Dakota Dunes Resort in Saskatoon Celebrates Indigenous Culture and High Design
To the dunes.
Luxury and landscape dance in harmony at the Dakota Dunes Resort. From the show-stopping fire bowls in the lobby to the quiet, modern aesthetic of the guest rooms and the undulating landscape all around, a stay at this Saskatoon-area destination delivers the perfect Prairie getaway.
Dakota Dunes Resort is the latest addition to a complex that houses a casino and spectacular golf course owned by the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, which has been recognized nationally for its economic and community development successes, and operated by Atlific Hotels. The resort’s design delivers a fresh and downright stunning result.
“The interior design concept for the hotel was presented early on to the client group to create a unique experience on the Prairies while celebrating the culture of the Dakota people,” says Jason Hurd, architect and principal with aodbt architecture + interior design. “We wanted the hotel to be a destination for guests from near and far. The neutral, dark, and sometimes moody colour palette is reflective of the beautiful neutral tones found in nature and the surrounding landscape.”
The lobby sets the stage for the resort with gathering spaces around fires, raw log stools, and a moody reflective ceiling. “The lobby is focused on the element of fire and the important role it plays in Indigenous culture and teachings,” says Nicole Tiessen, aodbt interior designer and principal. “Dark, smoky spaces are layered with a rich, textured carpet representing the charred wood of a fire, a stunning black reflective ceiling to catch a glimpse of the fires burning, and exposed elements with raw concrete walls and polished concrete floors.”
Perhaps the most striking element of the guest rooms is the bold graphic using a photograph of chief Darcy Bear’s headdress. Throughout, birch wood is set at angles signalling the strong support of the teepee. Because the outdoor setting plays such a huge role in the aesthetic, exterior spaces are maximized for use in all seasons. There’s a spacious amphitheatre and an open-air deck adjacent to the indoor swimming pool.
“The main floor courtyard and amphitheatre were envisioned as a space for all types of gatherings, weddings, outdoor traditional ceremonies, and concerts. That is why the lobby, restaurant, and bar all open up to and have views of this space,” Hurd says. “The rooftop pool and terrace were strategically located to capture the stunning views of the dune landscape and golf course and reinforce the importance of the surrounding landscape.”
Hurd and Tiessen agree that the design of the resort shows the dynamism of ongoing traditions of Indigenous artistry in different contexts. “The calm neutral and natural palette provides a backdrop for Indigenous artifacts, art, and craft scattered through the space,” Hurd explains. “It gives space for these items to shine and be celebrated with their rich depth of colour and pattern.”
Visitors will be able to take advantage of the extensive natural and cultural resources of the resort. Sleigh rides and ice fishing in the winter, and fishing and golfing in the warmer months are all available. Dakota Dunes also offers reconciliation workshops that contextualize the experience and the history of the First Nation.
Wild forest mushroom chowder with fennel, ribs with sugar beet dust, and crusted pickerel cheeks set the tone for plates served at the Moose Woods Home Fire Grill. The menu includes plenty of locally sourced favourites, including wild boar chops, elk meatballs, and a hearty bison burger. But the signature offering is the 32-ounce Chief Ribeye. Designed as dinner for two, the steak is finished with tequila whipped herb butter and sprinkled with black Hawaiian salt and wild oregano. Order it with brown butter and black garlic whipped potato mash and sautéed mushrooms with miso and fine herbs.
Dakota Dunes Resort, 203 Dakota Dunes Wy, Whitecap, SK S7K 2L2
Images courtesy of Allison Daniels (Atlific SK Cluster).