When it comes to vacation, adventure always seems to trump luxury.
But it doesn’t have to.
You can have it all—mountain biking and massages—if you make the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. your next base camp. Nestled in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains, high in the Sonoran Desert, this piece of paradise boasts a 17,000-square foot spa and wellness center and on-site mountain biking trails.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.
What To Do Outside
Priding itself on near perfect weather all year round, my winter weekend getaway at Dove Mountain was filled with sunny skies, stunning scenery and spectacular sunsets—a stark contrast to the cold, gray and wet early winter I left behind. While the hotel has plenty of panoramic views to look at, I need a more intimate relationship with my landscape. (TMI?) Never fear, you can get as down and dirty with nature as you like here.
Choose from hiking, jeep tours, tennis, golf and biking opportunities. Call it a hunch, but I think you’ll choose biking. If so, you’ll be happy to hear, as I was, that Dove Mountain offers 9.9 miles of singletrack, known as the Tortolita Preserve. Be prepared for typical desert trail conditions—a mix of sand, hardpack and some rocky sections. Cacti are abundant here as well. Take it from me and avoid brushing up against one at all costs.
The Tortolita Preserve at Dove Mountain is the perfect trail to bring along your significant other who may not ride as often as you do—the trail, which winds through an ironwood forest, is not terribly technical and the pristine scenery is to die for. If the mood strikes, you can even get hitched here. Seriously. The hotel's “adventure wedding package” lets you mountain bike to your destination in the Tortolita Preserve, swap vows, rejoice with wine and cheese and return to the hotel for a celebration dinner.
Looking for more of an adrenaline-fueled mountain bike outing during your stay? Pack up your bike and head for the hills—err desert. The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race course is close by and calling your name. I had the opportunity to ride this 17-mile trail one day and am so happy I did. It was without a doubt one of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever ridden, with minimal obstacles and very little elevation gain—a great place to ride a hardtail and lay the hammer down.
Don’t forget to schedule some time after your full-body workout for a full-body massage. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain spa features 14 indoor/outdoor treatment rooms, two esthetic rooms, one hydrotherapy room, one Vichy shower and two oversized suites for couples and groups of friends. So, let’s talk a minute about massages. Perhaps you never had a massage before and, frankly, are kind of weirded out by the thought of one, like I was. Don’t be. I not only survived my 50-minute massage appointment, I felt rejuvenated and refreshed, to boot. I even want another one.