Marana In The Media: Travel Guide highlights Marana Gastronomy Tours

Fodor's Travel Guide, one of the leading authorities on travel, had an article on their website regarding Tucson being designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. The story devoted several paragraphs to Marana and the Marana Gastronomy Tours.


Located just northwest of Tucson, the river valley town of Marana is a modern-day haven for local farmers and producers, but what makes it especially unique is that it is home to easily accessible archaeological sites linked to the first evidence of modern agriculture in the United States. On a Marana Gastronomy Tour, participants get an immersive, full-circle experience that rolls the Tucson area’s food history and the current innovations of the local dining scene into one afternoon. Seasoned experts with personal connections to the region lead these outings.

our participants can pick from one of two tours, depending on their tastes. The traditional, slightly highbrow, Marana Gastronomy Tour, visits two archeological sites, including the recently discovered Las Capas, which is oldest known agricultural irrigation system in the U.S. The tour concludes with a small plate and cocktail tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, which is known for creating innovative dishes featuring heirloom and wild ingredients such as the ancient tepary bean, cholla cactus buds and barrel cactus seeds.

The other, more salt-of-the-earth tour option, titled “A Taste of The Wild: The Marana Wild Foods Gastronomy Tour,” also visits Las Capas, but then delves into the more than 450 edible wild foods that grow in the Sonoran Desert. After participants get a chance to do a little foraging of their own, the tour concludes with a tasting at Marana’s Catalina Brewing Company, where folks can sample beers made using local ingredients, including the brewery’s flagship Mesquite Agave Ale. Food for this tour’s tasting menu is brought in from the local Bean Tree Farm, which specializes in wild-crafted foods featuring ingredients sourced from the Sonoran Desert. Local Fiore di Capra goat cheese and heirloom grain loaves from Tucson’s Barrio Bread bakery round out this wild feast.

Read the full story HERE.


For tour information visit .

For tour reservations visit .

Marana named a top-30 destination to avoid winter

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The Town of Marana was named one of the 30 Places to Make You Forget About Winter by the Forbes Travel Guide. The Town was selected as an ideal destination for those "dreaming of running away to a place where we don sunglasses and flip-flops instead of marshmallow-like down coats and snow boots. "

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Marana made the list along with such exotic locales as St. Kitts, Cancun, and Bali. Tucson also made the list. 

The article highlighted the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, as well as the area's hiking trails and petroglyphs.

Marana, Arizona is the gateway to Southern Arizona and a perfect place to explore and play, as well as a perfect staging point for adventures all over the region.

Learn more about all of the great travel options in Marana including culinary tours, places to stay, great food and beverage options, shopping, and more at

The Top 30 Places to Make You Forget About Winter

Marana Film Office continues Town's rich film legacy

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The Town of Marana has embraced the film and television industry, but that is nothing new. Cameras have rolled in the Town for movies and shows since 1939, but now more than ever Marana is becoming a destination for film production. The Marana Film Office was created to help bring more of these productions to the Town, as well as make the process of filming in the Town easier.

The Marana Film Office was established in 2017 as part of the Town’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

“The Marana film office fulfills the goals of the Marana Strategic Plan and the Economic Development Strategic Plan in a number of ways,” said Laura Cortelyou who oversees the Marana Film Office as part of her role as Marana’s Tourism and Marketing Manager. “It helps to diversify Marana’s economic base, it supports high paying jobs that match local workforce’s skill sets, and it supports local visitation and tourism.”

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Tourism in Marana was given a huge boost by the film industry. Places like Saguaro Vista Ranch, Wild Horse Ranch, and the White Stallion Ranch catered to high end clients. When movie productions came to Marana, most of the film’s producers, crew, and cast stayed at these boutique guest ranches and made Marana a vacation destination.

Television and film has had an economic impact on the region. According to the Tucson Film Office, filming in \southern Arizona generated $9.4 million in direct spending, 3,653 hotel room nights, and 6,000 job days for local cast and crew members.

A number of projects have recently filmed in Marana, including a nature documentary, a segment for a crime TV documentary, a Jeep promotional video, several independent film projects, and an episode of TLC’s “Four Weddings”.

The Marana Film Office assists with the permitting process for filming on Town of Marana property, as well as location scouting and finding accommodations within the Town for the cast and crew.

If the production needs to hire local crew and/or support services, the Marana Film Office can assist with that as well. Soon the Marana Film Office website will host a comprehensive public-facing crew list.

Marketing the Town is a significant part of the Marana Film Office. They are marketing the Town not only as a great place to film projects, but as a great place to bring film-related businesses to the Town.

On January 16, Modern Studios opened in Marana. This full-service production facility boasts 12,000 square feet in production and post-production amenities, and is geared toward the regional, national, and international TV commercial market, digital media, and music video productions. It is the largest production studio in Arizona and has the only Bolt high-speed cinebot camera in the state.

Marana Film Office was recently accepted as a member of the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), joining 360 film office members worldwide. The Marana Chamber of Commerce has also created a Film Committee to support and collaborate with the Marana Film Office.

Working in collaboration with Tucson Film Office and the Arizona Film and Digital Media Program, the Marana Film Office is working hard to market Marana to both future productions and businesses. Several productions have scouted Marana, and on January 4 a locations tour was provided to raise awareness of the unique locations Marana has to offer.

The Town of Marana has a rich cinematic history, and the future of film in the community is bright as well.

More on the Marana Film Office at

Forbes honors Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

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 The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain has set a new standard for desert luxury in the United States, having been named today to the Forbes Travel Guide 2018 Verified Lists of the World’s Most Luxurious Hotels and World’s Most Luxurious Spas.

Announcement of the coveted dual ranking notes that only eight properties in the world, including The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, have earned a Verified List position in both the hotel and spa categories -- with just three in the U.S. achieving this recognition for both hotel and spa. Two of the dual U.S. winners are located on the east coast, while The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain claims the only western-based double ranking.

Forbes’ “Most Luxurious Hotels” list
Forbes’ “Most Luxurious Spas” list

Forbes Travel Guide’s new Verified Lists are compiled from data gathered by the company’s incognito inspectors, who stay at the properties and evaluate them on up to 900 rigorous objective standards used to determine the guide’s annual Star Ratings, which were most recently announced in February 2018. The new Most Luxurious winners are the top 2018 performers in the specific standards that reflect detailed attention to the list’s level of sumptuous comfort, as well as luxurious choices and conveniences afforded to guests. 

Fifty-eight hotels in 17 countries have earned the new Forbes Verified List designation, representing the top six percent of 1,017 Star Rated hotels in performance on standards related to luxury. Just 30 spas in six countries have won the award, out of 269 Star Rated spas worldwide.

“This dual Forbes honor for our hotel and spa acknowledges a stellar team effort, and we are thrilled to be included,” said Liam Doyle, Area General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. “Our newly-unveiled resort transformation should further elevate the Forbes Five Star experience, helping to raise the bar on authentic desert luxury in the United States. We are excited to share this stunning new resort experience with guests.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain property transformation was unveiled this fall and includes a floor-to-ceiling makeover of its 253 guest rooms and 44,000 square-feet of meeting space, all inspired by the resort’s highly evocative Sonoran Desert sense of place.

Marana Gastronomy Tours Season 2

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 Discover Marana, the tourism and marketing program of the Town of Marana, is pleased to announce the second year of its gastronomy tour program. “The Marana Gastronomy Tour” and “A Taste of the Wild: The Marana Wild Foods Gastronomy Tour” explore different aspects of ancient foodways at archaeology sites and wild food flavors through tastings. Featuring ancient foodways experts, archaeologists, master foragers, master brewers, and a Master of French cuisine (Maître Cuisinier de France). 

 “A Taste of the Wild” tours include tastings of Bean Tree Farm prepared wild foods and Catalina Brewing Company and Button Brew House craft beer made with wild foods, and a wild foods walkabout with experts Carolyn Niethammer and Martha Burgess.

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“The Marana Gastronomy Tour” includes guided walks at two archaeology sites by Dr. Suzy Fish (later in the season) and Allen Denoyer of Archaeology Southwest, tastings at Catalina Brewing Company, and a small plates tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain. The tours are limited to 12-13 people. 

Reservations with Gray Line Arizona are $99 (“A Taste of the Wild”) and $109 (“Marana Gastronomy Tour”) per person. 

“The UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation was given to Tucson because the areas surrounding the Santa Cruz River have the earliest agriculture found in the United States,” said Laura Cortelyou, Tourism and Marketing Manager for the Town of Marana. “These are the only tours where you can experience these ancient cultures at ancient archaeology sites and taste ancient flavors in craft beer and classical French fusion cuisine.” 

Marana is home to wild foods educators, chefs, and craft brewers that responsibly harvest from the 450 edible plants in the Sonoran Desert; as well as farm-to-table restaurant suppliers, BKW Farms that grows White Sonora wheat used in local craft beer and artisanal baking by Barrio Bread, and a number of beekeepers that produce mesquite and wildflower honey. 

According to Jonathan Mabry, Ph.D., President of the Tucson City of Gastronomy nonprofit organization, “The Marana Gastronomy Tour program brings to life this region’s unique ancient history, foodways, and flavors. These are reasons for its 2016 UNESCO Creative City designation, as well as the area’s many food and beverage festivals, food economy, access to biodiverse foods, and more. Sonoran Desert foods have drawn and sustained peoples here continually for more than 10,000 years, creating a culturally layered cuisine.” 

Gray Line Tours Tucson is the tour provider and a third-generation family-owned business that has provided premier tours in, and from, Tucson for more than 100 years. 

“The Marana Gastronomy Tour” and “A Taste of the Wild: The Marana Wild Foods Gastronomy Tour” are both approved by UNESCO Creative Cities Network member, Tucson City of Gastronomy, the first City of Gastronomy in the U.S.

Scheduled Tour Dates Marana Gastronomy Tour: Thursdays; October 11, November 8, January 24, February 21, and March 21; 12:30 pm - 6:00 pm A Taste of the Wild: The Marana Wild Foods Gastronomy Tour: Sundays; October 21, November 18, January 6, February 3, March 3, April 7; 9:30 am – 1:30 pm.

Marana Gastronomy Tour Reservations 

For tour reservations visit

For tour information visit

KVOA: Town of Marana makes push to become movie shoot destination

Marana has a rich film history. It is known for its beautiful classic landscaped mountains and iconic saguaros--- a  picture perfect backdrop for Hollywood movies. 

"I couldn't believe how much was going on currently and also what the history was of filming since 1939 since the movie 'Arizona' was filmed here,"' said Laura Cortelyou, the Town of Marana's Tourism and Marketing Manager...

Inside Tucson Business: Marana brands itself a ‘Town of Gastronomy’


When Marana Mayor Ed Honea was a boy, he’d spend time wandering around his desert town, frequently discovering pottery sherds and arrowheads along the Santa Cruz riverbed and nearby slot canyons.

Unknowingly, he was retracing the footsteps that had originally left those items ever since humans started coming to the region back in 11,000 B.C. It was a cooler environment then, with the Ice Age coming to a close and clear streams bordered by grass-covered prairies bringing nomadic hunters in search of mammoth and bison.

Lots of changes have taken place during the intervening years with today’s bustling Marana moving forward with new ideas, while still celebrating its historic past....

Marana News: Food tour brings area’s UNESCO designation to life


In 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added 47 locations to its “Creative Cities” network. Tucson (and all of Southern Arizona) was added for gastronomy. In response to this designation, the Town of Marana created a unique Gastronomy Tour. The Marana News covered the designation and tour in a recent issue

Marana possesses a rich food culture, blending ancient flavors with contemporary techniques, that it was deserving of its own showcase.

This showcase comes in the form of the Marana gastronomy tour program, a five hour ride with tastings of local wild foods, samples of craft beers, and historical explorations.

“I’ve found that everything people use to describe Tucson’s food describes Marana better,” said Laura Cortelyou, tourism and marketing manager for the Town of Marana.

In development since December 2016, Marana’s tour is the first food tour approved by a UNESCO creative city in the United States.

With a 4,000-year-old agricultural history (one of the oldest in North America) surrounding them, patrons of Marana’s food tour will experience what few rarely do: visiting archaeological sites, learning about their food history, and then going to modern restaurants where the same styles of dishes are made today. Some of the stops will include drinks at Catalina Brewing Company and a sampling of wild gourmet foods from Bean Tree Farm foods, and cocktails and more at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.

“The best part is that we’re not setting up a fake tour to show the food,” Cortelyou said. “These really are local foods we use all the time—prickly pear, nopales, Sonoran wheat, mesquite, tepary beans. You can forage more wild foods here than in any other desert in the world.”

The tour runs twice a week, from Dec. 1 through April 2018, and promises to hold up to a worldwide UNESCO standard. To sign up, visit sign up:

“I designed this so that anyone in the world who came to our city could understand our food culture.” Cortelyou said, “The goal is to showcase the creativity of our brewers and bakers, and show how their food is inspired by the local flavors. The tour works because it’s what we already do here. It all just fell into place.”

Read the full story in the Marana News

El Tour de Tucson Marana 28-Mile Segment Photo Gallery

On Saturday, November 18 the Town of Marana hosted their second 28-Mile Segment of the El Tour de Tucson. The race drew well over 300 riders, who began their journey at the Marana Heritage River Park and winded their way through north Marana before heading south on I-10 and finishing the race in Downtown Tucson. 

Photos by J.D. Fitzgerald/

PRESS RELEASE: First UNESCO-Approved Gastronomy Tour Program in the U.S. now open in Marana, Arizona


MARANA, ARIZONA (November 8, 2017) –  Discover Marana, the tourism and marketing program of the Town of Marana, is pleased to announce the launch of the Marana Gastronomy Tour program. The tours will take a foodways journey back 1,000 years with Dr. Suzanne Fish, University of Arizona Emerita Professor and Arizona State Museum Curator, to Hohokam archaeological sites that Dr. Fish has studied for decades. Adventurers can sign up now. 

The five-hour adventure includes tastings of gourmet wild foods, Catalina Brewing Company’s craft beer made with wild foods, and concludes with a multi-course small plate tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in Marana. Offered twice a month, through April, the tours are limited to 13 people. The cost is $109 per person.

“Most people don’t know this area as being one of first places in North America where agriculture was practiced 4,000 years ago,” said Laura Cortelyou, Tourism and Marketing Manager for the Town of Marana. “Marana has rich cultural resources and is still a farming area. Growers provide produce to farm-to-table restaurants, BKW Farms grows White Sonora wheat that is used in local craft beer and artisanal baking by Barrio Bread. There are also wild foods educators that teach people how to responsibly harvest from the 450 edible plants in the Sonoran Desert, and beekeepers that produce mesquite and wildflower honey. The knowledge, talent, and creativity that is showcased on the Marana Gastronomy Tour makes a one-of-a-kind experience.”   

According to Jonathan Mabry, Ph.D., President of the Tucson City of Gastronomy nonprofit organization, “The Marana Gastronomy Tour program represents the spirit of the UNESCO Creative City designation. The tour provides a journey that illuminates the unique flavors and peoples, past and present, of the Sonoran Desert.”

Gray Line Tours Tucson is the tour provider and a third-generation family-owned business that has provided premier tours in, and from, Tucson for more than 100 years.

The Marana Gastronomy Tours are the first tours approved by UNESCO Creative Cities Network member, Tucson City of Gastronomy, the first City of Gastronomy in the U.S.  

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Marana Gastronomy Tour Reservations

For tour information visit .

For tour reservations visit .

Marana Visitor Center

13881 N. Casa Grande Hwy #100, Marana, AZ 85653

Monday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Friday, 9:00 – noon; closed Saturday and Sunday

About Discover Marana

Discover Marana was created in 2014 by the Town of Marana’s Economic Development Department to promote visitation.

Marana is home to the Forbes Five Star-rated Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain resort, Tucson  Premium Outlets at Marana Center, and Topgolf Marana. Once home to the Accenture Match Play, Marana has nationally-renowned golf courses at Dove Mountain; including Dove Mountain Golf Club, The Gallery, and The Highlands. Marana hosts a start in El Tour de Tucson, the annual cycling event. Marana has the oldest agricultural irrigation canal system found in North America and numerous archeology sites. Hiking, biking, bird watching, and horseback riding are popular activities. For more information, please visit  Follow Discover Marana on Facebook and Instagram.

Ancient holes contain the secret to early civilization in Marana

Tourists study ancient mortar holes used by the Hohokam civilization to grind mesquite beans during 500-1450 A.D.

Tourists study ancient mortar holes used by the Hohokam civilization to grind mesquite beans during 500-1450 A.D.

Intrepid adventurers needn't travel far to take a peek at the remains of an ancient kitchen. They only need to travel a few miles from Interstate 10 as part of a new attraction created by the Town of Marana’s tourism program, Discover Marana, that will be offered by Gray Line Tours Tucson.

Ancient foodways, artisanal flavors, and Sonoran haute cuisine set the stage for the Marana Gastronomy Tour set to debut this fall. Tourists can expect to travel back thousands of years with University of Arizona professor emerita and Arizona State Museum Curator Dr. Suzanne Fish as they explore ancient archaeological sites of the Hohokam civilization, before returning to the present for a modern cuisine tasting infused with with ancient wild foods, ancient domesticated native foods, and post-1687 European foods. BKW Farm, Bean Tree Farm, Catalina Brewing Company, and Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain all take center stage during the epicurean showcase.

Left to right: Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain; Barrio Bread; Catalina Brewing Company

“Marana is situated on one of three places along the Santa Cruz River watershed that has supported the oldest agriculture systems in North America for more than four thousand years,” said Town of Marana Tourism Manager Laura Cortelyou. The gastronomy tour was designed to explore that rich history in the context of contemporary foods that use ancient flavors. 

Marana’s rich concentration of archaeological sites are relatively undisturbed, and are still yielding surprising discoveries such as the oldest agricultural irrigation canal system in North America found in 2009. Marana plays a significant role in the southern Arizona culinary networks through its own noteworthy restaurants and as a supplier to regional restaurants, farmer’s markets, and dining room tables.

The Marana Gastronomy Tour is the first tour approved by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network member, Tucson City of Gastronomy, the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. The designation recognizes 13,000 years of habitation, 4,000 years of formal agriculture, the longest agricultural history of any city in North America, and 300 years of orchards and livestock ranching – a history shared by Marana and Tucson. More information can be found at .

Oh, and those ancient holes that contain a Hohokom secret? Consider them the Sonoran great-grandmother of the portable mortar and pestles (also known as mano y metate). The people of Marana more than one thousand years ago created these smooth bowls in the rock to grind their mesquite beans into fine powder for delicious patties. 

Click here for more information on Marana: Town of Gastronomy and the Marana Gastronomy Tours.

Left to right: Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain; Catalina Brewing Company

Make Marana your El Detour from the El Tour

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It does not matter if you are riding the full length of the El Tour de Tucson, taking advantage of the Marana start to the race, or just watching the cyclists ride by. Make Marana your El Detour before, after, and during the race.

With access to the Pima County Shared Use path, Tangerine Road and Silverbell Road, Marana has a number of great places to stay, eat, drink, train, and celebrate that are accessible by bike. 


The Pima County Shared Use Path, affectionately known as “The Loop”, is a great way for cyclists to get all over town. Although construction has cut off the southern portion of The Loop from the northern portion, there are still plenty of great places to bike in both directions.

After a training ride on the southern portion of the Loop or as the home to a post-Tour after party, the Catalina Brewing Company is a place to check out.

Catalina Brewing Company is no stranger to cyclists. In fact, they cater to them. Heck, their moniker is “We Bike, We Brew.” The brewery already has a mountain bicycling theme, and then embrace “the incredible outdoor spirit that exists in the Arizona Southwest.”

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The Catalina Brewing Company considers themselves a small (nano) craft brewery, and they manufacture and distribute a variety of craft beers designed and created from local ingredients with the southern Arizona market in mind. Their local-inspired brews range from the unique and popular Mesquite Agave to their lighter prickly pear fruit infused La Rosa de Catalina as well as seasonal favorites such as Mesquite Smoked Pecan Dopplebock and Teacher's Aid Scottish Ale.

They are also cyclist friendly. They’re accessible off the shared-use path, making them a perfect destination for those who like to cycle and enjoy a craft beer.  

Marana is becoming a haven for craft beer, with Dove Mountain and Button Breweries coming to town, and the recently opened Growler’s.

Cortaro/Silverbell Road

With the Loop affected by construction, Silverbell Road is a great way to bike from the Marana area to Tucson. The road twists and turns with several hills, making a great training ride. Add a variety of desert scenery, and you have a uniquely Southern Arizona opportunity.

Between Silverbell and the adjacent Cortaro corridor, there are a variety of places to eat, drink and stay.

From local Mexican restaurants and historical steak houses, to familiar national chains, this area of Marana has just about any type of food you can want.  

Nothing tastes better after a long ride than a cold, creamy ice cream cone, especially when that ice cream is made with all-natural ingredients. If that sounds good to you, then the Screamery would make a great destination.

The Screamery’s goal is to not only provide the best tasting hand-crafted ice cream to people, but to make it the old fashioned way using simple natural ingredients. Not only does it taste great, but it fits into the lifestyle of those who care what they put into their bodies.

If you make your way down to the Ina/Thornydale and still want some ice cream made from fresh, all natural ingredients, then check out La Garrafa. They serve Nieves de Garrafa, traditional ice cream from central Mexico. They make everything fresh in house, and don’t rely on a lot of extra sugar and fat, keeping the flavors fresh and pure.

Dove Mountain

hether you live, stay or train on Dove Mountain, there are plenty of things to do in and near the area. The mountain itself is perfect for both intense training rides and leisurely joy rides. From the back of one’s bike they can see the statuesque Saguaros, the great views and, more than likely, a desert critter or two.

A quick ride down Dove Mountain Boulevard. will lead you to Twin Peaks Road and a straight shot to Marana’s Tucson Premium Outlets. There, you can just get your morning coffee fix at Starbucks or do some serious shopping. The Premium Outlets feature all your favorite brands, but with the 25-65% savings that outlet shopping can provide. Deals like these are sure to please casual shoppers all the way to the most diehard shop-a-holics.

Looking for a good cup of coffee or tea on Dove Mountain? Then Savaya is your place. Savaya features a prominent green coffee roaster that is used weekly to roast coffees from around the world, giving true coffee lovers a wide variety of flavors to choose from.

Savaya invites their patrons to sit back, relax and spread out with the cup of joe. They have a mesquite wood bar, covered outdoor seating and even a children’s playground patio area. wins Silver Adrian Award

Marana, AZ –, the tourism website for the Town of Marana, has won a 2016 Silver Adrian Award for Website Design.

The award is to be presented in February by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). The organization is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners, and is the industry’s leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. Distinguished executives from all sectors of the industry judged the entries for the Silver Adrian Award.

“We are thrilled that Discover Marana’s website has received this industry award for achieving the ambitious goals of providing a sense of all that Marana has to offer while making it easy for people to find exactly what they need to enjoy their leisure time in our beautiful town,” said Laura Cortelyou, Tourism and Marketing Manager. has been recognized for being sleek, colorful, and responsive to all viewing devices. Viewers are immersed with visual highlights of Marana’s stunning scenery and attractions. The website features full screen HTML5 video, itinerary builder, social integration, and interactive mapping. Visitors can plan their entire trip through one portal and subscribe for updates through e-news integration. A regularly updated blog, consisting of content written both in-house and by those in the community, informs potential visitors of the amazing opportunities for recreation and leisure that exist in Marana, and the interactive event calendar displays current and upcoming events in the region, in a well-organized and comprehensive manner.

The Town of Marana established Discover Marana as a marketing entity to promote tourism to this Southern Arizona destination. Partnering with Tempest in 2015, Discover Marana came to life with a logo, branding elements, and website design that captured the area’s distinct beauty and history.

The creative process was unique in that it combined the efforts of several different departments and entities. Discover Marana, Tempest, and the Town of Marana’s Economic Development department and Marketing and Communications teams were heavily involved in the project. This allowed multiple perspectives on brand design, and how it would achieve the goals set forth by Discover Marana, while faithfully representing the Town as a community.

By positioning Marana as the gateway to Southern Arizona, the brand emphasizes the mix of modern amenities and historic Sonoran Desert setting of the town. The careful balance of branding activities, reinforced by the website design and functionality, allows Marana to present a cohesive experience that showcases one of the most luxurious resorts in the world, as well as limited service properties. In this way, Marana is shown as an attractive and close-knit community that can attract and serve a wide variety of travelers from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The resulting website demonstrates the seamless integration of modern anesthetics that remain deeply rooted in Marana’s cultural heritage.

“Receiving national recognition for our Discover Marana website is a great honor and recognizes the value that we place on tourism and its benefits to our community,” said Curt Woody, Economic Development Director.

Whether visitors to Southern Arizona want to experience breathtaking hiking, excellent retail, or diverse dining options, from upscale to casual, can help them find what they’re looking for. 

Town of Marana Welcomes Tourism and Marketing Manager Laura Cortelyou

Across Arizona, the state is starting to see the annual uptick in tourism that comes with cooler fall temperatures. To greet this growing demand, Marana is welcoming Laura Cortelyou as the Town’s new Tourism and Marketing Manager. In this role, Laura will oversee Marana’s efforts to position itself as the premier destination in Southern Arizona for visitors seeking all kinds of adventures.

Laura joins the Town of Marana from the Tucson Museum of Art, where she was Director of Marketing and Public Relations. She holds a master's degree from Fielding Graduate University in Human and Organizational Development and a bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in the History of Art and Architecture. Previously, she directed marketing for Forester Media, Inc., a publisher of civil and environmental engineering journals, and ABC-CLIO, an academic history publisher. She is currently the president of the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance and a board member of Visit Tucson.

“Marana is a place with so much going on, and I’m incredibly excited to share this vibrant community with a wider audience,” says Laura about her recent appointment.

Last year, Marana launched, an artfully designed website that allows visitors to learn more about the Gateway to Southern Arizona. Since then, the site has welcomed thousands of visitors and even won the 2016 Governor’s Tourism Award for Interactive Technology.  

In addition to this new web presence, Marana’s tourism efforts include advertising in publications across Arizona and northern Mexico, a partnership with Perimeter Cycling to host a segment of El Tour de Tucson in Marana, and collaboration with local hotels and retail centers to produce joint promotional materials. This work all contributes to Marana’s efforts to stimulate an active, dynamic local economy.

“Our goal is to promote our beautiful corner of the Sonoran Desert,” explains Laura. “Fortunately, Marana has so much to offer that our focus is about of all of the great amenities we have.”




Discover Marana Earns 2016 Governor’s Tourism Award for Interactive Technology

This week, the Arizona Office of Tourism awarded with the Governor’s Tourism Award for Interactive Technology, honoring the Town of Marana’s commitment to supporting the local economy.

A year ago, the Town of Marana launched, a state-of-the-art tourism portal that attracts visitors to Marana from across Arizona, the United States, and abroad. This undertaking is aimed at supporting Marana’s extensive tourism industry, including top-tier resorts, world-class golf courses, and spectacular scenic beauty. Since going live, Discover Marana has provided visitors with a highly engaging, personally tailored experience that showcases Marana’s wide variety of tourism opportunities. 

“By positioning Marana as the Gateway to Southern Arizona,” says Director of Economic Development and Tourism Curt Woody, “the brand emphasizes the mix of modern amenities and historic Sonoran setting that is unique to Marana.”

While Marana’s wealth of attractions provides the backbone of the tourism effort, Discover Marana helps package them in a way that is accessible and appealing to thousands of potential guests.  The Town has employed aggressive digital marketing initiatives, including organic search engine optimization and paid search advertising, to drive web visitors to Discover Marana.  As a result, the site enjoys an average of 1,500 unique sessions per month.  Even more encouraging is the growth in organic sessions; since its launch, the site has seen a 507% increase in non-paid traffic.

Part of what has enabled the success of Discover Marana is the Town’s close relationships with key stakeholders across the community.  The Marana Chamber of Commerce hosts a visitor center that invites tourists to peruse the website and plan their stay in the Town.  Furthermore, Marana has collaborated closely with the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, a Five-Star, Five-Diamond property located within Town limits.  This relationship has allowed the resort and the Town to share digital content across platforms, including drone video footage and high resolution photography.  This enables the Town to provide stimulating visual content on Discover Marana, content that in turn inspires our guests to want to see this stunning landscape for themselves.

In addition to the partnerships with the Chamber and the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Marana also partners with the Simon Premium Outlet Mall at Marana Center. The Town has spotlighted retail opportunities at the Mall on the Discover Marana blog, and in particular has targeted the market of international travelers visiting Marana from northern Mexico.

Shopping, lodging, golfing, mountain biking, hiking, and more: all these activities spur Marana’s tourism industry. By working closely with community partners, Discover Marana has successfully featured each of these allures, and many others, in its pages.

“Discover Marana has been live for almost a year, and I’m incredibly proud of how far we’ve come in that time.  This tool is allowing Marana to support our local economy by attracting visitors from near and far,” explains Woody.  “In the next year, we plan to build on that success and develop even more innovative ways to market Marana as the Gateway to Southern Arizona.”

Marana Recognizes Importance of Tourism with Travel and Tourism Week, May 1-7, 2016

Cyclists on Dove Mountain

During the first week of May, tourists, and the service industry that supports them, will celebrate Arizona Travel and Tourism Week.  This annual event highlights the significant role played by tourism in the state’s economy.  Every year, this export-oriented sector generates $20.9 billion in direct revenues.  With a state offering attractions as varied as world-class sports venues, awe-inspiring natural wonders, and exquisite Southwest cuisine, it is little surprise that visitors from across the country and the world are clamoring to experience all Arizona has to offer.

Every county in Arizona enjoys the tremendous benefits of tourism. The Grand Canyon alone attracts 5 million unique tourists each year, all of them eager to gaze out over the most stunning landscape in the world.  Pima County , home of the unforgettable Saguaro National Park, top-tier wineries, and the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Arizona’s only Five-Star, Five-Diamond resort, also sees considerable gains from tourism. 

Not only does tourism promote the service sector that caters to travelers’ needs, but it also provides powerful economic drivers for all who live in Arizona.  After all, the same infrastructure that supports tourism also provides valuable services for residents.  The Arizona Office of Tourism estimates that tourism contributes $28 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues, revenues which are then spent on providing public services that improve the overall well-being and quality of life for all residents.

Furthermore, the Arizona Office of Tourism estimates that tourism directly supports 171,500 jobs in our beautiful state, and indirectly supports 300,000 more jobs in industry-related businesses.

Marana is an active participant in the Arizona tourist economy.  Last year, the Town launched, a portal for visitors to Marana to learn more about all this community has to offer.  Marana’s tourism efforts also include targeted advertising in print publications that reach audiences across the country and even abroad.  

Last year, these efforts supported Marana’s partnership with Perimeter Cycling, the host of El Tour de Tucson.  In November 2016, for the first time, Marana will host its own start in El Tour, inviting visitors to Marana to join our residents in an invigorating ride through Marana to Downtown Tucson. 

Town of Marana Tourism Manager Toby Parks has reveled in the opportunity since she started in her position in 2015.  “Marana is the gateway to Southern Arizona and has many wonderful tourism draws, including hiking, cycling, and world class golf. Anyone who visits Marana walks away with incredible memories of a rich landscape filled with natural beauty.” 

To stay up to date with Marana’s tourism efforts, be sure to like Discover Marana on Facebook, and visit to learn all there is to know about visiting this beautiful community.

Discover Marana: Celebrate La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Marana, Arizona

On February 20-28, rodeo participants and spectators from across the globe will descend on southern Arizona for one of the longest-running rodeo competitions anywhere in the world.  La Fiesta de los Vaqueros attracts a wide audience due to impressive performers and unmatched environs.  This year’s event promises to entertain as much as ever, and Marana has played a key role in sustaining and celebrating this proud tradition.   

Phoenix Business Journal: Marana's Ritz-Carlton Made it onto the AAA Five Diamond List

By Steven Totten

Marana, Arizona's The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is one of six hotels that have been added to the AAA Five Diamond list.
Thus far 118 hotels have earned an AAA/CAA Five Diamond rating in the last 12 months. The group represents just 0.4 percent of almost 28,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels, according to a statement from AAA.

Arizona Daily Star: El Tour announces new title sponsor

Photo by Kelly Presnell: Founder and President of El Tour de Tucson Richard DeBernardis speaking to Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. Original story by James Kelley.

This year’s race will showcase the town of Marana more than ever before, DeBernardis said. El Tour will stage a 25-mile race there in 2016.
“We want people to know when they come here that there is a difference between Marana and Tucson,” DeBernardis said. “Just go up there and look at their bicycle paths, they’re almost twice as wide as ours.”