Whitecap Dakota First Nation, SK

Dakota Dunes Resort

Project Details


$16.9 Million




37,221 sq. ft.


Prime Consulting, Architecture, Interior Design, Construction Contract Administration

aodbt in association with LemayMichaud Architecture Design worked with the Whitecap Dakota First Nation on the design and development of the $38 million Dakota Dunes Resort Hotel adjacent to the Dakota Dunes Casino. Combining comfort and unique culture experiences, the hotel features Indigenous themes throughout. This 155-room hotel rises from the natural landscape of the soft rolling dunes which are home to Whitecap Dakota First Nation.

The Resort Hotel is inspired by its heritage, surroundings, and the rich history of the Indigenous lands and community it sits on. The design concept focuses on the four sacred Indigenous elements of fire, water, land, and air, and each is represented in a specific area of the resort.

Upon entry, guests are welcomed into the first experience with the FIRE element. The lobby features the concepts of smoldering ashes, cracked burnt wood, and dark colour tones – charred black infused with a gold undertone. The feature round fireplaces welcome guests and encourage relaxation in the warm glow of the fire.

The corridor connecting the lobby to the bar, restaurant, and conference centre emulates a flowing river – a tribute to the importance of the use of waterways to Indigenous people. The exhibit corridor brings in the rich emerald tones of WATER with river rock flanking the edge. A locally made canoe hangs from the ceiling – almost gliding down the river. Glass pendants that reflect droplets of water are hung in this transitional space and represent the glistening water of the river and the falling rain. This space is also an opportunity for storytelling with museum grade exhibit boxes that showcase local artifacts and art.

The LAND theme is showcased throughout the bar and restaurant. The shapes of the rooms and spaces are organic and angular, featuring colours, materials, fabric, and graphics expressing the importance of the earth to Indigenous culture. The space tells the story of the rich history of cattle, horses, and bison in this area and the name “Moosewood” is a nod to the original name for the region. Raw materials, leather, straps, textured wood, and earth tones create a sense of grounding as guests experience a sacred connection to the land. Featured behind the bar is a large glowing graphic image of the landforms and the bison.

The AIR theme is reflected throughout each guest floor and the guestroom designs, with large expanses of natural light with sweeping views out to the prairie dunes, the textured sky carpet pattern echoing the horizon line and a lighter colour palette. Materials with rich textures and depth represent cultural elements and tell the story of the surrounding lands.

This project included consistent engagement with the members of Whitecap Dakota First Nation—this was critical as every space in the project tied back to Indigenous culture and represented the values and traditions of the Dakota people. A significant level of engagement from the client group and the design team was needed to ensure elements were executed in a respectful and appropriate way. This required flexibility on behalf of the design team as we worked to understand the culture and weave it through the building in an intentional way.

Photo Credit:

King Rose Visuals and Ingrid Misner Photography

Awards and Publications