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Arizona's Only Native American-Owned Resort

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa

If the ups and downs of summer travel have left you more frazzled than freed, seek solace at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona. Located on the Gila River Indian Community in Chandler (a suburb of Phoenix) Arizona and managed by Starwood, there’s a smorgasbord of activities, restaurants and places to just hang out and chillax with your traveling partner.

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & SpaHolding the title of Arizona’s only Native American-owned resort, it features 500 culturally themed rooms, a 36-hole Troon gold championship golf course, an equestrian center (on 1,000 acres of explorable land), the Aji spa and Kai (Arizona’s only 5 star and 5 diamond restaurant. And it’s earned its share of accolades. In 2008, it was included in National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s first ever “Stay List.” As well, it was recently awarded a geotourism award by the Tourism Industry Association of America.

If a trip to Phoenix is on your radar, check out what GoGirlfriend enjoyed while staying at the Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa.

Sleep

rooms with a great viewFollowing guidelines set out by the Gila River Indian Community, the resort stretches across the land, rather than rising up and infringing on the skyline. Guest rooms are dived into two wings and designed with reflections of the two different tribes in the community. The Pima wing features basket weaving patterns while the Maricopa wing echoes beautiful pottery making skills in the bedding, headboards, wall-hangings, etc...

Maricopa wing view of the mountainsDuring our visit, we found ourselves at the far end of the Maricopa wing, which afforded us sublime solitude and a view of the morning sunrise that rivaled anything we’ve seen in the Caribbean. The décor felt like an extension of the land, decorated in a soothing palette of burnt orange, vermillion and rich browns on a backdrop of subtle tan. Of course, you’ll find all the expected amenities of a hotel of this caliber – your comfort is clearly their top priority.

If you find yourself in one of the far-reaching rooms, plan for walking time to and from the restaurants.

Eat

expansive lobby loungeAlthough a short drive to a multitude of dining options in Phoenix, the Wild Horse Pass Resort makes it easy to enjoy all your meals on site. We began each day with a visit to the Link Café, a Starbucks coffee bar in the lower lobby. Windows that stretch two floors high and a sprawling patio gave us another way to enjoy the sunrise. The café closes at noon and the adjoining Lobby Bar serves as chic space to enjoy cocktails before or after dinner.

You’ll also be able to enjoy these spectacular restaurants:

Kai – The first Native American restaurant to earn a AAA Five-Diamond Award. We didn’t eat here during our stay, but we know people who have and they highly recommend reservations – along with a few hours to savor and linger.

Ko’Sin – The name of this restaurant means kitchen in the Pima language. We dined outside on the patio and enjoyed a delish “fusion of Native American and Arizona” comfort food. Don’t be misled though – this is an upscale dinner restaurant with a full wine list, complex flavor combinations and a polished décor suitable for a dinner with your lover or business associates.

tasty Aji Cafe delightsAji Café – We began our stay at the resort with a visit to the Aji café before our spa treatments. If you go, indulge in a margarita, Machaca Chicken tacos and Gila River fry bread (there are a variety of options to choose from). Don’t ask for calorie counts – you can work off this delightful lunch on the golf course.

Play

native themed Aji spaIn all honesty, there’s more to do at Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa than you’ll have time to enjoy – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Begin your first day with a game of golf or tennis and enjoy an early lunch at the Sivlik Grill overlooking the desert and mountains. Move onto the Aji spa for an afternoon of pampering pleasure – and maybe a dip in the spa pool. If you’re not too noodly, finish off your day with a visit to Kai or Ko’Sin and followed drinks at the Lobby Bar.

Day two, pay the resort’s cultural concierge, Rosie Rivera, a visit. She’ll be happy to walk you through a complimentary tour that will connect you with the Pima and Maricopa heritage that serves as the foundation for the resort. She’s a wealth of information on the more than 2,300 years of history of these tribes and how that history played an integral part of the building of the resort. The various murals, pottery and works of Native American found throughout the resort all have stories waiting for you to hear them.

Koli Equestrian Center at the Wild Horse PassDay three, visit Rawhide, an 1880’s old west frontier town, and enjoy feeling a part of cowboy fights, and stagecoach rides. Before leaving, enjoy a stroll through the shops and then lunch at the steakhouse in the village. After lunch, visit Koli Equestrian Center (onsite) and ride horseback on ancient tribal land. Return to the resort and take a dip in the pool before heading out to dinner at Kai or Ko’Sin – whichever one you didn’t visit the day before.

If you’re eager to explore the surrounding area, consider these interesting distractions:

  • Phoenix Premium Outlets – Bargain hunters rejoice. Get your shopping on with an impressive collection of designer and name brand outlet stores with everyday savings of 25% to 65% in an outdoor setting.
  • Bird Golf Academy – Pegged as the ultimate golf learning experience, you can perfect your game with award winning PGA and LPGA professionals as instructors.
  • Rainbow Ryders adventureHot air balloon ride – Harness your fear and seize the opportunity to enjoy an intoxicating ride across the desert with Rainbow Ryders. Trust us, this is one adventure you don’t want to miss.
  • Red Rock road trip – While I attended a conference at the Wild Horse Pass Resort, our Guy Friday took off into the desert for the day. We’re still a little sore we missed that trip – don’ t make our mistake.
  • Searsucker Restaurant – Top Chef finalist, Brian Malarkey, has set up shop in Scottsdale (about a 20 minute drive from the resort) with hip(ster) venue that’s low key and relaxed. The food and service are equally fantastic, making this a great choice for a long and lingering date night outside of the resort.
  • Windsor Restaurant in PhoenixWindsor – Remember the neighbor bar, Cheers? You feel the same welcome here. The décor is playful and a little eccentric and the food perfect for a lunch with the kids – or a group of adults that don’t their food too seriously. Bring your appetite – you won’t want to leave anything on your plate other than your fork.

If your travel curiosity's peaked, visit the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort online for more information. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter. Of 900 reviews on TripAdvisor, they earned an 85% happy rank and rank 6 out of 26 hotels in Chandler.

Have you visited the Wild Horse Pass Resort in Phoenix? I’d love hear what you discovered! Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook – and let’s continue the conversation!

To comply with the long list of regulating bodies, possibly even Geneva Conventions and in the interest of transparency, our trip to Phoenix was sponsored (in part) by the Phoenix Visitor and Convention Bureau. Commentary and perspectives are those of GoGirlfriend.

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