We had no plans for the 4th of July. This is fairly 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.
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Thursday morning, I reviewed the usual suspects and some of our favorite hotels. 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 a luxury hotel… and I was in. It didn’t hurt that the flights to Phoenix were ridiculously inexpensive. (Who wants to go to the desert in the summer?! THIS GIRL.) A quick rental car search on Priceline allowed me to snag a car for $15.00/day. After that, I booked our hotel, and by Friday evening, we were on a plane to Phoenix!
Arrival at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain
We arrived at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain shortly after 10:00. We were exhausted from our evening of travel and the time change. The lobby was warm and lively, and we were immediately whisked up to our room by the friendliest bellman from Texas. The rooms and bathroom are very large, much to our pleasant surprise. There is a small closet where you can store luggage. Though we didn’t notice it when we checked in, the room includes a balcony overlooking the pool. Despite the fact that the hotel looks like a lodge, the rooms are certainly luxurious and 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.
Activities near Dove Mountain
Walking / Hiking in the Sonora Desert
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 Dove Mountain hiking 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!
The hotel does offer guided walks around the area, but they started a bit later than we wanted to start our day.
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 Amenities
Our room overlooked two pool. They were too enticing to skip, especially as the temperatures soared past 100 degrees! The water was comfortable and the staff made it a point to circulate water / drinks / chilled hot chocolate. The best part, hands down, 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! It was seriously the most fun I’ve had at a pool in several years! 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.
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! If you play golf, the hotel offers several golf packages and a few course options.
Dining at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain
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 for us – 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 would choose the oven-skilled cookie over the milkshake, but I have this thing for hazelnut! We had so many fries left over that I had them box them up for a snack for later.
4th of July Celebration at Dove Mountain
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.
The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain fireworks is superb. It’s going to be hard for me to want to ever fight crowds to see fireworks ever again. We were able to walk straight out onto a terrace that had chairs set up for viewing the fireworks. However, when the staff realized I wanted to photograph the fireworks, they helped me set up my tripod with an unobstructed view! My photos of the Dove Mountain fireworks came out SO GOOD! It wasn’t crowded, we weren’t waiting for hours, and everyone could enjoy the fireworks. It was the most low-stress 4th of July event I’ve ever attended!
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 too many stars… but it didn’t matter. Everything was perfect.
Final Thoughts on the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain
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. 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!