A recent corporate reorganization has transformed East St. Louis, Ill.’s Casino Queen into the only employee-owned casino in the nation. The 207,000-square-foot casino located across the Mississippi River from the famed Gateway Arch in St. Louis is now nearing the end of its first full year of business as a 100 percent employee-owned company.

The sport of bowling hasn’t changed much over the years, but in recent years Bowlmor has been leading a revolution in the way people experience it. The days of bowling alleys being smoke-filled and stuck in the 1950s are long gone, as operators are creating new bowling centers that put the fun of bowling in an atmosphere that’s modern and loaded with extras. The transition between the old model of bowling alleys and the new one was made very apparent earlier this year, when Bowlmor announced its merger with AMF, one of the largest operators of bowling centers in the country. 

Although the Westin Buckhead Atlanta is popular with weekend leisure visitors eager to enjoy the trendy neighborhood’s high-end shopping and dining along with the hotel’s luxurious accommodations, it is corporate conferences and business travelers that are the hotel’s true bread and butter.

The robust occupancy 365-room hotel in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood has 30,000 square feet of meeting space. It hosts about 3,200 meetings and conferences annually.  

In a recent USA Today article, Alec Foege, author of “The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great,” lists 10 great places to be inspired by innovation. On that list is Huntsville, Ala., a city that Foege says made it possible for America to reach the moon. Huntsville, also known as “Rocket City,” is where NASA developed its Saturn rockets, making it a fitting home for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, one of Alabama’s most popular tourist attractions, and a site that Foege says is worth seeing.

Set on an island in the middle of Devils Lake and miles of forest, North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Casino & Resort is building its livelihood around breathtaking views. 

Spirit Lake Casino & Resort in St. Michael, N.D., was founded on the Spirit Lake Tribe reservation. The tribe founded two casinos after the Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 passed, giving it an opportunity to strengthen its economic status. In 1996, the tribe opened a new $7 million, 49,000-square-foot casino – Spirit Lake Casino – and effectively closed the other two properties. General Manager Paul Matheny says what was once just a casino has expanded into an all-ages resort. The property includes a 120-room hotel, six fully furnished log cabins, a park area with the capacity to house 73 recreational vehicles, three restaurants, a grocery store and a marina.

Island resort towns exude an air of  comfort, ease and relaxation, but no one knows just how hard these towns work to make it that way. The Santa Catalina Island Co. (SCICO) owns more than 300 properties on Southern California’s Santa Catalina Island and has been an island mainstay since 1894. SCICO has built a portfolio of hotels, restaurants, entertainment and attractions that keep vacationers entertained while there and eagerly planning their next trip when away. In the past three years, SCICO has been diligently working to refurbish, renovate and create new assets to heighten the visitor’s experience. 

The revamped Santa Ana Star Casino has taken the more than eight-hour road trip to Las Vegas off the to-do lists of New Mexico’s gamblers and brought the feel of “Sin City” home.

For the past 20 years, Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo, N.M., would not have been compared to a Las Vegas casino. But, just two years and $20 million in renovations changed all that. “The one thing I’ve heard from customers is ‘we don’t need to go to Vegas anymore,” General Manager John Cirrincione says. “I’ve had this saying in my head since I got here that we can create a true Las Vegas-style experience but with true New Mexican charm. It’s great when you hit the bull’s-eye.” 

Mobile homes aren’t what they used to be. And RVs aren’t the old RVs of yesteryear. Over the past few decades, the manufactured home industry has made remarkable advances in improving quality and design, along with a dramatic rise in luxury features, while the RV industry has a large component of “park-model” homes – 400-square-foot “cottages” that are set in-place and not moved – which sell for upwards of $30,000 to more than $100,000 in certain markets.

Parkbridge Capital specializes in this niche, having arranged for the acquisition and/or financing for more than 100 communities and RV resorts with 30,000 sites worth more than $1 billion since it was founded in 1987. The great majority of these communities are age-restricted for those 55 and older, and are the upper-end of the spectrum of this property type in quality, appearance, services and amenities. Residents own the home and pay rent for the land, which includes use of the infrastructure and facilities of the property. 

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