Kid-friendly and a Luxury Resort? At the Ritz-Carlton Anything is Possible

ritz carlton dove mountain When the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain invited me and my colleague, Andrea Zimmerman, to visit their resort in Marana, AZ, we didn’t have to think twice. But when they told us about their kid-friendly features, we were perplexed to say the least. The Ritz-Carlton is synonymous with luxury (one night costs at least $300). It’s the hotel that inspired the Irving Berlin song “Puttin’ on the Ritz” — “If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to/Why don’t you go where fashion sits/Puttin’ on the ritz.” It’s not exactly synonymous with a Disney cruise. And with all the hubbub surrounding “brat bans” these days, it’s hard to imagine that a 5-star resort would open their doors to children in such a way as to compel a family to book a trip there. We certainly had to go see for ourselves. It was for the children, of course.

dove mountain

Driving up to the resort, located in the high Sonoran Desert in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains, we were enamored by all the natural beauty. The view alone took our blood pressure down a considerable amount before we even stepped out of the car. The area, as we later found out, was first inhabited by the Hohokam indians around 300 BC, and evidence of their existence is visible throughout the resort on what are known as petroglyphs — drawings carved into rocks. We also drove by the Jack Nicklaus designed, 27-hole golf course (and the home of the WGC-Accenture World Match Play Championship) and the spa located off to the side of the hotel. No kids, no problem. But oh, of course this was all about the children, so where do they fit in to the equation? Here’s a deeper look at all the ways the Ritz-Carlton has welcomed little guests.

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  • A massive water slide 1 of 7
    A massive water slide
    Sure it's for the kids, but parents will have just as much fun going down this 235-foot water slide that drops you right into the kids-only pool.
  • Water activities 2 of 7
    Water activities
    Not only is there a huge water slide and a kids pool that sits far away from the more adult friendly pool (lounge chairs and tables that sit in water, a hot tub, drink service...you get the idea), but there are also fun water activities outside of swimming for the kids.
  • Ranger Rick! 3 of 7
    Ranger Rick!
    In the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is a table full of creepy, crawly, living, breathing creatures and every afternoon Ranger Rick takes them out for show-and-tell. Kids are able to hold snakes and tarantulas to their heart's content while also learning about native Arizona animals.
  • Nature walks 4 of 7
    Nature walks
    Each morning Ranger Rick takes willing pint-sized participants (and their parents) along the dessert grounds of the resort. With over 20 miles of hiking trails on the property, there's plenty to see! The kid-friendly version lasts about 40 minutes and kids will learn all about native plants like cacti, see real-life petroglyphs and if they're as "lucky" as Andrea and I were, they may even see (and hear!) a rattlesnake.
  • Star gazing 5 of 7
    Star gazing
    Southern Arizona is considered the "Astronomy Capital of the World" because there are clear skies 350 days out of the year. (Andrea and I had never seen so many stars!) Though there are a ton of observatories in the area, you truly don't need to leave the Ritz to enjoy high-quality star gazing — they have a professional telescope on site.
  • S’mores 6 of 7
    S'mores
    Nighttime is the right time at this resort to relax to the sounds of live music outside the restaurant and bar, Ignite. They even have little fire pits just for making s'mores! (The one pictured is not s'mores pit — you need to request they light one up for you in advance. Each family gets their own little outdoor oven upon request.)
  • Playtime 7 of 7
    Playtime
    It's not just the adults who are treated like royalty at the Ritz, in fact, at check-in you'll see this VIP sign-in just for the kiddos. And when you want to take a break to go the spa or on a morning bike ride, the Ritz-Carlton will watch your kids for the day. Just enroll them in advance and your kids will be taken on a day of adventure inside and out. They'll make crafts in the playroom and have lunch. Outside they'll play games and learn more about the southwest. And best of all, they'll get to make new friends with kids their own age!

    Click here for more information on activities and pricing at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain. They have special holiday programs you'll want to look into now!

–Dara Pettinelli

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