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Resort Spotlight: JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa

By Nancy Schretter, Editor

Tucson is a great spot for family travel and the family vacation star in the area is the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa. Set in a beautiful desert landscape on the border of the Tucson Mountain Park, the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort delights families with its extensive waterpark collection, Rising Starr Kids’ Club recreation program, spacious rooms, and a wide variety of activities for all family members. With everything that the resort offers, the JW Marriott Starr Pass is a perfect destination for a family vacation or a long weekend escape.

This family-friendly desert retreat has everything families need to relax and unwind. The first step in the journey to relaxation and family reconnection is the escape from the pressures of everyday life. The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort’s setting in the rolling hills high above Tucson helps to start the process. The resort’s exclusive private setting brings guests in close proximity to the abundant nature of the Tucson mountains, with hiking trails that start at the property’s front driveway. All that can be seen from the resort’s vantage point are verdant golf courses, sparkling pools, stunning desert landscapes, and the twinkling lights of the city far below. The architecture of the resort blends perfectly with the natural beauty of the area, lending to an aura of peace and tranquility.

The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort features 575 luxurious guest rooms, including 35 deluxe suites. Connecting rooms for families are also available. Each guest room and suite offers either a private balcony or patio designed to take advantage of the property’s beautiful views. 

Activities For Every Age and Interest

One of the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort’s greatest assets is its broad array of activities and adventures. "Starr Pass is a wonderful place for families, especially children," said Matt Brody, Director of Sales and Marketing for the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort. "There are so many great activities for parents and kids to enjoy together.... and it's a great place for families to reconnect."

For many families, the crown jewel of the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort is its water collection, the only one of its kind in Southern Arizona. Starr Canyon River and Monsoon Falls WaterSlide, the resort’s lazy river and pool slide, are a major hit with parents and kids of all ages. The resort’s big slide is 16 feet high and 110 feet long and connects with the Starr Canyon River. After swooshing down the slide, guests can grab one of the large, colorful inner tubes for a leisurely float along the Starr Canyon River. As guests meander along the river’s path, a total of 22 fountain jets shower them with cool refreshment that’s so much appreciated on hot summer days. The resort features a total of four separate pools and a dancing springs water feature in the children’s pool area, perfect for entertaining little ones.

Golfers have much to look forward to at Starr Pass. Just outside the hotel’s door is the Starr Pass Country Club with its 27 holes of Arnold Palmer Signature Golf. Avid players can also sharpen their skills on the resort’s 33,000 square foot driving range or its practice green. Lessons are available with one of the resort’s PGA golf professionals. Starr Pass also participates in Marriott’s Kids Golf-4-Free program, allowing kids 15 years old and under to play free of charge after 3 p.m. daily when accompanied by a full-paying adult. In addition, the program provides participating young golfers with a free rental set of Accu-Length clubs for use during their round of golf.

Another great amenity for families is the Rising Starr Kids Club, a full-service children’s program for children ages 4-12. The program originates in the resort’s attractive Kids Club room, which is filled to the brim with interactive games and activities. The resort’s Kids Club program emphasizes the Southwestern experience and incorporates the wildlife, culture and history specific to the region. Daily activities might include snake painting, making Native American headdresses, teepee making, Native American jewelry making, and other arts and crafts. Both half-day and full-day fee-based programs are available and lunch may also be added for a small charge.

While the children are enjoying the Kids Club program, parents often head to Hashani, the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort’s 20,000 square-foot world-class spa. “Hashani” is the Native American word for saguaro and the spa features many unique treatments that incorporate elements of the Sonoran Desert. It is often difficult for parents to escape to a destination spa for a relaxing getaway, but the JW Marriott Starr Pass makes this possible by offering such an expansive spa experience at a family-friendly resort. In addition to the spa’s highly trained staff and an extensive treatment menu, the facility also includes a fitness center, whirlpool, steam room and sauna, pool, and a movement studio with a large outdoor terrace. Guests can also enjoy the spa’s private outdoor pool as well as dining at Blossom, the spa’s café.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be thrilled with the choices for adventure at Starr Pass. A broad network of trails through the Tucson Mountain Park is available for exploration by foot, horseback or mountain bike. The resort’s staff leads hikes at sunrise and sunset, but the trails can also be easily navigated on one’s own. Check with the resort’s concierge for a detailed map and more information.

Guests at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort can choose from five restaurants for their dining experiences. Families can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Signature Grill, offering both indoor and outdoor dining options. Plunge, located next to the resort’s pool, is a great choice for parents and kids who don’t want to come indoors for lunch. The outdoor restaurant serves salads, sandwiches, burgers, and a variety of drinks.

For that special night out, make fine dining reservations at Primo and enjoy the varied menu of fresh selections featuring flavors from Italy, Spain and France. Melissa Kelly, a James Beard award-winning chef, is the owner/creator of Primo. Families might enjoy having pizza and other Italian favorites at Primo Piatti, a casual dining area located in Primo’s lounge. Catalina Steakhouse, providing scenic golf course views, is another good option for lunch or fine dining in the evening.

If You Go:

* For more information about the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, visit the resort’s website at www.jwmarriottstarrpass.com, call the resort at 520-792-3500 or 888-527-8989 or contact your favorite travel agent.

* The resort provides a “best price guarantee” on room rates and often offers family packages and other promotions throughout the year. Make sure to check the resort’s website for current deals.

* Babysitting is available at the resort through an outside service. Contact for the resort’s concierge for more details and make arrangements at least 24 hours in advance.

* On major holiday weekends, the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort often features an action-packed program of activities that the whole family can enjoy. These may include such activities as arts & crafts activities, a farmers’ market, hula-hoop and watermelon eating contests, ping-pong tournaments, and performances of all kinds. Check with the resort’s concierge for program details and more information.

* Parents who are tequila and/or sunset lovers – don’t miss the complimentary sunset Tequila Toast on the outdoor patio at Salud, the resort’s tequila bar. Salud is the perfect place to watch the sun go down and the twinkling lights come up around the city of Tucson.

* The greater Tucson area is full of family-friendly activities and attractions. Check out the Arizona-Sedona Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, the Tucson Children’s Museum, Colossal Cave Mountain Park, and the Reid Park Zoo. At 9,157-feet, nearby Mt. Lemmon is a good destination for downhill skiing during the winter months, depending upon weather conditions.

* Tucson’s weather is generally warm year-round, but it can get hot and potentially rainy during July and August. The resort offers special family-oriented deals during this summer season and the property’s extensive collection of pools and waterscapes provides the perfect venue for families to cool off on warm summer days.

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