Riding horseback among the sprawling mountain ranges and desert plant life at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass it's hard to remember the hustle and bustle of city life is just a few miles in the distance. The beautiful and serene resort is tucked away on the Pima Reservation just minutes from the city but it feels worlds away. The combination of seclusion and lush amenities is a recipe for the perfect wellness getaway.
Weather its a weekend staycation or a much needed trip to the Aji spa, the Sheraton Grand has something to help you get back to the best physical and mental version of yourself while immersed in the celebration of Native American Culture.
Exploring the property on horseback with a experienced wrangler by your side to guide you through the vast desert landscape will be a life changing experience. Wrangler Ben Estes has been riding horses for as long as he can remember. He knows every inch of the Pima Reservation like the back of his hand. The Pima and maricopa reservations are home to over 1,500 wild horses. The wild horses roam for hundreds of miles but for Estes finding the herds is a second nature.
“I can tell you where every herd of wild horses is out here,” he said, “ from the ones with over 100 horses to the ones most people can’t find.”
Through years Estes has given hundreds of guided tours and strives to leave every guest with a life changing experience. The relationship between the guides and the wild horses is one of respect. Riding along side of these beautiful wild spirits brings guest closer to the history of the Tribe who have protected the horses for over 100 years.
After the long ride guests can pair their experience with a rejuvenating massage at the Aji Spa. The Mustang & Massage experience package includes a 50 minute wind down massage using the natural plants of the desert that have been infused in essential oils for added stress and inflammation relief.
Aji is the only Native American owned spa in Arizona. Aji means “sanctuary” in the Pima native language, and it truly lives up to its name. The spa features treatments based on ancient legends past down for generations from the Pima and Maricopa tribes. The luxurious 17,500 square foot facility includes 17 treatment rooms, a private pool, sauna, and fitness center. The spa provides the complete relaxation experience that heals not only the body but the mind. Massages utilize Creosote extract which is a plant that can be found along the Sheraton Grand trails and is used primarily by the tribes as a medicinal herb. After services guests are free to use the entire facility to relax and unwind from the stresses of daily life.
This wellness journey would not be complete without making a reservation at Kai, the luxury dining experience highlighting the rich culture of the Pima and Maricopa tribes. Chef de cuisine, Ryan Swanson, blends global flavors with the tribes unique food traditions to craft a journey through the tribes history.
The restaurant is adorned with local artists crafts. Even the menus feature hand painted watercolor portraits that depict native american history and traditions by artist, Mike Medicine Horse Zillioux.
Guests begins with “The Birth” a small introduction into the fantastically different flavors of native cuisine. Each course is accompanied by a table side explanation of the inspiration behind each plate. Kai is the only Native American inspired luxury restaurant in the world bringing Indigenous culture into the light of high end dining.
The rest of the meal includes “The Beginning” and “The Journey" and finally the appropriately named desert “The Afterlife”. Every course brings new flavors each with more rich and exotic ingredients. Chef Swanson works directly with tribal elders and the surrounding community to find the best locally sourced ingredients in order to share the Indigenous culture with a broader audience. However, some ingredients are now extinct on the Pima Reservations lands and must be sourced from other tribal regions. They fly in ingredients such as, buffalo raised by a sister tribe in Montana to be served nightly in the restaurant.
At the end of every guest's journey, Chef Swanson hopes they come away with a better understanding of the culture of Indigenous Pima and Maricopa tribes. He wants his meal to be not only a flavorful but and educational experience as well.
The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass is an escape from everyday life providing a wellness journey to heal the mind, body and spirit just a few miles outside of Gilbert.
1. 24 hour Fitness Center
2. Two Championship 18-hole golf course
3. Outdoor water park
4. Tennis Court
5. Stunning hiking trails to explore the sights