Finding an Oasis in the Desert – Review: Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, Tucson, Arizona

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 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 swim-up bar at Westin La Paloma

The Catalinas are a majestic backdrop to this family's game of volleyball.
The swim-up bar is in the building behind the guests.

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.

Porte cochere, Westin La Paloma

The peaceful and cool entry to the hotel

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 lobby, Westin La Paloma

Left: The lobby is enormous. And the floors are always this shiny!
Right: Enormous window frames the view of the Catalina Mountains.

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!

Beautiful pathways to the rooms and the pools

One of the paths to the rooms. Look at that view in the background!

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.

The 177' water slide

The 177' water slide

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.

Westin La Paloma overlooking the desert

Our room was in the second building over to the right

The Catalina Mountains

Astonishing view of the Catalina Mountains from our room

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.

Cacti at night

Cacti at night near the entrance of the Westin La Paloma

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 but the second trip was twice that price!  A lesson learned the hardest way—through my ever-shrinking pocketbook.

Azul Restaurant

Azul Restaurant located inside the La Paloma

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

Cathie Nichols

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.

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  1. Cathie,

    Great recommendation! If I’m ever in Tucson… 😉

    It does look quite spectacular, and there’s nothing like a view of desert mountains as you lounge by the pool.

    Must say I also loved your reasons for keeping kids happy on vacation. Truly made me laugh!

    • Lisa,
      I definitely highly recommend especially if you book early enough and can get some of the rooms I suggested. What an absolutely great hotel surrounded by the West’s natural beauty. You will enjoy this hotel and truly, we barely scratched the surface of all the Westin has to offer.

  2. Oh my! This looks wonderful. I’ll definitely have to talk my husband into going on a long weekend vacation with the family here. That slide is already calling to my children 🙂

    • Danielle,
      My kids were exhausted after walking up the stairs and then going down the slide. I have a picture of my youngest asleep at the dinner table at a restaurant. So worth it to get that picture for blackmail when she’s older and dating 🙂

  3. This review makes me want to book a trip there! Maybe for our anniversary in April? It sounds amazing! What great writing too – I didn’t want to cut out early from your review as I often want to with other reviews haha!

    • Joann,
      Lol! You’re too funny. Thanks for reading it all the way through. I’m the same way — the ADD kicks in and I have to move on.

      The Westin is definitely anniversary worthy. So much to do, so little time. Plan ahead what you want to do for sure. We were mostly concerned with hanging out with the college girl.

  4. Wow Cathie, what a brilliant find! Sounds like an absolute paradise.

    • It was absolutely amazing. It was so amazing that I suggested we pack up the San Diego house and move, but alas, there’s that heat and we were not there when it was terribly hot — only about 104 or so….it’s a terrific place to visit, though.

  5. Oh, that sounds fabulous! I don’t often indulge in a resort stay, but this might have to be on my list! Thank you SO much for sharing! …and you’re right – an unhappy child makes for an unhappy trip! Good for your for covering all the bases!

    • Ann, we don’t normally indulge either but we had stayed here before for a steal and because we liked it so much, when we had to return to Tucson, staying at the Westin was a no-brainer. Our family will definitely return again to the resort but I will remember to plan way ahead and book the rooms in advance to save a lot of $$$!!

  6. My sister lives in near Tucson, and has been asking us to come and visit her. If/when we make a trip there I think I will try to stay at the Westin La Paloma. It looks wonderful!
    Thanks for the well written review! I enjoyed it!

    • Betsy V.
      I would definitely highly recommend the Westin. It is so quiet, so serene and absolutely lovely. When we went in August, one type of flower I had never seen before was blooming and after this trip in September, another flower was blooming. If I didn’t have kids with me, I would have geeked out on the wildlife surrounding the facilities (along with all those spa treatments) but definitely will have to do that next time. Or maybe I’ll indulge in a Girls Getaway package that Richard Brooks mentions above.

      No matter what, our family will be back!

  7. Hi Cathie,

    On behalf of our staff we want to thank you for your visit and spreading the word on our destination. We have some great specials available for your fans including our 25 Year Anniversary Package, No Limits Golf and a new Girls Getaway package that will be launched later this week. Just keep an eye on our Special Offers tab from our site,

    We look forward to seeing you poolside very soon.

    Go Cats!

    • Mr. Brooks,

      I commend you for monitoring what guests are saying about your beautiful hotel. I truly wish I could just live where you get to work each day. Everything about your hotel is just fantastic, but I wanted to let you know that we found Nick to be especially fun and helpful. He brought our lunch to us poolside and was so full of enthusiasm and eagerness that I had to take note of his name and let you know how great he is. Also, the cleaning staff literally read our minds and gave us more of everything without asking.

      You have a great facility, and like I’ve stated many times, we’ll definitely be back. In fact, we’re so spoiled now that it’s probably the only place we’ll stay in Tucson.

      Thank you for letting me know about the upcoming specials — I may just take you up on the Girls Getaway soon!

      Thanks again for replying,

  8. Pingback: My First Guest Blog Post | Bloggoneit's Blog

  9. Oh, that sounds fabulous! I don’t often indulge in a resort stay, but this might have to be on my list! Thank you SO much for sharing! …and you’re right – an unhappy child makes for an unhappy trip! Good for your for covering all the base

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