Arizona

The 6 Best Resorts in the Valley of the Sun

Foodies, wellness warriors and luxury lovers will find their perfect Scottsdale vacation at one of the six coolest resorts in town.

People often think of hotels and resorts as something for vacationers, but in Arizona, luxury resorts are part of the fabric of our local culture.

The Valley of the Sun is a tourist mecca, so the sheer number of resorts is heady, and the area has the highest per capita number of resort spas in the country. Phoenicians flock to our resorts because we know that some of the best wellness, culinary and entertainment are found within their walls. During the 110 plus degrees of summer, you’re sure to find locals splashing alongside you in the pool taking advantage of great rates. Staycations are a staple of our summer fun.

I’ve lived in the area for two decades and have had the chance to stay and play at every top resort in town. These are my standouts.

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

The only resort on Phoenix’s iconic Camelback Mountain, Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa has an enviable location affording spectacular views, especially at sunset. I find they’re best enjoyed with a glass of bubbly in my hand at the Jade Bar.

During summer, this is the pool scene for adults who are focused on relaxing in the infinity pool while enjoying the view.

With their sophisticated modern minimalist décor, the 109 casitas have a Japanese Zen vibe. There are also eight private villa accommodations and 12 spa suites spanning the 53-acre property. If you’re a spa diva like me, consider opting for Villa del Sol, essentially a spa house dedicated to wellness with its own movement studio and treatment room for in-house massage.

The spa keeps the Eastern flavor alive with a treatment menu rooted in Eastern medicinal modalities, like the signature Tok Sen which blends Thai massage with vibration therapy. The spa was remodeled in 2018, adding a women’s quiet room and updating both men’s and women’s locker room amenities.

If Food Network star and executive chef Beau McMillan is in the kitchen during your stay, dining at Elements is a must. If the grilled nairagi with hijiki aioli is on the menu, you’ll thank me after the first bite.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

Top rated
Paradise Valley
9.1 Excellent (913 reviews)

The Phoenician Scottsdale

The Phoenician is the grand dame of luxury resorts in Phoenix, ushering in the trend for high-end accommodations in the late 1980s. The 645-room property underwent both room renovations and extensive public venue enhancements in the past four years.

The biggest additions to the property focus on wellness, with a completely new spa and athletic center. The large fitness center includes cardio equipment that offers virtual exercise classes on demand, as well as tennis, pickleball and half-court basketball. The spa is a now a three-story sanctuary, with 24-treatment rooms and a special rooftop pool with incredible views of Camelback Mountain. The spa is the only one in town that includes an outlet of Drybar, ideal for post-relaxation primping for a night on the town.

The Phoenician three-tiered pool complex was also upgraded, with new amenities for both adults and kids.

Scottsdale is a city very focused on art, with over 100 pieces of public art. The Phoenician celebrates this part of the city’s heritage with its own art collection. I’ve always enjoyed wandering the property on their self-guided art tour, featuring 11 sculptures from Allen Houser.

Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club, Scottsdale

Top rated
Scottsdale
8.9 Excellent (34 reviews)

Sheraton Grand Wild Horse Pass

One of the few luxury resorts outside Scottsdale, the Sheraton Grand Wild Horse Pass in southeast Phoenix is a truly unique property owned by the Gila River Indian Community. The resort gives travelers an immersive experience into the tribe’s heritage and culture.

Whatever you do when you stay here, you must secure a dinner reservation at Kai, Arizona’s only five diamond and five star restaurant. Its accolades are well deserved, as dining at Kai is a sensory experience that few restaurants can match. The menu is a gourmet journey featuring ingredients and dishes native to the Pima and Maricopa tribes. The level of service and storytelling throughout the evening will delight nearly as much as the food.

My other favorite experience on property is Aji Spa. It features the only Native American spa menu in existence, and is one of an elite group of Forbes five-star spas in the world. Treatments like the Nahtogig and Kioho were created by Aji’s Pima and Maricopa Cultural Caretakers.

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa

Top rated
Chandler
8.7 Excellent (1578 reviews)

Four Seasons Scottsdale

Nestled in the mountains in far north Scottsdale, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North’s location not only provides gorgeous desert vistas, but temperatures that are few degrees cooler than in the heart of the city – a key fact when the summer sun pushes temperatures past 110.

The resort’s location makes the Four Seasons seem more like a remote getaway than other properties closer to the city center. It’s the perfect escape for couples and families looking to focus on outdoor activities at nearby Pinnacle Peak Park and Troon golf courses.

Gourmands will want to dine at Talavera, anchored by Chef Samantha Sanz, a former semi-finalist in the James Beard Best Chef in the Southwest. Have a pre-dinner drink in the adjacent gin bar, where the mixologist whips up cocktails from more than 20 different kinds of gin. Proof Canteen is a casual, family-friendly dining option. The peanut butter and jelly ice cream is a must order.

The 210 rooms and suites were recently redone to reflect a contemporary take on southwest design. All feature balconies or patios with great views of either the mountains or city skyline. A few even have private pools and fire pits.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Top rated
Carefree
9.2 Excellent (898 reviews)

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

Traveling to Spain or Morocco these days is challenging, but you can get that Mediterranean/desert flavor with a stay at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. The entire property is inspired by the history and culture of both countries.

Arriving at the hotel, you enter Cortijo Plaza, designed to mimic the central square of a small Andalusian town. Here, you’ll see Castillo Lucena with its handcrafted antique wood doors dating to the 16th century. It’s one of the best wedding venues in the area.

The property’s Joya Spa is one of my favorite spas in town, with the best relaxation room of any spa I’ve been to worldwide. For the ultimate couples spa day, book the spa’s Grand Palace Suite. Opulently decorated, you’ll feel like a sultan for a day as you relax in the $22,000 bed. Book the Hammam Experience to enjoy the only Hammam in the city.

Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa

Top rated
Paradise Valley
9.0 Excellent (1960 reviews)

CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa

CIVANA is one of the newest resorts in the Valley of the Sun, and the first anywhere designed to provide a destination spa experience without stay minimums, prescribed journeys or a high price tag.

Located on 20 acres of pristine desert, CIVANA is a true escape from the rat race. The Four Diamond resort blends seamlessly into the natural environment and uses the wide open desert expanses as inspiration for an interior that is light, airy, modern and minimalist.

My favorite aspect of the resort is the interesting classes offered throughout the week. With more than 70 to choose from, most complimentary, there is something for everyone. I’ve especially enjoyed angel readings, aerial yoga, and sound healing.

The large spa is the centerpiece of the property, the only one in the country with a five-climate Klafs Sanarium. Make sure to plan to spend time doing the signature Aqua Vitality Circuit before your treatment. The service menu is deep and rooted in ancient wellness traditions. I highly recommend the gemstone balancing massage.

Civana Carefree

Carefree
8.3 Very good (937 reviews)

With over 300 days of sun a year, the Phoenix/Scottsdale area is an ideal year-round vacation spot that will be made even more memorable with a stay at any of these top resorts.