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Chumash Casino wins AAA award

1 November 2007

A YNEZ, California -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Once again, the Chumash Casino Resort and its upscale restaurant, The Willows, have earned the highly coveted AAA Four Diamond Award, a designation bestowed on only the finest hotels and restaurants in Southern California by the Automobile Club.

The award is presented each year to hotel and restaurant general managers and executive chefs to recognize their award-winning properties, which are among the top 4 percent of more than 2,500 Southern California hotels, motels and restaurants inspected by the Auto Club of Southern California, the nation's largest AAA affiliate.

Now in its fourth consecutive year of Four Diamond status, the Chumash Casino Resort was one of eight hotels receiving the recognition in Santa Barbara County. Others earning the award were The Ballard Inn; Fess Parker's Wine Country Inn & Spa in Los Olivos; Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort, Harbor View Inn and Inn on Summer Hill in Santa Barbara; the Santa Ynez Inn; and the Petersen Village Inn in Solvang.

Just two restaurants in the county earned the recognition, including the Chumash Casino's Resort's own fine dining experience, The Willows, along with the Ballard Inn Restaurant. This is the third consecutive year The Willows has received the AAA Four Diamond Award.

"This is truly an honor and reflects the level of dedication and hard work of our staff that each day meets the standard for excellence in hospitality and dining," said Vincent Armenta, tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, owners of the Resort.

On Monday, the Chumash Casino Resort hosted a luncheon for those Santa Barbara County hotel owners and general managers whose properties were named Four Diamond for 2008.

"Few people realize how difficult it is to meet those standards set by AAA," John Martino, executive director of hospitality of the Chumash Resort, told the crowd of about 20 who enjoyed a delectable, multi-coursed meal created by The Willows Executive Chef Anthony Minniti. "It's really exciting to see how properties in Santa Barbara County are raising the bar for other hotels and restaurants in terms of service and quality."

On hand during the event to present each winner with a Four Diamond plaque was the Auto Club's Approved Accommodations Manager Charles Smith.

"The AAA diamond rating system remains an objective and consistent method to measure upscale dining establishments and lodgings which Auto Club and AAA members rely upon," Smith said. "We again congratulate the restaurant and hotel professionals that day-in and day-out work conscientiously to offer high caliber service, hospitality and pampering to their guests in accommodations that are beautiful, clean and comfortable."

David Brents, chief operating officer of the Chumash Casino Resort, said he was pleased to learn that both the hotel and restaurant will enter the 2008 year with the Four Diamond status.

"We always strive for excellence," Brents said. "This is the fourth consecutive Four Diamond designation for our hotel, and the third consecutive for the Willows. This clearly speaks to the tradition of exemplary service and attention to detail of our staff."

The Chumash Casino Resort, located off Highway 246 in the Santa Ynez Valley, is owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Offering 24/7 gaming, three restaurants, headline entertainers, a luxury hotel and spa, the Resort has quickly become the entertainment destination of choice in the Santa Ynez Valley. With 1,600 employees, the Chumash Casino Resort is also the largest employer in the Valley, and among the largest in Santa Barbara County.

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