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Desert Palace Hotel & Casino Resort December 09 www. bus- ex. com 155 proper, on which the application was made, is being built. " Having got our licence in August," says Almond, " we started business in the following June with two temporary sites- one hosting the gaming tables such as roulette, poker and blackjack plus some slot machines, while the other premises concentrated solely on slots." It took another five years before the Andalucian hacienda- style building as we see it today was complete. Having originally opened with 25 bedrooms and one conference centre, a further 40 bedrooms and second conference centre were added during a second phase of development; in addition, a third conference centre is now in operation. The conference centres, which can accommodate between 60 and 300 guests, are fitted out with state- of- the- art equipment and cater for everything from local weddings to government seminars. The gaming is now also all on one floor and is being revitalised with the latest designs in slot machines, with 10 machines having recently been replaced. The casino rewards loyalty, with Club Cards granting points to patrons which can then be used for promotional items. Desert Palace also benefits from being situated next to Upington Golf Course, which is conveniently located seven kilometres from Upington's central business district. The resort works hand in hand with the golf club and as part of its bid granted it a sum of money to upgrade the course. There is an active black economic empowerment programme ( BEE) in place at Desert Palace, which calls for annual assessments of the development among staff. The resort has been graded as a Level 2 by BEE Rating Solutions, which means that it is 98.7 per cent compliant. The provincial nature of the area means that employees tend to be loyal and generally view their jobs as a longer- term commitment. But lack of competition from other casinos and a captured market don't mean that complacency can creep in. One of the key responsibilities of managers is to keep standards consistently high; even without the lure of the gaming hall, the restaurant, hotel and conference facilities are run with the aim of making them among the best in the region. This has been especially important during the world recession, which has limited the amount of tourism and made the contribution of repeat local business all the more important. But this shouldn't prove too difficult- Desert Palace recently welcomed as guests the South African Rugby Football Union during their week- long training camp in Upington, confirming its position as a quality destination of choice. - Editorial research by Don Campbell

156 www. bus- ex. com December 09 time