Loews Ventana Canyon: A sanctuary for looking into the soul of the Southwest
One of the most beautiful areas of Tucson, Arizona has to be Sabino Canyon, which is located at the base of the iconic Santa Catalina Mountains. Situated in the heart of Sabino Canyon is one of the most revered resorts in Tucson…the Loews Ventana Canyon. “Ventana” is the Spanish word for “window,” which is such an apropos description for the resort. Loews Ventana Canyon is the window to so many things during your stay. For starters, as you look to the east the resort is the window to the Sonoran desert, as you look to the west your elevation provides amazing views and is the window to the expansive city of Tucson below. You’ll find this “window” theme throughout the property—from the southwestern cuisine, playing golf on a world-class course, to the exploration of the extensive and unique array of cacti and wildlife. The Loews Ventana Canyon is a luxurious hub into an ecosystem that will tantalize your senses and rejuvenate your soul.
My traveling companion (Rhonda) and I had been in southern Arizona exploring several parks, i.e. Saguaro National Park and Kartchner Caverns for a few days prior to our Loews Ventana Canyon arrival. As we made our way to the resort, we were met with a very unique weather phenomenon…a blizzard! A blizzard in any other part of the country may not be considered a “phenomenon,” but this was the desert. A dusting of snow on the nearby mountains is not a rare occurrence, but cotton ball sized snowflakes in the heart of town certainly is. While the weather was unexpected, it was an exciting opportunity to capture a few rare photos. I even filmed some video of folks throwing snowballs at each other in the heated pool. The resort was all abuzz with the unique weather that lasted on/off most of the day of our arrival.
After we checked in, we were excited to see our accommodations…needless to say they did not disappoint. Our king grand was spacious and luxuriously appointed with rich, warm colors in true southwestern style. Our room was certainly designed with comfort in mind…from the soft plush bed, linens and pillows, to the elegant oversized marble bathtub (so big I could almost swim laps). Of course there was also a flat-screen TV along with a loveseat and sleek desk with an ergonomic chair to take care of a bit of blogging business. The best part may have been the terrace deck overlooking the city of Tucson as the night-lights glimmered in the distance.
After getting settled, we had to go explore the property and revel in the snow. The front of the property provides views of the golf course and large koi ponds, while the back has amazing mountain views with lots of nature trails. The focal point is an 80’ waterfall cascading down the mountains that feeds a stream running through the nature trail system and ends up in one of the massive koi ponds. At first glance it looks like this fantastic desert waterfall is all natural, and while it is, it doesn’t take long to figure out that having a year-round waterfall in an area with little rain doesn’t quite add up.
There is an interesting story as to how the waterfall became a focal point of the property. During the planning phase of the resort, Mr. Tisch (the president of Loews) was flying above the site in a helicopter with his architect when he spotted a huge cascading waterfall…he said, “we need to build the resort around that!” It probably wasn’t long after, that they discovered the source of the waterfall was short-lived caused by the heavy rains of monsoon season. Either way they were committed to figuring out a way to share this experience with guests year-round, so a 2.2 million gallon koi pond reservoir system was constructed and the water recycled all the way back up the mountain. I can’t imagine how powerful the pump system must be to accommodate this wondrous endeavor.
After our snow filled stroll, it was time to get ready for dinner. We headed to the signature restaurant on site, the Flying V Bar & Grill. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and we were lucky enough to score an intimate table for two right next to the fireplace. The Flying V serves up southwestern cuisine with a Latin flair. When weather permits, a huge outdoor seating area overlooking the golf course and city lights awaits. Click the following link to read my full review of the Flying V Bar & Grill.
Concluding dinner, we went back to our room to enjoy a soak in the massive tub with a couple glasses of wine. We then snuggled up in one of the most comfortable beds you can imagine and watched one of our favorite programs. We especially enjoyed the feather down pillows and plush linens. We left the drapes open so we could enjoy the falling snow and twinkling city lights.
The next morning we headed to Canyon Café (another restaurant on the property) for some breakfast. Shortly thereafter we met one of my best friends (who lives in Tucson) in the lobby where they have several chessboards set up. We’re all chess enthusiasts, so we had to play a few games to see who would come out on top—that ended up being moi!
After our chess match and a quick tour of the property with my buddy, Rhonda and I scouted some shots with the remaining snow as a reminder of the rarity of the weather just a day before. As we strolled the property we were trying to decide what we should do next. There are so many activities to choose from, here are just some of the highlights:
- Half mile paved window walk nature trail.
- Full spa with relaxation center.
- Two award-winning golf courses.
- Tennis courts.
- Recreation area that includes basketball, playground, ping-pong and croquet court.
- Two swimming pools with Jacuzzis.
While the sun was peeking out, the temperature was still quite chilly, so we opted for a soak in a Jacuzzi and enjoyed the mountain and landscape views as the snow melted exposing the beauty beneath.
The Loews Ventana Canyon Resort is one of those exceptional properties that you simply must put on your bucket list, especially if you’ve never been to the Sonoran Desert before. Painstaking effort went into the construction of this resort to have it blend and complement nature, while giving guests a sanctuary in which to enjoy it. Built in 1984, Lowes Ventana was “green” even before the green movement. As a matter of fact, when the resort was completed, Architectural Digest named it the “First environmentally-conceived resort in North America.” The split-face block was made using some of the natural earth on the site in order to blend the color perfectly into the landscape. And, the construction of the pillars represent the ribs of a saguaro cacti. Also worth noting is that not a single one of the 3500 saguaros was destroyed during construction. Some of the saguaros are highly unique in shape, and are some of the oldest in the area…dating hundreds of years.
Click the following link to see more of my pictures from Loews Ventana Canyon. If you’ve ever stayed at Lowes Ventana, please leave a comment below and share your experience and favorite aspects with me and my readers. If you found this post to be helpful, and/or interesting, please share it with friends and family.