A Native American-inspired luxury oasis on the edge of the desert.
Just 11 miles south of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Wild Horse Pass is named for the herds of wild horses that kick up dust on the far horizons of the Gila River Indian Community. The Maricopa and Pima tribes built this resort (which offers lavish amenities and underscores the theme of water amid the desert landscape) around a two-and-a-half mile re-creation of the Gila River. Four outdoor pools feature a 111-foot water slide modeled after the nearby ancient Casa Grande ruins. Two Troon-managed, 18-hole golf courses are the site of PGA tour events. Aji Spa has gained a reputation for treatments based on Native American rituals and ingredients --- indulge with the Purifying White Clay Facial, relying on minerals and botanical extracts, or the Blue Coyote Wrap, employing azulene mud to soothe, nourish and heal. On-site stables match mounts with skill levels, and jogging and hiking trails are adjacent to the resort. Among three acclaimed restaurants, Kai is a sophisticated jewel, showcasing menus that incorporate foods such as fresh vegetables, citrus and olive oil grown in the community. Ko’sin, open for three meals a day, makes breakfast special with inspired juice pairings. Hanyo offers poolside dining. Guest wanting to take a gamble can hop into a little electric boat piloted by a community member to head along a re-created river to the adjacent Gila River Casino. A newer part of the resort, Rawhide Western Town and Steak House, is a replication of an 1880s frontier town, complete with gunfights, burro and stagecoach rides and shops purveying Western wear. Wild Horse Pass Resort is big enough to accommodate families and groups, yet small enough to provide a feel of intimacy for couples.