Monday, May 07, 2007

PGA Tour discovers Turning Stone, a great New York weekend getaway plus putting drills and driving range tips

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"Turning Stone leaves no stone unturned!"

That's Barry's quote, plain and simple, after we accompanied a group of golf travel writers to Turning Stone Lodge. Our mission? To let our listeners in on the buzz accompanying this multidimensional casino/resort. The PGA Tour has chosen Atunyote golf course at Turning Stone for the start of its 2007 fall series.

From beginning to end our weekend at the Lodge at Turning Stone offered us the opportunity to relax, unwind and forget about our day-to-day routine.

We boarded the Turning Stone motorcoach in Manhattan. This coach is hired for corporate conferences and "team building". Our "team" got to know one another here and we were offered massages, food, gaming table and all of the amenities necessary to comfortably carry about twenty people the four hour drive to Verona, New York.

Once there we received our itinerary which included a tour of the premises and several opportunities to sample the gastronomic wonders created by Chef Daniel Graban. Our supper at Wildflowers and lunch at Rodizio were memorable events. Wildflowers offered creative cuisine, right down to the "donut soup" at the end of our meal. Rodizio is a Brazilian steakhouse where roasted meats are served tableside. This restaurant is a meat-lovers paradise!

I decided to try my first ever spa treatment at the highly touted Skana Spa. "Lavender Dreams" will not disappoint spa afficionados although there are a wealth of treatments available. You will want to relax here all day (especially if the weather doesn't agree with your golf plans), either lazing by one of the several fireplaces sipping herbal tea or taking a dip in the mineral pool.

But for golf lovers, it's all about the courses, right? Although Atunyote was off-limits, being groomed for its debut on the PGA Tour, Barry played Shenendoah GC, one of three eighteen hole courses operated by the Oneida Nation and rated by Golf Magazine as one of the "Top 100 Courses You Can Play". I decided to take a lesson with PGA Professional Steve Campanaro. His putting drills and golf tips for the driving range were easy to understand so we discuss them in this week's Golf for Beginners podcast.

The golf dome is great for short game practice. Turning Stone is now building a tennis dome connected to the golf dome by a clubhouse for times of inclement weather.

Although there is also a main casino hotel, in my opinion the place to stay is at the Lodge. Be sure to inquire about a fireplace and plasma screen television in your suite as these items add to the ambience of your stay. The robes and slippers in the room as well as the spa bathroom are also a nice, upscale touch.

The main resort is elegant and has a more cosmopolitan feel, making you wonder if you are staying at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun rather than the adirondack feel of the Lodge. The smell of cigarette smoke emanating from the Casino into the main lobby made me feel as if my healthy spa experience had come to a shrieking halt.

Video slots instead of the "one-armed bandits" and a special card that must be constantly refilled when the money runs out are both positive and negative experiences. We're not big gamblers anyway but I found that I didn't invest as much as I normally do when I travel to Atlantic City.

This is a BYOB establishment but we were told that there are shops that will deliver liquor to your room.

Turning Stone is a luxurious, upscale and restorative resort for a long weekend jaunt. There is plenty to do if you're seeking action and adventure but also gets the "thumbs up" when you're looking to unwind and alleviate stress from the week.

Check out other great New York Hotels.

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