If you get an opportunity to visit Tucson, do yourself a favor and stay at the JW Marriott Starr Pass. Like several other JW properties in the southwestern USA and Texas, it’s possible to enjoy a long weekend here without ever leaving. Though with all Tucson and the surrounding area has to offer, this could be a mistake.
When arriving, the road curves around the entire resort giving guests a good look at the golf course and pools before finally reaching the front entrance.
Inside the spacious lobby stretches out above one of the restaurants with multilevel windows overlooking a lovely patio and the main swimming pool.
The rooms are situated in seven interconnected buildings, centered around the lobby.
While the property does have the dreaded resort fee, parking is one of the benefits included. Based on the posted signs, parking would cost $15, which accounts for roughly half of the resort fee. It’s no fun to pay the resort fee, though the parking does offset the sting slightly.
During the warmer months, the pools are the most popular features on site, along with the bars, of course. In addition to the main pool, there is a lazy river and water slide. With temperatures over 100°F each day of our stay, this was the place to be. About the only time the place wasn’t packed was weekday mornings.
The resort sits on the edge of the Tucson Mountain Park, meaning rooms on the west side of the property have some great views of the surrounding hills. I’d recommend asking for a room overlooking the park rather than one that have a view of the pools. There is even a trail heading up into the hills. Roundtrip it’s about 2 miles. Anyone planning to hike the full loop would be wise to begin early in the morning and take plenty of water especially in summer.
One amazing benefit of being on the edge of the park is the wildlife. Over the course of our weekend stay, we spotted a few roadrunners, a squadron of javelinas (yes, that it the proper term for a group of them). They wandered right up the edge of the hotel.
We also spotted a few mule deer and a bobcat mother with 3 kits. They stayed hidden in the brush, so we were unable to get any clear photographs.
We did explore partway down the trail early one morning. Here’s a view looking back at the hotel. Our room is the top balcony roughly in the center of the photo.
The Platinum (and above) arrival gift is the choice of 1,000 Bonvoy points or daily continental breakfast buffet. The upgrade to the full buffet is $9 per person. The options are fairly standard Marriott fare, including an omelet station.
Located about 5 miles from downtown, it’s easy to venture into the city to explore some great local food options. There are a couple restaurants on site for those who prefer to stay at the resort. Also nearby are the western section of Saguaro National Park, Old Tucson, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The JW Starr Pass makes a great base for exploring Tucson. It’s near enough to the city, but far enough away to feel like you’ve really gotten away from the madness of everyday life. Next time you’re in Tucson, check it out.
Oh, and one last secret tip. Make a trek over to Kon Tiki on the east side of town. It’s a great classic tiki bar that’s been around since the 1960s. It may not look like much from the outside, but it’s worth a visit.