Loews is one of my favorite hotel chains. I've been to the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort once before and found it to be comfortable and nicely appointed. This visit, however, was a disappointment because I had some special dietary needs. I called the dining department at the hotel ahead of time to let them know I was a vegetarian and to ask if they had any vegetarian entrees available on their room service menu. (I prefer to avoid dairy but will eat them if nothing else is available). I received a call from an employee who assured me that the hotel had many excellent dinner choices for vegans and vegetarians. I let her know I was traveling with a pet and needed to be able to eat in my room. She went so far as to state that many other hotels in the area will not go out of their way to accommodate guests with dietary needs but Loews will. She re-emphasized that there would be lots of choices for room service.
Reassured, I stayed at the resort when I visited Tucson and found out immediately the first night that this was not the case. For dinner, there was only one entree item on the menu, an avocado taco. I called the dining dept and asked for the person who had called me a day before I arrived. She was off work so I and asked about entrees. This person gave me a list of additional items I could order, which were from their bar menu. They were all appetizers or salads and included a flatbread pizza, bruschetta appetizer, fried artichoke heart appetizer, and some other small plate appetizer items. I figured I would work out the entree thing the next day and for now just order what was available so I called room service. As I went down the list was told, "no", "no", "sorry, that's not available right now", "no, sorry we can't serve that now". I responded by telling this person that I had called in advance and was assured that the hotel had different options for dietary needs. They left for a moment and came back and said they would make the bruschetta for me but not anything else off the menu. I ordered a salad, the bruschetta, and the avocado taco. The 2 tacos were a quarter slice of avocado laid ontop of a small cold uncooked corn tortilla sprinkled with sesame seeds and salsa. It might have been a refreshing appetizer in the dead of summer, but was not satisfying as a dinner entree. I chocked it up and figured I would call dining the next day.
I returned from work at around 4 pm to find the same problem. The contact person was not there, and there were no restaurants open. Even though I had requested specifically that I needed to be able to eat in my room, at 4:30 I went to the front of the hotel whereupon a bellman told me I could eat at their fine dining restaurant, the Flying V, located on the other side of the parking area. I walked to the restaurant (in the freezing cold) to find it closed with no one in sight. When I returned to the hotel, the staff apologized and said they were wrong and that the restaurant wouldn't open for another hour.
I then went to the Lobby lounge to try to get some of the appetizers that they served instead. I sat for 30 minutes (the bar was about 25% full) and never had anyone approach me to take my drink or food order, so I returned to the room. I tried to call dining again and got another recording, left a message that I was checking out, and packed. In the hour before I left I never got a return call. It was past time to check out and I knew I would be charged for the second night (approx. 350.00 each night) but felt I couldn't stay, not just because of the dining problems, but the feeling that I had been duped into believing that the hotel offered a service that it didn't.
I've been a travel agent for more than 20 years. The thing that differentiates a luxury hotel from other hotels is not just the size of their bathrooms and the thread count of their sheets, but how they handle the non-routine needs of their clientele. It is one thing to fall short when a customer makes a particularly difficult special request. It happens. It is another altogether to have that customer call in advance and be assured that the services are available and then to have all of the staff respond by saying they are unaware that the services exist. For that reason, despite the beautiful grounds and the well appointed rooms, I give this resort a 3/5.