Serenity and tranquility in a desert oasis. Sounds divinely inviting, right? Well, on a recent impromptu ‘Thelma & Louise road trip’ to Tucson with my dear friend Patti, I discovered that serene and tranquil desert oasis — namely The Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort. Situated in Tucson’s spectacular foothills, this 30-room (not for long – they’re in the midst of a pretty amazing expansion) luxurious resort is replete with upscale southwestern ambiance and authentic Spanish Colonial architecture.
When we arrived at Hacienda del Sol, the buzzing of cicadas in the nearby foothills turned into a strangely appeasing continual hum in the afternoon’s heat. Strolling through the entrance, Patti and I were greeted with colorful, lush succulent gardens (yes – in Tucson), winding brick walkways, adobe casitas, and shade trees wrapped in rope lighting. The pool, spa and fitness area – with a cool, mid-century vibe – overlooks a nearby golf course. Strategically placed water features and courtyards welcome guests for casual gatherings. And with two award-winning restaurants featuring award-winning wine lists (YES!) the multi-award winning Hacienda Del Sol has officially become my Tucson ‘home away from home’!
Hacienda del Sol was originally constructed in 1929 as a retreat and ‘home away from home’ ranch-style education facility for girls. This once-prestigious school housed young ladies from the Vanderbilt, Pillsbury, Westinghouse and Campbell families. Converted to a guest ranch in 1948, Hacienda del Sol boasts an abundance of historical lore and artifacts. Inside the main reception building, a cozy sitting area with overstuffed leather chairs and an impressive fireplace beckons weary travelers, and the original dining room now doubles as the historic library – a museum in itself!
Carved wood beams and lantern-style lighting grace the ceiling; wall-to-wall bookshelves are filled with novels and objets d’art. The centerpiece, long wood dining table and chairs in the center of the room invites guests to sit and relax for awhile.
Thirsty we were from a day long drive and tour of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Thankfully, The Grill, Hacienda del Sol’s 4-diamond restaurant, was steps away from our accommodations. (The resort also features Terrazzo Garden Patio & Lounge, with a more casual menu. This dining venue frequently hosts live local entertainment.) Patti and I found two inviting leather stools in the adjoining bar, and promptly ordered a few refreshing cocktails to whet our whistles.
Inside The Grill, diners enjoy sweeping views of the Santa Catalina Mountains, rocky hills filled with stately saguaro cactus, lush green golf courses, and the evening sun setting behind the mountains on the western horizon.
With a menu featuring produce and herbs from the Hacienda’s garden, Patti and I enjoyed luscious entrées. Heirloom Tomato Salad with melon, arugula, fresh berries, yogurt dressing atop a cherry-balsamic reduction sauce.
Harissa Roasted Chicken with mint, lime, garlic, peanuts, rice stick noodles and Thai chiles. Filet mignon with cheddar cheese croquette, grilled pnion, tomato-bacon jam and porcini puree …
A Little Tucson History
Tucson’s architecture is fantastically diverse — charming circa 1850s adobe row houses line several blocks of the city’s El Barrio Historico, near the University of Tucson. Historic mansions have been magnificently restored near Tucson’s El Presidio, one of America’s oldest sites, dating back to c. 700-900 AD, when the prehistoric Hohokam Indians inhabited the area. And the colossal estates winding up the spectacular Catalina Foothills are nothing short of luxurious and magnificent!
The terrain of Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest which surround Tucson, is as authentically unique and beautiful as the city itself.
Massive rock formations of the Rincon Mountains on the east give way to the Santa Catalina foothills to the north and the western Tucson range, both of which are abundant with colossal, centuries-old Saguaro cactus, some towering 30-40 feet high.
North of the city’s boundaries, the Santa Catalina mountains rise to Mount Lemmon at over 9,000 feet, where winter sports enthusiasts – in southern Arizona, of all places – can actually ski, snowboard and snowmobile! Really?!
Winter is coming, my friends. Where else but Tucson could one travel to luxuriate in some poolside resort fun at Hacienda del Sol on Saturday, and spend Sunday traversing the fresh powder on the slopes of Mount Lemon?