The first thing that struck me about Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, was its size.
That’s because this city of approximately 2,000 permanent residents on Lake Michigan is a sleepy little town during the off-season.
In March, the shorelines of the empty marinas are lined with sizable shrink-wrapped boats and sparsely inhabited Eastern seaboard-style rental units and condos. There’s an extensive network of boat-slips, but at this time of year, the honking geese and passing trains can be the most noisy things in town. On this particular Monday morning at around 10 a.m., we were two of three customers in Rosie’s Restaurant, a home-style breakfast spot on N. Whittaker St., although more trickled in as we ate.
By contrast, 12 hours earlier, we were at Four Winds Casino Resort. Shielded by woods on all sides, the resort is tucked away on 52 acres, just three miles from the New Buffalo harbor. Here, the Four Winds 415-room hotel is attached to a casino with a 130,000 square-foot gaming floor featuring 3,000 slots, table games and more.
So why so big for this little town? Well, there’s a bigger ‘town,’ called Chicago, less than an hour’s drive away. Mystery solved.
Entering from the parking structure, you come upon the casino’s main hall, which runs parallel to the gaming floor. The great hall easily looks like it is about two city blocks long, if not longer, so those with mobility challenges or non-smoking preferences may want to valet park to enter midway or enter on the hotel side, closer to the non-smoking slots area.
Owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the casino’s architecture boasts lots of natural wood and tile. Sections of the hall ceilings look like the insides of interwoven wooden boats and the main lobby has a stunning, nature-themed stained glass chandelier hung from its soaring rotunda.
We visited the New Buffalo Four Winds only briefly and did not stay at the hotel or eat there, but we spent an enjoyable couple of hours of gambling.
With 3,000 slots to choose from, there’s a good variety of common favorites and new games. There also are some networked-linked progressive jackpots.
Playing the slots, we experienced the slow loss of our gambling bucks, so I’d say the win factor was average. And while we seemed to drain our wallets on newer penny slots with minimum 40- and 50-cent bets, the quarter machines generally offered a nice cadence of back and forth losses and small wins.
The Four Winds in New Buffalo has its own buffet, Copper Rock Steakhouse, Timbers Deli, Grab n’ Go with a Starbucks and a 12,000-square-foot Hard Rock Café.
Its Silver Creek Entertainment Center also offers name acts. This year, the lineup includes country artists Hunter Hayes and The Band Perry; rock legends ZZ Top, Foreigner and Styx; and classics like Buddy Guy.
New Buffalo and Four Winds are also just a 30-mile drive from Jack Nicklaus’ Harbor Shores Golf Club, where the Senior PGA Championship, presented by KitchenAid, will be May 24-29.
So if you’re into big-city-style fun, yet yearn for a back-to-nature getaway on the Lake Michigan shore, New Buffalo and Four Winds Casino Resort may be just what you’re looking for.
For more information, visit www.fourwindscasino.com or www.harborcountry.org
|FOUR WINDS CASINO SCORECARD||GRADE|
|Variety of Slots||A|
|Décor & Comfort||A|
|Food||Y* (didn’t eat)|
|* Y=Yes N=No|
|Poker Room||N (table poker)|
|Stay n’ Play Packages||Y|