At Dove Mountain, about an hour north of Tucson, the course Jack Nicklaus designed for The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club is superb, blending beautifully with the high Sonoran Desert, hundreds of giant saguaro cactus and the rugged Tortolita Mountains. On a recent visit, however, we were less enamored with the adjacent luxury resort that Ritz-Carlton opened in December, just two months before February’s Accenture Match Play Championship.
Situated at the entrance to Wild Burro Canyon, the 250-room Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain features (in addition to the golf) a destination spa, 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, two pools, a 235-foot water slide, tennis and several dining options. Rooms are smallish but comfortable and well designed, with sleek, roomy baths, and the resort’s interior honors the desert setting by incorporating flagstone, heavy timbers, steel and copper in the ruggedly handsome design. But outside, the hotel’s X-shaped layout shows less sensitivity for the natural setting. Northwest-facing rooms with a distant view of the mountains overlook the approach road, parking areas and the large, circular, paved front drive. “Superior View" rooms and suites face the canyon — but that view is dominated by the wings of the resort, which flank a large, paved terrace/bar, and by cart paths, two pools, the water slide, a pool grill/cantina, several casita-style lodgings and all the activity those facilities generate.
On our visit, we were treated to a late-night chorus of "Leaving on a Jet Plane” and other tunes from enthusiastic patrons of the terrace/bar, sitting at tables immediately below our room. At 3 a.m., we were wakened by staff dragging tables and chairs across the flagstone terrace below — an activity that lasted until 5 a.m. Small balconies off each room provide no privacy whatsoever, either from adjacent guests or from all the activity below. And from the pool, guests look directly back at the hotel, which effectively blocks their view of the desert. On the upside, we enjoyed a good meal at CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar, especially the chipotle-spiked sweet potato bisque with duck confit and onion marmalade; and service throughout the resort was cheery and capable.