morongo casino

Rising to the Occasion

The dramatic, new Drum Room lounge at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa offers sweeping views of the San Gorgonio and San Jacinto mountains.

Lawrence Karol Interior Design, Real Estate

morongo casino
The Drum Room recently opened at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon. Designer Kenneth Ussenko has imbued the space with a sophisticated, masculine vibe juxtaposed with a ceiling of crystals and an aura of glamour.

Visitors to the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon are no doubt wowed by the stellar views from its 27-story tower—the tallest building in all of Riverside County. But the casino recently upped the wow factor quite a bit with the opening of its sophisticated, 26th floor lounge, The Drum Room.

Previously known as Club 360 and used as a lounge and meeting area, the space has undergone a dramatic reimagining in the hands of designer Kenneth Ussenko, who runs an international design and branding company that specializes in hospitality, as well as commercial and residential projects.

Ussenko has a film industry background and he notes that his passion for storytelling is a constant principle in all of his designs. “Every design decision, every wall, every chair, every doorway has a story,” he says.

The central chandelier is a focal point and was custom-made here in Southern California.

Morongo’s chief operating officer, John James, asked Ussenko to create a design that was rooted in the spirit of drums — an ancient tribal commodity that is a powerful instrument used by Native Americans in spiritual and sacred ceremonial practices. Working around the clock, his transformation took only 10 weeks.

“I used the basic principal of what a drum is made of to inspire my vision for creating this space — wood, beautiful fabrics, and textures,” says Ussenko. “Texture is always a key element to my design projects because it forms the layers of everything we see, feel, and touch. One of my favorite textures in this space is the red agate gemstone under the bar and on the perimeter columns. These pieces were shipped to us from Israel. The center chandelier is a focal point and was custom-made here in Southern California.”

Ussenko worked with builder Sage Mountain Construction Corp., which is one of the only Native American-owned companies in the country specializing in tribal casino/resort construction.

“The whole premise behind the development of Sage Mountain Construction was to create a Native American company with a unique and refined skill set, producing a stellar work product both in Indian Country and for our other clients,” says Tom Linton, founder of the Banning-based company.

A red agate gemstone imported from Israel illuminates the bar. Some of the room’s iconic drums are a centerpiece of the bar area.

This great new gathering space and lounge for resort guests will also be available for weddings, parties, and corporate and community receptions.

Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon, 800-252-4499;