Family Fun at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, welcomes children from the moment they first enter the lobby with a special counter just their height and “VIK (Very Important Kid) Check-in.” Add more kid-friendly services, a water slide and spacious rooms to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for a happy family weekend getaway at this luxurious desert resort in Marana, Arizona, about 40 miles north of Tucson International Airport.

I spent a weekend at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain with my good buddy Melanie of Travels With Two on a relaxing girlfriend getaway. But here’s why I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my children to the upscale resort:

1. Scavenger hunt: When kids first approach the front desk — again, at their height, with a stool for smallest guests — they not only fill out a special check-list asking their name, age, birthday and favorite color and food, but they geta “Young Diner’s Guide to Adventure” activity book that doubles as a children’s menu (see below). The inside front cover has a map and spaces to collect special ink stamps at locations throughout the resort. After they collect all six stamps, they can show the booklet to the front-desk staff and choose a stuffed toy from the wagon full of prairie dogs, rabbits and other desert animals.

2. Children’s menu: At any of the resort’s dining establishments — which include the fine-dining Core, the Ignite lobby bar with terrace dining and sushi bar, To Go snack items (such as gelato, pictured at right) and coffee, Turquesa pool restaurant and Cayton’s at the golf course — kids can order off of a menu that includes grilled cheese, quesadilla, cowboy steak and cheeseburger sliders. Each entree is accompanied by your choice of fresh fruit cup, tortilla chips, carrot sticks with ranch dressing, french fries or steamed veggies, plus a dessert and beverage for $10. Not a bad deal!

3. Family hikes: Most mornings at 8 a.m. “Ranger Rick” leads a 45-minute, complimentary family nature walk around the property. I highly recommend this easy walk, as Rick shares so much about the flora and fauna of the area. Melanie and I walked right past some petroglyphs on some distant rocks, whereas Rick points out the clever viewing position poles that leads your eye right to them (pictured left)! Rick also helped us locate trailheads so we could take longer uphill walks along the myriad trails that branch out into the mountains surrounding The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain. There are also mellow flat trails ideal for young children. I highly recommend you pack your hiking shoes to venture out and check out the huge saguro cacti!

4. Water slide and water sprays: Oh, how a water slide adds huge value to my my kids’ vacation. It’s not unusual for them to run to the top of a water slide and zoom down over and over and over again. Indeed, this quick ride lands in a pool that’s 3 feet 6 inches, is fun for the whole family! For littlest visitors, a flat area with water sprays is ideal for cooling off in the hot desert sun.

5. Spa treatments for kids: The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is outstanding, with its huge locker room, multiple relaxation areas and private hot tub and outdoor shower. My Signature Massage was sublime, and the outdoor Serenity pool (open only to guests who have booked treatments or paid the $25 usage fee for spa facilities) is a lovely oasis, with its cabana beds and excellent poolside service. Your children can sample the spa with facials and massages for teens (ages 14 to 17; a parent remains present) as well as Princess Fizzing Pedicure and Manicure (designed for children ages 2 to 10; parents also remain present.

Still more reasons to take the kids to The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain:

  • spacious suites with big bedrooms and huge living rooms
  • ping pong table by the pool
  • a bocce court and lawn games
  • board games in the library
  • s’mores kit for purchase for roasting homemade marshmallows at a chimera under the millions of stars in the desert night sky
  • cool sunset celebration honoring the Native Americans who made their home in the area for centuries
  • dive-in movies at the spa’s Serenity pool
  • arrowhead-making demonstrations
  • Ranger Rick’s friends (hairy spiders and snakes) on display in the lobby!

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is currently offering special $199 holiday rates from November 28 to January 1 on select dates and based on availability (i.e. I’m guessing 12/31 is booked already). On November 25 the 850-acre resort unveils a giant gingerbread teepee — yet another reason to bring the whole family to this pretty desert property.

Thanks Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain for hosting me on an incredibly relaxing weekend at your resort.

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