The massive Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa sits in full view of the towering Santa Catalina Mountains, so dramatic vistas can be spied from practically everywhere on the sprawling property. In addition to beautiful surroundings, this upscale resort offers numerous amenities that include three golf courses, five pools, and 10 tennis courts. A massive, 177-foot waterslide attracts families, while cavernous meeting spaces draw convention groups and business travelers. The property is starting to show its age, however, especially in the guest rooms, which are big, but look somewhat dated.
Sprawling resort that is packed with amenities, but starting to show its age
Guests staying at the Westin La Paloma would likely need several days to fully experience everything there is to do at this upscale resort. In addition to three Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses and 10 tennis courts, there are five pools, a 177-foot waterslide, racquetball courts, the Red Door Spa, and several restaurants and lounges. A standard Westin Kids Club is also available for children ages six months to 12 years, with supervised activities and games offered daily.
Of course, there’s also plenty of room to just chill out and relax. The sprawling resort encompasses a large swath of land near the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains which dominate the skyline in impressive fashion. The resort's developers made sure to emphasize the views from all over the property, making it easy to enjoy the stunning natural vistas from AZUL Restaurant or a lounge chair beside one of the pools.
With the hot climate of the Sonoran Desert, the resort's massive pool complex is a popular feature. It houses five pools, including a lap pool by the fitness center and a kiddy pool. There's a waterfall tumbling over native granite, a cold plunge, and a huge waterslide that’s a magnet for kids. Sabino’s is a swim-up pool bar that dispenses cold drinks while guests sit in the water. Family-friendly movies are shown poolside in the warm months, so that guests can watch from the water.
The Westin La Paloma’s grounds are dotted with desert cacti and native trees that meld seamlessly with the surrounding natural landscape. Inside, a massive lobby features three-story windows that frame the Santa Catalinas above AZUL Restaurant.
The hotel was renovated in 2012, brining refreshed suites, meeting spaces, poolside cabans, and lobby area, as well as a refurished gym, golf course, and tennis courts. The hotel a modern, but understated appeal with wood tones, and sleek finishings.
The La Paloma is located in north Tucson off East Sunrise Drive, in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Beyond the resort, there is little within easy walking distance. Self-parking is included in the daily resort fee, but overnight valet parking incurs extra charges.
Tucson is the second-biggest city in Arizona and perhaps its most culturally rich. Though officially founded in 1776, Tucson was first settled in the late 1600s by Spanish missionaries (most notably at the beautiful Mission San Xavier del Bac, the region's most iconic structure), and 4000 years earlier by Hohokam Indians. It is said to be one of the longest continuously-inhabited cities in the USA, known since its inception as the "Old Pueblo."
Sitting at 2,400 feet in a broad valley between five different mountain ranges, Tucson enjoys on average 350 sunny days per year and an arid climate that produces one of the most diverse desert environments in the world. The Sonoran Desert features the stately saguaro cactus, which is celebrated at Saguaro National Park on the city's outskirts, and many other varieties of cacti and unique wildlife including a few notable desert dwellers, such as rattlesnakes, Gila Monsters, and Giant Desert Hairy Scorpions. There was even a 2009 sighting of a rare jaguar. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has wildlife and flora on display, and is the best place to learn more.
With all that sunshine, Tucson is an outdoor lover's paradise. Scores of golf courses dot the city. Hiking possibilities are limitless and year-round in the Santa Catalina and Santa Rita Mountains nearby, with Sabino Canyon Recreation Area being a local favorite. Mountain bikers come to Tucson by the thousands for the miles of single-track trails in the desert. Bird-watchers can explore some of the richest avian populations in North America in nearby secluded canyons. And there's even a ski area among fir and pine trees atop Mt. Lemmon, which has an elevation of more than 9,000 feet.
Tucson's Hispanic community is woven into the fabric of everyday life in the city, and is reflected in the Mexican restaurants, the Spanish place names, and the arts and culture that play a large part in forming Tucson's identity. The arts abound in Tucson in dozens of galleries, such as the Etherton Gallery or DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun (celebrating the work of Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia). The University of Arizona houses the Creative Center for Photography, the nation's largest repository of photographs by notable artists such as Ansel Adams and W. Eugene Smith.
As a desert city, Tucson gets hot in the summertime with temps ranging in the 100s from May to mid-September. Winter is the busy season, when many visitors succumb to the temptations of 75-degree days and pleasant evenings around a fireplace. Summers can be enjoyable too, by sticking close to a pool or indulging in shopping -- just remember to pack extra water and avoid exertion in the midday sun. Locals might suggest taking a siesta -- "nap" in Spanish -- during midday hours.
It's important to realize that freeways are nonexistent in Tucson, save for I-10. Driving times can vary depending on time of day, as rush hour creates a twice-daily snarl on surface streets.
30-minute drive from Tucson International Airport
5-minute drive to the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
5-minute drive to La Encantada shopping area
15-minute drive to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area
20-minute drive to the The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona
30-minute drive to Reid Park Zoo
30-minute drive to Pima Air and Space Museum
30-minute drive to Mission San Xavier del Bac
40-minute drive to Old Tucson Studios
40-minute drive to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum
Spacious with some good views, but Standard Rooms are starting to show age
The Westin La Paloma offers hundreds of rooms housed in 27 low-rise buildings spread across the large property. Outdoor entries and balconies come standard with all rooms. Decor is minimalist, with a neutral color scheme that features earthy desert colors and generic wood furnishings that could use an update. Westin's signature Heavenly Beds feature pillow-top mattresses, down comforters, and five pillows. Bathrooms include double sink vanities, soaking tubs, and separate showers. They have a modern, but understated look with wood and yellow-tones.
42-inch flat-screen TVs with premium channels
Wi-Fi access included in resort fee
Safes are big enough for laptops
Rooms are big, but Standard-level rooms tired-looking furnishings and carpets could use updates
Headboards have LED reading lights
Suites were renovated in 2012, but standard Traditional Guest Rooms could use an update
Suites have double the space or more of standard rooms, and some may include private outdoor Jacuzzis and living room fireplaces
AZUL Restaurant features views of the mountains and a Mediterranean-inspired menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The AZUL Lounge has Happy Hours and special theme nights on select weeknights. It is open nightly.
Sabino's Pool Bar and Grill serves burgers and ice cream daily by the main pool.
The Courtside Deli is near the fitness center and tennis courts, offers sandwiches and casual fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily