The fabulous Starwood Hotel on the grounds of the Gila River Indian Community incorporates the complete Arizona recreational, educational and inspirational experience. Located in Chandler, the resort combines luxury guest rooms, fine dining, the award-winning Aji Spa, four pools, tennis courts and the Whirlwind Golf Club with two 18-hole Troon-managed golf courses. The influence of the Pima and Maricopa tribes is evident in this “living museum” with beautiful architecture, music and art throughout the resort.
Bring the grandkids along
The hotel truly caters to multi-generation families with activities that create wonderful memories for everyone. The Sheraton Adventure Club offers both full and half programs letting the kids walk a Native American interpretive trail, ride in a water taxi on the resort's man-made river and explore exclusive cultural programs. The River Boat Adventure offers teens the time of their lives with paddle boating, hydro biking, kayaking and paddle boarding on their crystal clear river. Head out with them to the Koli Equestrian Center for riding lessons, trail rides and outdoor events under the Arizona sky.
“Aji Spa” blends Native American traditions desert botanicals
Aji means “sanctuary” and this free-standing building offers the only authentic Native American spa menu with an indigenous collection of treatments and healing activities. I indulged in the Native Sun Wrap, which applied oils, followed by an aromatic steam capsule to absorb the vitamin rich antioxidants. I relaxed afterwards completely at peace by the watsu pool. Speaking of pools, there are four pools with cascading waterfalls in the resort and a 111-foot waterside designed after the Casa Grande ruins. Kids love it!
Eight dining venues serve the best of Arizona and Native American culinary traditions. Breakfast by the pool, against the mountain backdrop and hearing the soothing sounds of the wood flute gave me a sense of tranquility to begin the day. The AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star Award Kai Restaurant creates unforgettable dining in an exquisite setting. I started with the heavenly Arizona Summer Melon Soup, followed by Chimayo Rubbed Dry Aged New York Strip with Horseradish Potato Gratin and Creamed Spinach. Find more casual dining in Ko’Sin or let kids 4-12 experience the Wild West at the Rawhide Western Town with dinner, panning for gold and stagecoach ride. If you want to leave the grounds, the Phoenix Outlet Mall and Wild Horse Pass Casino are nearby.
Cherish the Memories
Yes, wild horses do roam free and you may see them out at the Equestrian Center. But perhaps the most memorable activities are the Native American cultural programs. Watch as artisans demonstrate traditional crafts, design and paint your own gourd, and share the magic of the expansive Arizona desert with your loved ones on a hayride. Sitting by the fire under the stars and listening to the ancient storytelling will instill in you an appreciation for the wisdom of the Native American tribes. You’ll come away uplifted and renewed. I did.
June 25, 2016