Through the years I've visited my fair share of casino resorts.
I've thrown some bones on the craps table, sat bleary eyed and near busted at the blackjack table and played the slots for hours just praying for three sevens, three cherries or three anything...
Luckily, too, I've visited casino resorts with golf courses.
I recently stayed at the Squaxin Island Tribe's 190-room Little creek Casino Resort/Salish Cliffs Golf Club near Olympia, Washington and I think I've discovered the resort that has something for just about everyone--and I mean everyone.
In addition to the Salish Cliffs Golf Club (keep reading to find out more about this gem), the resort has smoking and non-smoking casino areas, an on-site RV park, a cigar lounge, a seafood bar, an espresso bar and and an events center with boxing events and big name concerts featuring the likes of Dwight Yoakam, Yes and Toto.
"Look around at this beauty in every direction and you'll know why I come to work with a smile on my face every day," Salish Cliffs head professional David Kass told me as we stood on the exaggerated elevated tee on the stunningly beautiful and wildly fun No. 3 par three. It plays 291-yard from the championship tees and 250-yards from the Players tee, where most weekend golfers play.
After playing the course, I most assuredly agree with Kass. It's picturesque and photogenic. Better still, the
bent grass greens are excellent and the overall maintenance at the course is exemplary.
, a Top 10 Casino Course by Golfweek Magazine, is designed by Gene Bates, who is also known for his work at Bayonet and Blackhorse in Seaside, California, Canyons Golf Club in Park City, Utah and Southwood Golf Club in Tallahassee.
Stretching 7,269 yards from the championship tees, the course plays to 6,766 yards and 6,312 yards for mid-handicappers.
With radically changing elevations and 360-degree views of Kamilche Valley, the course has a distinctive character with a great selection of uphill and downhill holes. It serves its purpose well as a resort course with fair landing areas off the tee for all skill levels.
Many of the holes are framed by thick fescue and you definitely want to stay in the short grass if you want to score well. If you spend most of your time chopping out of the tall stuff, trust me, you'll want to destroy your scorecard before the cart attendants get a good look at it.
After the round, the classy, log house style clubhouse has an excellent dining room and a second floor veranda with great views. I suggest ordering the Flat Iron Steak Sandwich for lunch or the Fish and Chips (Halibut) and the Country Scramble for breakfast.
An interesting fact about Salish Cliffs is that it's the world's first Salmon Safe Certified Golf Course.
Each room has either one California King or two queen beds with European-style bedding and lots of pillows. Rooms are decorated with modern artwork and appointed with dark wood furnishings. In addition, there is a Spa Room with a 2-person jetted spa tub and California King-sized bed and two-room Spa Suite as well as ADA compliant rooms.
Standard Room amenities, include:
High-speed internet access
In-room coffee pot
Iron and ironing board
10 Little Things I Liked
1. The plush leather couches in the lobby.
2. The 8-person "Cadillac" golf cart that transports you from the hotel to the golf course.
3. The interesting and creative art work that dots the walls of the hotel common areas.
4. The totem poles that stand in front of the clubhouse at the golf course.
5. The beautiful landscaping and brightly colored flowers on the property that put you in a great mood.
6. David Kass, the amiable and helpful head golf professional at Salish Cliffs G.C.
7. The indoor pool and oversized hot tub.
8. The cigar selection (over 70 brands) at Skookum Cigar & Wine Lounge at the hotel.
9. The fresh oysters, clams and salmon at the seafood bar.
10.The espresso and wine bar in the lobby of the hotel.
--Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it offers everything from fresh local seafood to premium steaks and a wide range of other entrees, salads and desserts.
--A gourmet dining room with corn-fed, hand-cut steaks, seafood and chops prepared by a top notch culinary team. The menu is dotted with delicacies like Prociutto Wrapped Prawns, Dungeness Crab Casserole and a 12 ounce Delmonico Ribeye Steak.
Squaxim Island Seafood Bar
--A classic seafood bar in a horseshoe configuration, it has a fresh selection of seafood from the Pacific Northwest such as salmon, oysters and clams.
--Located just off the casino floor, this full-service restaurant and bar has Happy Hour drink specials from noon to 3 p.m. and free live entertainment and dancing.
Skookum Spirit Cigar Lounge
-The ultimate for cigar lovers, this smartly appointed lounge has a well-stocked humidor with over 70 brands of premium cigars, live music on Friday and Saturday and a wine tasting on Wednesday.
Water's Edge Cafe
--Offering burgers, sandwiches and salads, it's a great place to grab a quick bite in between gaming or playing golf.
THINGS TO DO
Skookum Creek Event Center
--This 1,800-seat facility hosts concerts, big events, trade shows, boxing events and other events. It has two full-service cocktail bars and private skybox seating. Among the big name stars that have appeared recently are Trace Adkins, Dwight Yoakam and the bands Toto and Yes.
--The full-service casino offers poker rooms, blackjack, slots, bingo, keno, pull tabs and other games. Sporting a newly remodeled gaming floor, the casino has smoking and non-smoking sections.
Side Trips--The southern end of the Olympic National Forest is nearby and a drive up route 3 towards Bremerton takes you through many small historic fishing towns. The town of Shelton has an interesting old town area that's walkable.
Seven Inlets Spa--The on-site, full-service spa has massage, organic facials, body treatments, saunas, Eucalyptus Steam Rooms and a Meditation Room
Situated in Shelton, Washington off Highway 101 about a 20-minute drive from downtown Olympia. Address: 91 West State Route 108, Shelton, Washington 98584.
GET THE SCOOP
For information or reservations, call 800-667-7711 or click to their website at Little Creek Casino Resort. For more golf information, call 360-462-3673 or click to Salish Cliffs Golf Club.