As part of a fun golfing vacation to Tucson, Scottsdale, and Palm Springs we stayed a couple days at We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center - and we had a very enjoyable stay that included a fantastic round of golf, some excellent food, a very comfortable room, and a winning streak in the casino!
We-Ko-Pa Resort is a AAA Four Diamond resort located on 40-square-miles of Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation property in the Sonoran Desert about 24 miles from the Phoenix International Airport. We-Ko-Pa Resort means "four peaks" in the Yavapai Nation native language and the Resort has spectacular views of Arizona's majestic Four Peaks and the iconic Red Mountains alongside the free-flowing Verde River. The sacred four peaks rise from the desert floor to an elevation of more than 7000 feet offering majestic vistas from just about anywhere on the Resort or golf course. We-Ko-Pa Resort has an excellent stay and play package with very reasonable rates.
We couldn't wait to get up and play golf on our first morning at the Resort - we had heard from several people that the We-Ko-Pa Resort courses are among the best golf courses in Arizona. In fact, the We-Ko-Pa Resort courses have earned more than 50 prestigious awards, some of which include:
If that's not enough to get you excited, you might consider playing miniature golf. Each of the courses, the 7,225-yard, par-72 Cholla Course and the 6,966-yard, par-71 Saguaro Course, have their own unique personality and characteristics but common to both are excellent conditions from the tee box to the cup; spectacular views of the Sonoran desert landscape and the surrounding McDowell Mountains, Red Mountain, Four Peaks and the Superstitions; a 21,000 square foot club house with an award winning well stocked Pro Shop, a grill and great patio, and locker rooms; excellent service; very good practice facilities; an ideal blend of doglegs and straightaway holes, a mix of slender and ample fairways, and a balance between benign and rugged green complexes; lots of shot-making opportunities; and most of all a very fun and memorable golfing experience.
We played the Cholla course and rated it a 9.6 out a possible ten - it just doesn't get much better than that! Cholla was designed by Scott Miller and it's recognized as the quintessential target style desert golf course - thanks to washes, arroyos, and native desert landscaping that can play into on most of the holes. You'll also see plenty of wildlife, a wide variety of prickly cactus, and creosote, brittle bush, Mesquite and Palo Verde trees. Scott moved more than 500,000 cubic yards of desert to sculpt a course where no two holes are the same and all require a good mix of club selection, course management, and shot making. You'll encounter lots of forced carries off the tee (every hole on the front but not from the forward tees which makes the course very playable for women or high handicappers), heavily sloping and contoured fairways with generous landing zones off the tee, strategically placed bunkers, well guarded raised greens, several elevation changes, split fairways, dog legs left and right, blind shots, some risk reward opportunities, and several Kodak moments. Read our review of Cholla to learn more about this outstanding golf course.
Unfortunately, we didn't have time to play Saguaro and can't wait to get back to We-Ko-Pa Resort to play that 18. The Internationally renowned design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed the Saguaro course as a more traditional style golf course where the course follows the natural contour of the desert and through hundreds of large Saguaro cacti - some of which are imbedded with golf balls. Saguaro has a desert links style feel to it and they made the course ideal for walking and created an excellent blend of short and long par four holes along with an interesting collection of four par three holes. Coore and Crenshaw's design team also designed other award winning courses including: Bandon Trails, Sand Hills, Friar's Head, The Golf Club at Cuscowilla, and Barnbougle Lost Farm.
Both of the courses are open to the public but why not take advantage of the Golf Stay & Play Package offered by We-Ko-Pa Resort and spend a couple days at the Resort and play both courses. During our visit to We-Ko-Pa Resort we stayed in a Junior Suite and loved it. We had one bedroom with two queens, a flat screen TV, lounge chair, dressers, and a large bathroom plus a living area with a couch, two chairs, work desk, flat screen TV, high-speed wireless Internet, kitchen area with a refrigerator, coffee maker, and an in-room safe. Plus a fantastic view of the mountains and pool area. The room was clean, very comfortable, and reasonably priced.
There are 246 rooms at We-Ko-Pa Resort that are are mix of king and double queen bed regular guest rooms, junior suites like we stayed in, and executive suites that are 1,025 square feet of space with separate bedrooms and a large living room, a balcony with either a mountain range or pool view, and a kitchenette. All of the rooms include: complimentary high-speed wireless Internet; 37" flat-screen LCD HDTVs with HBO, ESPN, On Demand channels, pay-per-view movies and Nintendo games; Simmons luxury beds; hair dryers, coffee makers, irons/ironing boards and bathrobes; Delta five-spray, adjustable showerheads; and oversized bathrooms with Asira brand amenities.
Shortly after we checked into our room we bounded down the stairs and over to Fort McDowell Casino to see if we could win enough to retire or at least buy a cold beer. The Fort McDowell Casino includes:
After spending some time on the slots and at the blackjack table, we walked away with a huge win of $2.25 and immediately headed to the Lucky 7 Saloon to listen to a very good country music band and spend our winnings on cold beer.
When the band stopped playing we must have spent 30 minutes trying to decide where to have dinner because the Fort McDowell Casino offers such a wide variety of dining options:
After checking out the menus we finally settled on some Vietnamese Pho soup and a very tasty spicy noodle and vegetable bowl with an excellent sauce. That was followed by a couple more hours at the slots and the blackjack table where I was on a winning streak, in fact, I went back to our room with an extra $10 and had entertained myself for over 2 hours - but my wife is a different story that we don't want to talk about.
The next night we had some delicious Southwestern cuisine at We-Ko-Pa Resort's Ahnala Restaurant which is just outside the Resort's front door. We had an excellent meal that started with a wonderful Mango Citrus Shrimp Ceviche Martini with cilantro, mango, oranges, lemons, avocado, green and red pepper, shrimp, and plantain chips (wow!); a tasty Caesar salad; Ahnala Halibut which is a pan seared halibut over butternut squash risotto and topped with fresh chile mango habanero avocado salsa (delicious!), and a 12 ounce Rib eye served with blue cheese pistachio hollandaise and scallop potatoes which was tender and cooked to perfection. We wobbled to our room and immediately fell asleep. The ambiance at Ahnala is outstanding with views of the majestic Four Peaks Mountain from the bright and airy dining room or out on the garden terrace. And the inside of Ahnala is cool with a large stone and handmade tile fireplace, soothing natural color tones, warm wood furnishings, rich fabrics and old world tapestries.
I don't know how or why I did it after such a big meal the night before but early the next morning before golf I was hungry and we went back to Ahnala for breakfast. They have lots of good choices and we selected Yogurt and fruit and a huge plate of Migas with a delicious salsa.
In addition to 36 holes of some of the best golf in Arizona, We-Ko-Pa Resort has a number of other amenities and fun things to do. For example, you can:
Just minutes away from We-Ko-Pa Resort is Fort McDowell Adventures which is a 25,000 acre desert recreation area. They specialize in adventures for corporate events, reunions, parties, or other group events but the public is also welcome to take advantage of some of the adventures like: hiking and biking, ATV rides, kayaking, horseback trail rides, segway tours, and more.
What a great place to spend a couple days or longer to enjoy the fantastic golf courses, the spa, the fun Casino, the pool, and some excellent dining options. The rates and prices are reasonable and the We-Ko-Pa Resort has an excellent golf stay and play package that is very affordable. Have fun.