A lush spa-focused oasis in Scottsdale
Nestled against the curves of Camelback Mountain and Paradise Valley, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa sprawls across 53 acres of desert dappled with orange trees, palm trees, saguaros, bougainvillea and artisanal bronze wind bells. It’s the sole property on the Scottsdale mountain, making it a bucolic option for relaxation and recreation, including a 12,000-square-foot spa, fitness center, hiking trails, swimming pools and tennis courts.
Originally constructed in the 1950s, the resort got a facelift from Allen + Philp Architects before opening as Sanctuary in 2001. The haute hideaway continues to be renovated almost annually, recently with the addition of 24 new spa casitas. Other accommodations range from luxury mountain casitas to loaded mini-mansions.
The luxury hotel’s restaurant, Elements, blends Asian and American cuisines into demiurgic dishes like kimchi bacon and hoisin-braised short ribs.
Bartenders at adjacent Jade Bar pour an array of craft cocktails to pair with the lounge’s scenic views.
Our Inspector’s Highlights
• See the sun sink between Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak during the resort’s daily sunset ceremonies. Have champagne salutes on the shaded patio and grassy slopes outside the restaurant.
• Enjoy exclusive access to Camelback Mountain hiking trails, which are a short walk or complimentary golf cart ride away, along with resort-provided backpacks stocked with water and healthful snacks.
• Sanctuary Spa’s Asian-inspired décor and menu of services includes views of Praying Monk rock; 12 indoor/outdoor treatment rooms; a steam room; a bamboo-bordered coed courtyard; a full-service salon; and a boutique.
• Exercise options abound: five tennis courts, three swimming pools, yoga-ready knolls, and a state-of-the-art gym (including a lap pool, where Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman gives swimming lessons).
• Chef Beau MacMillan (of Food Network fame) puts an Asian spin on farm-fresh American fare in Sanctuary’s restaurant, elements. Neighboring Jade Bar accentuates garden-to-glass-style libations.
What to Know
• The resort was formerly John Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch, and during the 1970s, luminaries including Billie Jean King, Johnny Carson, Elton John and Liza Minnelli swung racquets here.
• Jade Bar’s noted bartenders, led by head mixologist Eddie Garcia, teach lessons in libations to a cozy class (limited to 20 guests) every Saturday at noon. Class costs $40 (preregistration required) and includes three to four artisanal drinks garnished with slices of cocktail history and philosophy.
• Sanctuary’s infinity-edge pool is always a cell phone-free zone, and accessible to adults only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, when guests must be 16 and older to make a splash.
• Sanctuary’s 109 casitas and suites feature Red Flower Asian Neroli bath products, custom Kashwere blankets, and bed linens by Fili D’Oro, and are adorned with succulents and local art.
• Eight private homes are for rent, with amenities like automated blinds, security systems, fire pits, private pools, floor-to-ceiling windows, indoor/outdoor showers, colossal kitchens and balconies.
• There’s a great view from every room at Sanctuary, but when only the best vistas will do, book one of the Camelback Suites. These new one- or two-bedroom suites (1,000 and 1,500 square feet, respectively) proffer sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and Paradise Valley, which twinkles like a little universe at night.
• The Scottsdale hotel offers 24-hour room service, but Elements boasts a beautiful setting. Champagne chandeliers, 1,000 bottles of the wine wall, and a fire pit provide a lovely atmosphere for dining.
• Elements executive chef Beau MacMillan served as personal chef to hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, cooked alongside Al Roker on the Today show, and catered for Britney Spears.
• Jade Bar serves classic and creative cocktails made with premium spirits and fresh local fruits and herbs. Stop by during the day to drink in panoramic views.