Masters look to the Arizona desert for inspiration

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When the whiff of white dust sets in, a mountain rises in front of Emily Dillport and Ashima Shiraishi, each mastering seemingly disparate trades.

For climber Ashima Shiraishi, the rust-colored rock baked for centuries by the Arizona sun appears like a puzzle. It’s the one where the right combination of gravity-defying moves, strength, focus, and a pinch of luck will get her to stand up and onto that ancient rock in the High Sonoran Desert, rewarding her with expansive views of the magic saguaro and blue palo verde. dotted landscape. With each deep breath and chalk hand placement, she feels a deeper connection with nature. “Every rock you get your hands on is a visceral new experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world,” says Shiraishi. “It puts my existence in perspective and reminds me that I am part of this vast ecosystem.”

Across a few canyons, into a pristine hotel kitchen, Chef Emily Dillport’s heaps of boulders – edible mounds of oranges, Minneola tangelos and freshly picked red grapefruits at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain orchard , along with prickly pears, the native desert treat from cactus paddles – are also a problem to be solved. Should they become a citrus vinaigrette to garnish a kale salad or nopales okra gel? Or maybe their fate is the morning muffin basket or the lobby bar’s daily mixology class. As with Shiraishi’s climbing routes to a summit, the ways Dillport can use the products are almost endless and all the possibilities reflect the enchantment of this place. “I want every guest to have a delicious experience, but the most important thing for me is to see the guests pull the magic from the ingredients of this region, awaken a sense of wonder and encourage them to take it home,” says Dillport.

Émilie Dillport | Executive Chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

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Ashima Shiraishi | Professional climber

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And isn’t that a sign of a successful vacation, after all? Go to a different place, learn something, feel something, be changed for the better, and ultimately capture a holdover – the aroma right after a desert rain, the sweetness of a prickly pear margarita, the joy of dig an impossible hole -in-one – that you can call in when you just can’t escape and want that feeling of escape back? The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain can help if you fancy blazing a new path through rocky ridges as the lavender light of dusk consumes the Arizona skyline, see what a chef creates with this tangy crop. , or simply take a step back from the demands of everyday life and slip into limitless luxury.

“Each destination has a unique cuisine, and Tucson’s food scene dates back 4,000 years when they began harvesting the native ingredients we use today,” says Chef Dillport. “When I approach a new culture and their food, I take a step back, I listen to the locals and I learn what is important and about the ingredients in it. “

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A prickly pear dish inspired by ingredients found in the lush living desert of Dove Mountain.

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Dove Mountain’s 42-tree orchard of oranges, Minneola tangelos and red grapefruit offers guests a fresh dining experience.

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Foraging gives you a unique appreciation for the ingredients, especially knowing that the indigenous people who were here thousands of years ago harvested in exactly the same way.

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Chef Dillport decorates a local avocado, sculpted to resemble a saguaro cactus, for an impressive appetizer of Ahi Tuna, Chiltepin Tempura, and Pickled Barrel Cactus for CORE Restaurant at Dove Mountain.

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When creating dishes for Dove Mountain’s five food and beverage concepts, Dillport elegantly infuses regional culture into the kitchen. The Turquesa Latin Grill, for example, draws inspiration from Arizona’s rich LatinX culinary heritage. And Dove Mountain’s seasonal flagship, CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar, relies on the generosity of neighboring farmers. “The majority of our local ingredients, like prickly pear, can be picked in the desert,” says Dillport. “When you pick them, it gives you a unique appreciation for these ingredients, especially knowing that the indigenous people who were here thousands of years ago harvested in exactly the same way.” And not to forget where the delicacies come from while savoring pan-fried scallops with an elote purée, a house chamoy and a cactus white butter, all you have to do is look through the picture windows or to look up elegant patio in a desert you can almost touch.

Secreted in the mountains 30 miles from Tucson, where towering succulents stand sentry over wild canyons, where sunsets and moonrises are equally magical, the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain strives to cultivate a balance between the rugged beauty of the land and refined desires. It blends into the landscape and brings the outdoors in while respecting the wild nature that surrounds it. But retreating here is far from brutal. After all, this is not a mirage but an oasis of infinity pools, roaring hearths and feather beds where flawless service and attention to detail are as prized as water in the desert.

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Private Casita Suites on the Dove Mountain property offer a secluded experience in the middle of the Tucson Desert.

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Stunning views of Dove Mountain and towering saguaro cacti surround the Ritz-Carlton property.

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I love to see how the local traditions, culture and nature are really amplified here.

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Nestled in the Tortolita Mountains, the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is a haven for those looking to reconnect with nature.

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Nowhere is this symmetry of desert and decadence more evident than in the holistic spa. The surrounding natural elements appear not only in the interior decoration, but also in the treatments. Native gems and basalt circles massage sore muscles of hikers, endemic plants soothe sunburns and Indigo poultices preferred by Native Americans shamans remove any stress that might have been lurking in your suitcase.

This is exactly the kind of place Shiraishi tries to find herself after a serious jam session. “Rock climbing is really about pushing your limits and your physical limits, but in order to do that you have to take care of your body,” says Shiraishi, citing massages, saunas, ice baths and meditative body movements as some -one of his favorite afternoons. climbing rituals. May the duality of cocooning and environmental and cultural provenance make this holistic haven even more special. “I love to see how the local traditions, culture and nature are really amplified here,” says Shiraishi.

As tempted as you are to stay in the tub and keep company with 400-thread count Frette sheets, the surrounding desert playground is the real draw of Dove Mountain. The area has the beauty of a national park (without the crowds) thanks to its sculptural clusters of boulders, sprays of spring wildflowers, and diverse menagerie of cacti, including adorably stocky barrels and towering saguaros, whose arms are apparently begging you to come outside and play.

Climbing in nature offers a deeper connection with the surroundings and the natural environment in which you are embraced.

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Step out from the back porch of Dove Mountain to commune with nature solo on 42 km of hiking trails, or take a more organized outing to see historic petroglyphs, cycle the Tortolita Mountains, or contemplate the shimmering majesty of the sky night while learning to identify constellations. Even the three Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses make the most of the native flora and rolling hills.

And there’s always Shiraishi’s favorite way of enjoying the surroundings – straight up. “Climbing in nature offers a deeper connection with the surroundings and the natural environment in which you are embraced – it’s a more visceral experience,” she explains. “I was blown away by the unique environment Arizona offers. It really opened my eyes to see that a place like this – a lush living wilderness – exists in the world.”

Book your stay at Dove Mountain


Artistic direction by Sonja Georgevich; Video production by Josh Brede; Styling by Lilli Millhiser; Styling Assistance by Tess Parker; Hair and makeup by Mary Wright; Production by Anne Ritz and Mandi Hayes; Production assistance by Brian Byrd and Duran Cribbs; Wardrobe courtesy of The North Face, Teva, Nanushka and Laura Lombardi.


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