Built on 700 fabulous acres in Southwest Michigan, Four Winds Casino Resort has become a Midwest destination. Subtle touches throughout the property reflect the Native American heritage of the owners, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which is a federally recognized Indian tribe with more than 3,000 enrolled citizens.
This 250,000-square foot luxurious land-based property features a renowned casino, a variety of restaurants with cuisines for every palate, tasteful gift shops and a magnificent hotel. Open just three years, Four Winds garnered first place in an astounding seven categories in the 2010 "Best Of" contest. These honors included Best Place for a Bachelor/Bachelorette Party, Best Casino, Best Casino Slots, Best Casino Table Games, Best Casino Dining, Best Casino Poker and Best Hotel.
In fact, Four Winds received 2,758 votes in those seven categories-the most ever cast for one business in the contest's history. "We at Four Winds are very humbled by the recognition Times readers have given us," says general manager Matt Harkness. "These awards show us that we are achieving our mission of great customer service."
Harkness credits the casino/resort's staff for the accomplishments of Four Winds. "Our property is absolutely beautiful with modern décor and the finest amenities, but it is the quality of our staff that makes the difference," Harkness says."We have an outstanding team of professionals who provide outstanding service."
When Four Winds management was hiring staff, they "looked for heart, for people with great service skills," Harkness says. "Most of our staff hadn't had experience in the gaming industry, but their skills in customer service are extremely important to us. We get compliments about our staff all the time." Four Winds has 1,700 full- and part-time employees.
Each one of the "Best Of" awards provides recognition of the amenities that are an integral part of Four Winds Casino Resort, Harkness says. As the "Best Casino," Four Winds competed against the riverboat casinos in Indiana as the Midwest's premier land-based casino. "We've designed every aspect of this casino to please our customers. We believe it is a step up to a memorable gaming experience."
Four Winds caters to those who want to celebrate special moments in life, such as a bachelor or bachelorette party, he says. "We are known for our gaming, but we have a cachet as being the hip place, not just for one generation, but for multiple generations," Harkness says. "Four Winds is the perfect place to have that special party."
The Four Winds Casino Resort features "a wide spectrum of gaming opportunities," Harkness says, such as 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games including Blackjack, Hi-Tie Blackjack, Craps, No Way Craps, Bonus
Craps, Three Card Poker, Pai Gow Poker, Crazy Four, Let It Ride, Mini and Midi Baccarat, Roulette and Vegas Star Electronic Roulette. Four Winds Casino Resort also features the new World Poker Tour All-In Hold 'Em, a new live action poker-based table game that gives players an opportunity to play heads up against the dealer rather than against other players seated around the table.
The Four Winds Casino Resort, along with over 300 other tribal casinos across the nation, belongs to a 16-state Native American progressive gaming network. Any time a coin is played in a linked machine, anywhere in the network, the cumulative jackpot continues to grow until it is won. Four Winds is the only casino in the region to feature the wide-area progressives.
"We offer the best selection of slots from $100 to one penny and everything in between," Harkness says. "We have the best variety of penny machines in the marketplace. These penny slots are becoming so popular with everyone."
Players at Four Winds can also experience the excitement of three entirely new categories of slot game play from Chicago-based WMS Gaming. Slots such as Monopoly Big Event, Wizard of Oz and Super Money Grab provide unique player experiences and represent the next generation in casino entertainment. In addition, WMS is supplying dozens of other favorites at Four Winds, including Life of Luxury, Hot Hot Super Jackpot and Hot Hot Penny. "We bring in the newest products offered by manufacturers," Harkness says.
The W Club is the ultimate player loyalty card, offering more flexibility and more control of earned points and complimentary perks. Enrollment is free and player cards are available at any club booth in the casino. There are two tiers to the W Club-Red and Copper.
W Club members elevate from the base Red tier level to elite Copper membership status with 150,000 points earned in a calendar year. Copper tier members receive exclusive access into the Players Lounge, featuring a complimentary buffet and well-stocked cash bar. Copper tier members also receive priority first floor parking on
weekends and holidays, front-of-line privileges at the Buffet and Cashiers Cage, a 20 percent discount at Four Winds Outfitters and Kids Quest and access to a personal executive host.
There's a restaurant for every taste at Four Winds, which is why Four Winds won the "Best Casino Dining" award this year, Harkness says. The Copper Rock Steakhouse defines elegant dining in the Midwest, he says. This traditional white-tablecloth steakhouse with leather overstuffed seating features 28-day aged prime steaks, succulent coldwater lobsters and gourmet desserts created daily by pastry chefs. The new "Copper Classic" three-course dinner menu is available Sunday through Friday. This gourmet restaurant also boasts a private wine cellar with 450 wines available by the bottle or glass as well as a private "Chef's Table."
"Stop by the bar in Copper Rock Steakhouse for pre-dinner martinis, or an after-dinner cognac," Harkness says.
The Buffet is a high-energy buffet with a variety of cooking stations and dishes from around the world. Among the tasty selections are prime rib and shrimp along with an enhanced seafood selection, including crab legs on Friday and Saturday evenings. "Experience a different feast each day," Harkness says. The weekend brunch menu features a made-to-order omelet station, while an enhanced seafood buffet is offered on select days.
Silver Creek Bistro is a cozy spot nestled between the gaming floor and hotel check-in. The bistro offers Starbucks coffee, and an all-day eclectic menu starts with European-style pastries in the morning and evolves to light lunches and sandwiches in the afternoon. In the evening, guests can cap off the night with petite specialty desserts and wine by the glass.
Willowbrook Café serves up comfort food in a relaxed, casual environment. Breakfast is served all day and specials include stuffed pork chops, New York strip, pot roast, BBQ ribs, soups, salads and an extensive Asian and sushi menu.
Timbers Fast Food & Deli allows guests to choose from an array of menu items, including hotdogs, fries, pastrami and rye and mile-high deli sandwiches. The raised gazebo-shaped outlet has exposed wooden beams and an expansive view of the casino floor.
And Grab 'N' Go at Four Winds Casino Resort is fast food done right. Eating out at Grab 'N' Go is the way to enjoy a quick, delicious bite between games. Satisfy your hunger for delicious food, then head back to the casino floor for more winning excitement.
Finally, Four Winds Casino Resort won the "Best Hotel" category in this year's competition. "We have a spectacular hotel with suites, high-end amenities and it's all near the casino, shopping and dining," Harkness says.
Four Winds Casino Resort's suite-hotel features 165 rooms with 98 suites. Each room includes granite counter tops, leather wrapped headboards, 14-inch deep pillow-top mattresses, flat screen high-definition TV, coffee makers and complimentary Starbucks coffee.
All suites have a curved walk-in shower, whirlpool jets and a wet bar with a refrigerator and microwave. In addition, all rooms include all of the amenities guests expect, including complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access and in-room safes. Handicap-accessible suites are available upon request.
Among the room/suite choices are the standard room, the junior suite, the deluxe suite and the celebrity suite.
Four Winds Casino Resort is easily accessible by taking I-94 to Exit 1 as you cross from Indiana into Michigan. There is also bus and shuttle service to Four Winds.
"Enter Four Winds by traveling down the tree-lined drive. Relax and prepare to enjoy our many fine amenities," Harkness says. "You'll come back again and again."
-- Lu Ann Franklin
First: Four Winds Casino Resort
11111 Wilson Rd
New Buffalo, Mich.
Second: Blue Chip
777 Blue Chip Dr.
Michigan City, Ind.
(219) 879-7711 or (888) 879-7711
Third: Horseshoe Casino
777 Casino Center Dr.