A Visit to Bear Springs Hotel and San Manuel Casino

I come from a close knit family. I’m not just talking about my immediate family but also my grandparents, aunts, uncle and cousins. I absolutely love it. I’m especially close to one of my aunts and we love to travel together whether it’s Santa Fe or Las Vegas. Recently, I was invited to visit San Manual Casino and spend the night at the newly opened Bear Springs Hotel and I knew it would be perfect for our next adventure.

Bear Springs Hotel is located in the city of Highland at the base of the San Bernardino mountains. Considered the gateway to Big Bear it’s a quiet town that still retains the aura of its rural past. It’s also home to San Manuel Casino – a premier entertainment venue with the largest amount of slot machines on the west coast. This was to be my first visit to San Manuel but it happens to be one of my aunt’s favorite hangouts and she was eager to share it with me.

We arrived at the hotel one recent afternoon and were immediately greeted by the friendly staff. Eager to ensure we had a lovely stay they immediately provided us with bottled water, gave a run down of the amenities (from an onsite gym to a heated pool) and advised of the complimentary shuttle to the casino.

Once in our room we were both struck by how spacious and spotlessly clean it was.

At Bear Springs Hotel no detail goes unnoticed from nightly turn down service to free bottled water to an in room Keurig machine.

We were duly impressed but didn’t linger as we were eager to head to San Manuel. Though the two properties are related Bear Springs Hotel is a few blocks away from the casino. Luckily, there is a 24 hour shuttle service that runs between them and we quickly hopped aboard.

At the casino we were greeted by Valeria, our VIP host, who showed us around. When we walked through the doors I was in total shock – San Manuel is gigantic! With 2 levels of gaming floors it’s completely modern and up to date. Valeria, who clearly loves where she works, was happy to show us everything on offer from gaming tables to slot machines to live music venues to eateries. San Manual has a number of dining options from casual to high end. These include Rock & Brews, George Lopez’s Chingon Kitchen and The Pines Steakhouse. The latter was our ultimate destination as we were dining there for dinner.

The Pines Steakhouse is the epitome of fine dining. Beautifully appointed it would be right at home in the heart of Beverly Hills. The service is also top notch with each table assigned two personal servers to make sure diners are having the best experience possible. And the food. Oh the food! It’s fantastic. We started with Crispy Marinated Tempura Calamari that was light as air and filled with flavor. From there I had the The Pines Signature Salad while my aunt opted for the Heirloom Tomatoes & Burrata. Both organic and locally sourced they were filled with fresh vegetables and deliciously refreshing. For our entrée we both chose the Filet Mignon topped with sautéed mushroomsSo tender it could be cut with a butter knife it melted in our mouths and rich and flavorful. My aunt opted for a side of Hand-Cut Steak Fries while I opted for the Honey Glazed Rainbow Baby Carrots and both were fresh and delicious. At this point we were pretty full but we couldn’t resist a selection from the dessert menu –  Trio of Crème Brûlée. I adored the pistachio while my aunt preferred the Grand Marnier and we both agreed it was the perfect ending to our meal.

After dinner we headed out into the casino to enjoy some gambling. My aunt settled in for some video poker while I opted to induldge my classic Hollywood fandom at the Singin’ in the Rain and Alfred Hitchcock slot machines. I didn’t end up a big winner but had a good time nonetheless.

After a good night’s sleep in my comfy bed I awoke to a beautiful morning. It was absolutely gorgeous outside so I headed to the outdoor terrace for a good dose of vitamin D. The sky was crystal clear, the mountains were snow-capped and it was peaceful and quiet while I lounged around reading. Soon it was time for breakfast and my aunt and I enjoyed our last indulgence at Bear Springs Hotel.

Onsite is the Bear Springs Bistro & Lounge with daily hours of 6am – 10 pm. They offer a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu along with a daily happy hour. With a farm to table inspired menu it was difficult to choose a dish but I finally opted for the Chicken and Biscuits while my aunt had Eggs Benedict.

My Chicken and Biscuits had two buttermilk biscuits topped with a breaded, boneless chicken thigh, fried egg, honey butter and fresh gravy.  Accompanied with breakfast potatoes it was a hearty, delicious start to the day. My aunt also loved her Eggs Benedict and lamented that she was too full to eat every last bite.

As we headed home my aunt and I reflected on our time at Bear Springs Hotel and San Manuel Casino. We both agreed we had a delightful time and were equally impressed with our accommodations and our meal at The Pines Steakhouse. For my aunt it was further evidence that San Manuel is one of her favorite spots and I discovered a new place to love. When my travels bring me back to San Bernardino I know just where to stay.

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