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Summer bargains at Tucson's desert-foothill resorts.

Summer bargains at Tucson's desert-foothill resorts

Arizona's resort capital was once, undisputedly,the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, which still has the largest number of resorts. But recently Tucson has also become a leisure-activity center, with six resorts and a health ranch all new, expanded, or updated since 1980.

Each of these operations is in a SonoranDesert setting, rimmed by the 9,000-foot Santa Catalinas. And this summer, each is competing with off-season bargains-- up to 80 percent reductions on winter rates--to help fill rooms, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses.

Children are often offered free lodging; atone resort, those six and younger even get free food. Various perks are thrown in-- everything from free facials, tennis instruction, or golf play to special weekend theme parties. We detail some of the offerings; write or call individual resorts for more information.

Getting there--by train, plane, car

Amtrak offers round trips from both LosAngeles and San Francisco for $118. Air fares, while not dropped specifically for summer, are appealing: at our press time, one-way unrestricted fares ranged from $59 to $74 from Los Angeles, $79 to $125 from the Bay Area, $99 from Seattle. Most carriers didn't anticipate fare increases before Labor Day. Tucson car rental firms chime in with their deals: about $20 a day on weekends (100 free miles), $89 a week (700 free miles).

Any drawbacks? Other lodging bargains

This is desert, and summer is hot--butnot as uncomfortable as you might think. Tucson, at about 2,400 feet above sea level, has average July and August highs around 100| and lows from 65| to 74|. Monsoons may interrupt your activities, but usually they're brief, and they cool and clean the air. Plan to hike or play tennis or golf early and late in the day; spend midday hours in the pool, sightseeing, or learning the pleasures of a siesta.

Here we focus on the foothill resorts withnews. But summer bargains are also available at Tucson's pink adobe 1930 Arizona Inn and at a host of new or not-so-new hotels closer to town, many of which offer tennis and golf on site or nearby. Tucson's largest dude ranch open in summer, Tanque Verde, also reduces costs somewhat.

For free listings of all accommodationsand their prices year-round, ask for Official Visitors Guide to Metropolitan Tucson from Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, 450 W. Paseo Redondo, Suite 110, Tucson 85701; (602) 624-1817.

The choices: six resorts, a health ranch

Whether you want to stay a night or two,or just come and try a resort's dining or other attractions (La Paloma, Westward Look, and Loews Ventana have restaurants with handsome night views of Tucson), here are your choices. Be sure to make reservations, as some resorts only offer their specials if you book in advance.

Unless noted, bargain rates apply at leastthrough Labor Day. Area codes are 602, unless a toll-free 800 prefix is used. All these resorts have golf (some courses of tournament quality), night tennis, and at least one pool and spa.

Canyon Ranch, 8600 E. Rockcliff Rd.,85715; (800) 742-9000; in Arizona, call 749-9000 collect.

This duderanch-turned-coed fitness center opened in 1979 and since 1982 has expanded by some 30 percent. It offers fitness classes, consultations, massages, wraps, guided hikes or bicycle rides into the desert.

Prices include all meals; food is tasty butappropriate for healthful dieting (no alcohol, no smoking).

Through September 15, a four-night specialruns $650 per person, double occupancy; in high season, the same package is $980.

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 7000 N.Resort Dr., 85715; 299-2020 or (800) 424-2929.

Opened inDecember 1984, its 398 rooms offer views of Tucson or Coronado National Forest. Amenities include a 1.4-mile, 18-station fitness course and a croquet lawn. A 15-minute walk in the resort's 93-acre preserve passes the 80-foot Ventana Falls, and ends at a window (ventana) in the canyon wall.

Rooms cost $70 a night for two ($150 to$185 in winter). A three-day, two-night tennis package is $304 for two.

Sheraton Tucson El Conquistador Golf &Tennis Resort, c/o Come Play With Us, 10000 N. Oracle Rd., 85737; 742-7000 or (800) 325-3535.

About 12 miles north of downtown, theSheraton opened 440 rooms, built in a subdued Spanish style, in late 1982. Remodeling is going on this summer, so expect a little extra noise.

Theme weekends are popular. Everyweekend through September 7, the staff dons costumes and orchestrates special events ranging from a '50s sock hop to a Mardi Gras with masked ball.

This is the only resort with its own stable;2 1/2-hour rides cost $18 per person, and cowboy breakfast rides (minimum 8 people) cost $22. The Last Territory, a cowboy steak house, has country music and dancing Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Sundays throughThursdays, rooms cost $48 a night for up to two adults and "as many kids as you want to cram in.' Ages 6 and under eat free from children's menus. Fridays and Saturdays, rooms cost $60.

Tucson National Resort and Spa, 2727 W.Club Dr., 85741; 297-2271; (800) 528-4856.

Golf has been theforte of this resort, whose 27-hole course was home to the PGA's Tucson National Open from 1965 to 1980. After closing for a time for expansion and renovation, the resort reopened in 1986. A health spa offers pampering baths, wraps, and beauty aids.

Summer rates for the 168 rooms are $55 anight for two (down from $180 to $200). A two-night package at $75 a night for two includes room and your choice of either 18 holes of golf or a facial and herbal wrap.

Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club,6200 N. Clubhouse Lane, 85715; 577-1400; (800) 447-4787.

Opened in 1985 amile southeast of Loews Ventana, this private club has 46 suites, each with a kitchen, living room, bedroom or two, and bath. Guests enjoy membership privileges, including fitness course, weight and exercise facilities, salon, and nursery.

June through August, the three-day/two-nightVentana Vantage costs $299 for two; the package includes suite, unlimited golf (free carts), tennis, spa, daily continental breakfast, and a credit of $50 per person on food and beverages. (Similar stay in winter would cost about $600.)

Westin La Paloma, 3800 E. Sunrise Dr.,85718; (800) 222-1252; in Arizona, call (800) 654-3588.

Strewn along 790 acres, this 487-roomresort opened in February 1986. Adobe color sets its mood. New for this summer, the resort has copied Rick's Cafe from Casablanca. It also has a health club, racquet ball courts, and a pool with water slides and swim-up snack bar.

Rates are $75 anight; children 18 and under in room are free. (In high season, rooms run $155 to $215.) Ask about golf and tennis packages. Every Friday, children can join free special activities.

Westward Look, 245 E. Ina Rd., 85704; 297-1151or (800) 722-2500.

For yearsTucson's only full resort, this 74-acre, 1929 facility keeps adding on, so it now has 244 rooms (200 of them 650-square-foot junior suites), all in a desert garden setting. You can arrange to go riding.

Rates April 15through September 30 start at $49 for up to four people ($150 and up in winter), including free use of courts and free continental breakfast.

Photo: Only mustache andnose are exposed during relaxing facial--part of a summer bargain at Tucson National Resort and Spa

Photo: This dude's left stirrup is too short, so wrangler adjustsit before rider sets out from Tucson El Conquistador. Santa Catalina Mountains rise behind them

Photo: Cool splashdown in La Paloma's chair-lined pool awaits guest
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jul 1, 1987
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