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The 7: Wild Horse Pass

Dove

Story and photos by Aefa Mulholland

The 7 Reasons I Love Wild Horse Pass, ArizonaLobby

1. Kick up your heels Situated between the Sierra Estrella and South Mountains on the Gila River Indian Reservation, the exquisite, ultra-luxurious Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa stretches nearly 642 square miles across the Sonoran Desert. Checking in, I was immediately in love with the landscape, scouring the desert for dust clouds kicked up by the heels of the 1500 wild mustangs that freely roam the property. The Gila River Indian Community is home to the Pima and Maricopa people. One of very few tribes to live on their original ancestral lands, the Pimas and their ancestors, the Hohokam, have lived in this spot for 2300 years. I felt like I was a million miles away from everything – when, in fact, I was only 11 miles away from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

Sky2. Rooms with a view The resort has500 spacious rooms and suites, 250 of which showcase Pima basket weaving and 250 of which showcase Maricopa pottery. All rooms have warm earth hues and natural elements such as cornices made from Saguaro cactus ribs. All rooms have a private patio or balcony that look out over the desert, golf course, or over the Gila River Trail.

3. Water of life Until their river was dammed in 1887 the Pima were master farmers with a complex system of canals throughout their lands. It took a century for the Pimas and the Maricopas to get water back. I wandered the trail alongside the 2.5-mile recreation of the Gila River that runs through the resort. I scoured the trail ahead for rattlesnakes and tarantulas, but every suspicious rustle in the scrub and bush turned out to be either a fluffy wee white-tailed jackrabbit or an impossibly cute white-winged dove.River

4. Backdropped by the past Wild Horse Pass’s incredible domed main building is painted with ten panels that depict aspects of Pima and Maricopa Tribal culture. Set up a tour with the resort’s charming Cultural Concierge Ginger Sunbird Martin to fully appreciate them. A tumble of vast boulders rises from the lower level toward the ceiling. The backdrop of the desert and the spine of the Sierra Extrella and South Mountains create a stunning backdrop. Outside, a 111-foot waterslide cascades down a recreation of the dramatic Casa Grande Ruins in the main building.

5. Seed of life The bold, AAA Five Diamond Kairestaurant, meaning “seed,” is helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder and Siletz Tribal member Jack Strong. Starring a “komath,” the traditional Gila River cooking tool used to bake chumath flat bread, menus at the top Native American dining destination feature delights such as Grilled Tenderloin of Buffalo served with cholla cactus buds and saguaro blossom syrup and Lettuce Hand-Picked by the children of Gila Crossing School. The Gila River Indian Community provides much of the produce used by Kai with its 35,000 acres of farms. Cultivating indigenous seeds is part of the curriculum at the school. Restaurant Ko’sin offers Arizona desert cuisine.

Spa6. Treat yourself Offering the world’s most authentic Native American Spa Services, 17,500-foot Aji Spa has Tribal Elders and Pima and Maricopa Cultural Caretakers on hand to look after your every need. It’s incredibly peaceful and the combination of spa aromas and the desert sage and shegoi is bewitching. Choose a Blue Coyote Body Wrap, a River salt Glow, a Bluebird Facial, or one of dozens of such enticing options. After a spa lunch of crab and watermelon salad out by the pool and a Pima Tribal Healing Ceremony, I can honestly say I came out feeling entirely different.

7. And there’s more… Catch the boat to 36 holes of golf course at Whirlwinds or to Wild Horse Pass Casino, or canter over to Koli Equestrian Center, saddle up and trot out to meet some of local stallions in the desert.

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa (WildHorsePassResort.com) is in Chandler, Arizona, just 11 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Call 888-218-8989 for details.


Dove

Story and photos by Aefa Mulholland

The 7 Reasons I Love Wild Horse Pass, ArizonaLobby

1. Kick up your heels Situated between the Sierra Estrella and South Mountains on the Gila River Indian Reservation, the exquisite, ultra-luxurious Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa stretches nearly 642 square miles across the Sonoran Desert. Checking in, I was immediately in love with the landscape, scouring the desert for dust clouds kicked up by the heels of the 1500 wild mustangs that freely roam the property. The Gila River Indian Community is home to the Pima and Maricopa people. One of very few tribes to live on their original ancestral lands, the Pimas and their ancestors, the Hohokam, have lived in this spot for 2300 years. I felt like I was a million miles away from everything – when, in fact, I was only 11 miles away from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

Sky2. Rooms with a view The resort has500 spacious rooms and suites, 250 of which showcase Pima basket weaving and 250 of which showcase Maricopa pottery. All rooms have warm earth hues and natural elements such as cornices made from Saguaro cactus ribs. All rooms have a private patio or balcony that look out over the desert, golf course, or over the Gila River Trail.

3. Water of life Until their river was dammed in 1887 the Pima were master farmers with a complex system of canals throughout their lands. It took a century for the Pimas and the Maricopas to get water back. I wandered the trail alongside the 2.5-mile recreation of the Gila River that runs through the resort. I scoured the trail ahead for rattlesnakes and tarantulas, but every suspicious rustle in the scrub and bush turned out to be either a fluffy wee white-tailed jackrabbit or an impossibly cute white-winged dove.River

4. Backdropped by the past Wild Horse Pass’s incredible domed main building is painted with ten panels that depict aspects of Pima and Maricopa Tribal culture. Set up a tour with the resort’s charming Cultural Concierge Ginger Sunbird Martin to fully appreciate them. A tumble of vast boulders rises from the lower level toward the ceiling. The backdrop of the desert and the spine of the Sierra Extrella and South Mountains create a stunning backdrop. Outside, a 111-foot waterslide cascades down a recreation of the dramatic Casa Grande Ruins in the main building.

5. Seed of life The bold, AAA Five Diamond Kairestaurant, meaning “seed,” is helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder and Siletz Tribal member Jack Strong. Starring a “komath,” the traditional Gila River cooking tool used to bake chumath flat bread, menus at the top Native American dining destination feature delights such as Grilled Tenderloin of Buffalo served with cholla cactus buds and saguaro blossom syrup and Lettuce Hand-Picked by the children of Gila Crossing School. The Gila River Indian Community provides much of the produce used by Kai with its 35,000 acres of farms. Cultivating indigenous seeds is part of the curriculum at the school. Restaurant Ko’sin offers Arizona desert cuisine.

Spa6. Treat yourself Offering the world’s most authentic Native American Spa Services, 17,500-foot Aji Spa has Tribal Elders and Pima and Maricopa Cultural Caretakers on hand to look after your every need. It’s incredibly peaceful and the combination of spa aromas and the desert sage and shegoi is bewitching. Choose a Blue Coyote Body Wrap, a River salt Glow, a Bluebird Facial, or one of dozens of such enticing options. After a spa lunch of crab and watermelon salad out by the pool and a Pima Tribal Healing Ceremony, I can honestly say I came out feeling entirely different.

7. And there’s more… Catch the boat to 36 holes of golf course at Whirlwinds or to Wild Horse Pass Casino, or canter over to Koli Equestrian Center, saddle up and trot out to meet some of local stallions in the desert.

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa (WildHorsePassResort.com) is in Chandler, Arizona, just 11 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Call 888-218-8989 for details.


Story and photos by Aefa Mulholland

The 7 Reasons I Love Wild Horse Pass, Arizona

1. Kick up your heels Situated between the Sierra Estrella and South Mountains on the Gila River Indian Reservation, the exquisite, ultra-luxurious Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa stretches nearly 642 square miles across the Sonoran Desert. Checking in, I was immediately in love with the landscape, scouring the desert for dust clouds kicked up by the heels of the 1500 wild mustangs that freely roam the property. The Gila River Indian Community is home to the Pima and Maricopa people. One of very few tribes to live on their original ancestral lands, the Pimas and their ancestors, the Hohokam, have lived in this spot for 2300 years. I felt like I was a million miles away from everything – when, in fact, I was only 11 miles away from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

2. Rooms with a view The resort has500 spacious rooms and suites, 250 of which showcase Pima basket weaving and 250 of which showcase Maricopa pottery. All rooms have warm earth hues and natural elements such as cornices made from Saguaro cactus ribs. All rooms have a private patio or balcony that look out over the desert, golf course, or over the Gila River Trail.

3. Water of life Until their river was dammed in 1887 the Pima were master farmers with a complex system of canals throughout their lands. It took a century for the Pimas and the Maricopas to get water back. I wandered the trail alongside the 2.5-mile recreation of the Gila River that runs through the resort. I scoured the trail ahead for rattlesnakes and tarantulas, but every suspicious rustle in the scrub and bush turned out to be either a fluffy wee white-tailed jackrabbit or an impossibly cute white-winged dove.

4. Backdropped by the past Wild Horse Pass’s incredible domed main building is painted with ten panels that depict aspects of Pima and Maricopa Tribal culture. Set up a tour with the resort’s charming Cultural Concierge Ginger Sunbird Martin to fully appreciate them. A tumble of vast boulders rises from the lower level toward the ceiling. The backdrop of the desert and the spine of the Sierra Extrella and South Mountains create a stunning backdrop. Outside, a 111-foot waterslide cascades down a recreation of the dramatic Casa Grande Ruins in the main building.

5. Seed of life The bold, AAA Five Diamond Kairestaurant, meaning “seed,” is helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder and Siletz Tribal member Jack Strong. Starring a “komath,” the traditional Gila River cooking tool used to bake chumath flat bread, menus at the top Native American dining destination feature delights such as Grilled Tenderloin of Buffalo served with cholla cactus buds and saguaro blossom syrup and Lettuce Hand-Picked by the children of Gila Crossing School. The Gila River Indian Community provides much of the produce used by Kai with its 35,000 acres of farms. Cultivating indigenous seeds is part of the curriculum at the school. Restaurant Ko’sin offers Arizona desert cuisine.

6. Treat yourself Offering the world’s most authentic Native American Spa Services, 17,500-foot Aji Spa has Tribal Elders and Pima and Maricopa Cultural Caretakers on hand to look after your every need. It’s incredibly peaceful and the combination of spa aromas and the desert sage and shegoi is bewitching. Choose a Blue Coyote Body Wrap, a River salt Glow, a Bluebird Facial, or one of dozens of such enticing options. After a spa lunch of crab and watermelon salad out by the pool and a Pima Tribal Healing Ceremony, I can honestly say I came out feeling entirely different.

7. And there’s more… Catch the boat to 36 holes of golf course at Whirlwinds or to Wild Horse Pass Casino, or canter over to Koli Equestrian Center, saddle up and trot out to meet some of local stallions in the desert.

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa (WildHorsePassResort.com) is in Chandler, Arizona, just 11 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Call 888-218-8989 for details.


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