Hacienda del Sol is located at 5601 N. Hacienda del Sol Road in Tucson. For more information, call 800-728-6514 or visit haciendadelsol.com.
© Edward McCain
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Old School AccommodationsWhat began in 1930 as an elite college prep is now one
of the most luxurious places in Tucson to pull an all-nighter.
By JoBeth Jamison
Tucson Hacienda del Sol offers pure, old school accommodations. Really.
Tucked into the south-facing toes of the Santa Catalina Mountains, this easily overlooked resort (at least geographically speaking) was built in 1929 and opened in 1930 as an all-girls school. To the few people who actually saw it, this Spanish Colonial-style ranch, spread out on 34 acres of the Sonoran Desert, may well have been mistaken for a mud hut in the middle of nowhere. In truth, it was one of the most elite college preparatory schools this side of the Mississippi — intended primarily for young women who'd spent the majority of their lives on the other side of it.
Advertised nationally in Vogue magazine, the educational complex/debutante dude ranch accommodated up to 28 girls at a time, many of whom made the school's attendance rosters look like a coming-of-age "Who's Who?" with names including Campbell (as in soup), Maxwell (as in House) and Pillsbury (as in lots of dough).
By 1948, the role of Hacienda del Sol had changed from school to guest ranch, but the privileged caliber of guests that flocked there never tarnished. Not only was it frequented by the likes of John Wayne and Clark Gable, it became a favorite of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, whose preferred casita was ultimately named for them and is still enjoyed today.
In fact, Hacienda del Sol recently received official recognition as a Historic Hotel of America. While its horse stables make it a guest ranch and help maintain its Old West air, the resort's predominant feel is upscale and fresh. The once-rustic dorms are now colorful, boutique guest quarters. The outer-lying luxury casitas have become ideal accommodations for intimate getaways, as well as group gatherings. The impeccably landscaped gardens and grounds, which are personally overseen and maintained by one of the owners, are as breathtaking as the surrounding desert and mountain views.
Recent additions of a spa and fine-wine shop have ushered the resort into a new age, but well-placed vintage furnishings, photographs and memorabilia from Hacienda del Sol's academic beginnings keep it steeped in historic charm. Combine all of that with the ambience and cuisine of the resort's acclaimed on-site restaurant, The Grill (home to one of Arizona's best Sunday brunches), and it's possible to conjure a memory that your senses will beg you to recall again and again.
Whether you just happen upon it, or you're actively seeking unique, luxury lodging and dining, Hacienda del Sol is worth studying up on.