By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 09, 2019 at 12:01 PM

Five years after the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino opened, towering over the Menomonee Valley, a second 19-story wing is now online.

According to Potawatomi's Jay Saunders, demand for rooms meant that the idea for expansion was hatched pretty quickly once the first tower opened in August 2014. 

"Before I worked here I had no idea," he says, "but once I started (almost a year ago) I realized just how much demand there was for a second tower."

Rather than build two separate buildings, architects Cuningham Group and Zimmerman Architectural Studios drew a new hotel tower that juts out 90 degrees from the east facade of the original tower, creating one seamless structure.

The expansion adds 50 jobs, as well as 119 standard rooms and suites to give the property a total of 500 guest rooms.

That tally moves it into second place among the Downtown area’s largest hotels, behind the 745-room Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

The new wing also includes another spacious 1,600-square foot top-floor suite called the Chairman’s Suite. A few years ago, we wrote about the larger Presidential Suite atop the first tower, which offers similarly stunning views of the city and the Downtown skyline.

While the new suite is a smaller and has a scaled-back kitchen area, it does boast a pool table and, like its elder sibling, a tub with a panoramic city view.

The rest of the rooms are a mix of suites and standard guest rooms that, though not called suites, sometimes offer bedrooms that are separate from living spaces.

The new building also includes more meeting space, the new, large third-floor Legacy Ballroom  adjacent to an enormous event space  increased capacity for catering and sales opportunities.

The first spa in the Menomonee Valley, Ember Salon & Spa, which encompasses a barber shop and salon, too, is in the lobby.

"We are thrilled to showcase this new hotel tower and provide new amenities to our wonderful guests and the Milwaukee community," said Potawatomi Hotel & Casino CEO and General Manager Rodney Ferguson in a statement.

"It’s because of them along with our hard-working team members that we have become Wisconsin’s premier entertainment destination."

Public guests will begin arriving at the hotel next week, according to Saunders.

An official ribbon cutting celebration was held at the hotel on Thursday and we got a peek inside. Here’s what we saw:

Rooms and suites

Chairman's Suite

Legacy Ballroom & Serenity Room

Ember Spa

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.