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Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain:

The Ultimate Tucson Vacation

Hotel Review: As we made our way towards Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, it became apparent that this is the kind of resort you visit to get away from it all. There are few places more classically Southwestern than the Tucson area of Arizona: a vast desert landscape, a harshly beautiful backdrop of reds and orange, with cacti lending shades of green to the scenery. Saguaro cacti, the classic plant you envision with multiple arms, populate this region in large numbers; they only live naturally here in the Sonoran desert.

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain is set a good distance from the buzz of Tucson, tucked away in an alcove of desert hills. An expansive retreat, the resort was built on a site that has been protected and undisturbed for decades. At one point this area was the home to Native Americans dating back to 300 BC; petro glyphs can still be seen on the rocks that sit behind the property. Designed to reflect the splendor of the desert, large glass walls to the rear of the lobby bring the landscape of the desert inside; rich browns and reds are present in the décor. Just beyond those glass walls sits an outdoor lounge and pool area, built to incorporate the enormous Saguaros. In fact, The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain's original design was modified to ensure none of these ancient plants would be moved, the property has a heart for conservation and sustainability as well as a passion for the desert.

Upon arrival we were warmly greeted and shown to our room: a haven of those same soft desert colors, with our own personal view of the Sonoran desert. The Executive Suite includes a balcony off both the parlor as well as the bedroom, two 42" televisions and an expansive bathroom featuring a deep soaking tub designed to fit two comfortably.

After settling into our room, we ventured down to the lobby to explore the resort. We discovered a small gathering of guests around a large fire pit in the outdoor lounge area enjoying cocktails; their laughter floated softly throughout the grounds.

Further exploration produced a cactus garden, and later, the pool: open 24 hours. Lucky enough to arrive during the Perseid meteor shower, we counted seven shooting stars while floating on our backs. There are a whole host of activities available at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain including: hiking, mountain biking, desert jeep tours, astronomy classes, pilates, yoga and stretching classes. The property also features 27 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf. We opted for horseback riding.

Pre-arranged by the resort, we were greeted at White Stallion Ranch as special guests and shown to our horses. Along the way our guide taught us all about the desert; it was here we learned that the Saguaro cacti we all associate with the wild west are the same the original Cowboys and Indians encountered, some close to 300 years old. In the heat of the day, after our visit to the ranch, a return to the pool was in order. An attentive staff ensured towels were laid out for guests and glasses were kept full of ice water. Later, frozen towels and complimentary frosty beverages made the rounds. A second pool is also nearby for children, complete with a 235-foot water slide and cabanas perfect for families.

That afternoon was spent indulging at the Spa. The spa boasts a private pool area, sauna and steam room, as well as outdoor showers. My 75-minute signature Dove Mountain Body Wrap Slim and Detox treatment included a full-body massage, followed by a heated mud and seaweed wrap. Leaving the spa, refreshed and truly relaxed, one guest stated to another that they had finally found the masseuse they had been looking for.

That evening, dinner at CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar, was the highlight of our stay. Chef Joel Harrington has created a delightful menu that reflects a truly creative culinary mind. Our seven-course meal allowed us the opportunity to get a solid sampling of the menu; a couple of the dishes truly shone. The first was a starter, the Bigeye Tuna, and Yellowtail Cubes paired with Chili Pop Rocks. Yes, Pop Rocks. The melt-in-your-mouth sashimi was contrasted wonderfully by the pop of the savory candy. On the heavier side, the Buffalo Tenderloin, with asparagus and polenta was wonderful. A believer in Maple Syrup, Chef Harrington’s recipe includes marinating the buffalo in the amber liquid, imparting a beautiful balance of sweet and savory. Thanks to Master Sommelier Todd Brinkman, the meal was paired with surprisingly impressive Arizona wines. The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain boasts a 2,800-bottle wine cellar and the resort's lounge, IGNITE, boasts an enormous array of 115 whiskies, one of the largest assortments in the western United States.

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain sits in a perfect location; not because of its proximity, but because of its seclusion. This is a quiet, sophisticated resort, where you can come to reflect, relax and indulge in a wide array of activities. In terms of service, every conversation I had with the staff was genuine, they remembered us and catered to our every request. Thanks to them, the most disappointing part of our visit was leaving.

Contributor: Courtney Driver
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