ALEXANDRIA, La, February 26, 2010—If you’ve got a bad case of the winter blues, spring fever, or simply need a break, you might want to consider spending a couple of days at the Paragon Casino Resort. Located in Marksville, Louisiana, this resort offers a multitude of escape and relaxation venues for singles, families, and individuals of all ages.
From the moment you enter the hotel, it’s obvious that this resort is not only elegant and upscale, it’s also a place where you and your family are welcome. Be prepared for your kids to rush past the massive inlaid wooden table and unbelievable floral arrangement that welcomes visitors to the resort in order to check out all the alligators that live in the man-made bayou situated just beyond the hotel entrance.
A wide, wooden boardwalk encircles the alligator habitat, and inside there are rock-like mounds, cypress trees and even a pirogue on which real alligators can be found snoozing at all hours of the day and night. Several times each day, the hotel offers a program where experts go into the habitat to feed the gators. They also “talk” to them in a cool “clicking/croaking” tone to which the gators actually respond!
Our expert had have to have nerves of steel, because he stood there while the alligators, which range from “teeny-tiny” to “big bubbas,” came charging out of the water to climb onto the rock, and outnumbered him about six or seven to one.
The alligator experts wear a layer of thick, protective gear on their arms and legs, which is a good thing, because the day we watched the program, one of the mid-sized gators was more interested in eating the feeder than the food, and kept trying to chomp on the feeder’s leg! Thankfully, the feeder outmaneuvered the gator, because alligators can snap their jaws shut with an estimated force of some 2000 pounds per square inch.
Once the feeding ends, anyone who’s interested can have his or her photo made holding a small alligator, whose mouth is taped shut for obvious safety reasons. Kids love this, as do many adults. Come on, how many times in life can you get your picture made holding a real alligator and not have to worry about getting your arm bitten off?
The Atrium resembles one of Louisiana’s bayous, and the surrounding walkways exit into public areas where visitors can sit at one of the many tables and relax over hot, fresh coffee from nearby deli areas that offer a variety of delicious food and drinks. If shopping is your particular vice, there are multiple shops close by that offer the latest in fashion, jewelry, accessories, and Native American crafts. The cinema, which offers three films every day, is actually located on one end of the Atrium, and moviegoers can catch the latest movies in comfortable, stadium-style seating.
Another really cool thing about the Paragon is that the designers did an excellent job of blending Native American design with southern Louisiana heritage. The overall ambiance is calm, relaxing, with a unique blend of old world and modern day amenities. The hotel rooms are absolutely gorgeous. Restful color palates abound, and the Atrium rooms have a wrought-iron balcony, complete with chairs and a small table.
It should be noted, however, that on the weekends, the dance area, located at the far end of the Atrium Bar, features a great selection of music and dance tunes that goes until the wee hours of the morning. If you are a music-lover and like sitting on a balcony, listening to music, then an Atrium room is definitely for you, because the acoustics in this place are fabulous. If, however, you like peace and quiet, or going to bed at a reasonable hour, then you might want to request a room somewhere other than the Atrium on the weekends.
For those of you who want total relaxation, then a visit to the hotel’s Spa La Vie is definitely in order. The spa offers a line of services comparable to any five-star hotel. There’s a broad range of massages, from a Southern Comfort Massage to a deep tissue massage. Kody, who did wonders for my cramped, aching shoulder muscles, performed his work with the masterful touch of a symphony conductor playing out a tune of relaxation over muscles crying out for relief. By the time he finished, my entire body was so relaxed it felt like gelatin instead of muscle and bone.
In addition to massages, the spa also offers a line of rich body treatments, manicures, pedicures and hair care services, for both men and women. The day we went, the spa was completely booked. The staff are talented, courteous, competent, and very, very, friendly. From the moment you enter the spa until you leave, it’s like visiting a magical place where rest and complete relaxation is the rule, rather than the exception.
If, however, you crave excitement, then the Paragon Casino can definitely cure what ails you. The Paragon offers over 2,000 slots, ranging from penny machines to high-dollar slots, plus a variety of poker and table games. The night we visited, one lucky person won over $150,000 and several others won over $20,000. Maybe you’ll be the next big jackpot winner!
The food at the Paragon is some of the best you’ll find. They offer a variety of restaurants, from Roxy’s Diner, which serves some of the best diner-style food around to the Legends Steakhouse, which offers gourmet dining at its highest level.
My favorite meal at Roxy’s is their club sandwich, which is piled so thick with meat that you can hardly put your mouth around it. It comes with a huge serving of perfectly cooked French fries. If you want a larger selection, then you might want to try the Market Place Buffet. Every Friday and Saturday, the buffet offers shrimp and crab legs, and these crabs are definitely NOT anorexic! The crab legs are huge, full of meat, expertly seasoned, and when drenched in a thick coat of butter, so unbelievably good that eating them ought to be a sin!
The Legends Steakhouse offers great gourmet dining, including some of the best lobster bisque you’ll find in this entire region. When you order the bisque, it’s served with the name, Legends, written in a cream sauce on top! Their prime rib, which just happens to cover the entire plate it gets served on, is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and somewhere between three and four inches thick. After eating at Legends, you’ll discover that the bar of service and food excellence has definitely risen to a new high few places can match.
For those who want to get some healthy exercise, the Paragon offers an indoor pool area, a state-of-the-art exercise room and a championship golf course. After making arrangements to drop the kids off at either Kid’s Quest or the Arcade, which just happen to offer the latest in video games for all ages, you might want work out, swim a few laps, or play a few rounds of golf.
The golf course, named Tamahka Trails, is part of the renowned Audubon Golf Trail, which is a series of 12 courses by designers that include Hal Sutton, David Toms and Pete Dye, among others. This 18-hole, Par 71 course was designed by Steve Smyers and offers a challenge to golfers at all levels.
Whether you want a weekend get-away, a short vacation, or a day trip designed to help you relax and unwind, the Paragon Casino Resort should definitely be on your “must-go-to” list, because it offers a variety of food, fun, music and relaxation options you’ll find hard to match. It definitely has the “Cure for whatever ails you!”
Read more of Carla’s work at Teaming Up For Success and Out and About Louisiana in the Communities at the Washington Times. Carla is the author of four published suspense novels, and her latest book, Artful Misdirection, is currently available in Kindle format on Amazon.com. A native of Louisiana, she serves as the Director of Web Content for Cenla Advantage Partnership a nonprofit organization funded in part by The Rapides Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot and LinkedIn.
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