Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino Review

BuffetLobby at Buffalo Thunder

If you are heading to New Mexico for a vacation, golf outing, or weekend getaway and looking to stay in one of the best New Mexico resorts, then you need to read our review of Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino.

Indoor Pool at Buffalo ThunderTypical Room at Buffalo Thunder

As part of a seven day trip to New Mexico to play and review the courses on the Santa Fe Golf Trail, one of the courses that is on the Trail is the Towa Golf Club at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. It quickly became a no brainer to decide to stay at Buffalo Thunder after checking out their excellent golf stay and play package. After checking out the course and the casino, I started to mentally prepare myself to accept both my gambling losses as well as my lost golf balls, both of which could be significant - but who cares I'm on vacation. The good news was that I actually won enough at the Casino to buy two new sleeves of golf balls (still down one!) and an ice cream cone plus pay for the first round of drinks that I lost thanks my lack of golfing skills. What an excellent choice it was to stay at Buffalo Thunder!


Pool and backside of Buffalo Thunder Resort and CasinoBuffalo Thunder Resort & Casino with its lively casino and outstanding golf course and its soothing spa gives us an opportunity to both raise our excitement level and lower our stress level and then sleep comfortably and be ready to go at it again the next morning. Buffalo Thunder is a 587 acre complex that opened in late 2008 on tribal land and is a joint operation of the Pueblo of Pojoaque and Hilton Hotels. You can be in historic downtown Santa Fe shopping, dining, or enjoying the nightlife in 15 minutes, skiing in Taos in 45 minutes, or back at the Albuquerque airport in about an hour.

Walking through the Resort is like walking through an art gallery - there are hundreds of pieces of unique art and sculptures spread throughout the Resort. All of the hand designed furnishings and artwork are by local artists and every Native Tribe in New Mexico is represented. You'll find gargantuan pieces of pottery in the lobby, huge bronze statues at the entrance, and carved headboards in the rooms. Make sure you grab an art lover's walking tour map at the concierge desk so you don't miss any of this fabulous artwork. You'll also want to spend some time in the cozy lobby with a cup of coffee enjoying the artwork that surrounds you.

Indian sculptureSome of the art at Buffalo ThunderEntrance to Buffalo Thunder Resort Buffalo artwork

Casino at Buffalo ThunderIf you like gambling, then you'll love Buffalo Thunder's Vegas sized casino with over 61,000 square feet loaded with 1200 slot machines and 18 playing tables - blackjack, roulette, craps, and three card poker - and a plush and friendly poker room. The Casino is just down the hall and down an escalator from the lobby which is great as it keeps the bells and ching, ching, ching away from the hotel guests, meeting areas, and restaurants. We didn't spot anyone wandering through this luxurious hotel with that dazzled look from gambling for way too many hours.


We did however see a couple people celebrating their winnings in the bar! Speaking of the bar, for nightlife you can enjoy live music in the blue-hued Blue Tower Lounge with its distinct huge vaulted ceiling and blue-lit dance floor and music varying from rock and roll to blues to 80's. For us Texans, every Friday is country night plus free Appetizers, $5 Jack & Coke, and $3 domestic beers - can't beat that! Live entertainment is very diverse at Buffalo Thunder and ranges from concerts by well known performers to mixed martial arts competitions.

Our living room at Buffalo ThunderBuffalo Thunder has 390 spectacularly decorated rooms and suites all of which feature authentic Pueblo architecture and design elements including hand crafted furniture, vibrant hues, carved headboards and a myriad of innovative accents in Native American Pueblo style. The standard guestrooms are generously sized with huge windows or balconies, an in-room safe, 37" television, Cuisinart coffee-maker and Lavazza coffee, the Hilton Serenity Collection, a mini bar, an MP3 clock radio, high-speed internet, plus on-demand movies and games. Bedroom

We were stunned when we opened the door to our room - we had been upgraded to a suite and it was outstanding. We walked into a living area that was well appointed and included comfy chairs and a couch, a game table, flat screen TV, kiva fireplace, workstation, a half bathroom, and a balcony overlooking the pool! Our bedroom was also huge with two queens, another fireplace, upscale appointments, and oversized bathroom! I could have lived here for a couple years plus they have daily room service to straighten up all my messes! After all that fun golfing, gambling, and dancing, we were ready to drift off to dream land in the Hilton's signature Serenity Collection - billowing soft pillow top mattress with crisp white high thread count linens, fluffy down pillows, and a cozy duvet. It was tough getting out of that bed early the next morning for our tee time - thank God for the in room Cuisinart coffee maker.

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast (the Eggs Benedict and breakfast buffet are excellent) and a couple Advil, we set off to play all 27 holes at Towa Golf Club which is a pitching wedge shot away from the Resort. Each of the courses plays through the high desert terrain and as such you'll encounter dramatic elevation changes, lots of forced carries, plenty of wildlife, stunning scenery, unique rock formations, arroyo's, natural vegetation indigenous to the region, and some very fun, challenging, and interesting holes.

Beautiful vistas from Towa Golf Club Each nine is different and has it's own unique personality and characteristics, for example:

  • Pinon has lots of dog legs as it plays through the Pinon trees and club selection is critical off the tee box
  • the Valley nine is the shortest and probably the easiest of the nines thanks to bigger greens and wider fairways
  • Boulder offers the most variety and some dramatic vistas as well as the only island green in New Mexico plus stunning vistas

To learn more about each nine, here is a link to the review of Towa Golf Club's Pinon Course, Valley Course, and Boulder Course. After searching for way too many balls in the desert, plenty of unnecessary and horrible swings, and several golfing bet losses, I was ready to drink, gamble, and eat.

Towa Golf Club HoleNew Mexico's Only Island GreenTowa Boulders Golf Course

I thought that I had gone to foodie heaven when I realized that Buffalo Thunder has 5 restaurants - how in the world would I be able to sample all of that in two days! I gave my best try and everything I tasted was excellent and the prices were not your typical exorbitantly high resort prices - the buffet for example was $10 or better yet only $7.77 with a free resort Lightning Rewards Club Card. I had to choose from:

  • Red Sage - this is the place to go for more intimate fine dining on a variety of entrees inspired by Native, European and Latin cuisines
  • Painted Parrot Buffet - my kind of place overflowing with American, Mexican, Asian, and more choices plus pastries and deserts
  • Turquoise Trail Bar & Grill - fare that is classical American with a Southwest twist including a six pound hamburger that's free if you can eat it all and $10 prime rib
  • Pueblo Deli - for a late night snack (up to 4 AM), a deli sandwich, salad, tasty snack, and more the Deli is perfect
  • Pool Grille - for poolside snacks (sandwiches, salads, ice cream, etc.) and cold drinks you can't beat this grille
  • Starbucks - the place for grab-and-go caffeine fixes, pastries, and snacks

Pool area at Buffalo Thunder Resort and CasinoIn addition to eating, gambling, and golfing, some of the other things you can enjoy at Buffalo Thunder include:

  • a stunning sprawling outdoor pool area with bar and grill as well as an indoor pool with a large whirlpool
  • outdoor tennis facility and a walking track
  • the Wo'P'in (pronounced "wo peen" and meaning medicine mountain) Spa with treatments that reflect the roots of the pueblo heritage and Pojoaque philosophy and can easily get rid of that work stress or the golf kinks
  • kids outdoor play area and a video arcade
  • gift shop with souvenirs and staples
  • state of the art conference center with 66,000 square feet of meeting, pre-function and event space

Make sure that you enroll in the free Lightning Rewards Player’s Club to get a number of perks, exciting giveaways, and several promotions while you're earning fun rewards just for playing! Can't beat that. Have fun.


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