Nestled against the saguaro-dotted Santa Catalina Mountains high above Tucson, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, a spacious and welcoming property, served as our home base for three days of exploring the area.
With four restaurants, a pool and spa, gym, tennis, golf courses and nature trail, it was hard to leave the natural scenery, as this hotel has created a modern oasis in the Arizona desert.
The Flying V Bar and Grill is the resort’s destination restaurant, one in which we enjoyed my recent landmark 50th birthday celebration. Chef de Cuisine Josh Willett offers a menu filled with seafood, steaks, and baby back ribs, all with a southwestern flair. Over 70 tequilas grace the bar’s shelves, and signature cocktails as well as local beer and a range of wines compliment an enjoyable meal.
Our dinner featured lobster tacos, Ahi tuna piled atop black quinoa and spaghetti squash, and sea bass prepared with seasonal veggies. A fruit-topped crème brûlée was brought out as a birthday treat.
The Canyon Café has a great weekend brunch offering with outdoor seating in the shade. As well, the Cascade Bistro and Bill’s Grill are on hand for various lunch and dinner items. Vista Barista is great for on-the-go iced Starbucks coffee (and sweets). Pets won’t feel left out either: a full pet menu developed by a licensed veterinarian includes Chow hound chicken and Kitt’s salmon supreme. There’s even a veggie dish with eggs developed to help travel-weary pets adjust to jet lag and altitude.
Your pet’s meal will be served will bottled mineral water on ‘appropriate pet ware’. In other words, your pet is pampered here as well.
Wifi charges are $10.95 (day), $32.85 (3 days), and $76.65 (week).
Local tours as well as mountain bikes can be arranged. A helpful concierge desk was staffed with two women (during our visit) who gladly helped out with maps, calling local businesses to ask for directions, and arranging dinner reservations.
We stayed in one of the 398 rooms, offering both a pool and mountain view.
The spacious rooms have TVs and sitting areas, a desk with convenient outlets for plugging in electronics, and the highlight— a square shower tub large enough for two people to float in.
With long towel racks at the back of the enormous shower space, this hotel gets it: a real way to conserve on their washing.
So many hotels we’ve stayed in aim to be green by asking guests to hang towels for reuse, but many offer nary a spot to actually hang them up on. Right under the sink is another long towel bar that accommodates three hand towels. Again, a small design detail that goes a long way to helping the environment.
The Kiva Ballroom was empty when we arrived, so I was able to capture this photo of the entrance; in total 10,800 square feet.
A full service spa includes a $10 daily fee that will entitle guests to fitness classes, cardio/workout areas, an adult-only lap pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam and locker rooms. The onsite Lakeside Spa at Loews is equipped to offer hair and nail services, makeup, facials, massages, collagen and exfoliation treatments.
While we’re not golfers, there are two Tom Fazio-designed PGA golf courses on the property. Two lit tennis courts, a fitness center, two pools, riding trails and kids activities are just a few of the hotel’s perks. Tennis rackets and ball machines can be rented; both semi-private and group lessons are offered by appointment.
This particular Loews offers several daytime activities for kids and adults alike, a tequila-tasting supper, and star-gazing nights with the resort’s own telescope. More events get added for long weekends and busy periods (we noticed that the hotel was ramping up for Memorial Day).
Once we did descend into Tucson (a 30-minute drive from the resort), we realized that while it does have a few historic areas of interest (as well as 4th Avenue, a cross between Vancouver’s Kitsilano and Main Street hoods), the view from above was much more enjoyable.
Colourful birds greet diners at breakfast, and the walking trail is a few minutes from the pool. Signs help point the way to various flora and fauna (and watch out for rattlesnakes – never touch beyond where you can see your hands). Mountain lions, road runners, lizards, hawks, and other wildlife grace the foothills above.
If only it weren’t so hot, we’d have done a lot more exploring as the local trail head starts next door to the property.
Loews Ventana Canyon is located at 7000 North Resort Drive in Tucson. We received a one night stay plus discount on subsequent nights for the purposes of writing this article and experiencing the resort.