This past weekend, we celebrated our wedding anniversary!
Living Social/Groupon is a favorite site of many but I must admit, I have used them rarely. I really wanted the teeth cleaning and the countless mani pedis they offer, but it's gotta really pique my interest before I click that link. One thing I'm glad of (though I came dangerously close to being extremely pissed over) was the Living Social deal for a discounted stay at Loew's Ventana Canyon Resort up on the NE side of Tucson.
Nestled cozily against some small but gorgeous foothill crags and peaks, this place is truly breathtaking on a landscaping and, as Todd noticed with some subtle design factors, on an architectural level as well. There's a koi pond that extends from front to back by some underground magic, a huge and deep pool, a spa, a little waterfall and then an even bigger waterfall that is natural but also supplanted with water during the other 8 months of the year when water takes a long-ass vacay from Tucson.
Anyways, I got this deal, snapped it up practically, before realizing I bought a golf package. I am not a golfer. But I figured I'd make up the cost in the room price. Then I looked and realized that the date range ended in September. I checked the current month's rates (I got it in June) and let out a low whistle of rage: the rooms were going for like, fifty bucks LESS than what I paid for the deal, AND I couldn't get it during our actual anniversary in October. So I checked the cost of a Luxury King room in September and was relieved to see that, thanks to the restaurant discounts and the $25 gas card (or credit to the bill), we really WERE getting a deal.
Before I get to the beauty of the resort, let me just rail that home: even if you read the deal thoroughly, there's still going to be fine print after the fact. So for the Raves and Reviews part of this post, I'm actually going to be a lot more wary of both discount sites.
Now, on to Ventana. I'd happily pay full price for another stay (though that will be in summer). Our room was gorgeous.
I was under the weather so forgive the fact that I did not clean up the place before snapping photos. But the bed is a deliciously comfortable king, upon which I had already lolled about complaining about how I felt under the weather.
There's our balcony, where we watched the sunset and the bats swooping and dipping about in the muted hues of the aftermath. The next morning we would watch butterflies, in the same seemingly distracted and whimsical manner, although in decidedly more colorful outfits.
And this.... this glorious creation, of which I had no prior knowledge, is a huge tub. HUGE TUB. Let me pause here and talk, adult to adult, about how important.... ok, let me pause here and talk, bath-taker to bath-taker, how delightfully crucial a lovely bathtub is to a satisfactory living experience. During my single days, I would back out of otherwise awesome rentals due to shower-only status, or worse, standing-room-only shower-only status. So this...
There is my foot to show the size. And to further explain how enormous this tub was, Todd and I both fit. Todd is 6'7" and I am nearly 6'. We fit easily, side by side, legs COMPLETELY stretched out, AND...
Oh my God you guys, AND... there was a flatscreen TV that swiveled out from against the wall and tilted towards us in the tub. So we sat in a bubble bath, having drinks, watching Food Network and laughing hysterically. I'm not trying to be dirty or sensational, I'm just trying to tell you, that for two tall people who never fit in tubs very well by themselves... for us to do what lots of couples get to enjoy, a little romantic tub time (or honestly, just fitting inside a bathroom brushing our teeth side by side) was just so fun and out of this world. We could have easily had Alex splashing around with us, or even the damn dog, there was that much room.
We had a very mellow night. I wasn't feeling well and after dinner (tasty but over-priced; not to boast but I cook pretty well so to pay 30 bucks for gazpacho and a goddamn burger stings), I just went right back up to the room and changed into pajamas and crawled in bed. Todd visited the waterfall and then came up too. We watched cable TV until midnight and slept in til 9:30am. Delight upon delight!
The real joy of Ventana though is the landscape around it. Considering the expense and the class of the interior, the exterior is very subtle, and allows itself to sink into the surrounding rocks and desertscape which in my opinion is the only way to do it. I took photos of the natural/not natural waterfall and the return back because honestly, there is a lot of beauty in the Sonoran desert that I think gets overlooked an awful lot, but Ventana lets it shine. Its structures are low key and it seems to really appreciate its surroundings; even if only to exploit it for a high-priced room, it's still respecting and maintaining the wildlife.
"Ah, I'm sure I got the waterfall... Oh, no. Well, time for a portrait shot."
"There we go! Glad my chin still looks like Leno's!"
On this little path, you just look up, and silhouetted against the sky are tons of those bad boys. Example:
These are more like soldiers but some of the more gnarled, righteously old ones look like interpretive dancers.
I know this is supplanted with pumped water, but hey, four months out of the year it's naturally funded, so to speak.
Ah, that's more like the gnarled old ballet dancers that some saguaros impersonate. But a lot creepier and awesomer.
I love water in deserts. Such a lovely contrast.
It's a beautifully cultivated and paved path but as Todd says, nondescript enough to fade away and let the wildlife take first priority.
Big pimpin' spendin' Gs... (I just asked Todd the lyrics to this and he sang in it in this high pitched voice for like five verses haha)
Here's what I mean about the layout of the building, even the pool. We're coming back from our little sojourn, and it just quite suddenly crops into view.
Low building, low pool, low levels, low, low, low.
Ah! But in front, we have the wide and shallow stretch of the valley, with the added beauty of a man made koi pond and golf course. But the cool thing is that dead center, where you see a tiiiiny little pale stretch of path, moments after I took this photo a little trio of bobcats loped across.
I finish with the sky. Something Ventana Canyon seems to understand is to lay low, sink into the landscape, fade into the background in order to allow those views to take over, to allow the visitor to truly understand and enjoy the beauty of the desert. Behind the resort is rock, foothill, plate tectonics. Behind it are small mountains, old things, gods, monsters.
But in front of it stretches a green muscle of strength, vitality and courage; beyond that golf course is an immortal stretch of dirt and rock and bones and gorgeousness, a span of wildflowers that grow between thorns and thistles, mesquite and acacia and palo verde trees, teensy tiny lizards that scurry beneath the dancing feet of yelping coyotes. Monsters in the mountain, monsters in the valley. And Ventana Canyon advertises it all.
After all, "ventana" means "window" in Spanish and honestly, it's not hard to see why they chose the name. It shows you everything.