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Sanctuary Camelback Mountain 5.0

Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Perfectly situated by downtown, yet feeling a world away
  • Superb, holistic health spa with indoor-outdoor areas
  • Luxe rooms with minimalist decor and private outdoor spaces
  • Farm-fresh American and Asian-inspired cuisine at the restaurant
  • Fitness center includes free classes like yoga, plus lap pool
  • Full-service pool with food and drink, plus excellent tennis courts
  • Swank bar has well-crafted cocktails and unparalleled views
  • Nightly turndown service that includes the lighting of candles
  • Meeting rooms available, plus 24-hour room service
  • Free tennis lessons (specialized ones are an extra fee)
  • Resort fee includes Wi-Fi, valet, and spa access

Cons

  • Daily resort fee added to rates
  • Sprawling property with steep slopes, lots of stairs
  • Parking-lot views from some rooms
  • Breakfast not included in rates

Bottom Line

Considered one of the top resorts in the Southwest for nearly a decade, the serene five-pearl Sanctuary continues to impress. There's plenty to admire in its restaurant Elements, helmed by celebrity chef Beau MacMillan and its extensive spa and fitness facilities. Its 109 gorgeous suites showcase elegant, minimalist decor and private outdoor spaces, and some even offer outdoor tubs. It has the most desirable location in Scottsdale -- overlooking Praying Monk Rock and the desert -- even though it's only a 12-minute drive from downtown Scottsdale. The only major downsides are parking-lot views from some of the rooms, and a mountainous terrain that translates into a lot of stairs. Travelers could also consider the five-pearl Phoenician, located on the south side of Camelback Mountain, but the sprawling hotel and its grounds add more bustle and subtract tranquility.

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Scene

One of the most impressive spa resorts in the Southwest

In 2001, The Sanctuary's developers transformed a modest racquet club into a holistic retreat that truly feels worthy of the name "Sanctuary." It's the only resort in Scottsdale set on the north slope of Camelback Mountain, which means that while the hotel is essentially in the middle of Phoenix's low-density suburban sprawl, it feels entirely detached from the strip malls beyond -- the drive to the entrance resembles a ride down an old country road. Numerous other hotels and resorts are scattered throughout Scottsdale, as little as a five-minute drive away, but none can offer this kind of natural serenity. 

The hotel's aesthetic can be described as a modern take on a classic desert style. Grounds feature a mix of Sonoran and Asian elements: Bamboo groves are interspersed with cactuses. The buildings are all low-slung, most only being one or two stories, and often feature smooth facades in subdued oranges, greens, and grays. In public spaces, natural elements take center stage, like rough stone walls and sloped wooden benches. A nod to mid-century style can also be spotted in leather swivel chairs and sunburst mirrors. Later, guest rooms swap out the warm, earthen hues of public spaces for a cooler palette of white, gray, and brown tones with blue accents. 

With its polished interiors, pampering service, and extravagant features, Sanctuary has always been a haven for celebrities, most notably when Beyoncé and Jay-Z spent their honeymoon here. That said, while the property can attract a bit of buzz -- particularly at the on-site restaurant Elements and Jade Bar -- it remains serene. Guests also meet and mingle in the pool and whirlpool. Yet, while the atmosphere can be social, it's by no means a party-hardy kind of hotel, with most people retreating to the privacy of their rooms at the end of the day.

Apart from celebrities, the spa and fitness facilities here draw couples of all ages and girls' getaway groups (including bachelorette parties). While families are technically welcome here, the main infinity pool is adults-only (16 and older) on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays -- children must use the two satellite pools on the property. A better option for families could be the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, which offers a kids' club.

Location

Secluded-feeling, but actually in the middle of the burbs

As the only resort in Scottsdale located on the north slope of Camelback Mountain (the focal point of the city), The Sanctuary has unparalleled views of Camelback's Praying Monk Rock. But while it feels tranquil and remote from within the resort, it's actually just a 12-minute drive from downtown Scottsdale and all of its excellent shopping and dining. The immediate surrounding area, however, is mainly residential with a few other hotels nearby, so there's nothing within walking distance. The hotel is about a 20-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and a 27-minute drive from the hiking trails of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West is a 27-minute drive away, too. Taxis and other rideshares are easily attained, so there's no need to rent a car.

Rooms

Sleek and minimalist standard rooms; ultra-luxurious private homes

Guest rooms are broken down into two categories, the standard Casitas, which start at 500 square feet, and the upgraded Suites, which start at 1,000 square feet. (The majority have king beds, while a handful have two double beds.) A tasteful, minimalist style dominates, based on a neutral palette of grays, whites, and browns. Furnishings like leather swivel chairs, platform beds, and Plexiglas coffee tables add polish. But it's the details -- plush pillow-top mattresses, Molton Brown toiletries, and Fili D'Oro linens -- that truly convey luxury. Suites take that a step further adding fireplaces, furnished patios, and even outdoor bathtubs (although its worth noting that some of these outdoor spaces offer parking-lot views).

Bathrooms are equally posh with vessel sinks and travertine marble showers; many have separate tubs, too. Cozy bathrobes, slippers, and hairdryers come standard. Throughout the rooms, amenities are high-end and include large flat-screen TVs, minibars, Nespresso coffeemakers, safes, and irons and ironing boards. Wi-Fi is covered by the daily resort fee. 

While the standard accommodations offer plenty to love, the private homes, which range from one bedroom to five, are exceptional (and a fine choice for large groups or wedding parties). Like the standard guest rooms, they all have the same bedding and bath products, as well as a full kitchen. But unlike the rooms, the private homes have different design aesthetics. Casa Nine, for instance, has a Southwestern theme. Some of the homes have private pools, wood-burning fireplaces, and hot tubs, bumping the luxury up yet another notch.

Features

Multiple poolsl, a top-notch spa, and great tennis facilities

For many guests, Sanctuary's features are the reason to book a stay, offering outstanding spa pampering, celebrated dining, and plenty of other plush extras. The property's focal point is its infinity-edge pool, with water that seems to dip off into desert views (versus the usual ocean ones). Here, guests can linger in loungers and order food and drinks from waitstaff. A bit of a social scene can spring up, particularly in the whirlpool where guests can meet and mingle. There are also two other pools on the resort, not including the one at the spa, giving plenty of room to spread out.

Foodies flock to the on-site restaurant, Elements, helmed by celebrity chef Beau MacMillan. Its menu of Asian-inspired American fare is served in a dark and sleek dining room overlooking the infinity pool and the desert landscape beyond. There's also the buzzy Jade Bar, which hosts live music some evenings. Guests have the option of 24-hour room service as well. Breakfast can either be obtained at Elements or via room service, though neither option is free. 

Another main attraction is the hotel's marquee spa, with private treatment rooms, a meditation garden, and a reflecting pond. Treatments are Asian-inspired and range from Thai massage to Watsu in-water massage. As part of the spa complex there is a covered outdoor lap pool (providing a spot for serious swimmers to workout), a full-service salon, and a spa boutique, which functions as the resort's gift shop, too. Also found here is a small but sunny gym with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lap pool. The gym is well-equipped a range of machines like treadmills along with free weights and kettlebells. A studio here also holds fitness classes, most of which are included in the resort fee. On our visit, the spa complex was undergoing renovations, though it was still open to guests.

For the more active guest and serious tennis aficionados, there are five Deco-Turf championship-quality tennis courts. Daily group lessons are included in the resort fee, while private lessons and court rentals are available for an additional fee. Bike rentals can also be arranged for those who want to peddle around the region. The hotel concierge can set up hiking, biking, rock-climbing, and canyoneering tours off property. 

A separate building on the premises holds a range of meeting rooms. These can be combined into a grand venue for weddings or other large parties. The building also has its own terrace overlooking the desert.

There's a daily resort fee, but it covers a number of perks, like Wi-Fi in the rooms; access to the spa and fitness center's studio classes, steam rooms, hot tubs, showers, and lap pool; group tennis lessons; a daily newspaper; and valet parking. 

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Things You Should Know About Sanctuary Camelback Mountain

Address

5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley, Central Arizona 85253-5218, United States

Phone

(480) 948-2100

Also Known As

  • Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Room Types

  • Mountain Vista Casita
  • Mountain Vista Suite
  • Private House - Casa Five
  • Private House - Casa Montana
  • Private House - Casa Nine
  • Private House - Casa Ten
  • Private House - Casa Two
  • Private House - Hi Lob
  • Private House - The Gallery
  • Spa Casita Room
  • Spa Casita Suite

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