The We-Ko-Pa Resort and Conference Center offers affordable lodging nearby the Scottsdale/Fountain Hills area. Amenities at this Four Diamond Resort include 2 championship golf courses, an award winning restaurant, 2 outdoor pools and spas, live entertainment, a spa, and convenient access to the Fort McDowell casino.
Although not completely worthy of its' Four Diamond star rating, the We-Ko-Pa Resort is an okay choice for those seeking a budget friendly Southwestern vacation with the absence of many luxury touches. Plan on spending most of your time at the resort or wasting a lot of time and gas driving into the city.
The We-Ko-Pa Resort is nicely landscaped with beautiful desert plants (minus the pool area which could use more tropical landscaping). You will find lots of comfortable outdoor seating, featuring misters for hot days and fire pits for cooler nights. The cacti out front are especially appealing, even more so at night when they are lit up.
Overall, the entire resort including the outdoor seating areas, pool, room, and lobby were immaculately clean. The pool area, although loaded with people, was exceptionally maintained and a nice place to cool off in the hot afternoon sun.
We-Ko-Pa has numerous amenities available on-site, although not enough to justify a 4.5 star rating and $15 daily resort fee. Listed below is a brief overview of the hotel's amenities.
The 2 outdoor pools/hot tubs are beautifully maintained with nice views of the surrounding desert mountains. There are plenty of lounger chairs and even an outdoor bar to enjoy a few drinks/snacks. Live entertainment is featured on the weekends. As a downside, they could make the atmosphere more tropical by adding some lush landscaping like palm trees and cacti.
Surprisingly, the heated pool still has the power to cool you down tremendously even on the 100+ degree summer afternoons. The drastic 30+ degree temperature difference really makes a difference. The 2 on-site golf courses are both highly regarded. The Saguaro Course has been rated #1 in Arizona by Golf Club Magazine and the Cholla Course is rated #1 in Arizona by the Zagat survey. Both feature outstanding views of the local mountains and cacti.
The Amethyst Spa offers massages, skin care treatments, and salon services. A massage, albeit a bit overpriced here, is a great treat after a long morning of hiking or biking. You'll also find a 24 hour fitness center, however, you are better off getting your exercise at the nearby McDowell Sonoran Preserve where you will enjoy picturesque views of the gorgeous Sonoran desert. If you ever wanted to take your picture by the unique, super tall Saguaro cactus, here is your chance!
The only on-site restaurant (besides the horrible casino restaurants) is the highly rated Ahnala restaurant. The food here was pretty decent, although the need to add a separate gluten-free & vegetarian menu if they are going to classify themselves as a luxury resort.
Staff, although friendly, did not know much about GF options. Fortunately, with a few self guided substitutions, the meals turned out pretty great. As an added bonus, the outdoor seating area is beautiful and relaxing.
The biggest disappointment was the mediocre Fort McDowell casino, a 24 hour entertainment destination located just a short walk from the resort. You will find all your usual casino games here including a poker and bingo room.
Unfortunately, the nauseating smell of smoke throughout the casino, the less than mediocre restaurants, cramped space, and complete absence of decor were just not appealing. Decor-wise, it was one of the worst casinos I've ever step foot in.
Any non-smoker will definitely be displeased with the inability to cover the horrible smell whatsoever. Although they have a few non-smoking sections, it does nothing to help as the smell just lingers on.
The casino feels very old and outdated with no decor to speak of. A complete remodel including some type of design theme would be nice. Fort McDowell casino feels like an average, bland road stop casino which you visit just to gamble, rather than a resort casino meant for entertainment.
The restaurants appear dirty, small, and unappetizing. When asked, staff knew nothing about any allergy friendly options. Not the type of service I expect at a casino housed at a 4.5 star resort.
Overall, the Fort McDowell casino was beyond disappointing. There is nothing special about this bland casino. It's basically just a space to gamble - don't expect any first class food, service, entertainment, or decor. In my opinion, it was a big mistake to build a 4.5 star resort next to this crummy casino.
Apart from the crummy casino, other downsides of the resort include an absence of any type of coffee-shop (the nearest coffee shop is several miles away!), only 1 restaurant on-site, and the secluded location (it is about a 15 minute drive into Scottsdale and even further to Phoenix). On the plus side, being located in the middle of the desert, it is very quiet and quite a scenic drive into town.
The primary advantage of staying at We-Ko-Pa is the affordability. Compared to other 4 star hotels in the area, the rates are very low. I guess you get what you pay for as their are not many luxuries to be found here. The $15 daily resort fee is a bit unnecessary as you will not find anything above standard at this resort.
Special packages starting in the low 100's and including a dinner credit can often be found on the website. In addition, deals can frequently be found on Hotwire and Groupon.
The rooms are very small with all your basic amenities (flat screen TV, fridge, coffee pot, bottled water), and nothing more. The design is very bland an unoriginal, especially for a resort. No design theme or individuality - just blah.
They definitely could have added more desert or Native American touches to make the rooms more attractive for first time visitors to Arizona.
On the bright side, the bed was very comfortable, it was extremely quiet, and the room was spotlessly clean.
Overall, the We-Ko-Pa Resort is a decent choice for the frugal traveler whose primary interest lies in spending time at the casino and/or lounging by the pool all afternoon. Aside from these 2 amenities, the We-Ko-Pa doesn't have much else to offer. It's also a great option for those who plan to primarily spend their vacation hiking/biking/exploring the outdoors and are just looking for a budget friendly, clean hotel.
If you don't mind sacrificing a bit of luxury for a cheaper rate and can handle being located at least 20 minutes from other restaurants/attractions, then you might enjoy your stay at We-Ko-Pa. Be prepared to spend more time in your car then at the resort if you intend on doing activities in Scottsdale/Phoenix.
On second thought, if you intend on driving into Phoenix and surrounding areas everyday of your trip, maybe you are better off finding a closer (and nicer) resort.