Finding an Oasis in the Desert – Review: Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, Tucson, ArizonaUSA MAINLAND — By Cathie Nichols on October 3, 2011 at 01:03
By guest blogger Cathie Nichols. Photos Copyright © Cathie Nichols.
BOOKING A TRIP to Tucson, AZ, was never on my “bucket list.” But with a daughter who decided the University of Arizona is the place she would like to attend college, it suddenly became important for me to figure out where the rest of the family would stay while visiting our newly-minted college student for events such as Family Weekend.
I often start my search for a hotel on the Internet. My research typically includes looking at all the pictures provided by the hotel, deciding on amenities I really cannot live without (hair dryer in room, some kind of pool for the kids, and easy access to food), and then seeking opinions for the short list of options.
Many times in the past I have used TripAdvisor.com for accurate feedback, but this particular time I went to Facebook for my final decision. Because my friends know more about my needs as one of the heads of a large family, I respect their input.
I polled my friends after finding what appeared to be two hotels with equivalent everything, except in the ‘kid-friendly’ department. Since I needed kid-friendly more than anything, I sought my friends’ opinions about Loews versus the Westin La Paloma.
Any parent knows that an uncomfortable child on vacation is a miserable family, and to keep the kids happy and entertained is paramount to the success of any trip. My kids are older, but what that means is they can whine louder and longer than younger ones. And because they require less sleep than infants and toddlers, the break from all that whining is short. Keeping the kids entertained is a top priority!
The hands-down winner was the Westin La Paloma, with the deciding factors being two features that appealed to the children and the adults: a waterslide for the kids, and a swim-up bar for the adults.
The first time we visited the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, Arizona, I felt as if I had found an oasis in the desert. A trite expression, to be sure—but I challenge you to find a better descriptor after driving seven hours through nothing but sand and saguaros. The enormous porte-cochère at the entrance comes complete with a huge fountain, benches for gazing and a view of the breathtaking valley, desert, and Santa Catalina mountains.
Normally, my family and I travel in our least fancy attire. When it comes to going from Point A to Point B, it’s all about comfort. Our other hotel stays in Tucson have not been in nice digs so we were unprepared for the hotel’s luxurious exterior. The first time we pulled up to the Westin, I looked at my oldest and asked, “Do you have anything else you can change into really fast?” She was wearing her worst sweat pants with the legs rolled up.
Entering the Westin was a welcome relief from the heat. The lobby is expansive, full of cool marble, hushed earth tones, and an endless supply of a Tucson necessity: air-conditioning. Each employee we encountered was genuinely friendly and helpful. Our family trip was starting off on a good, flip-flopped foot.
The Westin La Paloma is a huge property. After checking in, we were given a ride on a golf cart to our room. The paths to the rooms are full of Golden Barrel cacti, saguaros, blooming desert flowers, and interesting sculptures. Each one of the sculptures earned a nickname before the end of our trip. The most notable was the “Sideways Smile Egg” sculpture which, oddly enough, looked liked a sideways smiling egg!
The paths are so quiet, and if you are lucky enough to follow the right trail, you can end up at one of the many pools. We spent Friday night following the path to the main pool because it was 96° at 9:30 p.m. What better way to spend a warm night in Tucson? We even got into a pick-up game of volleyball with other young guests of the hotel.
After each excursion into the city of Tucson, we always ended up back at the pool. The Westin is perfect for children (and adults) of all ages. Our oldest wanted to lay around on the hotel lounge chairs and luxuriate in the hot sun while the other two spent all their energy flying down the 177-foot waterslide. There are also pools, waterfalls and spas for adults only, so this hotel is ideal for newlyweds, those with families, older couples, or anyone needing to escape big city life.
During our first trip to the Westin in August, we had a much better room in their “A” section, which overlooks the Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. If quiet is what you and your family want, I highly recommend requesting a room in either A, B, C, or D sections. The rooms in E, F, G, H, or I have spectacular views of the Santa Catalina Mountains but do have some road noise.
Make sure to leave the Westin La Paloma compound every once in a while. Although they’ve thought of everything and there’s really no reason to venture outside of the walls, you must see the sight of the lit-up cacti at night leading up to the main entrance. Taking a family photo in front of these gorgeous specimens can make a great holiday card.
The Westin is also perfect for those with students attending the University of Arizona. Although this hotel is not down the street from the University, it’s close enough, and worth the extra travel time to and from the school.
Book your Family Weekend early because it does sell out. I made the mistake of waiting and paid the price. Our first trip was only $120 per night on Priceline.com but the second trip was twice that price! A lesson learned the hardest way—through my ever-shrinking pocketbook.
Without a doubt our family will stay at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson again. It is truly a heavenly oasis in the desert with something for everyone. The next time we go, though, I will make time to get some spa treatments, such as a massage and hydrotherapy from the Red Door Spa, and maybe use the gym . . . that is, if I can manage to tear myself away from the lounge chairs with the view at the pool!
———CATHIE NICHOLS (aka @Bloggoneit) is an author-in-training and is in the process of writing a book on a topic she knows very little about. Sometimes overwhelmed with three kids, a husband, a dog, a cat, and a couple jobs, she finds her sanity by escaping life through a super sappy movie or venting in a blog post at Bloggoneit.
FTC Compliance: This is an independent review written by Cathie because she enjoys her visits to Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa—trips that were not subsidized in any way in order to write this post. See our Site Policies for more details on our review policies.