Tucson’s rugged mountainscapes, cacti forests and mesmerizing sunsets have always made the city a magnet for adventurous travelers and desert lovers. Now, one of the city’s top resorts is teaming up with the acclaimed Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to help visitors gain a deeper appreciation of Tucson’s unique Sonoran Desert ecosystem.
Surrounded by cactus-studded foothills and panoramic views of the Tucson valley, The Westin La Paloma Resort – in collaboration with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – has installed information stations, living exhibits and new desert plantings to help educate guests about the natural history of the Sonoran Desert.
Walkways and nature paths have been outfitted with exhibits and signage to provide guests with the names and properties of various native flora and fauna. New plantings of Palo Verde trees, agaves and other plants allow guests the opportunity to get an up-close look at the biodiversity of the Sonoran Desert.
The hotel has even installed new signage for roadrunner crossings, so guests will know to be on the lookout for this iconic Southwestern bird.
Guests at Tucson's Westin La Paloma Resort can enjoy new interpretive displays along the resort's walking trails — Photo courtesy of The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa
The Westin hopes the new interpretive exhibits and displays encourage visitors to engage with the desert and learn about this unique region of the world. It’s the first partnership between the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and a local hotel, and the initiative is gaining national attention.
The new flora and fauna exhibits are another example of The Westin’s philosophy on local culture and green living. The resort’s signature restaurant AZul, for example, has a farm-to-table menu featuring ingredients grown in the Arizona desert.
Depending on the season, diners can savor locally grown ingredients like pecans, baby yellow beets, apples and guajillo chiles. There is also an on-site chef garden used to harvest local herbs. And, not surprisingly, the wine list is overflowing with Arizona varieties.
As part of its ongoing sustainability efforts, the resort kitchen composts most leftovers and participates regularly in the Tucson Community Food Bank donations. The Westin is also one of only a handful of Green-Certified resorts in Tucson. The hotel gives eco-minded guests the option of skipping daily housekeeping services. Guests who opt out of daily housekeeping are rewarded with a $5 voucher good for food and beverages.
The hotel also participates in a nonprofit recycling program called Clean the World. As part of the program, it recycles guest-room soaps and bottled amenities. The products are sanitized and then distributed to impoverished communities in more than 50 countries around the world to help prevent hygiene-related diseases.