Destination I Do

A Desert Oasis

Words by Jennifer Stein
A Desert Oasis
By: Jennifer Stein
Often, when people picture the southwest, in their mind’s eye they see dusty roads, tumbleweeds, heat waves and nocturnal critters. During the hot summer months, that is partly true. But between October and May, the desert blooms and becomes perfect retreat from the harsh winter climates found throughout much of the United States. With blue skies, near-perfect temperatures, sophisticated resorts and spas, championship golf, and world-class cuisine, it is no wonder that the desert southwest has become an oasis to many.
One absolute treasure we uncovered is nestled in the foothills of Tucson, and come February, most travelers suffering from winter cabin fever only dream of a destination so tranquil and beautiful. Tucked in a rugged mountainside, Loews at Ventana Canyon is a desert haven complete with two championship golf courses, Tucson’s only 5-Diamond restaurant, a 50-foot waterfall, butterfly gardens and spacious rooms with verandas overlooking the city lights.  
The south-facing portion of the property is covered in flowering vines, so come April, the entire hotel seems alive with bright yellow blossoms. The gardens and meandering walkways throughout the resort invite you to explore and take in the fresh outdoors. Regardless of fitness level or age, there is a hiking or walking trail for just about anyone. We found one right off the back of the hotel property that led us straight to a waterfall (perfect for an intimate wedding ceremony).
Loew’s Lakeside Spa offers bridal parties the royal treatment with signature services, including the Sedona Sacred Clay Energy Restorer,  one of those “died-and-gone-to-heaven” moments all brides should experience. The therapist starts by exfoliating the skin with Juniper Cedar Wood Body Polish, which cleanses and softens as it fills the air with the earthly aroma of herbs and desert woods. After rinsing off, soothing Sedona Sacred Clay is painted from head to toe. The smooth clay has detoxifying and energizing properties, so by the end of the treatment any bride would be ready to begin her wedding day feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Beyond the full-service salon & spa, manicured golf courses and relaxing atmosphere, the other standout while visiting Loews at Ventana Canyon, is the food. For breakfast, I recommend visiting the Canyon Café overlooking the Catalina Mountains and ordering the, gourmet banana split consisting of caramelized bananas, homemade granola, yogurt and fresh berries, or their breakfast pizza with mouthwatering bacon and chorizo. For dinner (no need to even worry about lunch since breakfast is so good you’ll eat more than you intend) reserve a table at the Flying V to take in a spectacular desert sunset. Inside or out, the view is as dynamite as the cuisine. You’ll want to order the tableside guacamole (prepared right in front of you with the freshest ingredients), the pan seared scallops with sage-infused pineapple spinach, and finish it off with their signature dark chocolate soufflé with vanilla crème anglaise. The Flying V is the perfect setting for a rehearsal dinner or a romantic dinner for two.
Couples who choose the Loews at Ventana Canyon for their destination wedding have an on-site wedding planner to handle every detail; settings ranging from intimate to expansive allow for small gatherings to large wedding events.
Bring the kids, bring your pets (it’s a dog-friendly resort) and leave your ideas of tumblin’ tumbleweeds and dusty saloons at the entrance of the canyon, because Loews at Ventana Canyon is anything but a western cliché. It’s a little piece of sophisticated paradise nestled into the desert vistas of Tucson, Arizona.
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