We had no plans for the 4th of July. This is pretty typical because we never know what our schedule is going to be. We knew our students wouldn’t want to work and we hadn’t heard about any family plans, so we started talking about going out of town. Thursday morning, I reviewed the usual suspects. Half Moon Bay, New York, Los Angeles, Boston. I started to think that it was useless to go out of town until the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain caught my eye. The Sonora Stars package – which included a telescope and a star chart – got me REALLY EXCITED.
I never considered myself a desert person, but throw in a telescope… and I. Was. In. It didn’t hurt that the flights to Phoenix were ridiculously cheap. (Because who wants to go to the desert in the summer?! THIS GIRL.) Priceline allowed me to snag a car for $15.00/day; I booked our hotel, and by Friday evening, we were on a plane to Phoenix!
Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain – Arrival and Room
We arrived at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain shortly after 10:00 and we were exhausted. The lobby was warm and lively, and we were immediately whisked up to our room by the friendliest bellman from Texas. Our room and its bathroom was very large, much to our pleasant surprise. There was a small closet where we could store luggage, and our room includes a balcony overlooking the pool. Despite the fact that the hotel looks like a lodge, the rooms were certainly comfortable.
As my husband began to explore the TV channels, I took a bath in the tub that was so deep that he couldn’t see the top of my head. Everything about this room was cozy and luxurious. Absolutely beautiful room, absolutely relaxing, absolutely what we needed.
Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain – Activities
Walking / Hiking
We woke up early Saturday morning (by 6:30!) to find that our room overlooked the rest of the resort and the mountains. It was so still and so serene that we decided to take a walk around the property. We enjoyed our walk so much that decided we needed to go hiking. (This is hilarious. We don’t hike. Ever.)
The concierge offered us a booklet with several trails and their recommendations on the most scenic views. We headed out (in the wrong direction) to climb 1,600 feet through the mountains. There was plenty of time to appreciate the giant cacti and to send pictures back home (to people who definitely wouldn’t believe that we were hiking). It was absolutely incredible. I’ve never been anywhere like this, and I really enjoyed it!
Fun Fact: The Saguaro cactus is 50-60 years BEFORE IT STARTS GROWING ARMS. That means those giant cacti are REALLY old.
University of Arizona
We drove to Tucson so I could see the University of Arizona. The athletic facilities are ridiculously nice. That’s basically all I have to say about that… HOWEVER, they have amazing support for students with learning differences, so I’m a fan of that for sure!
Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain – Dining
After our hike, we made reservations at Cayton’s, a burger joint that overlooks the golf course. Our server, Ariel, was incredible! She had tons of recommendations – all of them delicious! I had read that the milkshakes were the way to go, so I ordered a burger with sweet potato fries, a black and white cookie milkshake (cookies and cream), and the oven-skillet chocolate hazelnut cookie with ice cream. Yep, I broke ALL the healthy eating rules. Had it not been so early, I would have tried one of the adult milkshakes. Everything was delicious! I will say that I would choose the oven-skilled cookie over the milkshake, but I have a thing for hazelnut! We had so many fries left over that I had them box them up for a snack for later.
Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain – Property Amenities
While we didn’t take advantage of them, the property has several lawn games, including a mini golf course! We also observed a kids’ club and several activities geared for families, including a guided nature walk. There’s also a beautiful spa with a wide range of treatments. Many of the hotel room rates include a spa credit, so if you’re visiting on a less busy weekend, I highly recommend taking advantage of it!
Our room overlooked two pools; they were too enticing to skip! The water was comfortable, the staff made it a point to circulate water/drinks/chilled hot chocolate, but the best part was the water slide!! My husband was definitely dubious, but he agreed to it (because he really loves me!). I seriously laughed the whole way down – and proceeded to do it at least 10 more times! Seriously. Best ever. At 5:30, a flautist started playing in the mountains (not unlike the bagpipe player in Half Moon Bay) and you could hear it from both pools.
Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain – 4th of July Celebration
For the 4th of July, the hotel offered a BBQ dinner with live music, dancing, and fireworks for couples and families! We made seating reservations for a private table at 7:45. The band played a mix of older classics and contemporary music. I really enjoyed the prime rib with smoked garlic sauce, and my husband enjoyed the pork and burgers. They had several delicious sides, an ice cream sundae and float bar, and mini desserts. It surpassed our expectations for hotel fare and we’re so glad we did it.
We were able to walk straight out onto a terrace to see the fireworks. There were chairs set up, but because I wanted to take photos, they helped me set up my tripod with an unobstructed view! My firework pictures came out SO GOOD! It wasn’t too crowded, we weren’t waiting for hours. It was the most low-stress 4th of July event ever!
We finished our night sitting on our balcony, drinking red wine, and playing with our telescope. Unfortunately it was cloudy so I didn’t see any stars… but it didn’t matter. Everything was perfect.
Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain – Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for a low-key resort where you can just take it easy, I highly recommend the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain. They had a number of free activities – and lots of things for families – ANDDDD the price is right during the summer ($129-149!). The staff was absolutely amazing – we didn’t encounter anyone who wasn’t over the top helpful and friendly. Rooms were beautiful and luxurious (that bathtub made me SO EXCITED for our renovation), and it’s so low stress. Just be aware that there isn’t anything else out there – you’ll have to drive 15-25 minutes to get to “civilization”… which is exactly what I wanted. Just enjoy the resort and eat at Cayton’s. It’s worth every calorie!