Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Road Trip -- Mississippi Gulf Coast Casinos

Isle of Capri Hotel & Casino, Biloxi, MississippiWhen Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast last summer, all of the casinos and hotels were out of business -- either seriously damaged or completely destroyed. The rebuilding is still under way but many of the resorts have reopened. And more will reopen soon, including the sad case of the Hard Rock Casino. Its grand opening was scheduled for the day after Katrina destroyed it

Recently we went for a visit to check out the casinos and to give them a chance to get some of our money. In many cases the hotels suffered less damage than the casinos did. The casino games have been moved into what used to be hotel lobbies and ballrooms while the fancy new (or rebuilt) casinos are going up. There's lots of construction underway everywhere.

Most of the reopened properties are in the city of Biloxi -- seven so far -- with two more in nearby Gulfport and Bay St. Louis. And more to come in Waveland and D'Iberville.

We visited, played some slots and video poker and left plenty of money at the Palace, the IP (formerly the Imperial Palace Casino), the Grand Biloxi and the Isle of Capri. The bottom of the photo of the casino sign (above) is hard to read but in keeping with the tropical, Caribbean island theme at the Isle of Capri their current slot promotion is 'Jamaican Me Rich.'

The Isle of Capri has come back the best with lots of Las Vegas-style flash and noise in the casino. Their hotel is colorful and fun with tropical decor and very, very quiet guest rooms. The Grand is classy, but a bit dull and nothing like the wonderful pre-Katrina version, sadly. The free drinks, however, are plentiful, huge and in nice big glasses.

In case you aren't quite sure where the Mississippi Gulf Coast is, below is a map. This is the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico, home of the best shrimp in the world.

Map from www.gulfcoast.org
Although the map looks like there's been an earthquake on the coast between New Orleans and Mobile it's just showing the distances to the heart of the casino coast.

Coming soon more travel news. There's a long car trip to Maine to see my family and another Princess Cruise adventure this time to, you guessed it, Jamaica. Tune in here for details as they happen.

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