Ventana Canyon – Distinguished Desert Hideaway
Just north of Tucson, nestled against the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, awaits a wonderfully luxurious old school golf resort and spa – Loews Ventana Canyon.
While not on the ocean like Pebble Beach, or nearly as large as the enormous Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, this resort’s is a hidden gem. The terrain has the feel of Troon North in Scottsdale or the Vista Vallarta golf course in Puerto Vallarta. The resort itself may conjure up visions of classic American resorts such as the Arizona Biltmore, also up the road in Scottsdale.
Don’t be misled, this is a modern, up to date, “has it all resort”. By “old school” I simply nod to the architecture, beautiful grounds, not too big size (398 rooms), friendly staff, and excellent service. Swimming pools are large yet peaceful with no waterparks or man-made rivers in sight. Add on two Tom Fazio designed championship golf courses, a tennis center, spa, excellent dining options and you have just begun to experience all there is to do here.
Ventana Canyon is only a 30 minute drive from the Tucson airport but a world away as you climb north from the desert floor into the Catalina foothills. Ventana Canyon begins as the road is about to end at the base of the mountains. Loews at Ventana Canyon sits nearly camouflaged as you approach its commanding site high above the Tucson valley.
The Loews Ventana Canyon resort shares the Mountain and Canyon golf courses with the private Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club. Play is alternated each day between the two courses. I highly recommend you play them both.
The courses are blessed with a great site including elevation changes, arroyos, rock outcroppings, trees, cacti, lakes and myriads of other distractions and attractions. The Mountain Course has its famous Hole #3, a 105 yard Par 3, with a tee shot over a ravine to a green that looks to be no bigger than your average backyard swimming pool. My favorite might be the next hole, the Par 5 fourth. From the elevated hillside tee, a swooping dogleg left beckons. Desert and sand guard the corner. The second shot offers no breather as the fairway narrows and water now comes into play. This liquid disaster guards the entire right side all the way through the green. Great hole!
The Canyon Course is equally challenging as it rolls around and through its many ravines, hillsides, cactus and undulating terrain. There are many fun holes and a really nice collection of 3 Pars. The Canyon Course culminates just below the resort lobby where an island green, complete with waterfall and even a few spectators, lays waiting at the end of this challenging Par 5 finishing hole.
Besides great golf, the resort has the intimate Lakeside Spa (with its own private pool and Jacuzzi), exercise classes, tennis center and a fitness path that meanders between the golf courses. The Flying V Bar and Grill is just one of the resorts dining options. It occupies the top floor of the spa building and offers amazing views of the 18th hole and the valley below. Dinner here is resort casual yet sophisticated and the guacamole made table side is amazing. Nearby hiking and biking trails are just the start to the myriad of outdoor activities in the area.
Loews Ventana Canyon is just minutes from the excellent shopping, dining and entertainment found throughout this modern north side of Tucson. Be sure to visit Shlomo and Vito’s New York Deli and Gavi’s Italian restaurant. Tell them Gordy sent you.
All in all this is one of my favorite spots for great golf, peace and quiet, as well as all the other amenities one might need for a great vacation.