estefan on Nov. 11.

The final piece of Project Sunburst -- which, when finished, will triple the size of the existing property -- is a 1,200-room, 34-story luxury hotel that is scheduled to open in April.

Standard guest rooms will offer at least 450 square feet of space and feature king or queen beds, lounge chairs, marble bathrooms and T-1 Internet connections.

The property's 180 suites will range in size from 900 square feet to 3,000 square feet.

Five of those suites will feature living rooms, dining/meeting rooms, back service pantries/kitchens, full-service bars and master bedrooms with deluxe bathrooms.

The hotel will have a 22,300-square-foot spa, salon and fitness center; a 27,500-square-foot solarium with a heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool and outdoor sun terrace, and more than 100,000 square feet of meeting and function space.

Included in that area will be a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, billed as the largest in the Northeast, as well as 30 conference or breakout rooms and 14,000 square feet of pre-function space.

The Mohegan Sun will not begin taking hotel reservations until at least January, according to a Mohegan Sun reservationist.

For more information about Mohegan Sun, call (888) 226-7711 or visit the resort's Web site at www.mohegansun.com.

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