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Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa 5.0

Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

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This hotel has undergone significant renovations since our visit.
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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Ideal location: remote-feeling, in the middle of Scottsdale
  • Superb, holistic health spa and fitness center
  • Modern rooms; gorgeous Spa Casitas
  • Top-notch, farm-fresh cuisine, available 24 hours
  • Swank bar: well-crafted cocktails; unparalleled views
  • Free fitness and sports classes daily, from yoga to tennis
  • Resort fee includes Wi-Fi, valet, spa access, and more

Cons

  • Daily resort fee
  • Sprawling property with steep slopes, lots of stairs
  • Parking lot views from some rooms
  • Significant noise between some adjoining rooms

Bottom Line

Considered one of the top resorts in the Southwest for nearly a decade, the serene 105-room Sanctuary continues to impress its high-profile guests with its cuisine, spa, and gorgeous suites. It's not perfect -- few resorts are -- but it undeniably has the most desirable location in Scottsdale, overlooking Praying Monk Rock and the desert, not suburban sprawl. A comparable five-pearl hotel in the area is The Phoenician, located on the south side of Camelback Mountain, but the sprawling hotel and its grounds feel much more like a bustling resort and less like a spa retreat.

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Scene

Hip, yet serene; 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." The Sanctuary is 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 up to the entrance truly feels like a drive along an old country road. Numerous other hotels and resorts scatter throughout Scottsdale, as little as a five-minute drive away, but none can boast this kind of natural serenity. 

The spa and fitness facilities draw couples of all ages and ladies' getaway groups (including bachelorette parties). Notably, Beyoncé and Jay-Z spent their honeymoon here. 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. Thus, if you're looking to bring the whole family on a Scottsdale vacation, you might want to look elsewhere for more kid-friendly amenities. The atmosphere is decidedly youthful and swanky -- particularly at its on-site restaurant Elements and Jade Bar -- though it's also quite serene.

Location

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

Map of Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

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, you're not cut off from Scottsdale's excellent shopping and dining -- downtown Scottsdale is only a 12-minute drive away. 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. Taxis and other rideshares are plentiful here, so there's no need to rent a car.

Rooms

Sleek and minimalist standard rooms, ultra-luxurious private homes

A series of renovations between 2015 and 2017 saw the overhaul of all 105 rooms, plus the addition of new rooms. Rooms are broken down into two types, 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. Each room is decorated in a minimalist style with a neutral palette of grays, whites, and browns -- the details are all high-end, like Fili D’Oro linens, Simmons Felicity Pillow Top mattresses, and Molten Brown toiletries. All rooms feature travertine marble showers (and many have separate tubs), bathrobes and slippers, a flat-screen TV, a minibar, and a Nespresso coffee maker. Upgraded amenities in the suites include patios, fireplaces, and outdoor bathtubs.

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; a daily newspaper; and valet parking.

While the standard rooms are nothing to scoff at, 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.

Features

Quiet pool, a top-notch spa, and great tennis facilities

The relaxing pseudo-infinity pool (meaning it overlooks the desert rather than a body of water) is the focal point of the resort. Here, guests can sit in lounge chairs and order food and drinks from waitstaff. Guests often socialize with other groups, particularly in the whirlpool. There are also two other pools on the resort, not including the one at the spa.

The spa has private treatment rooms, a meditation garden and reflecting pond, a covered yet outdoor lap pool, a gym, a studio for fitness classes (included in the resort fee), a full-service salon, and more. The spa is currently undergoing renovations, though it is still open to guests.

For the more active guest, 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 are available for those who want to leave the property sans car. The hotel concierge can set up hiking, biking, rock climbing, and canyoneering tours off property. 

As for dining, there's the on-site restaurant Elements helmed by celebrity chef Beau MacMillan, serving Asian-inspired American fare. The restaurant is dark and sleek and overlooks the infinity pool and the desert landscape beyond. There's also the Jade Bar, which has live music some evenings. Guests also have the option of 24-hour room service.

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Things You Should Know About Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Address

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

Phone

(480) 948-2100

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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