WARM SPRINGS, Ore - One is stunned, when first approaching Kah-Nee-Ta Resort & Casino, to find such an eloquent and pristine resort with many amenities so far removed from town. The approach is down a narrow canyon with sharp cliffs and along the small Warm Springs River. Suddenly this complex of buildings and recreation sites opens up. It's an oasis in the high desert of north central Oregon.
The resort is several miles from the town of Warm Springs on the Warm Springs Reservation. The surprise is not only that it's in a secluded valley away from town, but that it has so many amenities and all so beautifully maintained.
General Manager Garland Brunoe, Wasco, explained that the land was owned by a Portland doctor back in the 1950s who used the hot mineral springs for purposes of physical therapy and that the tribe had purchased the property back from him. ''The tribe bought it with the idea of sharing the culture of Warm Springs with the outside, people not familiar with reservations or indigenous peoples.''
You pass through the Kah-Nee-Ta Village before you reach the resort and casino. The village was the first of the amenities built back in 1964. That was followed in 1972 by the Lodge and Convention Center. The Indian Head Casino was completed in 1995. These were all unified in 2001 by the tribal council to form the Kah-Nee-Ta High Desert Resort & Casino.
The village must be seen to fully comprehend. There are 30 remodeled rooms in the motel unit with balconies that look out over the Teepee Camping Site. These teepees are made of canvas with a diameter of 21 feet and with a concrete floor. They come with a barbeque pit and a picnic table. What is most striking is the teepee's beautiful paintings and the immaculate landscaping.
Another option is the Neesha Cabin with living room, dining room, fully equipped kitchen and two bedrooms. It also comes with a private six-person hot tub.
Near the teepees lies the RV Park where trailers can be parked on paved spots and, like the teepees, are surrounded by beautifully maintained grounds with flowers, bushes and trees. The cleanliness of the grounds and facilities is beyond reproach. Water, power and sewage disposal hookups are available at each site. Cable TV hookups are also available. Guests are encouraged to bring their own co-axial cables although they are available for rent at the entrance.
All these accommodations include swimming passes to the village pool. This mineral pool is double the size of an Olympic pool. There's a 140-foot-long curved, wrap-around slide which drops swimmers into the cooled waters of the pool. It's a wonderful place to entertain the youngsters while their elders relax in chairs on the large sunning area adjoining the pool. There's also a large wading pool near the deeper pool.
Kids and adults both can enjoy the beautifully landscaped miniature golf course complete with a teepee. Behind this course are basketball hoops and a concrete pad for pickup ball games or just a chance to shoot around.
Beyond the village is the resort itself with 139 rooms, beautifully maintained with many amenities, a gorgeous outdoor pool that is elegantly landscaped, and the 25,000-square-foot Indian Head Casino with more than 300 slot machines, blackjack and poker. Just beyond and below the casino, stretching along the Warm Springs River, is the par-72 golf course measuring 6,352 yards.
The lodge sits on a ridge overlooking the golf course. The rooms all come with great views, regardless of which way they face, and include all the amenities. Various spacious suites are available with living rooms, Jacuzzi tubs, gas fireplaces and large screen TVs.
The lobby contains a four-sided fireplace surrounded by easy chairs in a high, wood-beamed room. Fine dining is offered in the Juniper Room and more casual dining in the Chinook Room. The Appaloosa Lounge provides live entertainment Friday and Saturday nights.
The Spa Wanapine is another luxurious addition. In 2000, one magazine ranked it as one of the top five spas in the nation. The water comes from the earth at 140 degrees where it's cooled somewhat and filtered before visitors get the opportunity to soak tired and sore muscles after a day on the golf course or one of the other nearby activities. Various massages are available from hot stone therapy to deep muscle massage. Guests can get facials, nail treatments and various body treatments; whatever meets their pleasure and their pocketbook.
Brunoe summarized the resort by saying, ''We would like Kah-Nee-Ta to represent to the people in Oregon and others a destination and resort that says welcome. It's a place to come and relax and rejuvenate. Many people come for that; they come to rest.''