Big, luxurious, and loaded with activities, the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa is a family- and business-friendly hotel located on the outskirts of west Tucson. It’s surrounded by striking desert landscapes, with good views all around. There’s golf, tennis, numerous pools and water features, shopping, restaurants, a massive lobby, hiking, and the big Hashani Spa. About the only things not available here are free in-room Wi-Fi and free parking, both of which can be had at the more affordable Westward Look Resort.
A sprawling, upscale resort that is packed with amenities and features a festive vibe
The massive JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass is set in a secluded location in the Tucson Mountains west of the city. Untouched desert stretches in all directions and views of the surrounding saguaro-studded environment are excellent. With 575 rooms, the sprawling property was built to accommodate crowds. The 50-acre resort features not only a huge main building, but also an expansive deck out back where people gather around fire pits and drinks in the evenings to enjoy the sunset.
The atmosphere is festive and fun-loving, especially beyond the deck at the pools. A lazy river that carries tubers and floaters, a large waterslide that captivates the kids, and a big main pool with kid-friendly fountains nearby all create a playful mood, especially on hot days. The pools are so popular that crowding can become an issue on summer holidays and weekends, when the hotel fills up. Police and extra security may be present at times to control the revelry.
Guests can choose between golf, tennis, hiking, and mountain biking on local nature trails into the Tucson Mountains, geocaching, yoga, shopping, or simply chilling out while enjoying the view. Indoors, the huge lobby offers free Wi-Fi and plenty of seating, as well as restaurants ranging from the fine dining of Primo to the casual dining of Signature Grill. The large Hashani Spa provides a full range of services, including a lap pool outside.
Although the large size of the resort is impressive, one drawback is the location of the self-parking area at the end of the property. Due to the lot's remote location, guests who self-park have a winding, 10-minute walk up staircases and through hallways to reach the front desk, which is near the opposite end of the property. A fee is charged for both valet and self-parking, and there is also a fee for in-room Wi-Fi use.
West of Tucson, next to the Tucson Mountain Preserve
The JW Marriott Tucson Star Pass is located six miles west of downtown Tucson in a secluded mountainous area next to the Tucson Mountain Preserve. There are no businesses within walking distance and a vehicle is essential for exploring other Tucson attractions. Free shuttle service is offered within a three-mile radius.
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 to Tucson International Airport
20-minute drive to Reid Park Zoo
20-minute drive to the The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona
20-minute drive to Old Tucson Studios
25-minute drive to Pima Air and Space Museum
25-minute drive to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum
25-minute drive to Mission San Xavier del Bac
35-minute drive to La Encantada shopping area
40-minute drive to the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
Big and luxe with flat-screen TVs, large bathrooms, and some good views
Spacious rooms feature contemporary decor and a tan-and-beige color scheme inspired by the local environment. Beds come with 300-thread-count linens and down pillows and duvets. A balcony or patio is included with each room, and views will vary depending on room type. The bathrooms are big and come with granite countertops, glass-walled showers, and separate tubs.
Customized rooms for disabled guests include roll-in showers and grab bars by toilets.
Good mix of restaurants and bars makes for a range of casual and fine dining options
Primo is the top fine dining restaurant at the Starr Pass and serves Mediterranean cuisine with organic ingredients taken from the on-site herb garden. It features a warm color scheme and soft lighting. Dinner served nightly.
The Signature Grill serves locally grown food prepared using Mexican-inspired recipes. Carpeted floors and brick walls create an inviting ambience. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Salud! is the lobby bar and serves appetizers and drinks from late afternoon to late evening. It features an airy indoor space with massive windows and comfy outdoor seating surrounding fire pits.
Starbucks is available in the lobby from early until late.
Catalina Barbeque Co. & Sports Bar serves American fare for lunch and dinner, with a focus on competition-style barbecue. Located in the Starr Pass Golf Club.
Plunge is the poolside bar and grill, and has covered, open-air seating. It offers sandwiches, snacks, and cocktails from morning until late afternoon. Open seasonally.
Room service is available 24 hours.
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