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Tulalip Resort

Luxury casino resort is just half hour from Seattle

By TONY MINER

Tired of the dreary, damp, multi-shades of gray, Northwest winter yet? Have you been spending time at your desk at work, perhaps fantasizing of a faraway place full of excitement and fun? I have found the antidote for your wintertime case of the blahs: Tulalip Resort and Casino.

You just might think you're in Las Vegas at times, but you don't have to spend a ton of your hard earned cash to get there. You can transport yourself to another world by traveling about a half hour north of Seattle, where you'll find this oasis just off Interstate 5. No hassling with the airlines and no big decisions about the full body scanner versus the intrusive pat down.

The Tulalip Tribe recently added a 370-room luxury hotel to its already successful, full-service casino, and the results are impressive indeed. The Tulalips have a traditional greeting of raising their hands to visitors–a warm expression of welcome and friendship, harmony and hospitality. My wife and I certainly felt it when we pulled up in front of the hotel, beneath a very spacious canopy offset with artwork, our first hint of what we would find inside.

Overall, the hotel has a modern Pan Asian flair. Throughout the facility, you'll find contemporary artwork mixed in with Native American pieces, much of it from the Tulalip Tribe. The first of many wow moments we had was walking into the hotel lobby. You're greeted by three 25-foot totem poles, hand carved from 1,000 year old red cedar, depicting key tribal history.

You'll also see Orca whale and salmon artwork inside and outside the resort. This honors their historical relationship to the Tulalips.

From the valet, to the eager bellman, on to the professional and friendly front desk staff, and the expert concierge, we were made to feel very welcome and special. Then we were off to check out our Deluxe King Room. The elevators required room key activation for security, and upon entering our room, our first impression was that this was one of the nicest hotel rooms we have ever stayed in.

The spacious room featured high ceilings with floor to ceiling windows, a very comfy king size bed, a very large bathroom with Italian tile and granite counter tops, a 3-head adjustable spray shower, and a makeup vanity that really impressed Mrs. Miner. An array of entertainment (47-inch flat screen HDTV, iPod dock and free WiFi) and beautiful Native American artwork throughout confirmed that this was not your ordinary hotel room.

I have to admit that one of my main tests of any hotel is the quiet factor. I absolutely hate noisy places where you can hear your neighbors talking and walking around, or kids running up and down the hallways. The Tulalip Hotel passed with flying colors, as we didn't hear a peep all night. There was blissful silence–no noises in the hallway when gamblers made their way back to their rooms after a night of gaming.

Our room had a gorgeous 10th floor view of the entire resort property, and we were treated to a stunning vista of the snow-covered Cascade Mountains the next morning. We enjoyed a very reasonably-priced breakfast–and were able to order from room service as early as 6 a.m., a welcome treat for early risers.

The hotel features a huge indoor swimming pool, hot tub, and 24-hour fitness center. Want to hold a business meeting or special event? The complex boasts 30,000 square feet of space available–leading local companies such as Microsoft have hosted their business events here. The hotel is also very popular for weddings, with enough rooms to handle wedding parties of all sizes. A 600-square foot Bridal Lounge serves as a separate staging area for the bride's grand entrance down a 25-foot staircase to the pool area, where you'll find a glass-domed ceiling, 25-foot rock formations and waterfalls, and room for 250 guests.

A perfect way to relax and prepare for a special night out is by doing some spa time, and the T-Spa at the Tulalip Hotel was ready and waiting for us. My wife has had a lot more experience at this kind of thing, and I was a little apprehensive as I donned a special robe and headed off for our couples massage.

No need to worry, my massage therapist immediately put me at ease, as we were led into our very own private room with fireplace and shower. As mellow music played softly, and pleasing aromas soothed the senses, we enjoyed a side-by-side massage that left us completely relaxed and renewed.

The T-Spa features 14,000 square feet and 16 treatment rooms. They offer full services, including makeup/facial, manicure/pedicure, massage, steam/sauna and hydrotherapy, eucalyptus steam room, cedar sauna, grotto shower and more. All we could say as we relaxed and contemplated our dinner plans was…ahhhhhhh!

So now the question was what to do for dinner, and there are a number of choices at Tulalip Resort Casino. Do you want fine dining at Tulalip Bay Restaurant? It's a winner of the prestigious Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, and the coveted DiRoNa Award, granted to the most distinguished fine dining establishments in North America.

How about something more casual, like the Cedars Café with a wide variety of menu items? Or the Canoes Carvery, which offers sandwiches, pizza, teriyaki and more 24 hours a day. Eagles Buffet also looked delicious, with international dishes, a carving station of succulent meats and Mongolian grill.

But we settled on Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill and Bar, a choice that proved to be excellent. The list of fresh seafood is impressive and included Sockeye and King salmon, halibut, sea bass, Alaskan King and Dungeness crab, and scallops. You can even choose to have your salmon prepared the traditional tribal way over an open fire pit with ironwood sticks.

My wife's grilled Sockeye and my Alaskan halibut were perfectly done and were accompanied by tasty side dishes. We topped it all off with a baked caramel apple in puff pastry for dessert. Oh, did I mention the service was outstanding too?

Believe it or not, the food choices don't end there. Killer Coffee provides your latte or mocha fix, as well as pastries, juices, sodas and ready-made lunch items. Finally, the in-room dining menu is extensive and available 24-7.

Gaming has long been a Tulalip tribal tradition, and just about every game imaginable is waiting for you in their 192,000 square foot casino. If you're a novice, an avid player, or (like me) somewhere in between, there's a game for you in this huge adult playground. Here's what you'll find:

More than 2,000 of the newest slot and video poker machines; more than 50 gaming tables, including Black Jack, 3-card poker, Baccarat, Roulette, and Craps; a special Keno room, and a Championship Poker Room featuring Texas Hold ‘Em, Krazy Pineapple, 7-card stud and more. You'll also want to check out the Slehal Room (named after a tribal game) which sports a full-size Baccarat table and a full-service bar.

If you want to unwind a bit after hours on the slots or the tables, you have some excellent options. You can catch the hottest in local entertainment performing nightly at the 450-seat Canoes Cabaret, with no cover charge. Or if you want to dress up a bit and feel like you're hip and cutting edge, then the Mpulse lounge is for you. Mpulse is an ultra chic lounge featuring club sounds, private booths, custom cocktails, all wrapped in an energetic tech-glam vibe. You can also check out the Mpulse patio, which has a large stone fire pit, patio heaters and cushioned seating. And if none of this suits your style, there's always world class people watching.

What special weekend with your significant other would be complete without some shopping? Tulalip has you covered there as well, with Seattle Premium Outlets on the north end of the resort property. You can shop at 110 top name brand outlet stores, including Calvin Klein, Nike, Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren, Coach, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors, Banana Republic, Restoration Hardware, and many more. We sipped a Starbucks, strolled through the covered walkways, and a very happy Mrs. Miner came away with several choice items.

The luxurious hotel, world-class spa, excellent restaurant choices, full-service casino and shopping make this the perfect choice for a fabulous weekend getaway.

AT A GLANCE

WHERE: Tulalip Resort-Casino is located just 30 miles north of Seattle, right off I-5 in Quil Ceda Village.

WHAT: 370-room luxury hotel with well appointed spacious suites, impressive artwork throughout, full service T-spa, 192,000 square foot casino, numerous restaurant choices, and Seattle Premium Outlets.

WHEN: Any time of year is the right time for fun and relaxation, but this destination is the perfect antidote to the wintertime blues.

WHY: A great break from the daily grind and close to home. Enjoy a gorgeous luxury hotel room, pamper yourself in the spa, eat a delicious northwest-themed dinner, try your luck in the casino, enjoy the nightlife, and top it off with some shopping.

HOW: It's easy to get there. Just a half or so north of Seattle, so close to I-5 you can see it as you pass through Marysville. The toll free number is 888-272-1111, or check out their website at www.tulalipresort.com. The Tulalip was selected as one of the best hotels to stay at in the world, according to the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. The Gold List for 2011 lists the Tulalip as one of the featured hotels in Washington state.

Photos, from top: Tulalip Resort Casino is impressive as you drive in; Native American heritage is on display throughout the Tulalip Resort Casino; a couple's spa is ideal for romance; luxurious suite at the Tulalip Resort Casino

Photos courtesy Tulalip Resort Casino



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