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M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 7 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 6 5 S et on the 26th floor of the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa near Palm Springs, Calif., The Drum Room is a stunner for its views alone. Floor-to-ceiling windows over- look the nearby San Gorgonio and San Ja- cinto mountains and the valley beyond. But the views inside this new VIP lounge and private-event space are equally seductive. Designed by Santa Ana, Calif.-based designer Kenneth Ussenko, The Drum Room oozes glamour and elegance while honoring the spirit of the drums that are central to the heritage of Morongo Indi- ans, the Native American tribe on whose 32,000-acre reservation the property sits. Opened in late 2004, the AAA Four Diamond hotel and casino bills itself as the crown jewel of California casinos. Providing a luxurious guest experience is a top priority, according to John James, chief operating officer, as is keeping ev- ery facet of the jewel at peak brilliance. In early 2015, James and his team determined that some polishing was in order on the 26th floor. Club 360, the nightclub that had occupied the space, was becoming dated. James saw an op- portunity for a redo — not just a design refresh but a whole new concept. "A primary goal of every hospitality property or resort is to keep refreshing its spotlight venues and ensuring that they're exciting and relevant," James says. "We always look forward to creat- ing new experiences for our guests. We wanted to do something that would be completely unique and distinctive, some- thing that would be very, very exquisite for private guest functions. We have a lot of demand for events and recep- tions, and people want something that's rare and unique. That's what The Drum Room provides. It's dazzling. From the moment the elevator doors open up, the story starts unfolding and the sense of arrival hits you. The glamorous bar with its beautiful drums, rich wood, buttery leather, beautiful lighting — the whole effect leaves you feeling enthralled." While transforming the largely open and modern Club 360 space into the soft and luxurious Drum Room was largely cosmetic, the project had its share of challenges. Top among them was the tight timeline — 8 to 10 weeks from start to finish — but logistics factored PROJECT PROFILE GLAMOUR IN THE DESERT The Drum Room Strikes an Elegant Note BY DANA TANYERI, Senior Contributing Editor The centerpiece of the main lounge is a custom chandelier surrounded by a perimeter of more than 600 hand-strung strands of crystals.