Sunday, June 8, 2008

Golf holiday in Tucson

Brad and I spent June 4-8 on a golf holiday in Tucson. We chose Tucson because we wanted a great golf destination, and neither of us had been there before. Tucson is about a seven hour drive from Las Vegas, and the trip took us over the Hoover Dam and through Kingman and Phoenix, and we spent hours and hours looking at yuccas and saguaro cacti.

We stayed at the Loews Ventana Canyon. We chose this resort because of its incredible golf rates (June is low season because of the heat) and its location nestled in the Catalina Foothills. I was nervous about this resort because it received mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, but it was everything that I imagined and better. I don't know how people could possibly give it a poor rating - the service was impeccable, the scenery was breathtaking, and the atmosphere was as relaxing as it can get. I would absolutely stay here again and recommend it to anyone looking for a golf vacation or just a place to unwind.

View driving into the foothills.View of the waterfall from our balcony.
A winding walking path on the back of the property led to this waterfall...
...and a view of the city (with the resort in the foreground).
We golfed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. There are two courses that the resort shares with the Lodge at Ventana Canyon, the Canyon Course (which we played twice) and the Mountain Course (which we played once). Both courses were challenging, despite having surprisingly wide fairways, but the greens on the Mountain Course were absolutely a killer. We were only paired with another twosome on Saturday, and the weather was perfect all three days. Although the highs were around 100, because we played in the morning, we were off the course before the temperature reached 90.

Lots of golf pictures follow. I love this one of the two of us with the 18th green and the Loews behind us.
The most picturesque hole on the course, the 3rd on the Mountain Course. saw lots and lots of animals on the course, including ground squirrels...
...dragon-like lizards...
...and a road runner. We also saw hundreds of rabbits and quail. Thankfully, there were no snake sightings.
The resort is at the trailhead of the Ventana Canyon Trail. I was anxious to hike this trail, but there was limited time with our golfing. On Friday, I grabbed my pack and headed up the trail, trying to reach the Maiden Pools, about an hour and a half in. At about an hour in, I lost the trail and the cairns disappeared, so I decided it would be best to head back rather than getting lost in the dark. I still enjoyed my hike and was glad to take advantage of the proximity of the trail to the resort.
On Saturday, Brad and I skipped our post-golf nap to check out the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. We were told that this is the second-most visited attraction in Arizona (the Grand Canyon is first, of course). It was about an hour drive from the resort, and the drive took us through town and over this beautiful mountain pass.
The museum is more like a zoo, with many animal exhibits. It is located in the middle of the desert and was quite hot, but we were able to zip through it in less than two sweaty hours.

Mountain lions.
Sweet little margay.
Desert big horn sheep (Red Rock has lots of these, though the seem to hide every time I'm out hiking).
Bird in the aviary that kept dive-bombing Brad.
The hummingbird aviary was my favorite part.
In addition to the golf and site seeing, we ate many great meals. There were many restaurants on our list that we didn't get a chance to try. A brief run-down:

  • Dinner at Vin Tabla - nice outdoor patio, good wine selection, and informative waiter who helped us choose our other dining locations
  • Lunch at Wildflower - nice courtyard dining, absolutely fantastic food
  • Guacamole and margaritas at the Flying V Bar and Grill at Loews- beautiful view of the 18th hole from the outdoor deck, delicious table-side guacamole
  • Lunch at Armitage Wine Lounge and Cafe - probably should have just stopped in for a glass of wine, as the food was unremarkable
  • Dinner at the Ventana Room at Loews - AAA 5 diamond restaurant overlooking the city, the service was impeccable, the food was amazing
  • Dinner at Cafe Poco Coso downtown - unique Mexican food, loved the idea of the chef's selection where the chef surprises you with three different menu items for your plate

More pictures from our wonderful vacation here. I can't wait to return!

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