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Feature Article: Turning Stone Resort and Casino: A Multicultural Destination

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011

Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York balances the traditions and cultural heritage of the Oneida Indian Nation with modern amenities, exposing visitors to the Indian nation’s culture and values in addition to providing a fun, relaxing experience. The Oneida, or the People of the Standing Stone, complete with their unique past, language and culture, have an extensive history and interaction with the land, maintaining a long tradition of valuing harmony with nature and in preserving both their land and culture. The Oneida commitment to wellness and nature can be seen in the architecture, landscapes and especially in the all natural organic treatments featured in the Skaná Spa.

The Showroom and Event Center is the destination for popular mainstream, international and multicultural events.  Well-known artists in rock, pop, country and time-honored music, along with comedy acts, have preformed. The resort has attracted an Asian American and international Asian following to events such as the Vietnamese variety show, The Vietnamese Show: The Best From Paris by Night, which was performed over Thanksgiving weekend in the Event Center. Paris by Night tells the story of Vietnamese citizens escaping to Paris in the late 1970s and incorporates traditional songs and dances, hits during the days of the Republic of South Vietnam, and more contemporary sounds.  According to Steve Mahler, Director of Marketing for Turning Stone, “We aim to have 6-10 pan-Asian events each year that draw from our primary regional market (150 miles) arriving via group bus tour and individual vehicle. There is significant diversity in this region, and we find that our regional audience has a high interest level in any overseas artist or dance groups we can present. In order to complete the cultural immersion for these guests, we have employees who speak most Asian dialects, and our website has translated content. In addition, when presenting these types of events we re-fit our restaurant mix to support authentic cuisine in the culture of the expected guests.”  This New Year’s Eve, Turning Stone will host a Vietnamese Dance Show with the Canadian band, Khieu Vu Non-Stop, headlining in the Showroom, along with a traditional Hollywood Dance Party in the Event Center.

During Multicultural Travel News’ (MTN) September 2011 visit, Loretta Taylor, Director of Spa Operations, explained that at the Skaná Spa and Salon, “modern treatments combine with Native American healing principles to create peace and harmony within.” Opened in 2003 and with architecture greatly influenced by American Indian design, Skaná offers 12 treatment rooms, a full- service salon, sauna, steam rooms, a whirlpool and therapeutic mineral pool in their 33,000 square foot facilities. The spa aptly lives up to its title which is the Oneida word for “peace” and was named among the best spas in the world by Spa Magazine. Skaná’s treatments and spa ingredients are representative of the Oneida’s belief in the balance of good health, harmony with nature and tranquility within and all have a special, cultural significance.  Treatments are organic, indigenous to the area with seasonal additions. During the interview with MTN, Lorretta Taylor referred to the warm maple syrup added to creams in the spring, the celebration of strawberries and blueberries in treatments in the summer, and the exfoliating enzymes in pumpkins used in the fall.  All treatments are meant to bring nature indoors and show appreciation to the offerings of Mother Earth.  There is also a day spa named Ahsi located adjacent to the casino.

While the spa offers its participants a relaxing and pleasurable way to experience the Oneida Indian Nation way of life, there are other ways for employees as well as guest visitors to be exposed to the unique culture. According to Loretta Taylor, all employees receive a special orientation to learn about the Oneida way of life. There are nine dedicated teachers who instruct Oneida language classes. The Shako:wi Cultural Center displays the traditional clothes, crafts, and photographs as well as presents the long and rich history of the nation to its guests.  Located on the property, Oneida Sky is a retail gallery displaying Native American art, jewelry, crafts and other collectibles.

The resort draws a wide range of visitors with diverse interests.  Located about two hours from Rochester and Albany, it welcomes local spa-goers, concert-goers, golfers, parents visiting their children at a local university’s parent’s weekend, and business conventions as well as large number of guests from New York City. Turning Stone features five lodging locations with 709 guest rooms and suites,  five golf courses, twenty-one dining venues with a wide range of cuisines, two spas, two fitness centers, a casino, indoor Sportsplex, night-club, concert venue and convention center.

For more information about Turning Stone Resort and Casino, visit their website,  For information about upcoming shows or to buy tickets, visit