LuxuryFamily travel

Desert delight: Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, 30 miles north of downtown Tucson.

Though it's just 30 miles north of downtown Tucson, the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain feels refreshingly remote. Stately saguaros and the ragged Tortolita Mountains peaks surround the Sonoran Desert resort in southeastern Arizona, and the velvety night skies above its 800 acres make for excellent stargazing.

The 253-room property welcomes guests in queen, king and suite accommodations along with spacious, stand-alone casitas. Copper, quartzite and mesquite design accents reflect the resort's natural setting. Its amenities range from Asprey bath products and Frette linens to evening turndown service, complete with cards that spotlight the constellations that are visible in the sky.

The outdoor fire pit patio at the main-level Ignite Lounge has become a popular gathering spot since its 2016 kitchen revamp. Gastropub fare headlines the menu here, and there's a focus on whiskey, scotch and cocktails that incorporate citrus from an on-site orchard. Downstairs, dinners at the Core Kitchen & Wine Bar put a Southwestern spin on American classics, complete with locally grown greens, house-made chipotle ancho butter and other authentic Arizona flavors.

The Core is open for breakfast, while coffee, tea and smoothies are available at the neighboring To Go. For quick and casual bites later in the day, the Turquesa Latin Grill serves lunch and afternoon cocktails at the main pool.

With an appealing combination of natural attributes and luxurious amenities, the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is a surprisingly good fit for families.

The property's Ritz Kids programs explore art and science through a southern Arizona lens, offering half-day, full-day and evening activities for ages 5 to 12.

Participants can complete a desert scavenger hunt, create nature-themed art, write stories or view live snakes, scorpions and desert tortoises in the resort's nature center.

As children explore the natural world, parents might tee off at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain. The clubhouse and 27-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed course border the neighboring Ritz-Carlton Residences, Dove Mountain. The resort spa has individual treatment rooms and a posh couple's suite plus a sauna, a steam room and an open-air serenity pool. Treatments integrate natural elements like desert plant extracts and gemstones.

Adventurous guests can follow more than 20 miles of hiking trails that extend along the canyons and crests behind the main lodge. Low-key loops wind past mesquite trees and jojoba shrubs; more strenuous options climb ridgelines framed by granite boulders and cactus species galore.

Resort rangers lead birding walks, cactus excursions, nighttime stargazing and scorpion tours as well as hikes that showcase the ancient rock art on the property. In addition to these fee-based tours, various family nature walks, desert talks and lawn games are complimentary for guests.

Early each evening, spectators fill the Ignite Lounge patio for the Spirit of Adventure Celebration. As a resort ranger shares stories of the region's Native American ancestors, a flute player performs in the distance.

On a recent hosted stay, I caught the program and returned to my room just as a thunderstorm rolled in. From the balcony, I watched as dark clouds churned over the foothills and rain cooled the dry desert air.

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