I lived in Tucson for more than 15 years, so I was familiar with the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa.
I never spent the night, but I played tennis there with some of the professors from the journalism department at the University of Arizona.
It’s a grand spread right off the interstate on Oracle Road. It originally was the 172-acre “dream estate” of William and Maris Watson.
Well, I was afforded the opportunity to spend the night recently. And being an editor on a hectic schedule of back-to-back magazines, I jumped at the chance. I did, after all, need a break from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Phoenix.
I drove into Tucson at about noon, meeting an old friend for lunch before checking in. Once at the property, I remembered what it is I miss about the Old Pueblo … the smell of orange blossoms and greasewood, seeing quail scurry across the nature path … the cooing of doves. The tranquility was awesome, to say the least.
I checked in, drove around to Building 4, and easily found my room. It was wonderfully furnished, with a huge king-size bed with lots of pillows, a balcony that overlooked a slope filled with cactus, and a nice flat-screen TV. I am, by the way, a former sports editor. And it was March. And the Wildcats were playing in the NCAA Tournament.
I was offered a choice of amenities: biking, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, or a spa treatment. I opted for the “big rub.” And boy did I pick right this time.
The walk to the Sonoran Spa took me down by the nature path, past the pool, and ended in the soothing entrance of what would be an hour of bliss. Mandy was my massage therapist, and was very adept at her job. I was tempted to doze off a few times … what with the soft music and relaxing aroma in the room. When she was done, I was given a cup of herbal tea and told I could sit in an outdoor patio until I was ready to get dressed.
I work in an office almost all day, sitting in a chair and banging away on a keyboard. So yes, my body had a few kinks. Mandy took care of that.
I returned to my room and watched a little college hoops before joining a group of other scribes for a cocktail reception on the Palm Terrace. Being an editor, I fancy a good glass of scotch. The bartender obliged. We were also encouraged to try specialty drinks including the Cara Cara Margarita (Don Julio Blanco Tequila and Cointreau) and a Victoria (Hendricks Gin and St. Germaine Elderflower).
Dinner began with hors d’oeuvres that included pan seared duck breast lingonberry on crostini and my favorite, Spanish white bean with homemade chorizo. And another scotch.
The next dish was a salad of greens. I opted for the fresh blueberries, Wilcox tomatoes and gorgonzola. Now keep in mind that we were “asked” to try two kinds of wine … a 2011 Oregon Pinot Gris and a 2011 Spanish Don Olgario.
The entrees included fruits de mare, my favorite being the cold water lobster; and braised short ribs. We also tried two more wines, a 2008 Ruffino from Italy and 2011 Quady, Elysium Black from California. Dessert of course, was a flourless chocolate ancho cake.
The surrounding desert was now filled with the sounds of coyotes in the distance and doves and quail finding solace under the palo verde trees. I took the nature trail back to my room and again remembered what it was I so enjoyed about living in Tucson.
Resorts can come and go; change owners; and change names — but the charm that embraces the Westward Look is unforgettable.
Our group met once more, this time for a wonderful breakfast again prepared by Chef Kastner and his staff.
When it was time to check out, it reminded me of summer camp, and how it was hard to say goodbye to friends you met in a short period of time.
Heading down the winding driveway leading out of the property, a family of quail took its time crossing the road. Perhaps reminding me to slow down every once in a while and smell the orange blossoms and the greasewood.