The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain PoolOn a golfing vacation to Tucson, Phoenix, and Palm Springs we stayed and played at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in Marana Arizona - wow, what a great experience. This luxury mountain resort is located north of Tucson on 850 acres of high Sonoran Desert with the intriguing Saguaro forest, the rugged Tortolita Mountains, and Wild Burro Canyon forming a spectacular backdrop for the Resort and guest rooms.

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is home to 27 outstanding holes of golf designed by Jack Nicklaus, a world class spa, lots of amenities and outdoor activities, 253 guest rooms and casitas, fine dining, and superb service. After spending a couple days at Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain and enjoying all that they have to offer, it's not surprising to me that they have won a number of awards and accolades, some of which included:

  • being named the first resort in the southwest and Arizona to receive the prestigious Forbes Five Star designation for 2016, the second year in a row
  • 2016 AAA Five Diamond Award
  • Ranked among the Best Hotels in the US by US News & World Report
  • #1 Hotel in Arizona and listed in the World's Best Hotels according to Travel & Leisure
  • Conde Nast Traveler and the Readers' Choice Awards rated them the #1 hotel in Arizona
  • Travel & Leisure listed them in the Top 100 Hotels in the World
  • Conde Nast Traveler rated the spa the #3 Resort Spa in the USA and #1 Spa in Arizona,

Flutist on the mountain sideThe Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain sits on land once inhabited by the indigenous Hohokam people, who honored its natural beauty with a spirit that still endures today. And the Resort seems to blend in naturally with the terrain and it remains true to the Hohokam people in a number of ways, the most noticeable is being able to hear the sounds of flute echoing off the surrounding mountains and played beautifully each evening around sunset from a flutist standing on a rock cliff above the Resort.

t just doesn't get much better than The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain - excellent service, good food, superb golf, very comfortable accommodations, and lots of great amenities to enjoy.

Golf at Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

The Golf Club at Dove Mountain is home to 27 holes that Jack Nicklaus carved out of the high sonoran desert and he's created a spectacular golf course that blends in naturally with the mountains and noble Saguaros. During your round on any of the three nines you find excellent conditions from tee to green, lush well manicured wide and sweeping fairways, elevation changes ranging from 2300 to 3200 feet, huge greens and equally large bunkers, doglegs, forced carries, and more - all of which contributes to a fun, challenging, and enjoyable round of golf. Like the Resort The Golf Club at Dove Mountain has also won a number of awards including: Club house at the Dove Mountain Golf ClubBest Course in Arizona, 27th Best Course in the United States, and Best New Course.

Each of the three nines has it's own unique character and personality. Common to all three nines is a spectacular 45,000 square foot club house with a great restaurant and patio, well stocked pro shop, and excellent practice facilities plus great service from the bartender to the pro shop staff and the cart ladies to wait staff.

The Saguaro Nine was home to the Accenture Match Play Championship which features the top 64 players in the official World Golf Ranking and this nine is the shortest, flattest, and most wide open of the nines as it plays away from the Tortolita mountains and then back up toward the mountains.  The greens on Saguaro are huge and heavily contoured, water on two holes can be troublesome, and the 39 bunkers can add some strokes to your game. 

Saguaro Course at The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

We didn't have time to play Saguaro but we loved Wild Burro and Tortolita. Wild Burro is Jack Nicklaus' favorite nine which is not surprising thanks to this nines spectacular views of the Tortolita Mountains and a panoramic view of the Ritz-Carlton. This nine twists back into Wild Burro Canyon and it is the most challenging of the nines thanks to big deep bunkers, tighter fairways, lots of forced carries, and challenging approach shots. Here is a link to our review of The Golf Club at Dove Mountain Wild Burro Course.

Dove Mountain Golf Club

Serving as the back nine for the Accenture Match Play Championship, Tortolita is the longest of the nines at 3955 yards and it winds along the base of the Tortolita Mountains through a secluded canyon to the highest point on the course. Tortolita is the most challenging of the nines and it's home to wide sweeping fairways off the tee box, forced carries over the desert on every hole from the back three tee boxes, 45 strategically placed bunkers, and washes to carry on your approach to challenging green complexes. Read our review of The Golf Club at Dove Mountain Tortolita Course to learn more.

The Golf Club at Dove Mountain

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain Accommodations

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain has 253 guest rooms and casitas and we stayed in one of the guest rooms that overlooked the Tortolita Mountains. Our mountain view room (450 square feet) was outstanding and very well appointed with dark mesquite woods (the ceiling beams, doors, floor, bed frame, and molding), richly hued fabrics, light stones and a taste of Southwestern flair. The bed was to die for and I had hard time getting out of it each morning - a luxurious feather bed with down duvets, 400-thread count linens by Frette, and goose down pillows just doesn't get much more comfortable! Our room also included a 42 inch flat screen TV, high speed internet, oval table and two leather chairs, soft leather side chair, huge deep tub that helped get rid of all that bunker sand that was attached to my body, large marble bathroom with a double sink and vanity, tile shower, walk-in closet with two very comfortable robes, and a great balcony with a table and two cushioned chairs for a stunning view.

Guest room at the The Ritz-Carlton Dove MountainGuest room bathroom at The Ritz-Carlton Dove MountainSuite at The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

Casitas at The Ritz-Carlton Dove MountainSome of the other options at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain include guest rooms with a spectacular view of the pool and mountains, 917 to 2072 square feet suites, and 660 to 2010 square foot casitas with panoramic views of Wild Burro Canyon, large living areas, bigger patios, two bathrooms, and more - all in the exclusive and more private Casita area.

Activities and Amenities at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

When you stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain the focus is enjoying the great outdoors and one of the more popular activities at The Ritz-Carlton is enjoying the mountains which are just outside your door and home to over 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. You can enjoy a short easy hike with beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountains, the towering Saguaros and Sonoran desert, and Tucson far in the distance or you can take a more strenuous hike with significant elevation changes. If you would rather ride than walk, you can rent a mountain bike or road bike from the concierge.

Walk out the front door and you can catch a three minute shuttle ride from the lobby to the Golf Club at Dove Mountain to play golf, get some practice on the driving range or putting green, or enjoy the 45,000 square foot club house with a well stocked pro shop, a very good restaurant, cozy bar, and an excellent patio with a beautiful view. .

Pool at the Ritz-Carlton Dove MountianThe pool area is fantastic - lush grass, beautiful views, a huge pool, large hot tub, comfy outdoor furniture, and a bar and restaurant with pool side service.

Each night around the fire pits you can listen to "The Legend of the Spirit of Adventure" which tells the incredible story of a native Hohokam brave and then concludes with live Native American flute music that surrounds the Resort and desert. There are several fire and conversation pits spread around the Resort.

Some of the recreational activities you can enjoy include: one of the 4 tennis courts, family nature walks, bocce ball, horseshoes, board games, ping pong, and badminton. There are several family and kids activities with fees, some of which include:

  • an informative night walk into the Wild Burro Canyon under a star-studded sky around the time the deserts nocturnal animals become active
  • a variety of guided hikes lasting from an hour and a half to three hours and covering two to four miles where you can experience Hohokam and archaic tribal sites, desert flora and giant Saguaro cacti, the historic ruins of the T-Bench-Bar-Ranch, and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert and Dove Mountain and Wild Burro Canyon
  • a GPS led activity scavenger hunt in the desert and through Wild Burro Canyon to find hidden geocache boxes is a fun family adventure and good way to spend time exploring the surroundings of the resort
  • the Ritz Kids Program offers a variety of supervised activities for kids 5 to 12 with activities focused on life in Southern Arizona from the wild west to Mexican heritage to Native American life and culture to all of the plants and animals that call Dove Mountain home
  • Southern Arizona is recognized as the Astronomy Capital of the World and you and the kids can learn about the different planets and stars

Star gazingBadmitton at The Ritz Carlton Dove MountainSlide at The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain

To help work out the kinks from all that outdoor activity or golf, the award winning Spa ( #3 Spa in North America and the #1 Spa in Arizona by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine) offers a wide variety of services ranging from massage therapies to facials to body treatments for couples, individuals, or teens.

The fitness center at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain offers mind and body fitness classes and equipment as well as personalized training or you can get plenty of exercise on the elliptical riders, stationary bikes, treadmills, free weights, or other weight training machines.


Dining at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

Burger and salad at IgniteI wish I had spent some time in the fitness center trying to get rid of some of the calories from all the good food that I enjoyed at the Resort. When we first arrived at the Resort, we enjoyed a very tasty lunch on IGNITE's outside patio overlooking the pool and mountains - a delicious 8 ounce Kobe Yaygu beef burger loaded with pecan smoked bacon, beer batter onion rings, and romaine white cheddar cheese; an excellent kabocha squash bisque with crispy kale creme fraiche; and a delightful Caesar salad.

IGNITE has a bar, indoor and outdoor seating, and another area with a large screen TV where several people were enjoying lunch, drinks, and one of the playoff games. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday you can enjoy made to order Maki rolls and sashimi, Japanese beer, and sake at the IGNITE sushi bar and sake. IGNITE also offers snacks ranging from wings to hummus to braised short rib flatbread; salads; a buffalo tacos; a spicy chicken sandwich; and more plus sweets like lemon red velvet cheesecake or mint chocolate chip sorbet.

After lunch, we couldn't resist sitting by the pool sipping some hand crafted margaritas from Turquesa, which is the casual poolside cafe offering traditional Latin fare with a local influence plus a wide selection of tequilas and frozen cocktails. After a good lunch and a couple margaritas I was ready for a nap but instead I was drug by the hand up the side of the mountain for a quick hike!

For our dinner we took the shuttle over to Cayton's Burger Bistro at the Golf Club - this is my kind of place with bar, fireside indoor table seating, or dining and drinks on the outside patio overlooking the golf course and stunning sunsets; live music - a very enjoyable guitar singer songwriter; a fun wait staff; local craft beer; a variety of appetizers; and some very good food ranging from salads to sandwiches to unique burgers (for example, a truffle Mac & Cheese burger) plus ribs (outstanding and tasty meat that fell off the bone), pasta, steaks, and fish. We tried several of the craft beers but the highlight may have been the adult shakes. Wow, I had "The Dude" which was a white Russian shake with Kahlua and vanilla vodka. And we had a good time with the wait staff and bartender, who was a diehard Arizona Cardinals fan, watching the Arizona playoff game! Fun time.

Wait staff at CaytonsShake & Burger at Cayton's at The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Singer Songwriter at The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain

Buffet at The Ritz Carlton Dove MountainFor breakfast or dinner the CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar is one of the more popular choices. CORE is on the ground floor with stunning views of the pool and mountains and has a very expansive breakfast buffet (fruits, breads, eggs, bacon, sausage, omelets cooked to order, hash browns, pancakes, and lots more) or you can order off the menu. This upscale restaurant also has dinner meals (ranging from crispy skinned rainbow trout to short ribs to ribeye steaks to Chiocciole pasta or cast iron jambalaya) inspired by Sonoran and regional influences and the menu is complemented by an extensive wine list.

After golf on our final day, we enjoyed an excellent burger and a crispy Rockfish sandwich on Cayton's patio, reminisced about our round of golf, and got very sad when we realized that we had to leave The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain and start the long boring drive back to Texas. We can't wait to come back again next year.

If you're looking for an upscale resort with an emphasis on outdoor activities, very good service, stunning views, 27 holes of excellent golf, comfortable accommodations, and good food, we can highly recommend The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.

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