The drive from the Tucson airport into town isn’t the most scenic. Like most neighborhoods surrounding an airport, this one doesn’t give the best first impression of the city. Then you reach the Santa Catalina Mountains, where the Westin La Paloma is perched in the Sonoran Foothills, and you see where Tucson’s pockets of beauty lie. From here, the city sprawled out below doesn’t look so bad after all. Not impressed? Make a 180 for an even more breathtaking view of Mount Kimball.
As you drive past the strip malls, Mexican restaurants and college bars, you might wonder how and where the Westin La Paloma fits into the scheme of things. In fact, you might be down right terrified of what “world class” means in Tucson. Don’t fret; as your car climbs up the cliffs and turns onto the Westin La Paloma’s long driveway, allow yourself to breath a sigh of relief. Ahead of you is a huge overhang of contemporary southwest or Spanish colonial style—think straight lines, a flat roof and stucco—with creative chandeliers and columns that take the otherwise casual architecture style up a notch. The beige structure juts out from the lobby and features huge arches all the way around it, welcoming you with a fresh burst of grandeur.
Unless you have a car, you will likely miss the very front of the hotel, below which the parking lot sits. We recommend you take a look, as it features a manicured garden and a fountain perfectly framed by the largest arch of them all, which sort of sets the tone for the resort—grandiose yet down to earth (apparently, it’s possible). Turn around to appreciate the view of Tucson below—it doesn’t look like a college town from up here. The lobby extends on both sides of the overbearing overhang. Once you walk into the oversized glass doors to the lobby, you’ll be even more impressed by the massive cathedral window that extends two floors (each with an extremely high ceiling) and perfectly frames the hotel’s claim to fame (at least in our opinion): the pool area set in front of Mount Kimball. You’ll find many more arches and arched windows throughout the lobby, which in turn has a European piazza feel. After you check in, walk down the grand staircase that leads to the bar and then the pool area. Walk out those big glass doors, as your room is likely somewhere around here. Good luck finding it the first try, though. The layout—with sections A through I—is a bit intimidating (if you really don’t want to think on this vacation, make use of their complimentary chauffeured golf carts).
While the layout is difficult to get used to, the immensity of the resort allows it to have a residential feel. Once you locate the section your looking for, walking in between two short buildings with tons of cacti and trees lining the way can feel an awful lot like walking down a neighborhood street.
It’s clear they wanted to incorporate the setting into the 487 rooms, thanks to photos of succulents, earth tones like brown and orange, desert-inspired window shapes and hardwood floors in the bathrooms. Each room has its own balcony or patio and a separate bath and shower. You’ll love the Heavenly bed and Sleep Well Lavender Balm left on the bedside table at turndown to help you achieve a good night’s sleep. Wooden headboards and abstract art pieces, like a metal mish-mosh above the bath, give the basic rooms a hint of hipster.
That window in the lobby will be impossible to erase from your mind, but it’s because of what’s beyond it. The pool area might be full of children and waterslides (don’t worry, there are some adult only sections) but the view of jagged rocky cliffs is for the adults (as are the hot tubs and swim up bar).
We were also particularly impressed with the property’s efforts to inform guests. All along the property, you’ll spot signs denoting the different plants and wildlife you might find nearby. And if you’re looking to capture the views from the perfect spot, look for signs marking the most photo-worthy viewpoints.
The property is sort of in the middle of nowhere, so don’t expect to run out to CVS in an emergency unless you want to walk over a mile or get in the car. Luckily, the property will keep you busy and supplied, with six different dining options, tennis courts, lawn games, a Starbucks, a convenience store and more. And downtown Tucson is only a 20-minute drive away.
Website: Westin La Paloma
Room Rates: $152 – $395
Address: 3800 E Sunrise Drive