Union Democrat staff

Black Oak Casino has announced a new management team for it's ambitious hotel project, which is set for completion in the spring of 2013.

The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians announced the appointment of Paul Medawar as hotel general manager, Ron Pascual as director of hotel operations and Mariza Ponce as director of sales and catering.

Medawar has 22 years of experience in the hospitality field and has managed hotels throughout the U.S. with companies like InterContinental Hotel Group, Hilton Worldwide and Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino.

During his career, Medawar has been involved in opening and renovating hotels and achieved the Certified Hotel Administrator designation in 2007.

A native of Southern California, Medawar lives in Copperopolis with his wife, daughter and their two dogs.

Pascula was previously the director of the A.M.E. Mt. Zion Church in Black Mountain, N.C. His previous experience includes work as the directors of entertainment and operations at hotels and resorts Louisiana, as well as working for Harrah's in Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. His background in hotel management focuses on food and beverage, and sales and marketing.

A resident of Sonora, Pascula is a father of two and enjoys the outdoors and golfing.

Ponce worked for the tour and travel department at the Chukchansi Resort in Coarsegold for nine years. She is also on the board of Sister Cities International and is responsible for developing relationships with sister cities around the world.

She lives in Merced County, has one daughter and enjoys traveling.

The hotel, next to the Black Oak Casino, will boast 148 rooms over four floors, including 30 suites, making it the largest hotel in the county. It will also have a fitness room and outdoor pool. The facility will also offer about 6,000 square feet of space in multiple rooms for meetings, conferences and other public events.

The hotel is the latest project for the growing Black Oak Casino, which was built 11 years ago by the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuks. Construction was completed about a year ago on a gas station and mini-mart next to the 1,000-space parking garage with the intention of serving tourists, local motorists and hotel guests. Future plans also include a golf course and a housing development.

Black Oak Casino was built in 2001, in a 28,000 square-foot metal warehouse with 600 slot machines and six table games. Today, the 164,000 square-foot casino has 1,200 slot machines, 24 table games, a poker room, four restaurants, a stage for live entertainment, a bowling center and an arcade.