By Roger Cox, Editor
Tennis has long been a central amenity at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa in the foothills of Tucson's Santa Catalina Mountains. The 80-acre landmark dates to 1912, when the Watsons built an adobe home on the property. It later evolved into a guest ranch and then, during the tennis boom, added eight tennis courts, giving them a prime location at the top of the resort overlooking the original adobe buildings and the Tucson Valley beyond.
Westward Look may not be as glamorous as some of the late-comers, but it retains a rich Sonoran character, in its architecture and its landscape. Part of the original adobe homestead survives, converted now to a sitting area with a wood-burning fireplace. The entire property is a botanical garden of desert species, set off here and there by ramadas with bird feeders and interpretive tiles about wildlife.
Although tennis remains a central amenity, it is not the only one. The guest ranch tradition survives in horseback rides into the adjoining hills, supplemented now by a fitness center, a spa, and three heated swimming pools, the largest of them, a lap pool, immediately adjacent to the tennis courts.
Otherwise, Westward Look's enthusiasm for group business shows in a three-story ballroom—the tallest building on the property—whose covered top-floor terrace has a 360-degree view that takes in the five mountain ranges ringing the valley.
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Pro Shop: 520-917-2466
The complex of eight courts begins near the pro shop and cascades down the slopes of the foothills through a botanical garden of desert foliage. It has a very small tennis pro shop, with balls, accessories, on-site restringing, and snacks. Throughout much of the winter and spring, every court is likely to be in use during the prime 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. period, booked either by guests or locals for whom this is a membership club.
Tennis Staff. Head tennis pro Jeff Gallego grew up playing tennis in Tucson and after graduating from the University of Arizona began coaching high-school tennis and working in clubs before taking the top position at Westward Look in Nov. 2016
Tennis Programs. Gallego stages some kind of group tennis activity almost daily, the most popular among them drill-and-play clinics. Beyond that, men's drop-in nights and league play. There are also some social events, which are run by members themselves, though guests are often welcome as fill-ins. Finally, there are several weeks of junior camps during the summer.
Pickleball Programs. Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa has 2 pickleball courts. , 2 are temporary. .Courts & Fees. There are 8 courts—5 hard (due for resurfacing), 1 cushion, and 2 synthetic grass—terraced below the pro shop. Five of them have lights, and one now has pickleball lines. Court Fees: included in $20/day resort fee.
Golf Courses. Westward Look has no golf course of its own but does have an affiliation with many courses in the Tucson area.
Spa & Fitness Center. The Sonoran Spa at Westward Look provides massage, skin, and body treatments using products indigenous to the region. For its signature treatments those might vary seasonally: aloe vera and mint in summer perhaps, pomegranates in fall. Its seven treatment rooms are named for such healing desert plants as jojoba, Indian tea, and creosote. For those with a meditative bent, there is an outdoor labyrinth, whose stones have been laid out in a pattern inspired by the Tohono O'odham symbol, "The Man in the Maze."
The fitness center, in the same building as the tennis pro shop, is modest, with a small array of cardiovascular machines, several LifeFitness workout stations, and some hand weights. It has a gas-log fireplace, a television, and floor-to-ceiling windows on the lap pool in one direction, the main bank of courts and mountains in another.
And ... There are stables for horseback riding near the entrance to the resort—this began as a guest ranch, after all—a fitness trail that loops around the resort and other hiking trails that take off into the surrounding desert.
The rooms are scattered through roughly 40 one- and two-story buildings that spill down the hill from the main lobby. Larger than typical hotel rooms, they have rough plaster walls, a subdued Southwestern decor, spacious bathrooms, and mountain or valley views. Many have wood-beam ceilings and patios or balconies.
There are two restaurants at the resort: the Gold Room and the Lookout Bar & Grille located on opposite sides of the lobby. Cuisine in the Gold Room is described as "seasonal American with a touch of heat" in a space with dazzling nighttime views of the city below. The Lookout is more casual, with tables that spill out onto the terrace and a menu that runs from quesadillas to New York strip steak. Its bar has live music on weekends.
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Seasons. Tucson claims to get 350 days of sunshine a year, more, says the Convention & Visitors Bureau, than any other city in the U.S. Expect high temperatures in the mid 60s in winter, in the upper 90s in summer. The rainiest months are July, August, and September.
Travel Instructions. The resort is 20 miles from Tucson International Airport (TUS), which is just over 30 minutes' driving depending on traffic.
General Tourist Information. For information about vacationing in Tucson, visit the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau website or contact them at 110 S. Church Ave. No. 7199, Tucson, AZ 85701. Phone: 520-624-1817; Fax: 520-770-0507.