Luxury, great golf reign at the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa near Tucson
MARANA, Ariz. -- It's hard to know where to start when describing the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa just northwest of Tucson.
Do you begin with the world-class golf course that sits on the property? How about the 10 tennis courts, four of which are clay? Or maybe the 18 treatment rooms at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa?
Then, too, there are the 487 rooms, 25 suites and, let's not forget, the fabulous calamari served up by Chef Mel in the Azul Restaurant.
Maybe it's best just to say this: La Paloma is a bit of north Scottsdale dropped into the Tucson desert.
"We try to do the little things and go above and beyond," said Richard Brooks, director of sales and marketing at La Paloma. "We take great pride in what we do."
It shows. According to Brooks, for six of the last eight years La Paloma has ranked No. 1 of all the Westins in North America for service.
Because this is a golf website, perhaps we should start with the La Paloma Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus design that features three nine-hole courses: Ridge, Canyon, and Hill. Like most Troon-operated courses, La Paloma is in terrific shape from tee to green and the service is impeccable, from two iced-water bottles in coolers for every player to the GPS system on the carts.
Now, La Paloma is tougher than most resort courses. It has all the trademarks of Nicklaus' early courses, including narrow fairways and elevated greens. Plus, the course features dramatic elevation changes, particularly the 445-yard, par-4 seventh hole on the Canyon nine, which drops at least 30 yards from the tee to a ravine that runs through the middle of the fairway, then rises at least 40 yards from the ravine to the green.
Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa: Beyond golf
La Paloma has a lot more going for it than its golf course, however. The resort, which opened in 1986, has a little something for everybody.
Take the pool area: It includes five pools, two hot tubs, a cold tub with water at about 58 degrees, a swim-up bar and a 177-foot waterslide for the kids. Both the pool area and the restaurant face the Catalina Mountains. Guests who want to venture out of the resort can take an hour drive up the mountains and cool off by about 20 degrees.
"You feel like you're in the Blue Ridge Appalachians up there," Brooks said.
The resort's suites are generous in size and feature flat-screen TVs, a fireplace and two full bathrooms. They're reasonably priced as well, with rooms going for as low as $109 in the summer and $179 in the busier winter months.
Most guests have to walk a couple of minutes to get to their rooms -- as opposed to taking an elevator from the hotel lobby -- but Brooks said that was done with a purpose.
"The concept is we want you to be engaged with the southwest," he said. "We have a lot of beautiful vegetation with the saguaros, mesquites and palo verde trees, even the animals you see. I think the guests really enjoy that."
Guests who prefer the beauty of modern indoors will be happy to know that La Paloma is just a five-minute drive from La Encantada, one of the best shopping districts in Tucson. The resort has a shuttle service to La Encantada, which also has seven restaurants on its property, and there are 15 restaurants within a mile of the hotel, according to Brooks.
But a piece of advice: Try the Azul restaurant inside La Paloma and get the calamari appetizer and 16-ounce ribeye steak. You won't regret it.
Most golfers who venture to Arizona stay in north Scottsdale and play a few of the prime courses in the area. But if you want a change of pace, head down to Tucson, stay at La Paloma and play the resort course and some of the other great golf courses nearby, such as the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain and the Lodge at Ventana Canyon.
It's a trip worth taking.