Girlfriends’ Weekend in Spokane
Those who know me know that – besides my boyfriend – there are two things that get my pulse racing: a spa and a casino. So how could I possibly pass up a visit to Spokane, Washington (even though, from my apartment in New York City, it wasn’t exactly around the corner) once I heard that it was home to a top-rated hotel with a to-die-for spa and adjoining casino. It’s called Northern Quest Resort and Casino, and as I discovered, it was well worth the trip.
These days when I think “casino” I automatically think “Native Americans,” and this casino was no exception: it is indeed owned by a Native American tribe — the Kalispels which, as I learned, currently have only about 400 members in and around the Pacific Northwest. The Kalispels may be few in number but they definitely know how to create a fabulous retreat, a no-detail-overlooked hotel-plus-spa with every plush amenity one could hope for. And if you’re a woman who enjoys the thrills that a little casino action provides, there’s no more perfect weekend away than at Northern Quest.
First, after your check-in, you get to your oversize room and the luxury begins. If you’re one of those high-thread-count-loving women, you’ll be delighted by the 350-count linen on your high, wide and handsome pillow-top mattress — so high off the floor, in fact, that you’ll need a footstool (provided) to get you up there. But once you’re there it’s so comfortable — for sleeping, hanging with your gal pals and watching your 42-inch, flat-screen TV – that you may never want to come down to earth.
But you should, if for no other reason than to enjoy the bathroom, which is huge, with two full sinks, an upholstered makeup chair, fluffy towels and robes, and a shower so enjoyable that you may cause a hotel-wide water shortage. When you first notice that the shower has no real door, you fear you’ll be cold once you’re wet, but that never happens. And thanks to the multiple shower jets, with gentle sprays going up and down your body, not to mention a glorious array of gels and soaps, you get that spa-shower feeling without ever leaving your room. Look carefully throughout your room and you’ll also note the Kalispel one-with-nature touches everywhere, from the soothing color scheme – warm browns and creams and dove grays and soft greens – to the designs on the towels, carpeting and wall covering (woven basket patterns, Camas flowers, leaves and reeds).
Your bathroom will only serve to stoke your interest in the actual spa experience a mere steps away, in the 14,000-square-foot Current Spa and Salon, in the hotel’s lower level. The number of beauty and pampering offerings is impressive, again inspired by the Native American connection to and love of nature. These body treats include the Native Grains Body Exfoliation ($125), the 60-minute Juniper Sage Massage ($95) and the 60-minute Pend Oreille River Stone Massage ($110), named for the nearby river of the same name. The salon provides all sorts of additional services, from tanning to waxing to facials. (And whatever you do, don’t miss the Experiential Shower, which features a mini sound-and-light show to accompany your shower, ranging from Tropical Rain to Arctic Mist.) You and your girlfriends will love decompressing after your treatments in the relaxation room, with their comfy lounge chairs, magazines and healthy drinks and snacks. (Perhaps when you’re feeling more energetic you can also try out the fitness center and indoor pool. No rush…)
Your spa experience will likely make you hungry and thirsty, and you need never leave the premises if you don’t want to, because Northern Quest boasts 14 restaurants and lounges. Get dolled up for an elegant dinner at Masselow (named for the Kalispels’ Chief Masselow and the only AAA Four Star Diamond restaurant in Eastern Washington), or if you just want some quick burgers and beers try The Q sports bar/restaurant, which will free you up to hit the casino that much sooner. There you’ll find row upon row of hot slots (about 2000) as well as all the usual table games. You’ll have fun win or lose, and if you lose just remember the money is going to help support the Kalispel tribe.
Before you head back to your room for the night, why not stop by the Legends of Fire martini-and-cigar bar for a nightcap? The place has a definitely masculine air about it but you’ll love the comfortable leather chairs, cozy surroundings and Cosmos. And the guys there will no doubt welcome some female company.
Great food and wine. Manis, pedis and massages. Slot machines. A giant TV screen with a remote you don’t have to share. Is Northern Quest the perfect girlfriend getaway or what?
Northern Quest Resort and Casino (10 minutes from downtown Spokane and the Spokane International Airport), 100 N. Hayford Rd., Airway Heights, WA 99001; (877) 871-6772;
Current Spa & Salon at Northern Quest: Spa: (509) 481-6108; Salon: (509) 481-6019.
Other Spokane Spots
Besides Northern Quest, there are plenty of other great things to see and do in Washington’s second-largest city, including:
Wine tasting. Spokane is home to 20+ local wineries, and there are 14 tasting rooms in downtown Spokane, including Barrister Wineries. (Try their award-winning Cab Franc.)
Mountain biking along the Centennial Trail.
Flower-gazing at Manito Park, a century-old jewel designed by the Olmstead Brothers (the firm responsible for designing New York City’s Central Park) and boasting 20 acres of world-class botanical gardens.
Canoeing on the Little Spokane River, a one-hour leisurely trip guided by a member of the Spokane Parks Dept. (No Amy Poehler there, but lots of other fun and knowledgeable folks.)
LINDA KONNER is a travel journalist whose travel stories have appeared in Redbook, Woman’s World, the (Newark) Star-Ledger, the Boston Globe, Meetings & Conventions, and elsewhere. She is a member of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers’ Association (IFWTWA) and American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA).