It took five years and $230 million, but Twin Arrows Navajo Resort and Casino in Arizona is now officially up and running with a Ya at eeh greeting to those who walk through the front door.
If first impressions are important, Twin Arrows has hit a bulls-eye in its attempt to both embody and showcase Navajo land, infusing the property with the art and culture of the Dine people in a facility located beneath the sacred San Francisco Peaks Mountain, or Doko’oosliid, meaning “where light shines from within.”
Oftentimes, when the valet is parking the car and luggage is being rolled for check-in, visitors stand in awe, transfixed in the hotel lobby rotunda where a shimmering chandelier, made up of thousands of pieces of hand-blown glass rings, symbolically depicts the vertical rise of inhabitants of different worlds who came before, the upward movement of ancestors through the Four Worlds, all part of the Navajo Creation and Emergence Story.
Droplets of crystal cascade down through the multi-colored rings like water streaming from above while the floor below entrances with its infinity circle reflection feature.
And that’s what stuns the senses just inside the front door, a stone vestibule abstraction of the First World, a place filled with mist and sound. Throughout the 267,000-square-foot facility are cultural subtleties that allude to the work of skilled hands weaving baskets and textiles—stone wall soffits depicting the different worlds where Man and Woman came to be—carpet patterns that recall the trace of wind that breathes life into the Dine—a ceiling that conjures up visions of a starry Navajo night sky.
Not to be forgotten in this mix of marvels is $1 million worth of artwork, some 40 original creations purchased by the resort from local Native artists.
Twin Arrows is not just a new landmark, it’s a new benchmark for the economic health and prosperity of the Navajo Nation, says Derrick Watchman, CEO of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise. “As THE premier destination casino resort in northern Arizona, Twin Arrows has created nearly 800 full-time jobs (75 percent Native hires) with an annual payroll of $34 million. We have a job to do for Native government and that is to provide revenue that will support tribal efforts,” he said.
All development work went to Navajo industries partnerships; many of the Nation’s 21 separate enterprises were involved in constructing the luxury facility, said Maureen Curley, Board of Directors chairwoman for NNGE. “We are committed to building business opportunities for the Navajo Nation as we provide an economic boost to the entire region while putting Navajo people to work,” Curley said.
A Phase 1 opening took place over Memorial Day weekend with Phase 2 construction already underway. Initially, the five-story hotel will offer 90 rooms and suites with another 110 rooms scheduled for completion in early 2014.
Not only is it a classy facility, the owners believe it offers a world-class gaming experience also in the Glittering World-themed casino with night sky and Milky Way ceilings. Exclusive to this site is a Navajo Legends slot machine that depicts First Man/First Woman and their ascendency to a new world.
Satisfying hearty appetites is no problem with a Food Court, a Café with southwestern flair, a sports bar honoring the legacy of Navajo warriors and the resorts flagship restaurant, a steakhouse whose stone walls evoke the cliffs where eagles build their nests—and where waiters serve Navajo-raised beef. A seafood bar is slated for completion by mid-summer and will serve sustainable seafood.