Family Togetherness Really Is Fun at Westin La Paloma

By Sarah Burton

As parents everywhere can attest, between busy schedules and shuttling kids to practice or playdates, quality family time is the first to suffer. For spring break, we knew our family needed not only a getaway but also a liberating adventure for the memory books. However, with a household of four kids, choosing a vacation spot that will appeal to everyone—including us parents—poses a challenge. And that’s putting it mildly. Our two teenagers and two little ones, ages 6–18, represent a range of interests as vast as you can fathom. But during our trip to The Westin La Paloma Resort, we found a place where we were free to be ourselves and no one had to compromise.

Westin La Paloma Waterslide

“I wish we could stay here every day.”

Not even an hour after our arrival, the promise of five pools called. Strolling the native-plant lined pathways, the two youngest of our family ran ahead giggling, stopping to read the signs identifying the cacti or trees surrounding the resort.

Before we even settled into our poolside spot, all four kiddos were off to the 177-foot water slide, SlideWinder. Not far behind was the biggest kid of our clan: my better half. The kids hooted and demanded an encore as their father barreled down the last turn, sending water splashing over the edge and onto them. I took this opportunity to sneak away, book in hand, to the adult area’s mineral pool. Kept at 42 degrees and enriched with salt from the Dead Sea, this invigorating little oasis was just what I needed.

When I rejoined the family, I found them refueling at Sabino’s Pool Bar & Grill, a swim-up eatery.

“Mama, I am having lunch in the water,” my littlest squealed with pride.

Serenity Garden

After a short rest, the kids were off again, splashing and enjoying the water. We grown-ups watched from afar through the large agave and flowering desert landscape woven through the pool area, relishing the quiet moment to ourselves in a bubbling hot tub. On our walk back to the room, our 10-year-old sidled up and grabbed my hand pronouncing in all seriousness, “I wish we could stay here every day.”

“The stars are so bright from here!”

Perched in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, The Westin La Paloma is high enough to look out over all of Tucson—a prime sunset view. From the Country Club patio, the sky frames the sweeping 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course with swaths of oranges, pinks and reds. Behind, the mountains are worth a look—their hue is a pretty violet at dusk. We watched the sunset on the wraparound patio of one of the on-site restaurants, Contigo Latin Kitchen, while contentedly sipping our drinks: sangrias for the parents, tall glass bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola—nostalgic in look, and taste, with real cane sugar—for the kids. In a rare moment of quiet, without a worry about schedules or a glance at a cell phone, we sat together as a family and truly soaked up the calm of the desert, watching the sky turn from purple to black. After our meal, we made our way straight to the fire pits. We were on a mission to make s’mores, thanks to a tip from staff about the kits the resort has for guests interested in a little al fresco relaxation.

Firepit with Smores

Armed with the necessary ingredients, we gathered around a fire pit and the kids instantly kicked off a contest of who would make the best s’more. We chuckled watching them and sat back to soak up the Sonoran Desert’s impossibly star-filled night sky. As energy levels wound down, the kids settled into the chairs and our youngest boy looked skyward.

“The stars are so bright from here!” he said, perfectly capturing what we were all thinking.

“Look what I made!”

The early risers in our family, my 6-year-old and I quietly left our suite first thing the next morning, looking for a little diversion we could both enjoy. Thanks to the resort’s Kids Club, escaping for some “me time” was simple. Whether you’re booked for a rejuvenating spa treatment at Red Door Salon & Spa, tennis game, or—like me—excited to try out the Westin Workout’s group class offerings, the staff is ready to find something kids can get into in the meantime.

Westin Group Class

I made a reservation the day before, but they happily take drop-ins. While I got my sweat on in the stability ball class, my daughter was just next door happily painting and perusing the club’s books. Her greeting upon my return to round her up told me she’d been busy: “Look what I made, Mama!”

For parents looking for a date night, I recommend Kids’ Night Out. While you grab a margarita in the Azul Lounge, your little ones will be busy with dinner, crafts, a movie, and maybe even a nature walk.

“Is that a ping pong table?”

Family Game Time

When everyone was awake, we indulged in the bountiful breakfast buffet (the cinnamon French toast was a favorite) before deciding to explore the property. Making our way through the Serenity Garden path, we came upon what looked like a ping pong table. As a family of game lovers, we knew we had to investigate further. To our delight, we discovered not only table tennis, but picnic tables, cornhole, and even an outdoor pool table. In the sunny morning, under the shade of mesquite trees, we played to our hearts’ content—the younger kids getting a pool lesson from their dad. It was just us, enjoying each other with no barriers or distractions.

“When can we come back?”

After a refreshing and energizing escape from the real world, it was time to head home. We watched sunsets, giggled around the fire, explored the desert, played games, enjoyed wonderful foods, and were ultimately reminded just who we are as a family when we are free to be ourselves. As we drove away, I thought, “When can we come back?”