Turning Heads at Turning Stone Resort NY by Ronald S. Montesano
Verona, NY – It’s easy to spot the tower from the I-90 thruway. Central New York does not rise and fall like other regions of the state, so the main building of the resort stands apart quite evidently from its surroundings. The principal question is – Where to stay? Where to play? Where to golf? Turning Stone has lodging, entertainment and golf options galore. The nature of your visit, as well as the type of client you are, determines where you’ll make your reservation. Let’s have a little clarity.
Accommodations at Turning Stone
Turning Stone Resort has options when it comes to where to stay. Located in the main building, but not in the Tower, the Turning Stone Hotel was the original accommodation at the resort. Opened in 1997 and remodeled in 2012, the Hotel has nearly 270 rooms and suites available for its guests. Included among them are patio and Jacuzzi suites, as well as luxury suites.
Easily the tallest building in central New York, the Tower offers suites and rooms, a health club, easy access to gaming, entertainment and dining. To boot, the TS Steakhouse occupies the top floor of the edifice.
The Lodge is the golfer’s hideaway. While it has its own dining establishment and a terrific wine bar, it’s location between the first tees at Shenandoah and Kaluhyat (adjacent to the putting green, I might add) makes it an ideal abode for the group whose sole purpose is to golf, golf and more golf. The rooms are marvelously appointed, spacious and comfortable. The Lodge has its own fitness center, spa, pool and hot tub. It is a resort-within, an oasis amid an exciting, dynamic resort.
Dining at Turning Stone
Moving on to the dining facilities, two of the more low-key, high-value spaces for the epicurean are the Tin Rooster and Upstate Tavern. The Rooster has a honky-tonk feel that serves great barbecue and often has live entertainment on stage. It’s a great kick-back place to get a little loud and sing a song or two if you happen to stop by on karaoke night. The Upstate Tavern replaced one of my favorite spots, the Brazilian Steakhouse. Without skipping a beat, the Tavern offers a unique menu of regional favorites, from appetizers to the entrees to beverages. If you’re in the mood for cheesecake, consider triple-teaming the slab that the Upstate serves. It’s a monster and, my friends tell me, delicious from start to finish.
If your taste tends toward the international, visit Pino for delightful Italian food or Peach Blossom for adventurous Asian cuisine. Both restaurants are semi-formal, so dress up a bit for your dining experience.
Two other restaurants offer the finest at Turning Stone. Wildflowers is a smaller facility, and is also located away from the hustle of the main buildings. Situated in The Lodge, Wildflowers offers much, from delightful appetizers to tableside-churned ice cream for dessert. The TS Steakhouse offers the greatest view at the resort. Located on the top floor of The Tower, as far as the eye can see is viewable from here. From personal experience, we can confess that no lobster was ever prepared better, nor was any filet cooked with greater attention.
For informal dining, finish up at Delta Cafe, Season’s Harvest and The Corner Market. For pastries and breakfast, begin the day at Opals and Emerald.
Entertainment at Turning Stone
From artists like The Tenors to The Temptations, Kenny Rogers to Tracy Morgan, there is music, comedy and even some boxing in the offing. Throughout the year, golfing weather or not, Turning Stone offers room and event packages to suit a diverse array of budgets. Smaller events take place in The Showroom, while larger gatherings are held in The Event Center.
The Golf at Turning Stone
When it comes to golf, plenty of options await at Turning Stone.
Rarely does the Atunyote course seem crowded. The resort goes to lengths to limit daily play which afford their guests the feeling of a true reserve, isolated from the draws of daily life. Pathways from tee to green are clearly marked, with no blind shots on the course. Sand and water hazards are common, but so don’t be seduced and blinded by the heroic route. Hugging the insides of doglegs rarely results in a favorable lie.
Unlike many courses, Atunyote brags of no one signature hole. Many holes stand out, especially the long and twisting par fives. Some climb to elevated greens, while others play to a putting surface located at fairway level. The greens are expansive, with subtle breaks and nuanced slopes. Unless you blast a ball wide into one of the water hazards, you’re not likely to lose a golf ball.
Part of Kaluhyat’s mystery is that the next shot is not always obvious because you can’t necessarily see the green. The course demands that you play to a comfortable yardage and then manage what remains. The forced carries are unavoidable, as wetlands come into play on many holes. This presence of native areas makes the choice of tee blocks that much more critical. Remember this caveat that I’ve developed as I’ve aged: You’re on vacation and here for a good time. Play a bit shorter, have more runs at par and birdie as you familiarize yourself with the course. Move back a deck if you like the next time you’re here.
As happens with David Kidd’s original course at Bandon Dunes (Oregon, USA), the original Rick Smith course at Turning Stone might catch a bit of criticism from regulars who wonder at the oddities of the course.
Smith had the foresight to create two short, par four holes, of the risk-reward kind, before it was commonplace to do so. The 4th on the front and the 15th on the back tempt the novice to take a crack at the green.
The back nine begins with a tee ball similar to that found on number one, but the hole extends farther than the 1st, up and up to a green benched in an upslope, protected by sand in front.
Turning Stone Resort is located 35 miles east of Syracuse and about a 3 ½ hour drive from Ottawa or 4 ½ hours from Toronto. If you looking for an outstanding golf resort with all the amenities imaginable then Turning Stone truly turns heads.
For more information on Turning Stone visit their website at www.turningstone.com
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