A Vegas-style playground with small-town warmth and charm.
Two hours south from Vancouver on the evergreen-lined highway is where Seattle lets its hair down. Tulalip Resort and Casino and its cool neighbours Seattle Premium Outlets and Cabela’s Outfitters form a laid-back mini Vegas that caters to your whims with American gusto and enough genuine friendliness to make you feel like you’re among family.
The Premium Outlets on the premises is an essential destination for anyone seeking top, brand name goods at crazy good prices. The smartest shoppers think strategically: get to know which stores carry your favourite looks and staple pieces, find out when their best sales are and plan trips in advance since the resort does sell out regularly. Spontaneously veering south and shooting down for a day of retail therapy is good fun, too.
When the Tulalip tribe brought their vision of a resort to life, they had something spectacular in mind and executed everything right: huge, over-height rooms, colourful, multi-million dollar architecture, a spa to serve a princess, a continual stream of comedians, musicians, and theatre productions, enough restaurants to dine somewhere new for a week, and a casino too big to take in all in one night. Judging from the crackle in the air of a thousand people living it up there on a Friday night, and from the four diamonds bestowed on them by AAA, Tulalip deserves a tip of the hat from thrill-seekers, serious shoppers and luxury travellers.
Where to eat
At Journey’s East Asian restaurant, located inside the casino, people from China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Thailand all find something they truly love to eat. And now, Westerners can get in on the fun, too. Their congee, siu mai, japchae, wonton soup, bo luc lac and prawn dishes are all prepared from scratch very authentically but with just enough American flick-o-the-wrist to be mouth-watering to the uninitiated. If a mini Vegas sounds like an unlikely location for unparalleled East meets West dining, consider this: some Asian-born locals have been frequenting it up to four times a week since it opened in November. Journey’s East is a reason to return all by itself.
If you go
~Visit the wildlife displays at Cabela’s, the outdoor outfitter. They rival those in the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria and are really worth a visit. They give budding outdoorsmen an appreciation of, and an up-close look at, a real killer whale mid-chase, mountain lions, zebra, musk oxen, caribou, bears being cute and ferocious and other amazing, real-life creatures mounted inside their “natural” habitats.
~Consider applying for a Nexus pass. It will let you get you back and forth through the border many times faster.
~There’s a shuttle from the hotel to the outlet mall but it runs only once an hour. If you miss it, the walk is only about 6 minutes.
~They give out unlimited, good-quality coffee and bottled water at the walk-up coffee bar in the casino. One of those things is essential and you’ll definitely want a lot of the other.
Photo courtesy of Cabela’s