I recently took a jaunt over to Thunder Valley Casino to see what all of the buzz was about. You know — new hotel, new restaurants, new everything that’s constantly being advertised… I had only been to Thunder Valley once to celebrate a birthday long ago. My husband Jon had planned an Amazing Race sort of day for me. A limo raced us to our destinations and I had to complete challenges at each surprise location. After checking into the Sheraton in Sacramento, one of the challenges was that I was supposed to triple my money at Thunder Valley Casino in an hour. No problem! I did it at the blackjack tables, then we were whisked off to another location. I didn’t exactly spend quality time there.
So, on this latest visit, Jon and I took a self-tour. No gambling, no restaurants, just a tour and a cocktail at one of their “new” spots. We took a lap around the casino and weren’t quite sure what was new besides the hotel that we’d seen advertised every five minutes on the television and radio. I stopped a passing security guard and asked him what was new. He said, “Well, the ceilings are new — and the carpet.” At that point, I thought that perhaps there wasn’t a story here at all. Yes, the ceilings were decorative and lovely for a casino and the carpets are a bright blue with a busy pattern. They surely looked new, but not a reason to visit.
I prodded him with other questions like, “Are there new restaurants, anything else besides the hotel?” Yes he answered, the main bar in the middle of the casino was new, the hotel of course, the spa, the pool and the pool restaurant/bar. Good! Now we were getting somewhere.
We went to the new center bar, Mingle. It was gorgeous and Vegas-worthy with comfy sitting areas, tall ceilings, dark wood, great lighting – lots of drama. We browsed through their cocktail menu. All of the featured cocktails are all expensive, and all the same price. But we found out that the regular drinks are regular prices. Regular prices for Thunder Valley are less expensive than what we’re used to and my Cosmo was less than $4. The bartender was very friendly, didn’t treat us with disdain even though I was asking for cheaper drinks, and we had a large sofa grouping to ourselves. It was one of those vacation moments. It’s like a catnap. Sometimes that’s all you need to rejuvenate.
After the drinks, we headed through the hotel lobby and the spa. Both are lovely with plenty of attentive staff. We had inquired about the room rates before arriving to the casino to see if the rooms were really $99 like advertised, but found that on that Saturday night, they were $259. It’s based on availability, so obviously weekends are always going to be higher. We wandered out the doors in search of the pool and walked down a long sidewalk, following the sounds of Caribbean music. When we turned the corner we found more attentive staff who greeted us at the pool entrance and asked if we’d like to look around. The pool is gorgeous with large cushioned lounge chairs surrounding it. Behind the lounge chairs are some private beds with wispy curtains and behind that are the cabanas.
The pool bar was welcoming with large overstuffed chairs and sofas. They have a full menu and tropical drinks with the Caribbean band playing at one end of the pool on the weekends. If you stay in the hotel or use the spa, you get free use of the pool. Otherwise, the pool is $25/day, per person and the cabanas are $200 and get six people into the pool area.
We enjoyed our one-hour tour of Thunder Valley and know that we’ll be back to enjoy all of the newness. http://www.thundervalleyresort.com/