Eco-friendly Staycation: Loews Ventana Canyon

By Colleen StinchcombeLoews Ventana Canyon Resort Pond

If you’re looking for a local getaway that’s refreshing for both you and Mother Earth, take a peek at Loews Ventana Canyon. 

Located in Tucson at the bottom of the Santa Catalina mountains, Loews Ventana Canyon’s architect John Hill was determined to have the resort harmonize with the beautiful surrounding Sonoran Desert. Hill designed the building to look like the ribs of a saguaro cactus and vowed not to harm a single one of the 3,500 saguaro cacti that were rooted in the area.

If this sounds a lot like Frank Lloyd Wright to you, there’s a reason for that. “The architect for the resort was one of [Wright’s] students,” said Derek McCann, Ventana Canyon’s general manager.

The resort is built on top of a koi pond that is both beautiful and functional, serving as a cooling system for the building. Completed in 1984, Architectural Digest hailed Ventana Canyon “the first environmentally concerned resort in America.”

Since the resort’s debut, staying green has been a major priority. Already avid recyclers, when the resort renovates this fall, the owners say that nothing will get thrown away – absolutely everything will be sold or repurposed. They’ve upgraded their lights to LED bulbs, switched to chemical-free cleaning products and eco-friendly paper and pens. The resort’s two restaurants have dedicated themselves to creating an indigenous menu by using foods from local farms, and guests are even able to take desert cooking classes to learn how to prepare native foods at home.

Tortoise If you visit Loews Ventana Canyon, make sure to explore the half-mile Window Walk Nature Trail from the koi pond to an 80-foot natural waterfall. Keep going for a lookout over the valley, leading to the resort’s butterfly and hummingbird garden and a desert tortoise habitat.

“I think that it is simply our responsibility as an operator of luxury hotels and resorts to do the right thing environmentally as well as preserve the future for our children,” McCann said.

Loews also has a “good neighbor policy” – one of the first in the industry – that dedicates time and resources to supporting local charities, such as Tu Nidito, Tucson Values Teachers and others. “It is our way of giving back to the community that has offered its support throughout the years to Loews,” McCann said.

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Colleen Stinchcombe is a full-time editor and freelance writer living in Phoenix, AZ. You can follow her on Twitter at @castinchcombe and visit her website at

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