If we had been wearing a mood ring when we stepped foot on our No. 1 Phoenix pick, we guarantee it would have turned a serene blue – matching the cyan waters of the infinity pool and cloudless, robin’s egg sky. Suffice to say, we find the name Sanctuary befitting!
With the copper-colored Camelback Mountain in the background, Sanctuary finds itself amidst 53 acres of Arizona desert. Limestone casitas built into the rugged terrain may appear rustic, but inside is a vibrant world of feng shui. While we can’t claim Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain studied astrology to optimize energy flow, it’s difficult to imagine the Spa Casita Suites being built without a guiding, celestial hand. Lava rock fireplaces, walk-in closets and views from the patio are mesmerizing, but it’s the outdoor soaking tubs beneath a blanket of stars that took our breath away. We’re not sure a resort could properly call itself a sanctuary if it didn’t have a spa. Luckily, our No. 1 resort is a step ahead of us with the innovative Sanctuary Spa. Asian-inspired treatments like the lotus flower aquatic reflexology massage release blocked energy with ancient techniques and modern luxury, such as the heated Watsu pool.
Through the 1950s, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain was known as Paradise Valley Racquet Club and attracted many Hollywood celebrities. In honor of its roots, Sanctuary has five Deco-Turf championship courts and a tennis lounge.
Full-day meetings or weekend conferences in Sanctuary’s chic, modern facilities, with salsa red walls and pristine white chairs, are as invigorating as a visit to Sanctuary Spa!
5700 East McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
If clubbing is a top priority on your Arizona vacation, our No. 2 resort will more than satisfy. No, not the alcohol-infused, booming bass type of clubs; the driver, putter, iron kind. With 6,300 yards of dramatic scenery and 27 championship holes, The Phoenician sports a lush, luxury golf course.
With three nine-hole golf courses set in the Sonoran Desert, golfers can create their own combination of 18 holes amidst green palm trees and high-rising cliffs at The Phoenician. Those wanting a more up-close, less manicured look at Phoenix’s desert attributes will find their sun-kissed sanctuary in the Cactus Garden. At the base of Camelback Mountain, this two-acre desert garden is home to several species of cacti and critters like road runners and chuckwallas. Of course, we don’t blame you if The Phoenician’s accommodations and nine acres of pools distract you from the arid surroundings. The coveted Canyon Suite feels like a resort within a resort with its own lobby and pool. Speaking of pools, choose to rest in the adult relaxation area beside crystal clear water or make a splash with your little ones in the kid-friendly zones.
Part of The Phoenician’s unparalleled sophistication comes from its collection of one-of-a-kind artwork, valued at more than 25 million dollars. Take a tour of the French tapestries, contemporary fiber art, watercolors, marble statues and more, and receive complimentary tickets to the Phoenix Art Museum.
From Sky Harbor International Airport, take a left onto Sky Harbor Circle. Turn left onto 24th Street and continue for about five miles. Make a right onto Camelback Road and after about two and a half miles, turn left at 60th Street/Phoenician Boulevard.
Related Onsite Offerings
The Phoenician has dinner covered with 10 restaurants on site to satisfy varying tastes, from Italian pasta to juicy steaks!
A fiery orange blazes across the sunset sky, the teardrop-shaped lamps emit a soft, white glow and you hold your sweetie just a little tighter on the plush, red sofa in the cool nighttime desert air. Our No. 3 hotel’s rooftop deck is a local favorite and a valuable find for Phoenix visitors!
It’s no wonder The Clarendon Hotel has to limit the occupancy on The Rooftop Deck – it boasts front seat views of the Phoenix skyline and mountain range! Equally enchanting is Clarendon’s subterranean feature, the Oasis pool. Cushy, candy-striped cabana chairs, an Italian tile mural with flourishes of 24K gold and platinum, plus a jaw-dropping two-story, 60-ft. wide glass water feature stun guests upon arrival. Slip beneath Oasis’ surface and fill your senses with the soothing scalp-and-shoulder-massage jets and underwater speakers. If you found the will to leave this paradisiacal pool, chances are you’ll find yourself at the doors of Gallo Blanco. You don’t have to be a fluent Spanish speaker to realize that everything on the menu is delicioso, from the ceviche – with wild Mexican shrimp, pico de gallo and avocado – to the creamy Mexican custard with caramel sauce, flan.
Related Onsite Offerings
In Clarendon’s brightly colored rooms, you’ll find a coffee maker, Aveda bath amenities, bathrobes, an iron and ironing board, pool passes, cordless phone, in-room safe, flat screen TV and more.
Phoenix magazine rated The Clarendon Hotel’s Oasis pool “Valley’s Coolest Hotel Pools” in 2009 and the Rooftop Deck made it as Travel + Leisure magazine’s “America’s Hottest Hotel Rooftop Bars” in 2009.
401 W. Clarendon Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85013
When you scrape ice off your windshield for the fifth day in a row, you start to dream of golden sands, unobstructed sunlight and perhaps even an adult beverage in a frosted glass. But it may not be until you get to that tropical destination that the reality of your tots in tow starts to sink in.
Luckily, our No. 4 Arizona resort possesses the sand, the sun and the family fun all on site. You may think that you’ll merely drop the kids off at Oasis Waterpark before heading to your spinning class, and while a visit to Arizona Grand Resort’s 20,000 sq. ft. Athletic Club is a must, we have little doubt you’ll have more fun splashing with the kids than playing lifeguard. Still don’t believe us? Well, maybe the eight-story tower with three water slides, enormous wave pool and lazy river will convince you. If that vision of tropical immersion is still at the forefront of your mind, let Arizona Grand Spa put you in harmony with the desert environment. With choices like the Sedona Mud Purification Treatment and Desert Sage Body Mask, you’ll feel more saturated than parched, but still at peace with the sandy surroundings.
Related Onsite Offerings
Arizona Grand Resort’s par 71 golf course set in the striking Sonoran Desert has won accolades like “Greens of Distinction” and “Golden Links Award,” both from Corporate Incentive Travel magazine, among others.
Lace up your boots and ready yourself for a scenic day touring the 17,000 acre South Mountain Preserve – right outside Arizona Grand Resort’s door!
8000 S. Arizona Grand Pkwy., Phoenix, AZ 85044
Butter yellow walls topped off with red stucco roofs are complemented by palm trees that stretch up to the clouds and throw small patches of shade across the worn flagstone driveway. While it can certainly be mistaken for a Mexican hacienda, it’s actually our No. 6 Phoenix resort!
Embracing its Southwest location and Latin American influences, Royal Palms Resort and Spa brings a lush, tropical world to life out of the arid desert terrain. A colorfully tiled fountain with a mythical figurine gracing its center, brilliantly scarlet flowers and cushioned chairs make the Mansion Courtyard an oasis of tranquility. Meanwhile, the Royal Palms’ aquamarine pool beckoned our more playful side and the pillared cabana served as a welcome resting spot. Through the archways and gardens full of cacti, citrus trees and shrubbery, Royal Palms’ casitas, villas and guestrooms mirror their verdant exterior. With a decidedly Spanish elegance, ruby red pillows with bronze embroidery and clawfoot tubs are just some of the luxury touches that await you! And if you’ve come to Royal Palms to spark some flames, just consult the onsite Romance Planner to execute that perfect proposal or weekend away!
T. Cooke’s restaurant at Royal Palms Resort has received accolades from local and national food critics for its fire-roasted specialties and more, plus the Award for Excellence in 2009 from Wine Spectator.
Related Onsite Offerings
Stay in Alvadora Spa’s signature villa for two, Aqua Dolce, to indulge in rejuvenating water therapies such as Watsu pool massages.
5200 East Camelback Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018
If business has brought you to the sands – errr, skyscrapers of Phoenix, you have probably embarked on the frustrating mission of finding a hotel that is convenient, affordable and stylish. Before you proclaim this feat impossible, meet our No. 7 hotel in the heart of downtown Phoenix!
As the first air-conditioned high-rise hotel in Phoenix, and the first high-rise hotel with elevators in Arizona, Hotel San Carlos has been historically serving discerning travelers since 1928. Hotel San Carlos gives out-of-towners a glimpse into 1920s Phoenix style with detailed Italian Renaissance Revival architecture and nearby one-of-a-kind establishments like a family-owned, old fashioned barber shop. Inside, rooms may use Old World style – such as high, polished headboards or canopies or regal red and rich gold – but complimentary HBO channels and laundry valet service are reminders that this Phoenix landmark is still modern! After attending your conference at the renowned Phoenix Civic Plaza and Convention Center, take a dip in the rooftop pool and catch some rays of that famed 300 days of sunshine. Plus, skip the hassle of taxis with several Phoenix attractions within walking distance including the United Airways Arena, Dodge Theater, Symphony Hall, Arizona Center and much more!
While Hotel San Carlos doesn’t have any onsite restaurants, it is steps from several eateries ranging from Mexican grills and Italian bistros to cafés and chain restaurants.
April 30th is “Hotel San Carlos Day” as proclaimed in 1991 by Governor Fife Symington.
202 North Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Our No. 8 pick is seriously retro – not in the imitation sense, but in a first-opened-in-1956 sort of way, back when Scottsdale, AZ was just another dot on the map. With its mid-century modern style, seriously modern amenities and eclectic style, Hotel Valley Ho brings plenty of luxury – and a hint of nostalgia – to the Phoenix area.
Slip into Café ZuZu for classic comfort food, or indulge your adventurous side with Polynesian fare at Trader Vic’s. The VH Spa fulfills its promise of vitality and health with signature treatments like the Icelandic Moonflower. And the Hotel Valley Ho’s pool – complete with swank bar and luxurious cabanas – was voted one of the world’s coolest pools by Travel + Leisure magazine. Even more swell finds await in Old Town’s art galleries Seven-story tower plays host to suites with kitchens, platform beds upholstered in shocking shades of teal and stunning Philippe Starck-designed tubs placed atop terrazzo tile floors. The hotel’s cabana rooms step out to patios separated from the award-winning pool by sheer curtains. Simply step outside to take advantage of the fantastic Phoenix sun atop your plush chaise lounge, or beat the desert heat with a dip in its refreshing waters.
6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Hotel Valley Ho guestrooms and suites feature private bars, feather-top beds, CD players, flat screen TVs, oversized bathtubs and Red Flower bath amenities.
Related Onsite Offerings
Add vintage flair to your Phoenix wedding or meeting with Hotel Valley Ho’s collection of indoor and outdoor event venues.
We see plenty of chains in our line of work, but the Kimpton name is one that always brings smiles to our faces. With its elements-inspired suites, full-service spa and creative poolscapes, the boutique hotel that serves as its Phoenix area outpost is no exception.
Go ahead and banish those misconceptions of the Arizona desert as a vacant wasteland. On second thought, don’t; the FireSky Resort and Spa will be all the more inspiring if you come expecting a drab, motel-like structure in the midst of barren sands. With its sand-bottomed pool and Mediterranean-inspired lagoon, this Scottsdale resort is truly a lush oasis in the midst of the Sonoran Desert. Add in the Jurlique Spa and you have everything required for a fabulous Phoenix spa getaway. And if business brings you to the FireSky’s doors, an evening wine reception and plush Presidential Suites serve as reward for a job well done! Whether you prefer to unwind with a credit card or club in hand, FireSky Resort and Spa’s Scottsdale, AZ address won’t disappoint. Find retail therapy in the form of nearby Fashion Square, or tee off on Phoenix area golf courses that juxtapose emerald greens with cacti and other authentic desert scenery.
4925 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Related Onsite Offerings
FireSky Resort and Spa is a pet-friendly Phoenix area resort and even offers complimentary food dishes and a comfy bed for your four-legged companion.
The Scottsdale Trolley is a convenient – and free – alternative to car rentals and offers easy access to the city’s renowned shopping and dining destinations.
Our final Top 10 pick comes with another, equally-distinguished name. As part of the world-renowned Waldorf Astoria collection, The Boulders Resort had us expecting great things. And with its intriguing combination of untamed desert terrain and stylish luxury, this is one Phoenix resort that didn’t disappoint!
Adobe villas and luxury homes all but hidden, each tucked into ancient boulders and sprawled across 1,300 untouched acres of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Natural wood beams, overstuffed leather furnishings and Mexican tiles lend these Phoenix area vacation rentals just a hint of Southwestern flair, while The Boulders’ one- to three-bedroom Pueblo Villas – complete with full kitchens and Spanish-style fireplaces – offer luxury on par with the city’s most prized million-dollar homes. Select homes offer views of the spectacular desert landscape, while others overlook the resort’s own Jay Morrish-designed golf courses! With its ultra-indulgent day spa packages, the Golden Door Spa promises to counteract desert dryness and leave your skin softer than the surrounding Sonoran Desert sands. The Ultimate Golden Door Spa Day package includes this Phoenix area’s spas most sought-after treatments, including an avocado citrus scrub and the Golden Door’s signature massage, facial, manicure and pedicure.
34631 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree, AZ 85374
The Golden Door Spa at Boulders Resort now offers Shamanic Journeys, including sessions that focus specifically on healing or meditation.
The Boulders Resort was named to Travel + Leisure Golf magazine’s 2008 list of Best U.S. Golf Resorts.