Salish Cliffs and Little Creek Casino Review: Perfect Couples Getaway?
It’s been a couple of years since I was last at Little Creek Casino to stay for the weekend and get some golf in, but I remembered it as a place I’d be more than happy to visit again.
Well this past weekend, I had the chance to come back for another trip that at once was very similar, and completely different than the last.
You see, the last go around I was on a trip with the guys. This go around?
It’s just myself and my wife Tate.
Being just over 2 hours from Portland (and less from Seattle), Little Creek Casino is the perfect distance for “getting away” without actually having to go that far.
I was curious to see how the trip would go considering my wife isn’t much of a golfer, and despite that one run she went on in craps 5 years ago, isn’t much of a gambler either.
Fortunately, I have nothing but good news to report: we had a blast.
While I wouldn’t generally think of an Indian casino to be my preferred weekend getaway, there’s so much to do at Little Creek that it made for the perfect summer getaway.
The Hotel and Accommodations at Little Creek Casino
I’m going to say this right up front and get it out of the way.
Upon arriving at Little Creek and walking into the casino, you’ll notice one thing right off the bat: smoke.
Most places these days have indoor smoking bans, but most casinos on the other hand do not. The main casino has a strong aroma of cigarette smoke. There’s a non smoking section of the Casino that’s quite a bit better, but you definitely still get the occasional wafts of it.
After being on property for a couple hours the smell kind of disappears, but it was something we noticed in a big way when we first arrived.
Our room at Little Creek was updated and a decent size. The large flat screen TV was perfect for lounging in bed on Sunday morning and watching the Open – one of the most thrilling Major championships in years.
The beds were perfectly comfortable, and frankly even better than I’d remembered them.
The bathroom was also a nice surprise. It was large, and the shower with a river rock base was a nice touch. Water pressure was great, and it had all the amenities you’d expect.
The only real knock I’d have on the room was that the view wasn’t much to write home about, looking out onto the parking lot. We were also in a spot at the Resort where the the building was at a 90 degree angle, and on the opposite side of our room was the cigar and whiskey lounge, so it felt necessary to keep the shades drawn in the evenings.
But you generally don’t go to a resort like this to sit in your room, so let’s look at the rest of the property!
The Little Creek Casino
This is a casino resort, so I’d be remiss not to talk about the experience there.
The casino is broken up into two sections, a smoking and non smoking section.
As far as Indian casinos go, it’s pretty good sized, but don’t expect anything like what you’d find in Vegas or Atlantic City.
It’s clear most people come here for the slots, but there were still probably close to two dozen tables including all the stand bys of blackjack, roulette, and craps.
The disappointing part of this, is that they didn’t have enough of those three specific things. There are two roulette tables (one each in the smoking and non-smoking section), yet the one in the non smoking section was never opened. There was one craps table, and only 3-4 blackjack tables.
The rest of the tables were all odd variations of blackjack, pai gow etc.
A lot of people love those, but I prefer the classics myself.
That said, we never had trouble finding a blackjack table to sit at, and every time you were dealt a blackjack they gave you a hot wheels car as part of a summer promotion they were doing.
Despite a dozen hot wheels, we still didn’t end up a winner over the weekend (but we had fun all the same!)
There’s also a keno room, and a poker room upstairs, so if gambling is your thing, you’ll be well covered here.
I haven’t been to more than a handful of Indian casinos, but it’s the best of the ones I’ve visited.
Salish Cliffs Golf Club Review
Since this is a golf blog after all, let’s talk about Salish Cliffs Golf Club. Salish Cliffs was designed by Gene Bates and opened in 2011.
When I first played it a couple years ago, I was extremely impressed with it, and found it to be the very definition of a “hidden gem.”
I’m pleased to report that after enjoying another round there on this trip, I still feel the exact same way.
The course winds through beautiful northwest forests, and truly allows you to feel like you’re out in the wilderness.
The course also has one of the better starting sequences I’ve seen with a reachable par 5 to start, a drivable par 4 on the second, and then a long downhill par 3 on the third.
From there, you end up winding your way up into the forest and are treated to a course where no hole feels the same, you have plenty of opportunities for risk and reward, and also have the chance to get beaten up pretty badly if you’re not hitting it straight.
Salish Cliffs is fair, but it’s not an easy course. Errant shots will be punished either by the trees or by deep fescue.
After my most recent round, I went back and read my previous review, to see that I played it from 6300 yards both days.
Well this go around I’d played it at 6700, had an off driver day, and didn’t break 90.
So don’t let your ego get the best of you out here, playing it on the shorter end of things will still be a hefty challenge.
If there were any complaints I’d have it’d simply be that the course is cart mandatory. While it’s not a course any sane person would want to walk anyway, it’s always nice to have the option.
But the carts were high quality, had gps screens, and my wife enjoyed chauffeuring me around for a few hours.
The practice facilities are also surprisingly good here. A nice downhill range with green targets, and a wonderful short game area tucked away up by the first tee.
The latter of which I could see myself spending some considerable time at if my wife was say, at the spa.
The Seven Inlets Spa
So while my wife Tate isn’t much of a golfer, we both really enjoyed our morning on the course. It was beautiful, and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
That afternoon after we spent time partaking in my hobby, it was time to go enjoy one of her favorite hobbies: the spa 🙂
And man, who knew spas were so great!
We arrived about 45 minutes before our scheduled appointment time for our massages at the Seven Inlets Spa and got a tour of the locker room and meditation room.
I was informed I’d be the person in the mens locker room for the afternoon, so I had cart blanche to enjoy the facilities, and boy did I.
I started with what is hands down one of the best showers I’ve ever been in. It didn’t have the punishing force of a place like Merion, and it wasn’t quite as ridiculous as the ones in Kohler, but it was certainly on par with either. Two side jets, a rainfall shower head, and a normal shower head made for a wall of water that was incredible refreshing and relaxing.
Pair that with an excellent eucalyptus steam room, and a sauna, and I couldn’t be more ready for my massage.
The massage was every bit what I’d hoped it would be. It was the first time I’d had an 80 minute massage, usually mine have been 50. And man, the extra half hour makes all the difference in the world.
After our massages we spent time reading in our robes in the meditation room, and Tate told me numerous times this was the most enjoyable part of the trip for her.
My only complaint is that for a place so tied in with nature, the spa didn’t incorporate any windows or access to nature at all in it’s design. A minor quibble however in what was a very good spa experience.
Dining at Little Creek
Little Creek Casino is owned buy the Squaxin Indian tribe, which translates to “People of the Water”. So with a name like that, you might expect there to be some good seafood on hand – and you would be absolutely right.
If you like seafood, then this is the place for you.
Specifically the Squaxin Island Seafood Bar is where you’ll probably want to eat most of your dinners.
For some reason I never made it here on my first trip, but it was spectacular. We ate here for dinner both nights, and each time waited about 15 minutes to get a spot at the first come, first served bar.
Here’s a collection of things we overheard while waiting in line or walking by:
“We drove two hours just to come have dinner here!”
“This place has the best seafood we’ve ever had.”
“Get the Thai peanut shrimp, it’s the best thing on the menu”
It was clear this spot was a big draw.
Over the course of two nights we had the crab cocktail, the cocktail trio (shrimp, prawns, and crab) the Thai peanut shrimp, and the lobster mac and cheese.
And it was all excellent.
The cocktails in particular are an unbelievable value. We got the half order of each, and that alone was more than enough for two of us. All of the seafood was incredibly fresh, and the in-house made cocktail sauce was fantastic.
It’s worth planning for a little bit of a later dinner and going here. There will be a long line on weekends if you go between 5:30 and 8:30.
The Salish Grill up by the golf course is decent pub food, and they make a fantastic breakfast sandwich. Even if you don’t golf it’s worth going up here just to get out of the main resort and get a little fresh air. The patio area is forested and a very nice spot to hang out.
We did the Sunday Brunch buffet before taking off, and it was a bit of a mixed bag (as most buffets are). The ribs were phenomenal, as was the prime rib. The seafood, again, as expected all looked fresh and well done – but we’d had our fill of shrimp and crab for the trip.
Some of the sides left a little bit to be desired though.
There were a handful of bars including one in the casino, one casual spot that often has live music, and the cigar and whiskey lounge, which also had live music both of the nights we were there.
Overall, we were impressed with the dining options at the resort, and if you’re there for a couple days you’ll have enough choices to ensure you don’t get bored.
Final Impressions of Little Creek Casino
Overall, we had a fantastic time at Little Creek. We arrived around 6pm on Friday and left at noon on Sunday, and that felt like the perfect amount of time for this type of trip.
If my wife was more of a golfer or if I was with the guys, I’d shoot to get there earlier Friday for an afternoon round of golf, and potentially another one before taking off on Sunday morning.
It’s important to have proper expectations before going. Let’s be real here, it’s an Indian casino, not a Four Seasons.
We had experiences with some of the friendliest and most helpful employees possible, and others that didn’t seem to care quite so much.
The food was mostly excellent, but then some of the sides at the buffet left a lot to be desired.
The views on the golf course are spectacular and peaceful, but the resort itself is surrounded by parking lots and a freeway.
I don’t say all of those things to rag on it, because like I said we had a fantastic time and will be back to do it again for sure.
But if you go in expecting a 5 star resort, you’ll be disappointed. If you go in expecting a reasonably priced resort and casino, that has a ton of amenities to keep you busy for a weekend, and is a great escape from Seattle or Portland – then you’ll be very glad you made the trip.
And even if you’re not looking to make a weekend out of it, Salish Cliffs is worth the trip on it’s own. It’s hands down one of the best public golf courses in Washington, and would be the perfect accompaniment to a trip to Chambers Bay.