The thought of spending time in Scottsdale always brings pleasant memories of happiness and relaxation. Scottsdale is one of my absolute favorite places to spend everything from a more lengthy retreat to a quick weekend getaway. It is evolving rapidly with new restaurants and hotels opening with each visit. I have spent time at several hotels in the area. I wanted to give a concise rundown comparing an inexpensive option to a more luxurious feel. Or, if you want a luxury experience at a cheaper price, you can get fantastic rates at higher end options during the summer months. For those willing to bear the heat, you can end up with some surprisingly low rates.
The Phoenician. This is a hotel that I have enjoyed on two separate stays. The resort is a Marriott luxury collection property built in the 1980s. New owners acquired the property in 2015 and felt it was time for a change. They started renovations with the lobby in 2017 and spent a couple of years carrying out all of their plans. My last stay was post renovation, and my first stay was a number of years ago prior to the start of any of the major facelift work. I was eager to book again when I read about the changes. Much like the Fairmont that I will discuss below, this resort is has a lot of real estate. There is a lot to explore on the grounds and many things to see and do. Upon check in, I noticed the gorgeous changes to the lobby along with the Thirsty Camel lodge ready to provide some craft cocktails. My guest room was on the fourth floor of the main building (#4136) with some great views. The interior of the room was rather large with plenty of space to move around. The bathroom was the same with a shower, large tub, and dual vanity. There was also a balcony with a small table and couch. When you stay, there is a $40 resort fee which includes fee wifi, access to the driving range, use of the tennis courts (and equipment for 1 hr), pickle ball courts (equipment also included), bicycles for rental, outdoor morning yoga, and craft beer tasting daily at 11am. In addition to this, there are three beautiful pools. One pool is designated adults only. The athletic club was also part of the renovation and is upstairs in a free standing building a short walk from the main property. It has a variety of cardio equipment and weights. Of course, there is a large spa. And, if you are interested, there is even a drybar location on property with six chairs available to get the perfect blowout before dinner.
Every morning, I enjoyed going to the marketplace for an iced chai tea latte. This market had a number of snacks, drinks, and quick food options. They also sold bottles of wine and liquor to enjoy in the room. If you like bubbles, they have a Gruet Luxury Cuvee that was made specifically for the Phoenician. Gruet is one of my favorite inexpensive bottles of bubbles from New Mexico (see my post on Not to Miss in Santa Fe). That being said, their Luxury Cuvee isn’t as inexpensive when you buy it on the Phoenician property. Mowry & Cotton was a restaurant I frequented during my stay. It was conveniently located in close proximity to the pool, and their outdoor patio was the perfect place to enjoy lunch. They have machines spraying mist if you choose to sit outdoors, and they did a great job of combatting the temperature and keeping it a comfortable place to sit. Their Zataar Chicken Bowl is a great menu choice, and they have a great variety of cocktails and wine to enjoy. At the pool, you can also order food and cocktails. I had several drinks poolside. The lava flow was probably my favorite. I tried the frose and strawberry daiquiri also, but I didn’t find myself going back for a second round.
Much like many of the Scottsdale resorts, there is a lot to do on the property. All ages can enjoy a stay at the Phoenician. There were many families there during my stay but much variety amongst the guests. Overall, I applaud the property renovation and what the Phoenician has to offer.
Hotel Valley Ho. I spent a weekend at Hotel Valley Ho in August and this last minute getaway turned out to be nothing short of fanciful. This retro cool hotel was really enchanting. It draws you in. Not to mention, the room rate for the weekend was almost unbelievably affordable at less than $300 for the entire weekend. It is located in downtown Scottsdale a short walk from some wonderful shops and restaurants. The pool has a “party atmosphere” and I noticed many bachelor and bachelorette parties. Although their size is smaller compared to some of the other properties I will mention below, they do have a spa. On Sunday, they offered a fantastic price on a spa package. The size of the spa was small, but I thought the package that I enjoyed was also great value for the dollar amount. As part of our stay, we also received some complimentary drinks in their hotel bar. This is always a great perk to a hotel stay and the atmosphere here didn’t disappoint.
Overall, the Hotel Valley Ho is a wonderful place for a light and playful weekend. It is more cost effective compared to some of the options I will mention below if you book at the right time. The level and amount of amenities is less, but it is really dependent on what you would like to get out of the weekend. Keep in mind it is located closer to Old Town Scottsdale as opposed to the other options.
Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain Resort. Over the last several years, I have stayed at the Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain a number of times. It is stunning. The property is extensive, but it does have a small feel. The rooms are extremely spacious with very nice accents and modern design. The roomy bathroom was one of my favorite parts with an amazing soaking tub complete with bath salts and separate shower. Although you may find it hard to leave the room, the amenities at your disposal are abundant. In the morning, you can enjoy a few games of tennis on one of their many courts. There are racquets and balls for you to use free of charge. Hit around for fun or pay for a lesson from one of their pros. Next, you can walk a short distance to their spa and fitness center. Their fitness center is smaller in size, but I never found it too crowded that I didn’t have any particular equipment at my disposal. They have two pools. The larger infinity pool is the best for relaxing and taking in some spectacular views of camelback mountain. A second pool is lap style and just adjacent to the gym. Finally, quite possibly my favorite amenity, they offer multiple classes per day and most are free of charge. Some of the more advanced classes do charge a small fee. I took advantage only of the included classes such as a cardio burn and beginner yoga. Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain does belong to Fine Hotels & Resorts, so if you have an Amex card book through them to take advantage of of some of the perks like free breakfast for two. We had a fantastic breakfast that was plenty of food, and there was really no need for lunch. If your stay is during the week, Jade Bar offers up a wonderful Happy Hour from 4-6pm. Saturdays there are options for mixology classes, and Sunday afternoons there are discounts on cocktails and bottles of wine.
This resort really has it all for me. I recommend staying in one of the casitas and, if you travel when the weather is rather hot, you can really get a pretty reasonable room rate. You could easily enjoy the entire weekend without leaving except for possible dinner reservations.
Hotel Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. This massive property could better be described as a compound. I have spent a few visits at this Fairmont, and it has a lot to offer. In comparison to the Sanctuary, it is more of the classic staple piece. Like many of their other properties, the decor inside is very traditional. Our suite was large and the bathroom the same. That being said, one somewhat negative aspect of Fairmont properties is their smaller shower size and light water pressure.
The room had a wonderful balcony with secluded views and was a fantastic place to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset. If you are interested in a spa experience, as you can imagine, this is a great option at their property. One particular aspect I enjoyed was their set up for spa amenities. I went for a massage with my husband and, oftentimes, the female/male portions of the spa are entirely divided. This was something that I really disliked about the spa in Hong Kong. However, at their space, they do have an outdoor hot tub that was really beautiful with a fountain that was for males and females. The remainder of the amenities are divided.
There is an abundance of pools, golf, and fun activities like a large outdoor chess set. Another option is to simply go for a walk around their massive grounds. One of my favorite afternoons at the Princess was enjoying cocktails at their pool bar. While I have tried their cocktail lounges, which are always innovative at Fairmont properties, I did not try their steakhouse Bourbon steak. It looks fantastic, but there are too many tempting options outside of the resort for me.
W Scottsdale. This hotel is also located near Old Town Scottsdale in the opposite corner from Hotel Valley Ho. When I stayed here, it was definitely a different experience than my other visits to Scottsdale. The W was a party hotel. I arrived on a Friday night later in the evening, and I spent time in the lobby bar. They had a DJ playing and the attendance was high, but it wasn’t crowded to an unbearable level. I liked the layout of the hotel room. You walk in and face the back of the bed. The bed was comfortable, and I didn’t find the noise level to be terrible at night despite the party scene. If you are going to stay with friends, the bathroom does not offer much of a degree of privacy, so keep this in mind. Within walking distance of the hotel, there are a number of clubs and a pretty extensive bar scene. All in all, I liked the hotel room. If you are going for a bachelor or bachelorette party, this would be a great spot. On the other hand, if you are interested in peace, quiet, and relaxation …. look elsewhere.
When deciding on a hotel in Scottsdale, consider a few things. Do you want to spend most of your time on the property? What do you want to be in close proximity to? Some of the properties are closer to Old Town Scottsdale, certain hiking trails, and shopping centers. The Fairmont, Phoenician, and Sanctuary at Camelback mountain provided enough entertainment to keep me pretty occupied. The W and Hotel Valley Ho offer less in terms of amenities.