2800+ miles from the Poconos, owned and operated by the Squaxin Island Tribe, is Little Creek Casino Resort and the Seven Inlets Spa.
What I thought would be just another trip to review a spa in an area of the country I have never traveled, it turned out to be so much more.
I spent 3 days at this resort, and had the opportunity to spend time on the Squaxin Island Tribe's reservation, as well. I fell in love with Shelton, Washington and it's abundant tree-topped skyline, enjoyed my luxuriously appointed room at Little Creek Casino Resort, the delicious food at their restaurants and complete and utter relaxation at their spa, but my time spent learning about the tribe moved me enough to leave an impression on me.
Here's the details...
Here in the Poconos, hills, mountains and lush greenery go as far as the eye can see, but in Shelton, Washington, it felt the trees were so much taller as if their branches could touch the clouds. I found myself staring in awe of them quite a few times. It gave the feeling of an older landscape with a story to tell.
When I arrived at Little Creek Casino Resort it had just been renovated. As we pulled in, there was an entire parking lot dedicated just to RV's with an overflow lot of RV's waiting for a space to open. I was told that Little Creek was a popular place for RV travelers and because of that, for the most part, spaces in the lot are always sold out.
The sun was brightly shining on this August day, but there was a cool breeze and many travelers were sitting outside their RV's just taking in the view around them. I couldn't help but get caught up in it, too. It's a beautiful location among the Kamilche Valley.
(Photo credit: Kmb Architects)
When you walk into the lobby, it is grand. To the left are the counters to check in, directly across is a small coffee and pastry cafe (where I had one too many an indulgent treat), then in the center there is no immediate ceiling as you look up to each open balcony on its way to the top floor.
The entire wall to the right is made of glass and stone so that you have a floor to ceiling view of the outdoors. Detailed items of decor from the Squaxin Island Tribe (made by and donated) are spread throughout this expansive casino and resort. Every item, carefully crafted by hand, tells their story.
I stayed in a premium room with a ridiculously comfortable king sized bed, small coffee bar (with Starbucks, of course), mini-fridge, HD flat screen TV, plenty of storage space so that you can actually unpack your bags and a magnificient bathroom that can only be described as a suite in and of itself. I basically text my husband along with some photos and said, "I want this bathroom."
The room was sizable and was more like staying in a small suite. However, I actually had the opportunity to dine in a Family Suite, which was even larger. Both rooms made you feel like you were in your own space without giving you the feeling of being in a hotel. This made for a more comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.
On the main floor is where you feel like the hallway is never ending - from the indoor pool, to the restaurants, to meeting rooms, nightlife lounges, to the spa and the casinos (one smoking and one non-smoking) along with a space to sit down on leather chairs and admire the Squaxin Island Tribe's artifacts from the past. The hotel is also split into two "towers" with one side having spa suites and rooms and the other with standard and premium rooms.
Directly next to the main building is the Skookum Creek Event Center, and then a short golf cart ride across the way is the Salish Cliffs Golf Course. The golf course is a par-72 layout and houses a clubhouse with a restaurant to catch a bite either to start/end your day or in between playing the 9th and 18th hole.
Of course, of everything there, the Seven Inlets Spa was my favorite place to spend my time. All treatments incorporate Native American influences and healing elements. They have a small boutique to purchase items used during your spa treatments (I wanted to buy it all), there is a locker room that has a sauna and steam room just off it. I had an awful cold during the trip and the steam room was infused with eucalyptus and menthol, which helped immensely.
Down the hallway is the relaxation lounge with leather chaises, decor from the Squaxin Island Tribe and a water feature. The water feature put me to sleep on a few ocassions and everyone got to experience my snoring. Oops!
The spa treatments I had were the Cedar Wild Sage Clarifying Massage, which is a combination of cedar, sage and lavender. It had been a while since I had had a massage, so this was a welcomed treatment for me.
I also experienced the Pumpkin Detoxification Facial, which uses ilike organic skin care products. This is a great anti-aging facial, and you'll also be ready to devour a pumpkin pie when you are done because it smells so good.
On the other side of the boutique is their nail salon, where I had a gel mani and pedi. The staff was really friendly and there was an abundance of colors to choose from.
The Squaxin Island Tribe
Part of my trip included touring the Squaxin Island Tribe Museum Library and Research Center. It is located on the Squaxin Island Tribe reservation not too far from the resort. The museum is open to the public and we were guided through the tribe's history by Assistant Curator, Ruthie Whitener. There are so many items to see here and it will take your breath away.
First and foremost, was the tribute to the tribal members who were veterans of our military. As you leave the parking lot and enter the path to the museum doors, there are oars standing upright in the water feature and small creek alongside the building. It is magestic and became more striking to me after I heard the tribe's story.
What struck me most is how our ancestors took this land, forced a culture on them, tried to erase theirs and yet, here stood all of these oars representing marginalized men and women who still fought for our country.
Even now, this brings me to tears just thinking of this. I know this is the common story of so many Native Americans in our country, but I have never heard it told first hand. I highly recommend doing the same.
On the wall of the museum are large panels that explain their history in great detail. I learned a lot this day - more so than I could have just reading it online or in a book.
Ruthie knows the details intimately and points out photos of her grandfather and other elders of the tribe. She explains how her ancestors could not read English when they were given the treaty to sign that pushed them off their land, but how one ancestor went off to school, learned English and came back to read the treaty to her people for them to learn how they had signed their rights away for $25.
I grew up in Rhode Island where many Native Americans had called home prior to the Mayflower landing in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I made trips to Plimoth Plantation and heard the stories of the pilgrims many times (always with great fan fare as a child.) But knowing those stories and hearing face to face how our ancestors treated Native Americans across the country as they encountered them, made me feel so embarassed and sad.
When I asked Ruthie if any of the tribe still spoke the original language, she told me no. That, essentially since her ancestors had been forbidden to speak it, it was lost. My heart was broken.
If you plan to stay at Little Creek Casino Resort, I highly recommend visiting the museum. I hope you walk away having learned something, as I did.
Overall, this was a great experience at Little Creek Casino Resort.