Sanctuary On Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa
Paradise Valley, Arizona
The Proposition: This one-of-a-kind boutique hotel is an architectural marvel that's literally embedded into Camelback Mountain on 53 acres of desert overlooking Paradise Valley. The ultimate relaxing refuge, the resort has 105 luxury casitas (winter rates start at $419) that promise rustic views, stylish accommodations, and innovative food presided over by Food Network celebrity Chef Beau MacMillan.
Think Arizona is just all about the golf? Yes, this area is known as a golfer’s paradise, and, sure, Sanctuary will set you up with tee times at nearby premier courses, but you’ll want to experience all that’s offered on the property. Discerning visitors will find Sanctuary’s ranking as last year's top resort in Arizona by Condé Nast Traveler well deserved.
The resort’s unique location—it is built right into the slope of Phoenix's Camelback Mountain—lends it a Zen-like ambience conducive to kicking back and/or rediscovering your significant other. Relax and socialize around the oversized infinity pool or, for more privacy, reserve one of the individual poolside cabanas with TVs, fans, and refrigerated goodies. Public areas and most guestrooms have been recently renovated and are quite chic—but do ask before booking specific accommodations. Some of the more lavish digs offer wood-burning fireplaces, and, for the ultimate bathing-while-stargazing experience, your own outdoor soaking tub on a private terrace.
Guests interested in wellness should visit the 12,000-square-foot, Asian-accented indoor/outdoor spa and fitness center. The resort also boasts excellent tennis facilities (once upon a time, this was a celeb-frequented private tennis club) and daily clinics. Come evening, enjoy live music on the premises most nights. (www.sanctuaryaz.com)
Neighboring Camelback Mountain—its shape really does resemble a giant kneeling camel—offers hiking, climbing, and those incredible vistas. Or, stop by the resort’s delightful Hummingbird Sanctuary, whose feeders attract as many as 400 species of petite aviary visitors. (www.climbcamelback.com)
Host an interactive dinner party in this stylish private dining room, which has a glass wall that gives up to 12 guests a full view of the kitchen and the inner workings of the restaurant, which serves Asian-influenced American cuisine.