Sanctuary Camelback – Scottsdale/Phoenix – Good, not Great

Overview: A near-city resort property that is good, but not great
Strengths: Rooms; Food & Beverage; Location
Drawbacks: Staff generally thoughtful but consistently unrefined; bugs

A quick business trip brought a colleague and me back to the Sanctuary Camelback for an overnight stay.  For this trip, I booked a one-bedroom suite via a Virtuoso agent for me, and a similar room for my colleague.

Our check-in was relatively straight forward, though not perfectly smooth.  I was told my room was not available (we had arrived before the check-in time), but a second person at the desk quickly jumped in and found a room in my category.  Odd that the first person told me nothing was available.

Neither desk staffer mentioned Virtuoso, and once they had handed us the keys to our rooms, I asked about the program.  Both staffers seemed legitimately surprised that we asked the program, and both spent a few minutes looking up information in their computers.  They eventually found the details and walked us through them.  There was no mention of a room upgrade (though a subsequent review of their website revealed that plenty were available), though they graciously offered to apply the breakfast credit towards lunch (as we were leaving before they opened for breakfast).  A credit for a half-hour spa treatment, or half-off a one-hour treatment, was also included as the “extra” amenity.

A valet in an extended golf buggy took us to our rooms, helpful in the scorching heat.

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Having last been to the property in 2005, they had clearly made some significant renovations and the rooms themselves were quite nice.  The furniture was of good quality and the bed very comfortable.

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The bathroom was also reasonably well designed, and had an internal window offering views from the tub of the mountains in the distance.

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Colorful sandals
Colorful sandals

I was a bit alarmed by the can of bug spray in the bathroom.  And, indeed, later in the evening, a small wasp was in my bedroom.


The balcony provided expansive views of Camelback and other mountains.  Even at 10pm, after sunset, the floor of the balcony was quite hot (but not too hot) from having baked all day.  I enjoyed a little while outside on my balcony late in the evening.  Though still warm, it was quite pleasant and substantially (but not completely) private.

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Some fresh fruit and Fiji water was delivered as a welcome amenity.


The coffee maker in my room, unfortunately, did not work.  I let them know this at check-out.

Unlike the Waldorf Chicago, there were plenty of outlets (110v and USB) next to the bed.  These little modules were on both sides of the bed.  The iPhone adapter was based on the iPhone 5/6 format, not the antiquated iPhone 4 format (still common at many hotels.)

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I walked back and forth from the main lobby over to my room several times.  It took perhaps 5 minutes, and was a bit steep, but not problematically.  You could easily call the front desk for a golf cart ride if you preferred.  (My wife stayed in a private residence here earlier this year without me and her house included a private golf cart.)


We ate lunch at the restaurant and dinner at the hotel bar.  The food was consistently quite good, though the service, while thoughtful, was not particularly efficient.

Some of our plates included a chicken BLT, spicy calamari, local heirloom tomatoes and swordfish.  Each was very good.

As one example of the inefficient service, once we were seated in the bar area at a lounge table for dinner, someone came by to drop off menus.  Then someone else came and took our drinks order.  Then that person came back to ask if we wanted water, which we did.  They came back, bringing water.  Then the same person came back again to say our drinks were coming soon.  Then, finally, they came back and actually brought our drinks.  Too many visits…and too much time from order to delivery when the bar was less than half filled.  Further, some of the language used by the restaurant and bar staff was a bit too casual.


I was able to book a just-in-time spa booking for later in the evening to take advantage of the Virtuoso credit.  The massage itself was fine, and the facilities were reasonably nice.

Similar to the food and beverage staff, the locker room attendant also spoke in a manner I wasn’t accustomed to.  As he was walking me through the facilities, he used phrases like, “We got coffee and tea over here.”  This sort of language set a bit of a tone for the property.

The steam room was almost unpleasantly hot – even stinging after a while (something that I’d never had happen to me in a steam room previously).  There was no dry sauna, but being 109 degrees outside, if you wanted a dry sauna, you just needed to go outdoors.

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The whirlpool was small, but pleasant.Sanctuary-33

Across from the spa was a well sized gym.

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Near the spa was the main pool, which is open 24 hours.


Check Out

My assistant arranged for a car (not via the hotel) to pick us up at 4:45am to take us back to the airport.  Our driver arrived 15 minutes early, and once the driver provided my name to the valet staff, a valet took the initiative and drove a golf cart over to my room, where he waited (without knocking on the door) for me to come out.  He gave me a ride back to the lobby, which was nice.

Check out was fairly smooth, but did require negotiating to have the spa treatment removed from the bill.  Upon my request, the clerk took half off, but I reminded her it was 100% off a half hour service or 50% of a one hour service.  After a quick review, she removed the balance of the charge.

I also pointed out that I had a, er, rather, two beers from the minibar.  The front desk clerk told me that “only F&B staff can process that” and they’d need to send me an updated bill later in the day.  Odd.  I don’t ever recall a hotel that couldn’t process minibar charges at check-out.  Thankfully, later in the day, an email came with an updated bill reflecting the minibar charges.

* * * * *

Overall, the rooms were quite nice and the food was quite good.  The service was consistently unpolished, but the staff members were overall reasonably friendly.  During my wife’s stay earlier this year, the concierge dropped the ball on a few items – but I didn’t encounter that during this stay.

Sanctuary Camelback
5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
+1 480 948-2100


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