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We finally got a chance to check out the expansion of the Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel in Cherokee, North Carolina and we were not disappointed. The first landmark in its three-year, $633 million expansion is the addition of the stunning 532-room Creek Tower, featuring luxurious guest rooms and suites, to the property making it the largest hotel accommodations in the Carolinas. With standard amenities including a sitting area, refrigerator, plush robes, flat-screen TVs and granite countertops and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, balconies, fireplaces and whirlpools, Creek Tower is helping to transform the property to the premier resort destination in the Southeast.

Other additions that have already opened as part of the expansion include Paula Deen's Kitchen, a full-service, 404-seat restaurant serving a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is reminiscent of the decor and ambiance of her legendary home and kitchen in Savannah. Adjacent to the restaurant is an 1,800-square-foot Paula Deen retail shop offering Paula's cookbooks, spices and food items, cookware, logo wear and gifts.

Other expansion efforts already completed include the 3,000-seat events center hosting concerts, entertainment, poker tournaments, and other exciting events, a Callaway Golf Shop, entertainment and VIP lounges, renovated casino facilities, new and expanded parking garages, and the newly opened Sequ oyah National Golf Club, an 18-hole, par 72 championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones.

Before the expansion is completed in late 2012, Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel will see the addition of an 18,000-square-foot Mandara luxury spa, additional dining venues including Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, BRIO Tuscan Grille, a food court emporium featuring Dunkin' Donuts, Johnny Rockets, Boar's Head Deli and UNO Pizzeria, an Asian gaming room including an authentic noodle bar, a digital poker room, six additional retail stores, and a doubling of its casino floor to 195,000 square feet.

Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel is an enterprise of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, located 50 miles west of Asheville at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The expansion is one of the largest in the US and currently the largest hospitality expansion project underway in the Southeast.