Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Tucson. Bottom Line Review.

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Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain is a small full-service resort nestled in the mountains northwest of Tucson, Arizona.  I booked our stay with a 7-night Marriott category 6 travel package certificate, bought years ago when they used to be a good deal.  Before our stay, I thought that 7 nights might seem too long.  In the end, though, my wife and I really didn’t want to leave.  We would have happily stayed far longer!

Hiking lower javelina trail with the Ritz resort shown in the background. The Ritz offers direct access to quite a few hiking and mountain biking trails just steps from the property.

The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain is an excellent resort on its own, but two things make it especially stand out: the staff and the location.  Nearly every interaction with staff members was pleasurable, including the valet greeting, check-in, restaurant and bar staff, on-site “ranger,” etc.  Everyone we talked with seemed genuinely friendly and happy to do anything they could to make our stay great.  And the location… wow!  If you enjoy hiking or mountain biking, it doesn’t get much better than this.  Several excellent trails are accessible within steps from the Ritz property!

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Bottom Line Review

If you like to hike or mountain bike and want to return each day to luxury, the Ritz is a fantastic choice.

  • Points Price: Category 6, 50K points per night standard, 40K off-peak, or 60K peak.  Note that this means that the 50K free night certs that you get annually with the Bonvoy Brilliant card and the Ritz card can often be used at this Ritz.  And when the property is priced off-peak, you can use the 40K free night Choice Benefit available to those who achieve Titanium Elite status.
  • Cash Price: Varies.  During our stay, I believe that cash rates were at least $450 per night.
  • Points Value: Good.  It’s often possible to get about one cent per point value from your Marriott points.  That’s better than average.
  • King Room Mountain View: Very nicely appointed.  Beautiful view from balcony.  Comfortable bed.  Large soaking tub.  We checked in on a Saturday and no suites were available that night, but we were upgraded to an Executive Suite on the second night.
  • King Executive Suite Canyon View: This was great! The one-bedroom suite offers both a very large full master-bath with soaking tub, as well as a half bath off the living room.  The bedroom and living room are separated by a closeable door (which came in handy when my wife and I had Zoom meetings at the same time!).  Strangely, while there was a balcony off both the living room and bedroom, they weren’t connected.  In our suite, room 5006, the bedroom balcony was quite private with solid walls on both sides. This did not appear to be the case with most other rooms as far as I could tell by looking up from the resort property.
  • Resort Fee: $50 per day. Includes: Daily fitness classes (not offered while we were here due to Covid); Access to golf driving range and putting green (club rental included); Unlimited use of mountain and road bikes; Guided Morning Walk; Desert Friends Experience; family board games; bocce ball; horseshoes; Unlimited use of tennis courts (equipment rental included); Evening mixology class.  More details can be found here.  We only took advantage of the “evening” (4pm) mixology classes but thanks to that alone we probably drank $50 per day in value.
  • Parking: Free for self parking or valet parking.
  • Service: Great!  One night at dinner there was a problem with the kitchen that caused orders to get backed up, but our server brought us extra food while we waited and additionally comped part of our meal so we were very happy (thanks Shannon!).
  • Turndown service: None at this time due to Covid.
  • Dining: Excellent service and food, especially at the Core Kitchen & Wine Bar.  We loved sitting outside for both breakfast and dinner with great food and beautiful views of the mountains.  There was even natural entertainment: we were visited several times by a roadrunner, once by a Javelina herd, and once very briefly by a Bobcat.
  • Marriott Elite Benefits: I was high-level elite (Titanium) at the time of this stay. Ritz-Carlton hotels are unfortunately exempt from providing most Marriott elite benefits, but I did receive a very welcome upgrade to an Executive Suite on the second day of our stay.  It’s a real bummer that even top tier elites don’t get free breakfast at Ritz properties — that would have made this stay even better.
  • Welcome Gift: On the second day of our stay, they sent a bottle of sparkling wine and four beers to our room as an anniversary gift.
  • Marriott App Requests: During our stay, we often made requests to the front desk through the Marriott app.  Each time, our requests were answered and handled quickly.  These requests included asking for a different pillow, dining reservations, extra coffee pods, and more.
  • COVID Notes: Staff members universally wore masks whenever indoors or when interacting with guests.  Not all resort guests did the same, but with my wife and I fully vaccinated we weren’t too worried about it.
  • Would I stay again? Yes!  Within our family we have a few Marriott cards (Bonvoy Brilliant card and the Ritz card) that offer annual 50K free night certificates.  I’d love to use these each year at this resort.  Note that even after paying with points or free night certificates, a stay here isn’t free.  You still have to pay the daily $50 resort fee and for food.  Still, in my opinion, this resort is totally worth it.

Check-In Experience

Salmon “dinner” at Ignite — the resort’s lobby lounge restaurant and bar.  Delicious.

Our arrival / check-in experience was so nice that I decided it was worth describing here…

Before our stay we told the resort’s guest services that we were unable to celebrate our 25th anniversary last year due to COVID and so we were celebrating with this trip (true story).  When driving up to the resort, the first stop is a guard booth where we gave our name and were wished a happy anniversary.  When we arrived at the front of the resort a minute later, we were greeted by name (clearly the guard had radioed ahead) and with another hearty “happy anniversary!”

At the check-in desk, Elias worked hard to find us a room we would be happy with.  We could have immediately checked into a suite with a poor view, or a regular room with a great view.  He even walked me around part of the hotel to show me different views before I picked the one I wanted.  He said that a suite with a view would become available the next day (and so we happily did move rooms the second day).

Finally, since our preferred room wasn’t yet available, and even though we were trying to check-in early, Elias comped our lunch!  This worked out fantastically since we had just flown in from the eastern time zone and our bodies really thought it was dinner time.  We basically ate a full free dinner at around 3pm (Arizona was three hours behind eastern standard at the time).

Mixology Class

I hate mandatory resort fees, but the Ritz’s $50 resort fee stung much less thanks to the daily 4pm mixology class.  The Ritz had just resumed this feature during our stay and hadn’t yet put it on the public calendar of events.  As a result, my wife and I were literally the only people who showed up each day.  We had a blast chatting with whichever bartender was running the class each day.  Jonathan, shown above, was our “teacher” most days.  His mixology enthusiasm was infectious!  We stumbled away from each class with a happy buzz.

Off Notes

The dry and dusty Arizona air had us using tissues often, but the tissues originally in our room were hard and rough. Luckily, this was quickly solved by requesting softer tissues via the Marriott App. Soft Kleenex appeared in our room within minutes.

Despite this overall glowing review, not everything was perfect about our stay, but the issues were very minor:

  • To|Go: One of the food options at the resort is called To|Go.  It’s what it sounds like: a place to grab food and drinks to-go.  It was inconvenient that To|Go was only open until noon each day.  To get an afternoon snack at the resort, it was necessary to go to a full service restaurant.  Plus, the one time I got food there (a breakfast sandwich), the English muffin was stale.  That was a surprise since all of our other dining experiences were excellent.
  • Tissues:  This seems like such a minor thing, but it was grating.  The facial tissues in the room were rough.  This was easily fixed by asking for soft tissues, but it just seems so strange that a top-end Ritz would carry cheap, rough facial tissues.  The only thing I can think of is that they bought these during the early part of the pandemic when paper products were in short supply and maybe they forgot to swap them out once better tissues became available.
  • Water: The resort was great about providing lots of water for free to guests.  The only problem is that we didn’t feel good about going through so many disposable plastic bottles.  Some high end resorts provide free reusable water bottles to guests and have water refill stations all around.  I’d love to see the Ritz do the same.  Ironically, we used our Ventana Big Sur bottles and refilled in the Ritz’s fitness center (the one place were we found a water refill station)

Videos

Our Executive Suite:

A Javelina hangs out on a trail just outside of the resort:

A javelina herd visits us during dinner:

Ronnie the Roadrunner visits us for breakfast:

Rattlesnake!

Photos and Captions Follow

Dove Mountain apparently gets its name from the many doves that call it home.
Breakfast view at Core Kitchen. Even though the Ritz doesn’t offer free breakfast to high-level Marriott elites, we loved having breakfast here each day.  Everything was great: the staff, the food, the view, the weather.
Strawberry Fields salad at Core Kitchen was especially great. So good.  Yum…
View from our suite
Each morning before breakfast we enjoyed drinking coffee (made in-room) on our balcony and watching the sun rise.  We would have preferred ceramic mugs but somehow never thought to ask for them.  I’m sure they would have brought them without fuss.
Just a whimsical foot-shaped cactus at the entrance to a trail on the front-side of the property.
Various lawn games are positioned around the resort, including horseshoes shown here.
View of the outdoor portion of Ignite (the lobby bar/restaurant).  Two resort guests are shown doing their morning video-calls.
Just one of many beautiful views from the resort.
Another sunrise viewed from our balcony
The resident tortoise — very popular with kids.  My wife and I were fond of her too.  Surprisingly, this is not a native dessert tortoise, but instead an African tortoise lucky enough to call the Ritz its home.
Adult pool
Executive suite bedroom
Executive Suite bathroom
Anniversary welcome gift: sparkling wine and four bottles of beer
The sun setting on an early evening walk
Executive Suite balcony with canyon view
Executive Suite living room
King bedroom.  This was a nice room, but small considering that the two of us planned to work for part of the stay.  The upgrade to the Executive Suite was awesome.
King bedroom bathroom
Calendar of events
Saguaro everywhere-o
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