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One-Tank Trip: Turning Stone is a world-class resort

If you haven’t been to Turning Stone Resort recently, you don’t know what you are missing.

This world-class luxury resort located 30 miles east of Syracuse in Verona, is spectacular, and it’s getting better every day.

Turning Stone is much more than a hotel with a casino and a few golf courses. It features top-tier amenities, including four hotels, three nationally recognized championship golf courses, more than 20 dining options, a large arena that hosts world-renown entertainers, two spas, a Las Vegas-style gaming floor, and several nightlife venues. And, there’s more on the way.

Turning Stone’s Public Relations Manager Kelly Abdo describes it as a “resurgence.”

“It’s not the same resort that it was five years ago,” she said. “There’s really something for everyone, whether you are looking for a spa treatment or top-notch rock and roll bands. It’s all here.”

The next big plan is Turning Stone’s luxury retail expansion, which is expected to be completed in the next couple years. The Outlets at Turning Stone will have approximately 60 retail stores and will be located on the north side of the resort, connected to Exit 33, one of the resort’s new entertainment venues. The Outlets will feature luxury brand retailers, more than 15,000 square feet of dining options, a six-screen movie theater, a bowling alley and special designer features including fountains with daily water shows.

Golf courses

The retail expansion provided an opportunity to redesign several holes on the Shenendoah golf course.

The course, which opened in 2000, was designed by Rick Smith. Now, the acclaimed golf course architect has returned to Turning Stone to help with the redesign.

With the redesign, Turning Stone is hoping Shenendoah will be rated a top 100 public course by Golf Digest, alongside the resort’s Atunyote and Kaluhyat courses.

If you are a high-handicap golfer, you will likely have that love/hate feeling about playing these courses. All three – Atunyote (meaning “eagle” in Oneida), Kaluhyat (“the other side of the sky”) and Shenendoah – are spectacular.

You will love that they are impeccably maintained and incredibly aesthetically pleasing. However, you might hate how difficult they are, especially Kaluhyat, where many balls disappear in the woods, water and the tall native grasses.

You will be blown away – and excited to play – when you see the massive iron entrance gate at Atunyote, which is about a 5-minute drive from the resort. The resort offers free shuttles to the course or you can drive yourself. The custom-designed gate is really incredible, a great entrance to a beautiful golf course. Just buzz in, the gates open like you are royalty, and you are on your way to a memorable golfing experience.

As you make your way around Atunyote, stop and enjoy the beauty. It’s like playing through a botanical garden.

In typical Tom Fazio-design fashion, Atunyote offers all golfers a challenging yet enjoyable experience. It’s difficult, but birdies can be made if you can avoid the large moon-crater-like bunkers and numerous water hazards.

Kaluhyat is tough, and that’s putting it mildly. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., this course can bring you to your knees if you don’t hit it fairly straight.

You get a variety of looks at Kaluhyat, including tree-lined fairways, native fescue areas and dramatic elevation changes. Every golfer needs to experience this course, just be prepared for at least a few big numbers.

With the redesign at Shenendoah, Turning Stone has three world-class golf courses. It is perfect for a couples’ getaway, a group golf trip, and even a large one-day charity event. The grand reopening of Shenendoah is scheduled for Sept. 1.

Turning Stone offers several golf packages and all three courses are open, weather permitting, through November.

Lodging

Turning Stone provides guests a choice of magnificent accommodations, including more than 700 rooms and suites among the four hotels.

At The Lodge, with 95 spacious suites, you will experience unrivaled luxury and service. The personal touches and kindness from the staff will keep you coming back. It’s definitely the little things that set good hotels apart from great ones. No detail is too small, all the way down to the endless supply of complimentary chocolates and chocolate-covered Oreo cookies in the lobby.

You will get the feeling that you are known and valued at The Lodge, and always greeted with a smile.

Guests at The Lodge have interior access to Skana spa, which features modern facilities and a beautiful Native American decor.

Overnight packages also include the Tower, with 285 guest rooms, the Hotel, 268 rooms, and the Inn, which is located two miles from the resort entrance and has 61 moderately-priced rooms available.

Dining and entertainment

Dining options are plenty, but TS Steakhouse is a must-do during any stay at Turning Stone. This restaurant on the 21st floor of The Tower offers good food and service, plus panoramic views of the area.

Upstate Tavern is an excellent casual dining choice, offering many typical comfort foods, including some great burgers.

If Southern barbecue is more your style, head on into the Tin Rooster, where you can get all-you-can-eat ribs on Thursdays from 5 to 10 p.m. The place rocks with country music, servers who sing and dance and food that is finger-licking good.

After dinner, finish the night on a high note at Turning Stone’s Showroom or the Gig at Exit 33 for some top-rate entertainment.

The Dueling Pianos show on Thursdays at the Gig is outstanding, and features Paul Hoefler, a 1977 Sweet Home High School graduate and talented entertainer.

“We have more entertainment options now so there’s much more to do,” said Abdo. “We want to keep people coming back.”

Gaming

Abdo says more people are coming back to the casino since the resort recently did an “overhaul and update of the gaming floor.” Old slot machines were replaced with new machines that accept cash. With the old machines, you needed to use a rewards card to play.

The casino is large with plenty of tables and slot machines.

So, with an endless array of amenities and a number of different vacation packages, Turning Stone is an ideal one-tank trip from Western New York. Just a three-hour drive down the Thruway you will find a luxury resort that offers plenty of relaxation and recreational options for golfers and non-golfers alike.

email: ddanheiser@buffnews.com

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