Editors' Picks

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney's Resort & Spa

Spectacular location/views, serious spa, modern design

5700 East Mcdonald Drive, ., Scottsdale 85253

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At a Glance

With expansive views across Paradise Valley, towards Camelback Mountain and beyond, the Sanctuary lives up to its name thanks to a personal vibe, incredible spa and the area's most acclaimed restaurant.

Indagare Loves

  • The al fresco treatment rooms at the terrific spa
  • The organic, beautifully crafted Red Flower bath amenities
  • Dinner at Elements, with expansive views of the surrounding landscapes
  • Easy proximity to Echo Canyon, one of the area's most challenging—and rewarding—hikes


The aptly named Sanctuary might have a (much-deserved) reputation as a serious spa destination, but the property is far from hushed or precious. Rather it strikes the perfect balance between high-end and laid-back; serene and buzzing. Sprawled across 53 acres of prime Paradise Valley hillside, the Sanctuary has 105 rooms and six private homes, all with incredible views of the surrounding landscapes, including of Camelback Mountain. The property has a long valley history; it was famous as a tennis ranch in the 1950s and 60s and remains privately owned today. At its heart sits a slender building with floor-to-ceiling windows that holds Elements restaurant and the hip Jade Bar. The infinity edged pool, casitas and suites, and the spa frame the building.

Rooms are divided into Spa and Mountain categories. The twenty-four Spa casitas and suites were added in 2001 and showcase a more modern design sensibility than their Mountain counterparts. Stone floors, gas fireplaces and light wood–paneled walls make the rooms feel airy, while soft blankets and throws and deep chairs and couches add a cozy touch. The larger suites come with a separate living area, balcony and al fresco bathtub; all rooms come with serious bathrooms with rain showers and custom Red Flower bath amenities. It's minimalist but very comfortable.

Being close to the spa, dining facilities and large pool has its advantages but the view is not one of them. That is decidedly better in the higher-up Mountain casitas and suites. Interior-wise, these rooms are dated, with a darker color scheme and wood floors, but suites come with kitchenettes (a nice touch for families) and wood-burning fireplaces (a nice touch for romantic getaways).

Of course the spa is truly excellent. With just twelve treatment rooms it feels intimate and personal, and the rooms open up to gorgeous courtyards, so treatments have a healthy dose of natural healing incorporated. The massive treatments menu excels in such specialized offerings as Tok Sen (a Thai-inspired treatment using vibrations) and a Natural Facelift Facial using Naturopathica products. There's a monthly calendar of classes, including Pilates Reformer, yoga and hiking and biking in the stunning nature nearby. Wellness and health seekers will be very happy at the Sanctuary.

As will foodies. Elements restaurant is the one dinner you should not miss in the area, partially because the setting, with sunset views across the valley is truly spectacular. For special occasions, the private dining room XII has a clever curtain divider that reveals a glass-paneled door to the kitchen, so it's possible to turn the rather serious room, clad in velvet and chandeliers, into a chef's table, surrounded by the buzz of cooking activities. Drinks at the Jade Bar are another favorite for visitors and locals.

Best of all is the overall vibe at Sanctuary. At dinner at Elements, it's not abnormal to see women in towering heels and sweeping dresses clinking Champagne glasses at one table and a boisterous family with teenagers clad in jeans at another—and everyone is having a good time. Add to that a wait staff that takes care of all guests with competence and kindness, a vista of looming mountains, and you get one of southern Arizona's most exquisite—and exquisitely comfortable—hideaways.

Who Should Stay

Couples and friends traveling together looking for a pampering getaway at a beautifully designed spot with a great spa, good tennis, a beautiful setting and one of the area's best restaurants on the premises.

Written by Simone Girner

What's Nearby
Indagare employees walking up stiars

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