Hacienda del Sol
Built in 1929 as a girls school for societies elite families, Hacienda Del Sol Resort was then converted into a guest ranch in 1948 that immediately attracted Hollywood’s A-List celebrities. In 1995 Hacienda del Sol was lovingly restored by a group of local Tucson residents and is one of Tucson’s oldest and most prestigious guest ranch resorts. It sits at the foot of the Santa Catalina mountain range and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in Arizona and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.
The resort is inspired by early Moorish architecture. The property is beautiful with gardens full of native plants, trees, cactus, and flowers that welcome you at every turn. The traditional hacienda building is beige stucco with pops of multi-colored ceramic tiles and interior furnishings are resort-homey. The Spanish Colonial Revival design continues indoors with wooden beam ceilings, clay tiles, arched windows, and beautiful long corridors. This isn’t a high rise resort. In fact, the original hacienda is mostly one story, with just one side offering a second level and spread out more like a private estate.
The hacienda was an all-girls school from 1929 until 1942 and was considered quite prestigious. The school’s roster included names such as Vanderbilt, Pillsbury, Maxwell, Westinghouse, and Campbell. The girls came from elite and wealthy families, and as many other children at the time, they were sent to the ranch school because their parents thought the days of the ‘wild west’ were over. They wanted their children to experience ranch life before it disappeared.
In the late 1940s the Hacienda was a favorite romantic hideaway of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. John Wayne and Clark Gable both signed their names to the hotel’s guestbook and Howard Hughes, who owned a film studio in Tucson, was also a guest at the Hacienda.
The Guest Rooms
The original hacienda guest rooms are nostalgic and quaint. Imagining the guests and students who may have stayed in the rooms is quite fun. I loved this original part of the hotel.
In late 2015, the resort added 32 luxurious new guest rooms with stunning views of the city and mountains. These new rooms sit behind the hacienda, but quite close and are incorporated into the property nicely.
I visited for the weekend with my mom for a mother-daughter getaway and during our visit, we stayed in one of the newer rooms. The room was very large with 10′ ceilings, handcrafted furniture, Talavera tile, wood floors, private patio, seating area, large closet, plenty of storage, a writing desk, and more the room was clearly designed with luxury in mind. We also had freshly baked chocolate chip cookies waiting for us in our room at check-in.
The bathroom itself deserves special mention. In addition to beautiful tiles and its generous size, there are two sinks and counter top areas. This was a lovely touch, making it very easy for two or more to beautify at the same time. Tarocco bath amenities embrace both the bathroom color scheme and the desert location.
The Delicious Food
There are two restaurants on the property, The Grill at Hacienda and the Terraza Patio. Executive chef, Bruce Yim heads the culinary team and delivers seasonal food with a Tucson twist. The Grill is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The lunch menu for the Grill is also the lunch and dinner menu for the Terraza.
The Grill takes dining to another level, offering a fine dining experience during the evening hours.
On our first night, we were treated by the hotel to a fabulous dinner at the Grill that was made even better by wine recommendations from the Director of Wine & Spirits, John Kulikowski, and food recommendations from Food & Beverage Director and Sommelier, Laura Burns. We had the added pleasure of dining with Laura and PR Director for the hotel, Kimberly Schmitz. Dinner started with an amuse-bouche of green apple and melon with a blueberry coulis and cilantro micro-greens. Our shared appetizers included grilled octopus, steak tartare, Pan Seared Foie Gras with brown butter brioche, honeycomb and garden-grown limonium, fennel (Laura’s suggestion and it wound up being our favorite dish), and a shaved raw heirloom carrot salad.
For main courses I opted for filet of beef; a sliced braised beef served with whole grain mustard demi choux croute and confit potatoes. It normally is served with rye crumble, but Chef Yim created a gluten-free crumble for my dish. The menu clearly points out many food allergens and the staff and chef are very accommodating to tweak dishes based on dietary needs. My mom opted for the butter braised scallops served with a celery root puree, tomato jam, haricot vert baby carrot, and a celery root slaw.
Dessert was a decadent assortment of sweet treats and they were kind enough to serve me a creme brulee.
From the moment you pull up to valet parking, it is clear Hacienda del Sol offers a luxury resort experience. Once you have arrived you will be escorted to reception for check-in. We were then asked if we would like help with our bags. While the property is easily walk-able, the summer temperatures are fairly intense, and having a quick ride via golf cart to our room and help with luggage was very welcome.
The high level of service continues with smiles and hello’s from the staff as you wander the property. This was one of the small touches that made my stay at Hacienda del Sol so memorable. The staff seem genuinely happy and eager to answer questions about the property and the history of the hacienda.
The Grill Restaurant showcases the hacienda’s service with their attention to detail and superb knowledge of food and wine.
Hacienda Del Sol is perched above a gorgeous valley with views of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Sunset is the prime time to enjoy the stunning scenery.
The Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort spa offers signature massages, facials and body treatments such as the herbal cellulite Hungarian mud treatment . Many of the services may be experienced in the comfort of your guest room. The massage is particularly nice to experience in a guest room, so when the service is completed you can relax as long as you’d like on the massage table. During our stay I opted for the acai berry facial. Acai infused Eminence organic skin care masks and lotions are used for the facial. The products assist in the correction and defiance of the signs of aging. These days, I sign up for anything anti-aging! The facial was luxuriously relaxing and my skin felt extremely moisturized after the treatment.
Manicures and pedicures are relatively new to The Spa at Hacienda Del Sol menu. All manicure and pedicure products are 100% organic and vegan. The Dazzle Dry nail system applied during manicures and pedicures is non-toxic. This means it doesn’t require a UV light to achieve its beautiful and rock hard finish. I had a pedicure during my visit and while it was wonderful and my toes looked gorgeous, at this time they didn’t have a spa chair. This made it a little hard to get completely comfortable during the pedicure.
Art, sculpture and bubbling water fixtures can be found at every turn on the property. You can spend a few hours, simply wandering the grounds and enjoying the unique art pieces that help make Hacienda Del Sol a truly unique experience. It is quite clear as you spend more time at the hacienda, the love and care that goes into the look and feel of the grounds.
There is lively music nightly at the Terraza Patio, featuring small bands and solo musicians. The Grill offers a more sophisticated sound from their pianist. Once again, the hacienda has thought of everything to create an ambiance that adds to the overall experience.
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., renown healthy lifestyle expert and Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine helped create the vegetable garden for the hacienda. It’s a beautiful space with citrus trees and a garden that grows many of the vegetables used at The Grill and Terraza restaurants.
As well as the vegetable garden, the grounds themselves are impeccable. The center courtyard is one of my favorite spots at the hacienda.
There are also cactus and native plant gardens throughout the Hacienda del Sol property.
A sparkling pool is the perfect antidote to the summer heat. The property offers two pools and two jacuzzi’s. The original pool offers crystal clear cool water and plenty of shade. The 10′ foot deep pool stays cool in the summer and is the perfect spot to escape the afternoon sun.
The newer pool is a negative edge swimming pool with gorgeous views of the Santa Catalina Mountains. This pool offers a bar and both pools have food service.
If you are looking for the perfect Tucson weekend getaway, Hacienda del Sol should be your first choice. My mom and I enjoyed every minute of our visit. Whether a romantic or girlfriends getaway, the hacienda is a luxurious haven in the Tucson desert.
Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort
5501 N. Hacienda Del Sol Road
Tucson, Arizona, 85718
Resort: 520-299-1501 | 1-800-728-6514
The Grill: 520-529-3500
Terraza Garden Patio & Lounge: 520-529-3500
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A big thank you to Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort. I was a guest at the ranch but as always, all opinions are my own.
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Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.