My wife and I just got back from this Amazing Place. I am not going to bore you with description of the rooms, amenities, or directions to the pool. I’ll try to provide useful information to my fellow readers, so that it might be used in experiencing a perfect trip. When we landed at the Phoenix International, we had two options: A cab for $25 or a stretched limo for $55. We went with the latter. It was my birthday, so we went “all out.” Nothing beats arriving at the 5 Star Resort with style! The moment we walked up to the front desk, the employee greeted us by my last name, without me ever saying a word of who we were to anyone. Five seconds later, I had a Happy Birthday Card, signed by the manager in my hand. I did mention that we would be celebrating my birthday upon reserving the room a week prior to our trip. That certainly made my day. Also, we mentioned that one of the main reasons for our visit is to sample amazing dishes prepared by world-renowned chef Beau MacMillan. Read his bio on the “Food Network” site and you will understand. The guy cooked for Presidents for crying out loud. Here is the link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/biography-beau-macmillan/index.html. Another five seconds later he came out of the kitchen to meet us, shook our hands and was very sincere and down to earth. How often do you meet celebrity chefs that come out just to greet you and thank you for choosing the resort? That certainly made my day, twice! Right then and there we booked Spa treatments over the phone. I wanted the couples massage and was told that the only time available would be in 30 minutes of our arrival. I agreed. We were rushed to our room on a golf card and were given a brief tour of amenities. The employee was very courteous and accommodating. $5 tip goes a long way, even there. As we came to the Spa for our couples massage, we were told that there was a mistake in our reservation and a couple’s room was booked. They apologized, offered separate rooms for the same treatment, and took 10% off the bill, which is a significant amount as you will realize. Apology accepted. We both had 60 minute Swedish massages. Nice and relaxing, nothing too crazy. I do strongly suggest booking treatment ahead of your stay. They do get very busy and since there isn’t much to do in a Spa Resort but Spa treatments, most guests do get them, and more than one. So please, book ahead, you can always cancel up to 4 hrs in advance. We stayed at the Mountain View Suite. I highly recommend it if you like roomy accommodations and mountain and valley views. Basic room would have sufficed, but it was my birthday so we went “all out.” We could have stayed at the Spa Suite, but that would have been too close to the pool, fitness center and the restaurant/bar, which would make it noisier and more crowded and would have no view at all. The higher you are on the mountain, the better the views are, of course, however, the harder it is to climb to your casita. Yes, I said climb! The hill is so steep, that it was easier for us to walk backwards, and we are in pretty good shape, well, at least my wife is. You can always ask the front desk to have them golf cart you to your rooms. FYI, the spa is separated into Men and Women zones and the only place you are allowed to meet with your opposite sex partner is in a very small courtyard, which only has two lounge beds. We never saw anyone use it, but it was so hot outside at any given time during the day that there was no reason for us to waste time there. After the massages, we took advantage of the Spa offerings: took a shower, used a steam room, a hot tub, and all products at the spa are free, hence the $14 daily mandatory spa fee. They have everything from SPF sun block, to lotions, shampoos, body washes, conditioners, cotton swabs, hairdryers, brushes, hair gels, individual mini tooth brushes w/tooth paste, mouth wash, spray deodorants and much more. There is no need to even bring your own toiletries to the resort at all, except maybe cologne. Just wake up, go to the spa, do your things and go from there… ;-). Besides the Swedish massage, I had Acupuncture, a first for me, a Hot Stone massage, a must, and the Emperor’s Facial, highly recommended. My wife also had a 60 min manicure and 60 min pedicure, the best she ever had, per her. Besides beauty supplies, they provide almonds, dried cranberries and granny smith apples at the spa. Also, there is always Ice Cold water with Lemons at all times. You need to stay hydrated or the heat will get to you. Furthermore, they had several exotic hot teas and coffee there as well, free of charge. One day we had a breakfast brought to our room. We called and they said it would be there in 20 minutes, and it was there in 10. Nicely done, Sanctuary! We were hungry and over ordered. $78 is my new record for the breakfast for two (no alcohol or expensive bottled water was ordered), but it was my birthday so we went “all out.” The food was delicious, though. The next day, we decided to go to Elements for breakfast. We got there just before closing, around 10:30AM and the service was very slow. It took them 20 minutes to make one sandwich and then another 20 minutes to make one order of French toast! That was the only time we were disappointed with the service the entire stay! We never had lunch at the Elements restaurant as we were chilling inside the pool everyday and did not come out of the water until 6-6:30PM. It was that pleasant to stay inside. The pool service is outstanding and they have a limited but tasty menu of appetizers, salads and burgers to choose from, as well as alcoholic beverages. The Angus burger and the grilled chicken quesadilla were especially delicious, really! They bring you a rectangular box tray that can be placed on the floating mattresses that they give out (free) and you can enjoy your food and drinks while in the water. Everyone at the pool had one kind of drink or another at all times. It felt like an upscale adult spring break, without the noise and the drunks. Mostly there were couples in the pool caressing, hugging and making out. Romantic place, what can I say! They have a good deal of a metal bucked of ice, filled with 5 beer cans for $25. If you see other prices, this is a good deal! You are suppose to keep the 5 beers the same, but our waiter was nice enough to mix and match different kinds. They have Corona, Heineken, Blue Moon, Amstel, Stella Artois as well as Coors and Bud. The crowd was very upscale, mostly adults, however, there were a few guests with small children (6 months and up) that did not bother anyone and were exceptionally quiet. All of the couples with kids had a personal nanny with them that looked after the children while the parents were relaxing. Yes, that kind of a crowd! Also, Nick Lachey and Vanessa Manillo were swimming right next to us, enjoying their drinks. Yes, that kind of a crowd! Now, the best part is the dinner at the Elements restaurant! Just like the previous users advised – it is a MUST! Please make sure that Beau MacMillan is in the kitchen that day. The guy has a very busy schedule and is not at the resort all the times. You must try his dishes. The sous chef is good too, don’t get me wrong, but Chef MacMillan is Chef MacMillan, and so if you are going to spend $200 + for the dinner, you might as well have his food. The prices do not get lower when the Executive Chef is out of town… ;-). When we were finishing our first dinner, Chef MacMillan came over to our table, wished me Happy Birthday and brought a Birthday desert with candles himself! He also told us to ask for him the next day, and he will cook something “very special for us” and will give us a tour of the kitchen. We did come back the next day and had the best food ever in our lives, and we do spend a lot of money on great food wherever we go and choose the best restaurants in town, but BOY, was that dinner “special!” We had a four course meal followed by desert, with 5 wine pairings. Out –of-this-world is the only way to describe it! Of course we were too intoxicated to do a kitchen tour at that point. Kitchen is a kitchen, right? We returned again for the third dinner the following day, but since Chef MacMillan wasn’t there, the food just wasn’t the same, and we both noticed that. After passing right by aforementioned Nick and Vanessa waiting on the stairs to be picked up by the golf card and driven to their private house on the property, we slowly climbed to our suite. Unfortunately, we decided to use the couch in the living room and watch TV there – BIG MISTAKE! I was wearing a robe and my wife, well, wasn’t too dressed, let’s just say that. She couldn’t be sitting on that couch for more than a minute, as she jumped up screaming from pain! “Something just bit me,” she said. “Ouch!” “Look,” she continued, and showed me her legs that were instantly covered by multiple red insect bites! She started to itch! I got off the couch faster than a sprint racer got off the starting blocks at the Olympic Games! What the heck?! We really did not expect this from a resort of this magnitude, and that’s why I gave to rooms 3 out of 5 stars. Unacceptable! It’s been a few days now since we returned, and my wife is still itching, uncomfortable and the bite marks are still there. Next morning, during our check-out procedure, we both mentioned the incident to the front desk. They seemed truly apologetic and TOOK OFF an ENITRE NIGHT STAY, including room taxes and spa fees, totaling close to $400. Now that’s a great service. They told us that they have never heard anyone complain about being bitten before and will send clean-up crew immediately to take care of this problem. Having said that, we had a time of our lives, not doing anything at all, and that’s what the doctor ordered. Peace, quiet, and pampering, that’s what Sanctuary Resort is all about. Please stand by for pictures. They did come out great. Thanks for reading and enjoy your stay at this beautiful place!
- 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