The Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y., is many things to many people.
To golfers, it's one of the world's largest golf resorts with a variety of courses and a pedigree of hosting the PGA Tour. To gamblers, it's a 24-hour playground of gaming action.
To city dwellers, it's an escape from the noise, traffic and hectic life in the concrete jungle - especially when booking a day at the spa. To foodies, even spoiled ones from NYC, Turning Stone still dazzles the taste buds with its menus.
You get the point. No matter what you're looking for, Turning Stone can deliver. The resort is celebrating its 25th anniversary this summer. There's no better place for golfers on a buddies trip or couples looking for the right mix of fun and relaxation.
Let's tour this fine resort in central New York, located about four hours from the city:
The Champion Package (valid until Sept. 23) is the best way to experience Turning Stone's golf courses. It includes two nights at The Hotel, The Tower or The Lodge; one round on Atunyote, Shenendoah and Kaluhyat; unlimited replays on the same day at Shenendoah and Kaluhyat ($100 replays at Atunyote) and free golf at Sandstone Hollow. Rates vary by date, so check with the resort website for more.
All three regulation courses rank among the top public courses in New York by various magazines and websites.
Atunyote, host to the PGA Tour from 2007-10, finished second in the state to Bethpage Black in Golf Advisor user rankings from 2017. It's a private club-type of experience with the course entrance guarded by a large decorative gate. Inside is a Shangri La of pure conditioning, elaborate water features and a wide Tom Fazio design that's fun and relatively forgiving for a tournament course.
A recent Shenendoah redesign by original architect Rick Smith was part of a multi-million-dollar investment in the 3,400-acre resort. Seven new holes and a reimagined layout enhances the course’s variety, routing, shot variety and memorability.
Robert Trent Jones Jr. brings brute force with Kaluhyat, the most difficult of the three with a slope of 150 from the back tees. Six Lakes, forced carries and narrow fairways challenge the best of players, but it's not so overwhelming that any resort golfer can't work their way around without some wise strategy and solid play.
More casual rounds come from Pleasant Knolls, a nine-holer that's as enjoyable as the name suggests, and Sandstone Hollow, a nine-hole par-3 course. Should weather become an issue, Turning Stone is better equipped than most golf resorts with its own massive golf dome, home to 40 hitting stations, a TaylorMade Tuned Performance Center, a mega Golf Superstore and two golf simulators. The new 17,000-square-foot short game practice area added last year features three greens, fairway areas, short rough, long rough, multiple putting surfaces, fringe and two bunker options. Players can even take their game to another level with elevation changes of almost eight feet that allow players to practice hitting on side hill, uphill and downhill lies.
What to do
Spouses need not worry about their "golf widow" should a non-golfer visit Turning Stone. The entertainment runs 24-7 at the resort.
Turning Stone's 5,000-seat state-of-the-art concert arena and convention center attracts all sorts of events, concerts and comedians. Michael Bolton, 80s rock bands Great White and Slaughter, and comedians Tracy Morgan and Ken Jeong, for example, are headliners in 2018. The resort has hosted boxing matches and MMA fights in the past.
At night, the resort's multitude of lounges and bars feature plenty of good musical acts and fun theme nights like karaoke, live DJs and more. High-stakes action on the casino floor never ends with 125,000 square feet of Las Vegas-style black jack, keno, craps, roulette, poker, bingo and slots.
Need to avoid the flashing lights of the gaming floor? Skana, the Oneida nation's word for 'peace', is a world-class spa that celebrates American Indian culture with its treatments and décor. The Sportsplex offers five Decoturf tennis courts (the same surface as the U.S. Open) with two indoor and three outdoor. Two racquetball courts are available.
Dining is the sport of choice for many who visit - the Upstate Tavern, Wildflowers, Pino, TS Steakhouse ... there are too many excellent choices to list and enough to feed you for a couple weeks of taste testing.
Where to stay
The all-suites Lodge, winner of the Forbes Travel Guide Four Star Award and AAA Four Diamond Award, is where it's at if you want the ultimate in comfort and luxury. Guests get extra special treatment with access to The Lodge pool, hot tub and exercise facility and nightly s’more roasts on the Great Lawn Patio (weather permitting).
The Tower, another AAA Four Diamond award-winning hotel, is the tallest building between Albany and Syracuse with rooms overlooking the countryside. The 285 guest rooms, junior suites and the spacious elegant suites are being remodeled floor by floor. The $8-million project introduces rustic contemporary rooms of hardwood floors, new furnishings, contemporary light fixtures, Native American artwork from Frank Howell and photography of New York State landscapes from Upstate New York artist Don Cochran. TS Steakhouse occupies the top floor.
The 268-room Hotel, including 28 suites, offers special layouts such as Jacuzzi Rooms, Patio Suites, Jacuzzi Suites and Luxury Suites. The 59-room inn is more affordable, so you can spend your money on Turning Stone's other amenities. There's even an RV Park.
Again, Turning Stone has something for everyone.