We Ko Pa’s new look

Imagine stepping inside a cruise ship, but instead of ocean water, you’re surrounded by the Sonoran Desert.

We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort, about 30 miles northeast of central Phoenix on land owned by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, is where this vision becomes reality as a reimagined one-stop vacation spot.

People who visited We-Ko-Pa before the pandemic will find a different, higher-end experience today, said Gail Manginelli, a spokeswoman for the resort.

“We have everything right here — fine dining, a casino, golf, outdoor activities and a spa,” she said. “And you feel like you’re away from it all, even though you’re close enough. All you see is desert.”

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A reinvention and rebranding

The 166.341-square-foot casino resort, an AAA Four Diamond hotel, reinvented and rebranded itself upon the completion of a new, 100% smoke-free casino in October 2020. It replaced the original Fort McDowell Casino.

We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort in Fort McDowell.

The resort closed in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but reopened in May, not long before its refresh was completed.

The resort is across the street from the We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, which has two award-winning golf courses with desert and mountain views, and close to Fort McDowell Adventures, which hosts outdoor experiences like horseback tours and desert Segway tours.

We-Ko-Pa resort, Fort McDowell Casino are now unified

Before the pandemic, the We-Ko-Pa hotel and Fort McDowell Casino operated as separate entities.

The casino opened in 1984 under the name Ba’Ja Bingo, Manginelli said. It was Arizona’s first casino.

The pool at the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort in Fort McDowell.

The hotel opened in 2006 as the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino, then was renamed the We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center in 2014, she said. The hotel has 246 rooms, 25,000 square feet of meeting space, two outdoor pools and a spa.

Unifying the hotel and casino enabled We-Ko-Pa to build “a more cohesive brand” and operate more efficiently, Manginelli said.

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