History and Luxury Collide at the Tubac Golf and Spa Resort
By Stacey Lane
Along Interstate 19, about 45 miles south of Tucson, the lone road sign marking the Tubac exit would go unnoticed if it weren’t for the colorful flags that wave to passersby reminding them of Tubac’s origins. Once in town, the ruins of Tubac presidio (a Spanish garrison) echo the conflicts that led to the planting of these flags representing Spain, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, Arizona, and the United States.
Founded in 1752, Tubac was the first European settlement in Arizona and became, appropriately, the site of Arizona’s first State Historical Park. Once the largest town for miles, Tubac was the staging point for expeditions further north and the trailhead for routes to Colorado, Utah and even San Francisco, as memorialized by the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
Unrelenting attacks by Indians, Mexico’s War of Independence with Spain in 1810, and periods of drought left the little town of Tubac abandoned several times. Large land grants from the Spanish were inherited but inevitably changed hands over the centuries. Today’s Otero Ranch represents the remnants of one such estancia. Held by the Otero family for generations since 1789, it was acquired by a group of businessmen in 1959. With the late Bing Crosby as Chairman of the Board, the land was developed as a getaway for Hollywood notables, now known as the Tubac Golf Resort.
The Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, neighbors the historic Village of Tubac, lies 36 miles south of the Tucson International Airport and 20 miles north of Nogales, Mexico. It is a 600-acre, full-service destination surrounded by the Santa Rita and Tumacácori Mountains. The golf course, designed by Red Lawrence, was one of Kevin Costner’s favorites when choosing locations for the “no-holes barred” fairway classic, Tin Cup.
The Ranch offers roomy casitas, comfy posadas and a pet-friendly atmosphere. Recent renovations included 52 luxury Hacienda Suites that feature sunken living rooms, flat-screen TVs, walk-in showers, fireplaces and patios overlooking the grounds. The luxurious resort features a variety of top-notch amenities, including the famous 27-hole championship golf course and a world-class spa.
The impeccable Stables restaurant is also on the property, wait to welcome visitors with a wide range of selection. The Stables Ranch Grille serves all meals featuring American fare with a regional flair as the Santa Rita Mountains beckon guests in the morning, while the emerald green fairways complement lunch and dinners. The Cowboy pub, designed with sombreros and warm wood, literally gives one an opportunity to saddle up to the bar.
Adjacent to this oasis of pleasance is the historic Village of Tubac. Most of the buildings now house galleries, shops, restaurants, artist studios and workshops, all within walking distance from one another. Just a few miles away, the Tumacácori National Historical Park is home to three Spanish-colonial missions. The only one open to the public year-round, the late 18th-century San José de Tumacácori Mission, has been beautifully restored from the exterior adobe walls to the interior portraits of the twelve apostles. Tumacácori has weathered many storms, some political, military and even social. Guided tours to the Guevavi and Calabazas missions are available in some seasons.
Hikers and bikers can tackle the 4.5-mile Juan Bautista de Anza Trail that connects the Tumacácori mission complex to the presidio. The trail crosses the Santa Cruz River flanked by willows and cottonwoods that provide habitat for wildlife like Gila woodpeckers and wide-eyed racoons.
Among the upcoming events in 2017 is the 58th Annual Tubac Festival of the Arts held February 8–12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The juried Festival will have 175 booths representing artists from all over the country. Fine painting and sculpture, fun and functional ceramics, shimmering glass, skillfully-crafted wood and leatherwork will be on view, along with photography, unique jewelry, artful clothing and mixed-media works.