Pros: fun atmosphere, very nice rooms, efficient staff, fun watching dogs
Cons: none for me
The Bottom Line: "Wheeling Island girls are having a ball They can see daddy playing through a hole in the wall" ~ Talitha MacKenzie
Parking facilities There are a few different avenues to pick. If you have a Players Club card, you can park in the hotel‘s underground parking garage. There are limited parking spaces here, but it is covered in case of inclement weather.
If you aren’t yet a member of the Players Club, you can elect to park using their valet service. Valet parking is $5.00. The cars are kept in a secure lot, not fenced or gated but patrolled, and are outdoors exposed to the weather. With valet service, you simply pull up to the hotel main entrance and leave your car. Payment is made in advance for the service.
The final choice is their ample, free, parking lot. It, too, is patrolled. It is fenced but not gated. It is an outdoor lot but they do keep the parking lot free of ice and snow, as much as possible. If you are attending the greyhound races only, there is a separate lot, quite small, for that.
The room - how suite it is … In the past we have always had a standard room which is really quite large. They run, generally, about 20’ x 20’ and are all decorated in an island theme in keeping with the ambience of the casino. We have stayed on the 3rd and 5th floors; the 3rd floor is the first sleeping floor above the casino but you hear no noise from the gaming area below. At most, you might catch a sniff of a steak being grilled if you are located directly over the restaurant area. A standard room, if you are paying, runs about $160 per night but we’ve never paid for a room since they are always comped.
This stay, however, we were upgraded to a suite. There are two type of suites; the one we had which runs $1000 per night and the next one higher [at $1500 per night] where the only difference is the amount of windows you have since it is a corner suite. Personally, I’m not that interested in looking at the depressed area surrounding the casino or the muddy river. However, from the two large windows in our suite, if I squinted really hard, I could catch a glimpse of the Wheeling Inn and thank the Gods we made it out of there alive.
Since this establishment is called Wheeling Island Hotel and Casino, the theme is island related. It isn’t garish turquoise and hot pink, but rather a mellow grass cloth wallpaper with heavy tan drapes and very nice blackout curtains. The carpeting and bedding carries the theme with intertwined vines and palm tree fronds. Again, not obtrusive or overstated, simply there.
There were two entrances to our room; through the bedroom door or the living area door. In the living area there was an extremely comfortable sofa, ultra suede, that we discovered also made up into a bed. There were side tables and two lounge chairs along with enough lamps to land an airplane. They are being efficient though and using low CFL bulbs. Included in the living area was a dining table, real wood, with chairs for six, a large dresser and 20” television.
The kitchen, in a separate room, included a microwave and fridge, sink, ample cupboard space, breakfast bar and bar stools. There was also a large closet in this area of the room, smoke alarms, sprinklers, and a safe in the closet.
Leaving the living area through French doors, you enter the sleeping quarters. It held a massive bed, two side chairs, one overstuffed chair, large dresser and television as well as entrance to the bath area. The mattresses are completely comfortable, with plenty of pillows and extra blankets and pillows in the closet. Robes are provided as well as laundry service. These rooms measured about 20’ x 30’ each and had plenty of space to move about.
The bathroom was a definite treat. The wall hung counter and drop in lavatory were large and would also be convenient for the handicapped. The counter and sink are covered in bar resin, at least an inch thick, which gives them a high gloss appearance and makes for easy clean up. The complimentary coffee/tea station is located in the bathroom.
The toilet was, well, a toilet but the toilet paper was A+, double ply and soft. Not so in the casino area but they don’t scrimp in the guest rooms.
The shower was a slice of heaven in its own right. For a standard sized tub, it is still nice and deep but they have gone the way of several other hotels we have stayed in and went for the shower rod that bows out, giving the impression of more space in the shower, once it is pulled shut. You want that spacious feeling once you turn on the shower because it is a, no water saver here folks, pulsating showerhead that will make you rethink you decision about leaving the shower. The shower walls are a warm marble and give a feeling of richness. The towels are large and plentiful, fluffy cotton towels without that harsh industrial feel to them. We had at least four full sized bath towels plus hand towels and wash cloths.
They do supply an exfoliating bath soap; a vanilla scented bar with kiwi seeds. The shampoo and conditioner were very nice as well. In fact, the entire bathroom was laid out in a pleasant and welcoming manner.
The hotel has 151 rooms; 9 of which are suites. I will admit they are rather luxurious by casino standards. They do offer breakfast in bed, bellman service, storage service, a fitness center and an arcade.
Check in is 3 pm, check out 11 am. Reservations are requested but not required. However, we have checked several times and they have been completely booked since it is the only decent hotel near the casino. There are other hotels nearby but, well, less than nice would be a good way to put it.
Housekeeping staff was neat, complete, and polite.
Dining facilities Other than room service, there are several dining options available. Their premier dining is at The Pointe Steakhouse, located just off the lobby. Reservations are suggested. This is a nicer eating establishment, serving fine wines [and other beverages] and dinners. In all our stays, we have not eaten at this restaurant, so I cannot give you details on it although I did look inside and the ambience was pleasant.
The Breezeway Cafe is designed in an open air style. This is a nicer eating area also serving full menus and hearty meals. No reservations are required but we have waited in line no more than 15 minutes when we dined there. We enjoyed both a large and hearty breakfast there one time as well as a mid evening dinner. Both were moderately priced for a casino. The breakfast, which was large enough to split between us but we didn’t, ran $8 for eggs, choice of meat, pancakes, toast [or equivalent], juice and potatoes. They have a breakfast special weekdays for $2.99, quite the deal.
For dinner we had their hamburger platter, running $9.99. It was a half-pound burger, your design, fries and drink. Other meals ran from $7.99 to $12.99 and covered everything from salads, soups, steaks, and basic meals. Not quite country cooking, but close.
From the Breezeway, you can watch the gaming floor and listen to the sounds of money plunking down. Open 24 hours.
The Islander Buffet is probably the best bet for most people. It is open for lunch and dinner only and is a full service buffet at a price, generally, of $14.99. You can get coupons, if you are a Player Club member for discounts or even free meals from the buffet as well as other eating establishments. They carry all types of soups and salads, fresh pastas, deep friend chicken, a carving station with beef and ham, various styles of potatoes and desserts, and seafood Fridays are a hit with all that shrimp and sea creatures. We have eaten there many times and always go away stuffed.
For a quick snack they have the Pirate’s Food Cove food court. Burgers, dogs, pizza, subs, tex/mex and various other items are available. Dogs run $1.75, pizza $2.50/slice, soft drinks $1.75 but free refills as long as you have your cup. They have a full ice cream bar and Starbucks coffee bar with pastries. Open until 10 pm.
The Terrace Dining Room, which is very nice and we’ve dined there several times, is closed for renovations at this time.
They have several sit down bars scattered about, Waves Bar, Castways and Sports Bar. Drink service is also available throughout the casino by wandering servers pushing very large carts. Soft drinks and coffee are free, other drinks cost ya but since I don’t drink, I can’t tell ya how much.
Hotel amenities Live Greyhound racing on the lower level of the hotel/casino area. This can be reached in several ways. If you are staying at the hotel and have younguns in tow, be aware that no one under 18 is allowed in the gaming area. Guards are posted at each entrance to ensure this rule is not broken. From the hotel area, you can walk along the gaming area to a stairwell which takes you to the lower level and the race track. This is convenient, like I said, if you have little ones or you just don’t want to tempt yourself by strolling through the gaming area.
You can also reach the track by crossing the gaming area to the escalator which takes you to the lower level. Wheelchair patrons fear not, an elevator is available for your use. If you are interested in the track only, you can enter from the exterior of the building through several entrances and parking areas. Children are allowed in this area but let’s face it, there is nothing for them to do but watch the dogs run and listen to adults makes fools of themselves.
Each race has eight faster than lightning greyhounds that cover the track in record time, chasing the ever elusive stuffed rabbit, Spunky. Again, you can enjoy this experience in several ways. In nice weather, you can sit outdoors. There are several picnic tables available or you can bring your own chairs and watch from trackside. You can watch from indoors on the lower level. Tables are scattered around the large area and TV’s galore, so you can watch those little puppies do their thing. Smoking is permitted in this area.
If dogs aren’t your bag, or at least these local dogs, the simulcast parlor, off the racetrack seating area, has nationwide wagering for greyhound, thoroughbred and harness racing. You have individual stations to sit and enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
If your true calling is live action, then perhaps one of the 2,500 slot machines will be your addiction of choice. Their machines run from $.01 to $5.00 per play, pick your poison. Machines are scattered all over the gaming area. The entire lower level of the casino is non-smoking slot play, for those that wish to avoid smoke. They offer the same machines in this area as the upper level, so don’t despair.
The newest addition to the Island is live table gaming. They have blackjack, roulette, craps, Carribean stud poker, let it ride, three card poker, four card poker, Pai Gow poker and Big Six. In addition they have an outstanding, separate, poker room offering 20 tables, open 24/7 with table food and beverage service. This is a non-smoking room only.
Wheeling Island Showroom brings many popular performers to their 550 seat room. It is a non-smoking showroom, beverages are served. Ticket prices depend on the performer.
Players Club gives you the best of both worlds. By point accumulation you can receive coupons for free hotel stay, food, play money, parking service, show tickets and merchandise. It is free to join and the benefits are many. VIP hosts, however, are rude.
I will make note now that there are limitations for children at this establishment. Although they state they have an arcade, I do not know where it is located even though I have visited here probably 100 times. The in-room cable service is fairly poor. The only channels that come through clearly are the ones associated with the hotel. Regular cable channels are limited and transmission is fuzzy and snowy. Children can go to most of the eating areas but other than the race track area, are confined to the room unless you bring a nanny along that takes them out and about Wheeling during the day.
History Wheeling Downs, the original, was established in 1937. Many changes have occurred over the years and I’ve watched quite a few of them. Originally it was a horse track but converted in 1976 to greyhounds. In 1994 they added off-track betting and video lottery, video poker, blackjack and keno. In 1999 they added slot machines; 2002 changed their name to Wheeling Island Racetrack & Gaming; 2003 added the hotel, 30,000 square feet of gaming area, showroom, dining venues and meeting and banquet facilities; 2007 they finally went big time and added live gaming tables, a sorely needed addition.
Overall impression Of all the casino based hotels we have stayed in, I still think Wheeling offers the best room and room conditions for the money, especially if you are using comp points and not paying for the room. The rooms are spacious, luxurious, and a pleasant haven after a hectic day on the game floor. We have stayed at several hotels around the Wheeling area, until they finally built their own, and found them sorely wanting. It is a depressed area and the local hotels reflect that. The only drawback, for us, is the 7-hour car ride or finding an affordable flight and rental car to drive there, since there is no airport closer than Pittsburgh.