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March 24, 2014

On Location: Team Activities at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

While the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain is somewhat far from the crowds in its North Tucson setting, it’s hardly isolated. Other businesses surround the resort, and it is easy to get groups off-site for local experiences.

On our second day exploring what Dove Mountain has to offer event attendees, we rode out to the nearby White Stallion Ranch, about a 20-minute drive from the resort. Groups here can ride out into the desert together on one of the largest privately owned herds in the state as part of a team-building activity, or attend a seminar through the Ranch’s  partnership with Western Challenge, which uses the horse to illustrate techniques and develop skill sets. Team building programs can run from one to three days, and experience with horses is not necessary. 

Upon return, we talked via Skype with Mary Chin, an event planner who had organized a corporate event at Dove Mountain and shared her insights. While acknowledging some inherent challenges involved (the resort is not close to any large airport, making layovers or hour-long transfers from Phoenix necessary), she had high praise for the hotel’s events team and the Meeting Services Application, which made organizing activities much easier, she said. Her group participated in the geocaching activity, she recalled, and the teambuilding events were helpful for the attendees.

RELATED: Event Venues and Group Activities at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

Following the chat, the group went outside to find that several tables had been prepared with the makings of guacamole, and each of us got to try making the traditional dip with some decidedly nontraditional ingredients (cumin and green chiles, among others). Event attendees can participate in cooking competitions or mixology challenges as part of team-building programs, and members of the hotel’s culinary staff can serve as tasting judges. 

Tours of the Sonoran desert are a popular pick for groups, so we set off with Trail Dust Jeep Tours to get not only an up-close look at the local ecology, but to see where off-site receptions can be set up. (There are a large number of clearings in the desert that are good for different kinds of gatherings and even meals, although not all can accommodate portable kitchens for full-fledged dinners.) The company can organize a Trail Dust Desert Rally as a team-building event in which each Jeep forms a team to navigate the trail, answer desert trivia questions, find fool's gold and other artifacts, and compete in archery, roping, and horseshoe pitching, while attempting to keep to an average time and find the trail boss at the finish line. Sunset excursions are a popular option, and the company can accommodate up to 120 guests. 

Wine-tastings of local vintages are also easy to arrange, and the hotel has plenty of alcoves and niches for private sessions with a sommelier. After our final dinner, we walked out into the night to a lawn along the side of the resort. An astronomer was waiting for us there with a high-powered telescope. Tucson is home to the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, one of the best in the country if not the world, and the city has passed numerous light-pollution ordinances to keep the night skies clear for the professionals. This means that individuals (and groups) can also take advantage of the optimal viewing conditions, and our group spent a while taking turns looking through the telescope (the most powerful telescope one person can carry and set up by himself, we were told) and learning about stars, planets and nebulae. As team-building goes, stargazing is probably not up there with geocaching or a guacamole contest...but it was a perfect way to end the site inspection, and to take advantage of something rarely available outside of the Tucson area. 

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About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox





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