HAVASU LAKE, California — “This has been a long time coming,” Chemehuevi Tribal Chairman Charles Wood said to a gathering of tribal and Lake Havasu City officials Friday.
The Chemehuevi tribe’s new Havasu Landing Hotel and Casino received a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Friday afternoon, where it was lauded as a positive step in bolstering the tribe’s and the Havasu region’s economy. The new facility replaces the tribe’s former casino, which operated from 1999 until this November.
“I first came here in 1958,” Wood said. “At the time, I could count the number of buildings in Lake Havasu City on one hand. We had one tribal building back then … there was nothing here. Now we have housing, businesses, a community. We’ve met problems along the way, and we’ve overcome adversity … we now contribute about $58 million per year to Havasu’s economy.”
Although the Chemehuevi have been in the casino business for about two decades, Wood says the tribe has never had a hotel before. While he doesn’t imagine the tribe’s new lodgings will compete with Lake Havasu City’s hospitality industry, he believes it will bolster visitors’ options and provide additional incentive for California as well as Arizona visitors to enjoy both sides of the lake.
“We are a city – we’re a small city, but we’re still a city,” Wood said of Havasu Landing. “Like any city, we have dreams, and this is the accomplishment of one of our big dreams.”
Many of the Havasu Landing Hotel and Casino’s employees reside in Lake Havasu City, and many more of its customers often travel by the tribe’s ferry – the only tribal ferry in the United States – to see what the community of Havasu Landing has to offer.
“We’ve always viewed Lake Havasu City as the crown of Lake Havasu, but it was missing its jewel,” Wood said. “We hope to be that jewel, and that we can speak to the benefit of communities on both sides of the lake.”