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“Far short of expectations” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Sanctuary Camelback Mountain

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Sanctuary Camelback Mountain
5.0 of 5 Resort   |   5700 E McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, AZ 85253   |  
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Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Paradise Valley
Alexandria, Virginia
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Far short of expectations”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 25, 2013

Perhaps the problem was that we expected too much. There are now many resorts in the Phoenix area but the Sanctuary remains one of the priciest and purports to be one of the finest. Based on our experience, at least, it fell far short and provided an experience more in line with what one would expect at a solid three-star hotel.

By far the most disappointing part of our visit was the large construction project going on at the pool. Our principal reason for the getaway was to spend some time relaxing at the pool and enjoying the views of Mummy Mountain. We were therefore quite disappointed to see construction workers milling around the pool area working with mortar and brick, talking loudly, etc. One even spit loudly as we were coming around the corner. Gross. Though one of them assured us that the pool was "open," who wants to hang out poolside with a bunch of guys laying cement? We felt the resort should have said something about this when we made the reservation or at least when we checked in as we likely would have made other arrangements. (This problem was compounded by the fact that the small pools assigned to each cluster of rooms are dingy and look like something from a Motel 6, or at least ours did, meaning that pools were really not an option during our stay.)

Since pools were not an option, we decided to have a drink on the deck outside the restaurant overlooking Mummy Mountain. We entered through the restaurant and asked the hostess if we could sit outside. She said yes and that someone would be out to take our order. 15 minutes later, nobody had come, so I went to ask what was up. Someone will be there soon, they said. 10 minutes later we decided to find a menu on our phones and figure out what we wanted, at which point I got up again and simply asked a passing waiter to take my order. Only after that (and another 15 minutes) did the woman who was supposedly covering the deck bring our drinks---45 minutes after we had arrived. Needless to say, we went elsewhere for dinner.

Upon our return after dinner, someone had apparently "turned down" the room. It was strange, though, because all that appeared to have happened was someone closed the blinds and left behind a large bottle of spray cleaner in the tub. They left the bed in the same messy condition we had left it in. The next morning was similarly off, with the morning newspaper never arriving, and the front-desk person who checked us out never even inquiring how our stay had been. These final things (the turn down, the paper, etc) were obviously minor on their own, but compounded our disappointment in the overall experience.

In short, the Sanctuary experience does not live up to their pricing or pretense to be a five-star resort. It is a perfectly adequate hotel, just not what it purports to be. You are better off spending less and staying at the Biltmore, the Phoenician, or even the Saguaro, where you will have a comparable (if not better) experience for a more reasonable price.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sancmanager, Guest Relations Manager at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, responded to this review, January 21, 2014
We agree, we should have been more consistent and effective in communicating our plans to re-surface the pool before the holidays. It is historically our slowest time of the year and least amount of pool usage so unfortunately the "best" time to do it. However, we absolutely should have done a better job in communicating that to everyone and apologize we were not effective in that. Certainly your other comments are heard and understood and to better address them our Resort Manager would like to discuss them at your leisure at jdougherty@sanctuaryaz.com or 480.607.2375. We'd love to make it up to you and look forward to the chance to serve you in the future.
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918 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (271)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Bronxville, New York
Top Contributor
167 reviews 167 reviews
167 hotel reviews
Reviews in 122 cities Reviews in 122 cities
567 helpful votes 567 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2013

We stayed at this hotel almost ten years ago and had good memories. So we thought it was about time for a return visit. The hotel is still the same, but our feelings have changed as our taste and our idea of luxury have altered with time and more travel experiences. While the hotel is clearly a luxurious destination, some areas fell short for us.

The hotel is set on a hillside with a tight formation of structures. This limits the hotel’s ability to create landscaped areas such as courtyards, lawns, and garden spots. Of course this is a desert environment but many of the hotel’s competitors have created attractive areas to walk around and enjoy, but not here. A large parking lot greets you as you arrive at the hotel and a road in need of repaving that works its way through the casitas does not help the situation. The exterior of the mountain casitas look too aged and tired, while the spa casitas have a cool modern look. The mountain casitas, however, have better views.

We stayed in a spa casita. The look of the room was modern with unique features such as a colored stone floor and a high stone table with stool set in front of a large window creating a nice area to use as a desk/computer spot. A big glass door opened to a patio area. The wall mounted TV was the best we have ever come across at a hotel. The setup which also included a foyer and sitting area created a cool almost urban studio feel. The down side of the room was a couch made of uncomfortable obviously stain resistant fabric. The windowed bathroom was large with two sinks, separate shower, tub, and water closet. However the floor was bland off white generic tiles that cheapened the look of the space, as did the small walk-in closet area. So while the room overall was nice and uniquely styled, by most hotel standards, the feel of luxury was uneven. A very nice turn down service was provided including lit candles.

We felt the same way about the spa. It has a nice Zen like appearance, but the locker rooms are lacking with more bland off white floor tiles and a hot tub area that looked far from what most people would expect to see at a top end hotel. The gym is pretty good though, and large enough so that a full workout can be achieved in a room with lots of windows. Both of these areas have long hours of operation which was appreciated.

The main pool is nice and should be even better after they finish replacing the terrace around it which was ongoing during our stay. Some cushions for the loungers would also be a comfortable improvement. During our stay the weather was cool out but the pool area was always staffed for service. Sunlight is limited at this hotel near the winter solstice as it is situated on the North side of a mountain.

We did not dine at the hotel. The restaurant and lounge provide nice views of the valley and mountains in an attractive and somewhat trendy setting. The hotel seems to attract locals with a fondness for Bentleys.

Even though the hotel does not really work so well for us anymore, it is still a nice place to stay that maintains one of the best reputations is town. It basically comes down whether you want to stay at a unique high end boutique kind of hotel, or is a Four Seasons or Ritz hotel more your style.

Room Tip: Spa casitas are nice but lack good views.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sancmanager, Guest Relations Manager at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, responded to this review, January 21, 2014
Thank you for taking the time to write such an honest and fair review. With more travels we can appreciate ones tastes and expectations change over time. We are continually making improvements to our property and hope that we will have an opportunity to serve you once again. Our restaurant, elements, is truly a gem and perhaps with the next visit you will have a chance to experience Chef Beau's cuisine and the wonderful experience our staff provides there. Until then, we greatly appreciate the feedback and hope we will see you again!
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Downers grove, IL
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2013

I surprised my sister-in-law with a 4 day trip to Sanctuary at a time when we were both stressed out and needing a getaway. I knew nothing about the place but was looking for a nice, relaxing getaway that I could afford. We went in July (Arizona in July is affordable for good reason). I was immediately impressed with their customer service as they contacted me multiple times and let me know in advance that there was some construction going on at the resort. When we arrived, we were checked in to a gorgeous 2-room villa. The pool and service around the resort were outstanding. Every day there were classes we could take and we indulged in yoga and spa services which were terrific. Food was excellent. We never wanted to leave. Of course it was blazing hot and the pool was luke warm from the sun but if you want a refreshing getaway-especially for girlfriends-this was great. One heads up-the meals at the resort are a little pricey. We took cabs in to Old Scottsdale and had fun on the town. Would love to go back!!

Room Tip: Get a villa if you can
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sancmanager, Guest Relations Manager at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, responded to this review, January 21, 2014
So great to hear you had a wonderfully relaxing trip with us. Thank you for taking the time to post a review, we greatly appreciate it and hope we have the chance to serve you again in the near future!
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Indianapolis, Indiana
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2013 via mobile

Arranged flowers to be delivered for my wife's birthday with the concierge. No flowers. Spoke to front desk. Spoke to turn down service. Still no flowers. All they had to say is they don't provide that service. I could have done it myself. It's easy.

Now there is a dog in the room next door barking all night. Called front desk. No response. I would not recommend this hotel. Go to Enchantment in Sedona. The staff provides much better customer service. sanctuary seems much more oriented towards groups and not much focus on service. Very disappointing.

Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sancmanager, Guest Relations Manager at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, responded to this review, December 8, 2013
We are disappointed to hear of the challenges with your stay and made several attempts throughout your stay to make contact to discuss ways to correct the challenges.

The flowers were delivered on the 7th for what information we had and we addressed the noise from the neighboring dog as soon as we were notified. Please accept our apologies for whatever mis-communication there may have been and if you would like to discuss further, please contact the Resort Manager directly at jdougherty@sanctuaryaz.com or 480.607.2375.
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Sierra Vista, Arizona
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2013

I am writing this review in regards to my experience in booking a room for my son and his new bride for their mini-honeymoon. I have to say I am so pleased with the help I received. I knew nothing of this hotel except for the wonderful reviews here on Tripadvisor. When I called, I spoke with Stefany S. The service she gave me was above exceptional!! She was so helpful. I have no doubt that without her wonderful help I could never have gotten everything I thought the newlyweds needed to make their 2-night stay magical. Stefany answered all my questions with great knowledge and if she wasn't sure, she checked into it and got back to me immediately. After SEVERAL emails the 2-nights were set up to perfection. So a BIG THANK-YOU goes out to Stefany S. And I can tell you this, you will not be disappointed in the service you will receive in booking your rooms.
ON A SIDE NOTE: My son said this hotel is beautiful. The restaurant Elements has food to die for. The Jade bar has delicious martinis. In-room dining was wonderful.... even at 1am. The Spa Suite room was amazing.... bed was so comfy. The shower was HUGE (my son is 6'6" tall) with 2 shower-heads. The view was outstanding. There was an outdoor soaking tub, but because of the weather... raining and cold, they did not use it. The only downside to the whole experience was that their fireplace was NOT working. Now since it was raining and cold the whole week and the weekend they were there (Nov 23and24), you would think that before assigning that room someone would have checked to make sure everything was in working order. These suites cost extra because of the fireplace, soaking tub, etc, so I am VERY disappointed that the newlyweds could not snuggle together before a cozy fire and my son said the same thing. I feel part of the magic was ruined. My son did report the fireplace not working and maintenance told him a part was needed and it could not be fixed until Monday, the day my son and his new bride had to leave. I think they should have moved the couple to a room that had everything working!!!

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Frederick, Maryland
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2013

We brought a small conference to Sanctuary in November and were delighted by the stellar evaluations of the hotel. The views were magnificent, the ambience tranquil, rooms were very clean and well-appointed and our meals were delicious! As a meeting planner, I appreciated the privacy of the casitas, the spacious work area and especially returning to my room in the evening to find my bed turned down and candles flickering. The staff could not have been more friendly or helpful. I highly recommend Sanctuary for a personal or business visit.

Room Tip: As a business traveller I appreciated the extra space of a "bump out" room vs. a balcony a...
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thornhill, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2013

stayed for 4 nights, brought my sister for her milestone birthday and some much needed relaxation for both of us. This place is amazing. Service is top notch. The people really seem to enjoy working there and it is important to them that you are enjoying the experience you came for. After a long day of travelling to get there, once we got to our suite, which is rustic , spotless and filled with coffee and water, we decided to check out the spa,, the steam room was so relaxing. The spa is spotless, the service is unbelievable. We dined at Elements for breakfast every morning and food is delicious. Dinner was fabulous!! one of the best meals I've probably ever had during my travels. The 5 star facial was fantastic! The stay was everything we both wanted and then some. The only criticism I would have, although well deserved, there is an expectation for a 20% tip, I didn't mind that at the spa, however in the restaurant, it shouldn't be expected. I would stay there again for sure. Great find!!!

Room Tip: ask for a room close to the pool and spa area,,
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sanctuary Camelback Mountain

Address: 5700 E McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Arizona > Central Arizona > Paradise Valley
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in Paradise Valley
#2 Luxury Hotel in Paradise Valley
#2 Romantic Hotel in Paradise Valley
#2 Spa Hotel in Paradise Valley
#3 Family Hotel in Paradise Valley
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Sanctuary Camelback Mountain 5*
Number of rooms: 105
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Discover your sanctuary at the best Arizona resort...a luxury boutique hideaway on Camelback Mountain. Overlooking the spectacular views of Paradise Valley, relax in a mountainside or spa casita. Retreat to Sanctuary Spa for Asian-inspired treatments and exhilarating classes. Taste the award-winning cuisine of elements' by Food Network star Chef Beau MacMillan. Savor the sunset at jade bar or on edge, raising the bar for happy hour. Play tennis or hike in a fabulous setting, lounge by the infinity-edge pool, or indulge in Scottsdale's hottest shopping, cultural attractions and championship golf just minutes away. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Hotel Paradise Valley
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Paradise Valley

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