Well, here’s a day trip I never expected to take. There are two casinos in my beloved Connecticut countryside, way over in the Southeastern quadrant, near Rhode Island. One is called The Mohegan Sun, and the other is called Foxwoods.
In a weak moment I agreed to accompany my husband to check these two places out. I figured it wouldn’t be a total loss, since we’d have to drive all across Connecticut on a lovely summer day.
Off we went taking the back roads I love so much. Driving east from Millbrook, we took route 44 to Route 343 to Sharon, Ct., and from there we took Route 4 to Farmington. (That’s the best part of the drive.) At Farmington, we encountered Route 84, which takes you through Hartford, across the Connecticut River. Except that as soon as we got on 84 we slowed to a halt, due to an accident up ahead. As luck would have it, we still remember enough of the West Hartford area from the old days that we were able to snake off and find a parallel route. We got back on 84 just before the Connecticut River, crossed over, and quickly took Route 2 that goes in a diagonal direction southeast to the big these big new Indian Reservation casinos near Norwich.
The drive was as delightful as always, with several miles designated at “Scenic Route.” Although we were sorely tempted to take a few side roads, we were on a mission, so we stayed on target, arriving in about 2.5 hours at our first destination.
The Mohegan Sun was easy to find, once we stopped looking at the lovely spring flowering trees, and looked UP. It is a gigantic ugly all-glass building, shooting up in to the sky, whose only saving grace is that the mirror finish reflects the blue sun and green trees. Otherwise these buildings absolutely ruin the landscape along this charming stretch of river.
The interior was really no better. Imagine if you will, a tacky shopping center in the middle of nowhere, but under a canopy of virtuality. You really do get the idea that you are in a New Jersey shopping mall (sorry, New Jersey, I know parts of you are quite beautiful.) But talk about other worlds! There was a thundering waterfall inside, tons of water spilling over gigantic boulders. The entire campus is massive, with several parking garages, (“13,000 parking spots.”) The place is so massive that you need a map to get around. The very tall, mirrored building is the hotel, with 1200 rooms, also containing a spa, of course. Attached to it (you never have to go outdoors) are not one but two casinos, Casino of the Earth, and Casino of the Sky, a huge Arena for big time performers and sporting events and a cabaret theatre. There are eleven restaurants and thirty-three shops. In addition to the waterfall, there is a mountain (which contains a restaurant,) and a wolf den. Of course there is the necessary convention center, meeting rooms, and ballroom.
Now all of this is before you start getting lost in the various gaming rooms. Thank goodness they have several “lost guest assistance” booths, where a security officer will assist you in finding your party.
I hate to mention that there is an addition planned. Yes, a $740 million dollar expansion, adding another 1000 room hotel, with 115,000 additional square feet of retail space, and a third 64,000 square foot casino. Of course that means another 3600 parking spaces.
I love spouting these mind-numbing numbers, as an inducement to get you to get over there soon, before it becomes the Eastern version of the Mall of America.
Now, although I have no desire to defend such abominable architecture and mass establishments, even though it may be politically incorrect to do so, I must hasten to say that the Mohegan Tribe has apparently done a marvelous job of energy use. They have a commitment to and model use of the fuel cell for power. They follow the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection rules for reduced emissions and trading thereof with the Connecticut DEP. (think of all the cars driving to those 13,000 parking spots.) Their goal is complete grid independence. For this I must commend them. Apparently theirs is a model in which, according to their U.S. congressman, “Mohegan Tribe is leading the State of Connecticut in fuel cell technology.”
We couldn’t leave the area without having a look at the other casino just a couple of miles away, run by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, but called Foxwoods.
This is another hotel/casino complex, probably every bit as large. There are 1400 hotel rooms, in a 308,000 square foot complex, again with several high-rise buildings, looking out on an otherwise bucolic vista.
The numbers are also numbing here: 35 eateries, a “restaurant for every time of day.” “Ready to shop? With name brands from Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger and Tommy Bahama to Craftsman and Bose….” And so it goes.
Somehow, I liked this place better, if I liked it at all. There is a strange fascination about these totally out-of-place establishments. The whole experience was like going to Mars for the day, but Foxwoods décor was more recognizable, and thus made it seem more familiar, and ergo, a bit more approachable.
Oh, I almost forgot there are two new Rees Jones designed championship golf courses surrounding a 90-acre lake, which are part of the whole complex.
The Pequot Tribe’s offering to the real world is the Masantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, which is a 308,000 square foot complex featuring films, videos, interactive programs, crafts, multi-sensory dioramas whole business of Indian casinos in Connecticut. However, I would still highly recommend a visit to each of them, even for an overnight. It is a phenomenon about which we should all know, and probably experience. And even with the very little cash that we fed in to the slot machines, we came home with about $20.00 to the good.
You can probably tell that I do not have a very high regard for the whole business of Indian casinos in Connecticut. However, I would still highly recommend a visit to each of them, even for an overnight. It is a phenomenon about which we should all know, and probably experience. And even with the very little cash that we fed in to the slot machines, we came home with about $20.00 to the good.